CONDITIONS CONFRONTING THE MOTOR FIRE DEPARTMENT APPARATUS INDUSTRY.

CONDITIONS CONFRONTING THE MOTOR FIRE DEPARTMENT APPARATUS INDUSTRY.

“In the preparedness work that is being carried on in this country, first, of course, conies the Army and Navy; next in importance, in my belief, comes the Fire Department.” These are the words of the Fire Commissioner of one of the largest cities in the East.

Another Commissioner is quoted as follows: “It is well recognized by everyone familiar with local conditions that the brunt of whatever trouble may be caused in this city by evilly-disposed persons will fall upon the Fire Department. This city not only has the largest number of former residents of countries with which we are at war, but is the port of shipment of munitions to the Allies.”

Still another Commissioner states: “Government munitions and shells for the Allies are being made here, as well as torpedo nets, and it is absolutely necessary to keep or Fire Department fit. We will have watchmen on the roofs of all our fire houses, and have arranged for volunteer firemen to assist our paid men, and we have increased the latter number by a third.

“TheMills, of course, give us the most concern, but other plants, railroad bridges and cars of merchandise and powder may be the cause of attack and the occasion of heavy fires.”

At the outbreak of the war, some three years ago, some of the larger cities in this country took immediate steps to strengthen their fire departments by placing orders for apparatus and machinery so that almost from the commencement of the war the motor fire department apparatus industry began to feel the strain of meeting this demand for its product without very much notice to prepare for same. By the end of the first year of the war most of the manufacturers had booked enough orders to use up all of the material and parts which they had in stock with some six or eight months’ business an.d work in hand to complete, but they were obliged to enter the market and were immediately confronted with material advances in prices.

This situation has been rapidly becoming more acute, paralleled by large increases in orders for its product until at the present time in order to obtain most of the important material it has to pay a heavy premium, because of the preference which is being given to shops engaged in the manufacture of government munitions and supplies.

The following table will illustrate some of these increases since the commencement of the war, in, addition to which there has been an increase of about 25 per cent, in wages paid:

Per Cent.

Sheet aluminum . 110

Steel castings . 50

Bearings . 40

Aluminum castings. 133

Leather .. .. 35

Stampings . 75

Sheet steel . 100

Tungsten steel . 400

Steel tubing. 50

Iron castings. 60

Forgings . 75

Sheet copper. 133

Ingot copper…. 125

In contrast with certain industries in this country which have realized large profits Iront the sale of war material to the Allies, and other industries which have been able to raise their selling prices to meet these conditions, the motor fire department apparatus industry has not made any advance in its price during these past three years, and in some cases have been operating at a loss. This industry has not been in a position to share in these profits because of the heavy demands made upon it by the various fire departments throughout the United States which because of the highly specialized character of its product it could hardly undertake without disrupting its manufacturing organization and thereby rendering it unable to meet these demands for fire department apparatus and machinery.

In order to meet these abnormal conditions, it seems the prices of motor fire department apparatus must be advanced and, therefore, city officials are strongly advised that in advance of arranging appropriations or passing bond issues for the purpose of purchasing motor fire apparatus and machinery to get in touch with the manufacturers of same in order to be advised of revised prices so that their appropriations can be made in accordance with these-new schedules.

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