Co-operation With Fire Departments and Schools
FIRE PREVENTION SECTION
“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”
NOTE:-Communications for this department are solicited from Chiefs and all others interested in the subject.—Editor.)
The State Fire Marshal Can Do a Great Work in This Respect —Follow Up Inspections and Fire Orders—Urge Better Equipments—Assist in Education of Pupils in Fire Prevention
I WAS exceedingly pleased when I learned that the subject of “co-operation with fire departments and public schools” had been assigned to me for discussion at the meeting of the Committee on Co-operation between the Fire Marshals’ Association of North America and National Board of Fire Underwriters, held in New York City on February 17, 1920, for the reason that I have appreciated for some time the importance of working shoulder to shoulder with fire departments. In fact, in my opinion the fire marshal is working at a disadvantage and greatly handicapped if he does not work hand in hand with them and harmony does not exist between his office and the fire departments throughout the state.
Realizing this, I have worked to that end and, inasmuch as the object of this meeting is for the interchange of thought and ideas with the other fellow through which we hope to increase the efficiency of our various departments in a work we have a common interest in, we prefer to deal with the subject under discussion from a practical rather than a theoretical standpoint. The ideas of the speaker on “Co-operation with the Fire Departments” have been tried out and are proving to bring about the desired results and for this reason you are asked to pardon personal references and the practices being carried out in the Minnesota department, which are not cited in a boastful spirit.
Organization of Fire College Shows Co-operation
In order to bring about harmony between our departments, we must prove to the fire chief and his men that we are interested in their welfare and in their game and be willing to go more than half way, if necessary, in order to convince them. By organizing the Minnesota Fire College, we have proven to the firemen of the state that we have their interest at heart. The College was an unqualified success and has created a new interest among firemen, with a desire to attain a higher efficiency in fire fighting, and with the result that many fire departments in the state are now conducting their own schools. They have their regular class nights, following a set program, making a systematic study of fire fighting and the various duties which enter into the work of a fireman, and how he may become more fit for service.
The course of study consists of physical drill, which is most essential in a well trained fire department, in order that its members may be physically fit to withstand the severe tests and the exposure they are sometimes compelled to endure. Discipline is another subject which is most essential, especially on the fire ground. Fire duty, hose and ladder exercise are a part of the program. The use and names of all tools is included in the course. It is most important that firemen be well posted in this respect in order that every fireman know the proper name and use of every tool used in fire fighting that loss of time may be avoided on the fire ground.
First aid and rescue work is another subject we urge be given careful study in order that firemen may be able to give first aid to the injured and have a knowledge of the best methods used in rescuing persons from burning buildings and how to protect themselves when necessary. Over one hundred and sixty men enrolled in the State Fire College last September and the work proved so interesting that we intend to make it an annual affair.
Urge City Authorities to Provide Best Equipments
We can also render a service to fire departments by urging city and town officials to provide the best equipment available for their departments in order that the firemen, who in many cases volunteer their services, may always work to the best advantage. This may be done through the influence of the local fire prevention committee, which is a small group of men appointed by the Fire Marshal and organized for the purpose of taking the initiative in all matters pertaining to fire prevention and fire protection.
It has gotten so that many city officials request our department to advise them of the best apparatus for their needs, where new equipment is to be installed, and we also have many inquiries from chiefs and firemen asking advice with reference to certain things. This is a good sympton of confidence and we encourage it by replying in detail to all questions. If the inquiry is of a technical nature which we are unable to answer we consult someone for an opinion and then pass it on to the man making the inquiry.
Follow up Department Inspection Orders
Another important thing for us to do is to carefully follow up all inspection orders issued by the department to see that they are complied with and not leave impressions wherever we go that our work is a matter of form and forgotten when our deputy leaves the town. By efficient inspection service on the part of Deputy Fire Marshals and the enforcement of orders issued, we will gain the respect of Fire chiefs and they will consider it a privilege to work with us. These are a few of the ways by which we may serve the fire departments and thus cooperate with them. In other words, we take advantage of every opportunity to serve the firemen of the state in order to secure their good will and their co-operation, and when we do this we are sure to accomplish the end in view.
In passing on to the second part of the subject assigned, “Co-operation with the Public Schools,” I will with your permission tell you of what we have done and what we hope to do in Minnesota. Up to this time our school program has been along the usual plan of that probably followed in other states, that of making inspections of school buildings, pointing out and having unsafe conditions corrected, seeing to it that fire drills are held which are required by law, arranging fire prevention talks for school assemblies, showing fire prevention moving pictures where conditions will permit, and endeavoring to make ourselves generally agreeable with school officials and interest them in fire prevention and fire protection.
The thing we are working for at this time is the introduction of the subject of fire prevention in the public schools of the state and, unless something unexpected happens, this will come to pass and go into effect when the schools of the state open in the fall of 1920. This will insure the widest and most comprehensive observance of fire prevention day in the history of the state. I have had the matter up with Mr. McConnell, Commissioner of Education, with the result that he has become intensely interested in it and has promised to cooperate with us one hundred per cent, in putting it over and in fact under the plan I have in mind the matter will be entirely under the control of the Department of Education after it has gone into operation.
Study of Fire Protection in Schools
When the course of study has been decided on, a program the same as followed in any other course of instruction will be prepared and sent out from the Department of Education to the superintendents of schools throughout the state with instructions that it be followed and specifying the time which must be devoted to it. This will mean approximately 20,000 teachers and 500,000 school children teaching and studying the doctrine of fire prevention. The course of study to start with will be confined to the grade schools in the teaching of the fundamental principles of fire prevention and fire protection and will only deal with the cause and effect of fire and how they may be overcome. Here the subject may be taught in combination with the subjects of English and Literature. If, however, we wish to go further, the subject may be carried into the high schools and our state universities and colleges, teaching the chemistry of fire in connection with the regular course in chemistry, pointing out the dangers to be avoided in the handling of various chemical materials and the importance of exercising care in keeping them apart.
The dangers that lie in the use of electricity may be taught in connection with the subject of physics and electrical engineering. Proper building construction and the use of fire resisting material may be combined with the study of mechanical drawing and here many things which the housewife should know about preventing fire in the home could be dealt with or reviewed in the domestic science class.
Great Possibilities of Plan
Think of the possibilities of this plan. In my opinion its adoption will be a knock-out wallop in the interest of fire prevention and fire protection. We may not notice immediate results, but it will be constructive work, it will be the beginning of a propaganda that will mould public opinion ; that will make it possible to in later years secure legislation along fire prevention lines that we could not think of putting through today, legislation that will make it a crime to have a fire and brand the man who has a fire due to carelessness along with the “torch” and the “rat” who burns up property even at the cost of human lives for the insurance money he can collect.
Who can suggest a better way to encourage and promote Americanism than a plan of instructing the coming generation in carefulness and thoughtfulness relating to fire, good housekeeping which will make their home, their town and, yes, their nation, a better and safer one to live in and prompt our citizens to be more considerate of the rights of others.
Habits Formed Today Will Affect Welfare of Land
There is no class that holds the destiny of this nation in the palm of its hand like our youth. The habits they form today will greatly affect the future existence of this land we love so well.
We may have made some progress with the methods we have used in the past and we must continue in that direction, but experience has proven how difficult it is to interest adults in fire prevention and fire protection because it almost necessitates changing human nature. So I hold that, if we would turn the tide of the awful fire waste that has swept over our nation for the last decade, destroying thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth of property, taking a greater toll almost each succeeding year, we must direct the force of our energy and efforts where we know they will do the most good. Therefore, let us venture into more fertile fields, with a new determination, with that energy that characterizes the American spirit, the fighting spirit filled with “pep,” “grit” and determination to smash our way through to the goal.
Inspections Made at Philadelphia
During the first quarter of the current year more than 12,000 inspections have been made by the fire prevention inspectors for the fire marshal’s office at Philadelphia, according to a report submitted to the Department of Public Safely by Fire Prevention Chief George W. Elliott. This included original inspections of buildings and re-inspections to see that requirements had been complied with. As a result of the inspections more than 4,000 fire pails were installed, 100 sand pails, 2,000 “no smoking” signs, 500 ranges and stoves protected and many other features of protection and prevention in various sections of the city. The report refers only to the activities of the inspectors assigned to routine inspection of buildings for the discovery of conditions that might cause fire, and does not include fire escape inspections or inspections of actual fires and applications for storage of explosives or combustible material. Since the inception of this work in 1913, according to the fire marshal’s records, there have been 301,955 inspections in the buildings of the city, with a total of 415,000 improvements in the buildings inspected, and the instruction in and installation of 5,460 fire drills and 6,000 complaints referred to other bureaus.
The city of Rochester, Minn., has just purchased an Ahrens-Fox 800-gallon pumper for the fire department, of which Wm. E. Cudmore is chief. The latest addition makes the fifth piece of motor apparatus now in service. The total fire loss in the city for the year ending April 1, was $13,594. On April 5, the salaries in the department were fixed for the year, and the chief will receive $2,400; assistant chiefs, $1,800; master mechanics, $1,920; drivers, $1,650, and firemen, $1,620. The twoplatoon system has been in operation two years and has proved highly satisfactory, in the judgment of Chief Cudmore. Rochester has a population of 15,000.