Conducting a Fire Department School of Instruction

Conducting a Fire Department School of Instruction

School for Officers and Men—Exhibit Room Has Models Showing Varions Hazards and Methods and Appliances in Fire-Fighting

THE newly-formed fire department school of Los Angeles. Cal., is under the care of progressive and efficient officers and promises to make a name for itself among such institutions. The following description is by one of the officers who was instrumental in forming the school and is in charge of it:

In the last few years Los Angeles has made large increases in population and area. The area covered by the city proper is now 446.98 square miles and the population is estimated at 1,250,000. Previous to 1922 there had been no houses built or companies added to the department to keep up with this phenomenal growth. In November. 1922 the voters of Los Angeles authorized (he issue of bonds to the extent of $2,500,000 for the fire department extension and improvement and for the installation of a modern fire alarm system. Of this amount $1,500,000 was for the building of new houses and the purchase of apparatus and equipment for the same, and although the fire department now consists of 60 engine companies, 16 truck companies, 2 hose companies, three salvage companies, three foamite companies, one rescue squad and one fire boat, with another one contracted for, it is still considerably behind in men and apparatus in keeping with this growth.

Fig, 1. Complete 2-ton Ammonia Plant and Display of Fire Resistant Roof Covering Installed in the Exhibit Room of the Los Angeles Fire Department School.

As a result of the money expended there were 27 companies added and 500 men added to the personnel of the department. This caused the promotion of a number of men to he officers and as the different kinds of industries began locating their plants in this city, with the various hazards of these plants, it necessitated the constant drilling of these new officers and members added to the fire department.

School Opened Last January

While we have had a drill tower here for many years for the rookie, or the new man coming on the job, we have never had an officers’ school and Chief Engineer R. J. Scott and Deputy Chief Leland H. Davis came to the conclusion that a school of this kind was very essential. They assigned the writer and Lieut. W. W. Tebbets, each having had over twenty-two years’ experience in the department, to formulate plans for the school, and on January 5, 1925 it was opened on the fourth floor of the headquarters building, 217 S. Hill Street, where there is a floor space of approximately 9,000 square feet which is used for class room, lecture room and has models of all kinds of building appliances, fire fighting appliances and practically everything that would be found in the fire prevention, protection and extinguishing game.

This exhibit room has been fitted out with models of various kinds by the manufacturer who is interested or who manufactures this kind of equipment and who realizes that it is to his advantage as well as to the advantage of the members of the fire department to see that both they and the public understand thoroughly this equipment, in order that the best results may be obtained.

Fig. 2. Complete Automatic Sprinkler System and Sprinklerhead Cabinet, Los Angeles Fire Department School.

Instructing Firemen of Industrial Plants

The school is equipped with special desks for regular classes (Fig. 4) so that the entire division off duty may be accommodate 1 at any special lecture or other event requiring attendance. This feature is of great advantage when the employees of large industrial plants or the watchmen of different manufacturing plants and stores can be a-sembled several hundred at a time to receive these instructions; so that they can understand the proper use of fire appliances, extinguishers, standpipe lines, sprinkler alarms, proper methods of shutting off water, replacing heads, etc.

Fig. 3, Model Building With Fire Escapes in Background. Complete Fire Hydrant and Various Fire-Fighting Appliances Used in Lectures in Foreground. Fig. 4.Part of Class and Exhibit Room, Los Angeles Fire Department School, Showing Desks for Men and Some of the Exhibits

Complete Equipment of School

The school is equipped with cut out models of various kinds of fire hydrants, extinguishers, other fire fighting appliances, (Fig. 3) a complete 2-ton Darker ammonia plant (Fig. 1) a complete Grinnell sprinkler system exhibit, (Fig. 2) with a sprinkler head cabinet where fires can be started and the actual operation of the system demonstrated down to the reporting of the alarm to the A. D. T. office; fire doors: model buildings equipped with different kinds of fire escapes: modern electric switchboard equipped so demonstrations can be made showing the causes of different electrical fires, such as bridged fuses, overloaded wires, etc.: model street poles with cutaway transformers and the different wires, showing different voltages, etc.; fire detector switchhoards showing how these systems operate; different kinds of alarm boxes and auxiliary boxes and proper mode of transmitting different alarms is demonstrated; (Fig. 5) models of different kinds of gas, electric and ammonia street shut offs: models of grain elevators where dust explosions can be demonstrated; models of the latest things in tank wagons and their control valves; cabinet exhibits of all sorts of electrical connections that cause fires; all the different degree sprinkler heads; cut models of basement pipe inlets, standpipes; plans of the different foamite systems throughout the large oil refineries and a baloptieon machine in which slides and pictures can be used along with motion pictures to bring out the points desired in any lecture. There is also a large model of a six-story factory building with the front equipped with mica doors and windows so that when a fire is started in the building the mushroom effect of the fire on the upper floors can be observed.

What is Taught in the School

Members attend school on their own time while off duty, three hours at a time, twenty-five men to a class. Attending one day every other week, it will require about eight months to complete the course. The men are taught fire prevention, what a hazard is and how to remedy it; the underwriters’ standard maps and symbols; administration; building construction; signals; use of appliances and auxiliary appliances; causes of fires; different kinds of fires and how to handle them; different kinds of exposures; fire inspection and fire prevention ; ventilation; proper use of firestreams: care of apparatus; first aid; salvage; overhauling; fire ordinances; care of hose; use of explosives.

Fig. 5. Fire Alarm Models Used in Los Angeles Fire Department School.

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These lectures are supplemented by the use of motion pictures and slides. We are firm believers in visual education. Chief officers are required to present lectures on different subjects. Lectures are also given at different times by experts from various lines of work. For instance, lectures on electricity are given by an electrical engineer from the Underwriters, through the city bureau of power and light, which also sends its chief engineer to lecture on electrical hazards of light wires. A representative of the city building inspector gives a lecture on building construction. An official of the water department talks on water mains, reservoirs, care of fire hydrants, etc. The Grinnell Sprinkler Company delegated one of their engineers to instruct our members on all points of the sprinkler system and cooperate with the fire department in giving a demonstration in their plant.

A professor from the University of California lectures on the action of water and fire on chemicals. An oil company official lectures on hazards of oil tank boilovers and proper use of foamite; a nationally known automotive engineer lectures on the proper lubrication and care of apparatus. Government experts lecture on rescue work and first aid; a well known expert lectures on the proper use of high explosives.

Classes Given Practical Demonstrations

Classes are taken through various manufacturing plants and oil refineries, in order that they may see the hazards they will meet in case of fire and get practical as well as theoretical knowledge of the same. Demonstrations are given of all the different kinds of apparatus used in the department, including pumping engines, aerial trucks, water tower, rescue company, foamite and salvage wagon, in order that a practical knowledge of all the apparatus may be gained.

The different lectures are made up into lessons which are given to the men and they take written examinations at stated intervals on the various subjects taught, and their papers are graded. The Civil Service Commission has access to these papers at any time; in fact, will be encouraged to consult these records in the event of examination and promotion.

Company Commanders First Instructed

It was deemed advisable to school the company commanders. which includes the captains and lieutenants, first of all, as we believe that the department generally is no better than its officers. After these officers have gone through the school, all members of the fire department will be obliged to attend, until the entire fire fighting force of 1500 has attended the school. Upon graduation each man receives a hand-engraved certificate or diploma which he does not get until we are satisfied that he has a thorough understanding of his duties and is a real asset to the department and the taxpayers of this city.

Since the school has been in operation there has been a marked increase in the efficiency of the fire department which the rank and officers of the department attribute to the work of this school, and while Los Angeles has had one of the lowest fire losses per fire and per capita in the United States for years, we feel certain that the benefits from the teachings of this school will be far-reaching and we believe that future records will show it will be the means of holding fire losses down to a minimum.

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