CONNECTICUT PLANTS READY TO COPE WITH “MADE FIRES”
Munitions Factories and Other Industries Organize Men to Cope With Sabotage and Arson
CONNECTICUT, munitions center of the United States and termed “The Essen of America” during the last World war, is taking every known precaution against sabotage and fires of suspicious origin in its hundreds of industrial plants. During the coming months, with hundreds of additional workers engaged in the manufacture of war material, fires will occur due principally to the upturn in production.
Concentration of Industries
At Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford. the state’s three largest cities, are located the plants which, brought about by national defense business, are employing the most number of men and women. For obvious reasons the names of these plants are not incorporated in this article. A Chamber of Commerce survey in one city in the southern part of the state revealed a weekly average payroll for December, 1940, of $1,706,618.
Industrial employment figures for the same months showed a mark of 43,136, a gain of 7,010 over the same month in 1939, and a new high since World War days. In citing these employment figures the purpose is to show what fire department officials know is the ultimate result: Where more help is employed, and production increases, there is always the possibility of more fires.
This view is based on the fact that many, at least, of the industries of the United States are, or soon will be, engaged in the manufacture of war materials, large and small. Two of the largest plants devoted to the manufacture of arms and ammunition are located in Connecticut. Also in this state can be found two world-famous aeroplane motor factories. This is but a little of what Connecticut is doing at the moment.
And all plants and buildings must be protected against sabotage and incendiarism. This involves, in nearly every case, uniformed guards, working in three shifts, at all plant gates. At Bridgeport. where war materials are being manufactured, none other than employees are allowed to pass through gates without identification.
Badges for Employees
All employees, at one of the larger factories, wear their photograph on a coat badge and are refused admittance to work unless the photobadge is displayed. This order includes the superintendent, general manager and the president of the firm. Guards have power of arrest, being special police officers.
“We are spending an enormous amount of money to prevent a fire in our factory,” one munitions factory official told the writer recently. “This involves, in nearly every case, changes in buildings, equipment, processes and materials. Also the training of new employees and, to a certain extent, of the present working force, as well, and a general disruption and alteration of accustomed procedure, all of which will tend to increase the likelihood of accidental fires.
“The danger of arson or incendiarism must be reckoned with because, for the purpose of sabotage, paid agents of unfriendly foreign governments, and members of various ‘subversive elements’ existing in this country today, will try to secure employment in our industrial plants.
“However, with constant altertness and intelligently planned procedure on the part of industrial managers, many fires may be prevented which otherwise would result from the mistakes of wellintentioned employees as well as from the deliberate action of malicious persons.
“The prevention and extinguishment of accidental fires in the immediate fuutre will be accomplished not so much by discovering and applying new fire-fighting methods and equipment as by making more intensive and extensive use of existing knowledge and facilities.
“It so happens that our Chief Guard at the plant is a volunteer fireman of many years and attached to one of the companies in his town. As head of our factory fire force he has given considerable time to the instruction of employees.
Fire drills are held weekly, conditions are checked throughout the several buildings on the number and location of fire extinguishers, standpipes, auxiliary fire alarm boxes and other devices.
“Certain dangers that, heretofore have been confined to specific industries and operations, now tend to become spread about rather generally.”
It the problem of eliminating these special hazards has been solved in the Connecticut factories, the same successful methods can be employed elsewhere. Under normal conditions incendiarism is responsible for a portion of our country’s annual fire loss. Under present conditions it is becoming a far more serious menace and one which every fire official must watch diligently.
The arsonist tries not only to create conditions favorable for a disastcrous fire but also, as far as possible, will try to make the fire extinguishing equipment ineffective. His efforts are greatly handicapped, however, by the presence of automatic burglar alarms, fire alarms, and sprinkler systems under efficient A.D.T. Company “fool-proof” control, which give instant warning of unauthorized entrance to a client’s plant or in the event of malicious tampering of the system.
Connecticut fire and police officials learned much in the first World war about the inner workings of subversive influences and how to cope with them. Edward J. Hickey, Commissioner of the State Police Department, was himself an operator for the Department of Justice in Connecticut during the entire World War period. Months ago, Commissioner Hickey mobilized the state’s 1,400 industries and led the nation in this respect. The work of “checking up’’ the state for protection against sabotage and malicious plant fires has the full cooperation of police, fire, military, and all other state departments and its municipalities, in connection with the industrial plant protection organiza tions.