CONVENTION OF FIRE CHIEFS.
We Continue Our Report of the Convention of Fire Chiefs From Our Last Issue. The Topic Under Discussion was the Periodical Attack on Fire Departments by Underwriters.
Capt. Brophy thought that reliable insurance was a blessing to the community, that few business men could do business without the aid of insurance companies—in other words, their property must be insured, that a man of small means must have a policy of insurance on his home before he can secure means to build it. It is a well-known fact that this department controls millions and millions of dollars, but it could not exist without the fire department. He thought it unjust for an insurance agent, the president, secretary or any other officer to condemn unjustly a man who has, perhaps, spent the best years of his life in seeking not his own advancement, but in protecting the interests of others and the lives of the people as well. It is bad enough when a ward politician, to reward his services, will seek to remove a member of the department to make way for his friends, little caring what his qualifications are, but when an insurance agent, or anyone else, unjustly censures and holds up for condemnation a member of the fire department, it is the worst form of ingratitude that words can picture. Too much of this is done, but he believed very little of it came from those who were at the head of insurance companies, that very little of it emanated from the officers of large companies—it is the agents throughout the country, men who seek business without regard to the risk, but with the aim of adding to their own profits by seeking to secure the little commission by violating well laid down rules and instead of coming up like men and admitting that they have not done their duty, seek to throw the burden on the chief engineer.
In regard to the inspection of buildings he said in some cities they had a good system, but often the inspectors are graduates of colleges and schools and relatives of the officials of the different companies who were no more fitted for the position of inspector than he was for a preacher. (Laughter.) If the companies wish to save millions of dollars and desire to have a systematic and careful inspection of buildings they should go into the ranks of the fire department and secure the services of faithful, active men, who have acquired knowledge that can be acquired nowhere else, such men to be recommended by the head of the fire department. Then you will see the loss to insurance companies and propertyholders in our cities reduced in a wonderful degree. At times he had gone over the work of some of those so-called inspectors, and what they inspected was more than he could tell. He said that in the East some of the heads of the departments had recently been subjected to severe criticism from the insurance agents, but believed none of this came from responsible heads of companies.
After a man has spent the best years of his life responding to the alarm of fire, particularly in a large city, he is unfitted for most any other occupation. His compensation is not sufficient for him to retire and live, and it is the rankest injustice and cruelty to embitter the life of such a man by casting him out, claiming that he has not done his duty when he has done the best he could before God and man. At the conclusion he was greeted with applause.
Ex-Chief Benedict said that he had been listening to the remarks of the captain, and thought he had hit the nail on the head when he said the blame lay principally with the agents. He thought if the companies would not write a policy until after the buildings had been thoroughly inspected by competent men there would be a great difference in the fire losses throughout the country, but if good companies refused to take the risk there were plenty others that would. He thought that the principal complaints in regard to the matter of blaming the fire department came from the brokers and agents.
Alderman Stevenson of Montreal spoke on the same subject. He said it seemed to he the universal law all over the country, and thought it was seldom that an insurance agent would so far forget himself as to let a risk go. He said he had been in the insurance business himself, but he had another occupation, and he had refused risks time and time again that he knew were not good. He said the cities should have a good fire department and well equipped in every respect, and should also have a good building law and see that it is enforced, because fire engineers are not able to stand the enormous and unjust criticism which is seen in all the papers taken up. At the conclusion of his remarks he was loudly applauded.
Topic No. u.—”Which is most desirable for service, hose wagons or hose reels? Can rubber hose be carried to advantage in wagons?”
Chief E. L. Vaughn of Worcester, read a paper on this subject. He decided in favor of the hose wagon as it was more durable, always ready, quicker and kept the hose in better condition. Chief Brown of Jersey City said that the city he rep. resented had hose wagons in use, and he thought it most serviceable. Had four last year and ordered two more this year. He decidedly approved of hose wagons.
Topic No. 13.—“ How can a more fraternal feeling be established between fire departments and the fire patrol service?”
Paper was read by E. T. Shephard, superintendent of the Chicago fire patrol. He thought the fire department and fire patrol should unite in endeavoring to aid the heads of each of these departments to keep the fire losses of their respective cities under control, they should be ambitious to make their department superior in every respect. This ambition has been no doubt cast aside and it is possible will be again. The heads of these departments owe a duty in their respective cities to themselves and mankind in general. No matter which should be in the wrong, the fire department or the salvage corps, they should not cast aside their ambition simply to listen to the approach of the green-eyed monster that oftentimes reveals itself. The feeling sometimes exists in the minds of the heads of the departments that they can get along without the others’ help, but he wished to state without fear that neither one could get along without the other or without the others’ good will. The chief of the fire department may say to himself, “ this superintendent or chief of the salvage corps is having a great deal of success and is making friends ; he may make my position a hard one to hold and possibly by fair or unfair means secure it.I can in a great many ways make things unpleasant for him.” Now the other man may think this way, ” the chief of the fire department is a very nice gentleman, but I don t think he is the proper man for chief ; he is imbued with the idea that he is the only fire chief in the land. I am successful, I have the underwriters for my friends, I know the fire business thoroughly and should have his position. Now, I will do all I can to injure his success,” and as in the other case he is backed up by his subordinates. He thought when th£ underwriters have a man in their employ who has not sense enough to know more than to antagonize the fire department to procure what they do not need, it is time for them to discharge that man and to select a man of common sense to look to their interest and aid the fire department in every way they can. On the other hand, when the city finds a man that has so small a hold on his people and his position that a chief of the salvage corps is going to secure his position on account of popularity and thereby do an injury to the fire service, it is time for the municpal government to supply the place with a proper man no matter who he may be.
He thought much good might be accomplished by co-operation, and each aiding the ether. He thought that extending the hand of friendship, fellowship and good cheer, and disregarding selfish wishes, were the prime factors to be used in establishing a better feeling between the fire department and the salvage corps.
Topic No. 14.—“0o factories and warehouses sometimes become converted into gas retorts, in which a sufficient quantity of gas is generated from the heat of a moderate fire, to the end that the building is presently filled with gas to the point of explosion?” Paper to be read by President Atkinson of the Manufacturers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Boston, Mass. It was moved and carried that the reading of the paper be omitted, and to come up at the next convention.
CHIEF STANTON’S CASE DECIDED.
Chief Ferguson presented the report of the committee appointed to investigate the case of Chief Stanton of Salt Lake City, by which the chief was exonerated from all charges made against him, and were McElroy, his accuser, a member of the association, the committee would recommend his immediate expulsion. A motion was made to enter this report on the minutes, which was amended by Chief Swenie, who proposed, to lay it on the table. This was passed by a vote of fifteen to ten.
Adjourned at one o’clock, to meet Friday afternoon at 3 P. M.
FRIDAY, 3 P. M.
The committee reported in favor of the following resolution on slow construction buildings, in which that class of construction in thickly settled districts was condemned :
Whereas, The continued erection of large structures of enormous area, of great height, on the principle known as mill construction, is proceeding in our cities, notwithstanding the disastrous experiences of the cities of St. Louis, Boston and Milwaukee; and
Whereas, Such buildings are primarily designed for special industrial purposes and intended to be built in isolated places, where in the event of fire their destruction could not cause further loss; and
Whereas, These buildings are now being built in such parts of our cities where their location is a greater source of danger to surrounding property and to the safety of a city than ordinary buildings; be it
Resolved, That this association hereby declares that buildings of the character described should be restricted in area, and that it recommends such restriction as may be deemed expedient and determined upon by the fire authorities ; that this association recommends such changes in the plans of such buildings now or hereafter erected that will enable their speedy ventilation in the event of fire.
Secretary Hill reported that the membership of the association, including honorary members, was 424. Of this number 246 are active. The treasurer reported receipts aggregating $1886—expenditures amounting to the same.
The Stanton matter was again brought up, as some of the chiefs thought that after the committee had unanimously passed a resolution exonerating Chief Stanton, that it was unfair to jump right on to them and table it ; it was an injustice to the committee. After some discussion the report was declared adopted fully exonerating Chief Stanton.
A resolution was offered by Chief Joyner to the effect that the request of the National Board of Underwriters for a uniform and regular data concerning fire and fire losses is proper and necessary for the good of the community, and that the chiefs will endeavor to furnish the same to the local board upon their request, and that the secretary be authorized to confer with the National Board of Underwriters in regard to the subject and that a proper system be submitted for their consideration. Carried.
Chief Hale proposed that the following chiefs and superintendents of the fire department of Great Britain and Ireland be made honorary members of the association : Chief Purcell, of Dublin ; G. B. Williams, Edinburg; G. W. Parker, Belfast, Ireland ; A. S. Euston, Cork, chief of the department of Birmingham.
Chief Hale said that as he had been appointed to represent the American firemen at the International Congress of Fire Engineers and had been kindly treated by those gentlemen, he would take it as a special favor to have their names both on the roll of membership and this association. Carried.
The following names were offered for membership : Horace S. Folger, general secretary of the National Fire Brigade Union ; F. G. Richarfs, James S. Gilbert, New Zealand ; Simon Brentano, New York ; F. O. Afield, New York city. It was moved that all officials of fire departments representing their cities be represented in this list. Carried.
Chief Joyner moved that a full list of all the ladies visiting the convention be enrolled and printed in the proceedings. Carried.
Chief Higgins moved that a committee be appointed to nominate the officers for the ensuing year. Carried. President appointed Chiefs Knofllock, O. ; Hendricks, Conn. ; Swenie, Chicago; Merker, Ind. ; Benedict, Newark ; Lemoin, Grand Rapids ; Bonner, New York city.
The secretary read the report of the committee on “ Exhibits.” It was moved that the report be received and published in the proceedings of the convention.
Chief Taylor of Richmond, Va., was asked to prepare suitable resolutions on the death of several of the chiefs who died during the year, the same to be forwarded to the secretary, to be published in the proceedings, and a copy of the same be sent to the families of the deceased members.
The committee reported the following as officers of the convention for the ensuing year : James Foley, Milwaukee, president ; Chief H. A. Hills, secretary ; Chief D. C. Larkin of Dayton, treasurer, and the following vice-presidents : Miles Humphreys, Pennsylvania; Henry Heinmiller, Ohio; E. W. Fisk, New York ; W. C. Astley, New Jersey; A. J. Kennedy, Connecticut William Brophy, Massachusetts; C. If. Swan, Rhode Island ; W.G. Puller, Virginia ; A. J. Harris, Florida ; F. J. Roulette, Georgia ; Jam. Burke, Tennessee ; J. F. Pelletier, Kansas City, Mo.; C. E. Staub, Kansas ; Jas. O’Neil, Illinois : Thos. K. Harding, Michigan ; Wm. Merker, Indiana ; Charles Nicholson, Iowa ; John C. Spencer, Wisconsin ; John Jackson, Minnesota; J. J. Galligan, Nebraska; Julius Pearse, Colorado ; B. U. Bell, Texas ; J. O. Cauble, South Carolina ; Jerry Carleton, South Dakota; F. E. Perkins, Vermont; Phillippe Dorvalle, Quebec; J. F. Mullians, Alabama; W. A. Stanton, Utah; R. Fergusen, Kentucky ; H. M. Lillis, Washington ; Geo. W. Taylor, Oklahoma.
It was moved that a committee consisting of Chiefs Lindsay, Nofflock and Hendricks be appointed to escort Chief Foley to the chair. As the chief was escorted to the chair he was greeted with loud applause.
Chief Purcell presented to Chief Foley two beautiful onyx memorials about two feet high and mounted in gold, one representing a hose nozzle and the other a fire trumpet, with the inscription :
“ Presented to James Foley, chief of the fire department, Milwaukee, Wis., by the engineers and members of the fire department, as a token of regard and esteem and in honor of his election to the presidency of the National Association of Fire Engineers, August 25, 1893.”
Chief Foley replied in a neat and appropriate speech, thanking the department for its kind appreciation of his in the presentation of two such beautiful memorials, after which the meeting adjourned sine die.
The tests of fire apparatus and appliances on Friday afternoon proved very interesting. The smoke protectors, patents of two inventors, were tested in wooden houses constructed in the street near the exhibit hall. When the smoke and fumes from the materials ignited in the places were sufficiently dense, representatives of both appliances entered them, and remained inside for fourteen and a half and fifteen minutes respectively. These protectors do not differ materially from others of a similar kind exhibited before, where air has to be pumped through hose to supply them. The trial of the Eastman holder was cut short by the breaking of the hose near the coupling, but so much of the test as was seen demonstrated that this tool is one of the most useful and effective of fire department appliances. With the Eastman nozzle and holder a splendid stream was thrown through a three-way Siamese and two and a half-inch nozzle, and other sizes were to be tried only for the above mishap.
Mention of the trial of the Combined Fire Engine and Hose Wagon is given elsewhere, but it may be stated that this test proved of more interest than any of the others, for the reason that the invention was new to many of the members, and it is likely it may come into general use in suburban districts and small cities in future. The engine is constructed from the best models, can make steam and throw a stream as quickly and effectually as any other pattern engine built. The hose wagon part is arranged so that the hose can be taken over the side the same as in any ordinary wagon. The trials of firing up. throwing water and taking out hose, were executed in such a satisfactory manner as to leave no doubt in the minds of those present that the combined engine and hose wagon is a success and has come to stay.
The other tests were those of the Hale water tower, which worked, as usual, perfectly, throwing an immense stream over the large storage building at the wharf. The fire boat Cataract showed some fine throwing through two and one-half and four-inch nozzles, and the Champion chemical engine did good service in extinguishing flames in the wooden buildings where the smoke protector trials were made.
Around the convention hall were placed large crayon portraits of the leading chief engineers, and that of Chief Purcell of Dublin. This was an idea of Chief Foley’s and it proved a graceful compliment to those whose pictures adorned the walls.
Chief Purcell was presented with a handsome gold badge and made an honorary member of the associati on.
The presentation of a trumpet and play pipe of onyx, mounted in gold, twenty-four inches high, by the members of the Milwaukee Fire Department, was a very beautiful and appropriate gift and showed the cordial and friendly relations existing between the chief and his men.
Altogether the convention may be set down as a great success.
A SCHOOL OF FIRF. EXTINGUISHMENT.*
When Columbus discovered America a land was added to the sisterhood of nations that was destined to be ravaged by fire as no other land and people have been ever before.
The fires that have marked the settlement of this country— the fires that have attended its growth—the fires that we chronicle to-day, are but testimony to the intense energies of our people, their stupendous accomplishments in every direction of human enterprise, and it well may be said that its very fires bespeak the magnitude and resources of this land.
But while this tremendous fire loss and the multitude of its fires was, for many years at least, a normal condition incident to the rapid growth of this country and the equally swift accumulations and concentration of values, the continuance of this destruction on its present scale is highly wasteful, and within the actual knowledge of all competent to speak upon the subject, is in a large degree preventable.
Thoughtful writers have tried to educate the public mind and community to a realization of this ever increasing destruction and the methods for its effectual prevention.
Your very association was called into existence just twenty years ago because the practical firemen of this country were among the earliest to discern the waste of property. They desired to use all the great influence and authority that attaches to the opinion of firemen who have made fire extinguishment their life-calling, and they recognized the value of a permanent and representative association to give official expression and voice to all ideas and experiences that would help to prevent, diminish and control fires. And the work of the National Association of Fire Engineers has constantly been a stimulation to better fire fighting. It has created new methods and has improved old ones.
• An address delivered by Simon Brentano at Milwaukee, August 23,1898.
The first topic discussed before your convention was fire prevention ; and its suggestions are as practicable to-day and as ready of application as they were twenty years ago.
The careful reading of the subjects discussed at the various conventions assembled hitherto, shows an earnest purpose to gather every possible advantage from the daily experiences you meet with, and no one familiar with the practical discussions before this body touching upon every phase of fire extinguishment can be unmindful of the great benefits that have resulted from this association.
The urgent necessity for every form of organization on the part of firemen that will improve, encourage and promote the best and most approved means of fire extinguishment and all that relates to this art is self-apparent.
It has taken 6000 years to establish the fact that fire extinguishment is accomplished by brain force instead of brute force. It has taken this immense span of time, an incalculable destruction of property throughout the world, and a needless sacrifice of life, to demonstrate that fire extinguishment is a profession ! And even now, after this long period of time, so few, so very few among the many, recognize the fact that fire extinguishment is an art.
The widespread belief that every man without previous knowledge, training, aptitude and experience is fitted to be a fireman, has done more to retard the elevation and improvement in fire extinguishment and to discredit the work of meritorious firemen than all other agencies combined.
This impression in the common mind that the unskilled have equal capacity with the skilled, the general lack of knowledge of the public as to the requisites of a trained fireman ; the inability, in other words, to distinguish between them ; and, again, the signal defect in the attitude of the public, in their failure to discern that fire extinguishment has become a profession—all constitute a menace to the best interests of the firemen and the fire service. _
The indifference of firemen as to what the common belief is in this direction has also contributed largely to the dangerous and false impression so widely prevalent—that anybody can be a fireman I
It is the office of the firemen themselves to point out in all places and at all times that the duties relating te and embraced in fire extinguishment are only safely and properly entrusted to those skilled and experienced in this calling.
The public should realize that in nearly all of our cities fire extinguishment has changed from a calling that can be voluntarily assumed in the moment of emergency, to be laid aside in the meantime. The public should know that the responsibilities and duties imposed upon a fireman, paid or volunteer, demand the constant exercise of the soundest judgment, skill and experience. The public should be taught the danger that uniformly and positively attends the appointment of incapable men in the fire service.
The present situation of affairs, then, in which the attitude of the community and of the majority of people is one ot unconcern to the real status of the fireman and toward improved fire extinguishment, can only be a danger and obstruction to the fire service.
To correct such a condition it requires the united and intelligent efforts on the part of influential and accredited fire authorities.
But until the time comes when capable, conscientious and ambitious firemen will join in a common effort to renounce any association and connection with incompetent and inexperienced men; and until that time when they will establish under the law that fire extinguishment is a profession, and can only legally admit those of proper qualifications for entering upon the same—until then, one of the most humane, ennobling and self-sacrificing professions will be looked down upon as a degraded, unsystemized and uncertain service.
What is the real fire service of to-day ? In its best state and as practiced by the true fireman it is a science. It calls for an instant and correct judgment to be exercised over facts and circumstances confronting one absolutely without previous notice and knowledge; and the successful fireman of to-day possesses an alert mind, courage, skill and other attributes as high as those demanded in any other human calling.
The fact of the slight estimation in which the profession of fire extinguishment is held leads to almost insuperable difficulty in providing departments and communities with sufficient appliances and means for performing the work demanded. Firemen are deficient in respect of suitable and ample apparatus that will enable them to control and extinguish fires, without fault of their own; and when, as a result of the parsimony and misjudgment which has withheld the proper means of extinguishment, a fire gets beyond control, the first blame and the impression prevails that the department is inefficient, although no department similarly equipped could have done any better.
We see actually in hundreds of our communities that the recommendations for the purchases, regular equipment and the strength of some important part are disregarded.
Communities grow, but reluctantly furnish the necessary protection to the increased values and added territory they have gained.
Whenever firemen secure their real recognition in the municipal service as people competent to express the controlling judgment as to their own necessities, and whenever they es. tablish that those possessing a trained knowledge in the art of fire extinguishment should Vie followed in their recommendations for equipments and in matters generally appertaining to the service, they will have attained an immense forward stride
While in many instances we witness a department not wholly efficient in equipment, but capable otherwise; in other communities we are confronted with local political conditions which make it impossible to secure a body of men fitted for fire extinguishment.
There are other departments of the public service where professional politics have entered and defiled—there are many others that bear the baleful foot-marks of the politician, but nowhere else is the retribution so swift, the harm so unerring, as in the fire service.
The exercise of the right kind of politics is the inalienable prerogative of every American citizen. It created our country, has sustained it through all its perils, and will vouchsafe its glorious future.
But the great state-craft of the ward politician that can make a proficient fireman in twenty-four hours’ notice out of a man who does not know the difference between a hose-butt and a water tower, and who has probably never seen either; and the sagacity of the ward politician who can discern in certain individuals the capacity entitling them fo promotion and command where no one else can, this is the kind of politics that is the blight, the curse, and the ultimate doom of any department so afflicted. Keep clear of it, its very beneficiaries are its earliest victims.
Your association, keen in its penetration of the dangers threatening the standing of the fire service on this account, in its first meeting deplored the interference of politics, and in a resolution declared that in the appointment of chief engineers and heads of departments partisan purposes and political influences are taken into consideration and brought to bear, greatly to the detriment and to the efficiency of the department and the extinguishment of fires in our land ; that it is a matter of great importance that the most efficient and trustworthy be placed in charge; and, therefore, it is recommended that all political influence and party prejudice be altogether annulled and thrown aside in such appointments, and only the most efficient and trustworthy be placed at the heads of said departments, so that responsibility be intelligently assumed, and that the very best means be employed both in the prevention and extinguishment of fires and loss of life; and that the term of chief engineer, heads of departments, be extended, and when found efficient and trustworthy, the same be retained.”
Is not this a pitiful plea—asking that the men who have been instrumental in the saving of property and life be retained!
Your second convention declared that “the appointment, retention or dismissal of men for political considerations is suicidal.”
The actual peril of any political influence in the power of appointment, retention and promotion, and indeed the danger of such interference or control in fire department matters, the threatening and alarming consequences of political influence, however remote, iu any matters concerning the practical extinguishment of fires, has been debated thoroughly before every convention of this association, and in your proceedings are recorded the earnest, eloquent and dignified resolutions resenting and condemning such interference.
Have your resolutions resulted in good ? Certainly they have, although we may have no broad, practical evidence of their effect.
But like all other influences at work, which aim to teach the people at large the changed condition, the high and skilled calling of the American fireman, your resolutions lend the great weight of their authority, and help to fashion the public mind to the necessity of entrusting fire extinguishment to the skilled and proficient only.
Perhaps it would be idle to expect a greater accomplishment of practical results as the outgrowth of the resolutions of your association, when they have not been followed by any active measures to enact them into legislation.
It should be remembered it is a comparatively brief space of time which records the establishment of the paid fire department ; and the beneficent results of the skill, training and discipline of the modern department are not so inculcated in the knowledge of the public as they should be.
It is clear, however, that the time for resolutions is past, and the moment for action is here.
The ceaseless destruction by fire, and the changing conditions of our communities in population, in manufacture and in all other aspects that can contribute to losses, tax the capacity of our alert firemen and strain the resources of our best equipped departments. It is fitting, therefore, and no occasion has been more propitious, that your body shall guide the State associations in securing in our various States such legislative enactments on our statute books as shall unify the strength, the purpose, and the work of the fire departments of this country, whether paid or volunteer.
We have not in any State a law universal throughout the State in relation to the subject of fire extinguishment and fire protection.
The propriety of invoking general legislation in fire matters has been proposed before this. Its necessity is made clearer every day, and it has now become the manifest duty on the part of firemen to endeavor to secure all legitimate legislation that will promote better fire extinguishment. . –
It would be futile to attempt here the details of what such general laws should embrace ; but I believe there will be on the part of this association a full record with the broad suggestions that I will touch upon, and which I think should be established as law’ throughout our States.
First, we are aware that the volunteer service is bound to be preserved for years in many sections of this country where a paid department cannot be maintained.
But it is not fair that a volunteer department should enroll or be permitted to enroll members who merely wish to escape local taxation or jury duty or both, or to enroll members whose payment of a fine will extenuate any non-attendance for fire service.
The State should reorganize the whole volunteer system by requiring an enlistment under a general fire law, and under which form of enlistment a man would obligate himself for some specific time and for some specific duties, and to perform the same willingly, cheerfully and obediently.
This law should contain the most rigid provisions for defining and punishing insubordination.
The law should further provide for the kind and class of equipment and apparatus essential to fire extinguishment, and should not permit the organization or continuance of any volunteer organization not in compliance with such standard legal requirements.
This law should in addition provide for an annual inspection on the part of the State authorities of all such apparatus and organizations.
The law should also establish the permanency of the chief officers of the volunteer organizations. When elected, it should be for a term sufficiently long to enable the experience to be gained to make a man proficient, and it should also be established that all promotions and elections in the volunteer service should be in the order of rank.
In other words, the law should define the legal position of the volunteer firemen substantially like that of the State militia. The volunteer organization reorganized under such a plan as it is here briefly outlined would be advanced in efficiency and rank enormously.
The matter of extending volunteer protection which protects is only of an importance co-equal with the necessity for legally compelling communities populous enough to maintain a wholly paid department.
It is the very mockery of law and of our legal resources that suffers a community to grow without resting under compulsion of any kind to provide any definite protection against fire.
The apathy, ignorance and freedom from legal responsibilities for any default in this direction on the part of the public officials, whose authority extends to fire protection, should forever be rooted out of this country.
No single man’s judgment, nor that of any number of men in simple administration of civic functions for the time being, should be that which decides whether fire protection is necessary ; and if so, to what extent.
The law should establish, demand and impose the maintenance of some form of fire protection everywhere. The law would enforce no hardship in establishing a condition of standard fire extinguishment.
The duty of the commonwealth is to furnish the citizen protection from public dangers. The function of fire protection in municipal affairs is paramount. Upon the safe protection, immunity from, and ready control of fires, depend the prosperity, the importance and the happiness of a community, as much as it does on any other department of the municipal service.
The general laws which provide for the maintenance of a paid fire department should establish the minimum equipment. Every State should define the legal position of a fireman in such a law.
It should provide for the appointment of men only after a proper examination and after fulfilling certain requirements.
It should fix a probationary period.
It should, after a man has been accepted in the regular service, provide for his permanency and pension ; and it should prohibit the dismissal of any man, except for cause and upon written charges and after full opportunity to be heard in delense.
The law should permit no promotion, except in order of rank ; and should permit no promotion irom a lower to a higher grade, except upon and after an examination.
All firemen recognize the boundless good that results from any legal measures that give permanence to the service and afford legal protection to their position during efficiency and good behavior.
No service can expect to attract or retain the best class of men so long as their positions are not secure.
The law, in its relation to the paid fire departments, should provide for the direct control and maintenance of the insurance patrol by the regular municipal department. The patrol is, in fact, the third arm of the service. So far as the city of New York is concerned, the law declares that the “ department shall be charged with the duty of preventing and extinguishing fires and of protecting property from water used at fires.” The protection of property from water used at fires is so largely the work performed by the patrol that it exemplifies the occasion for having this important service as a part of the regular department, to the end that the quickest, fullest and largest advantage may be taken to extinguish fires with the least loss. No criticism on the excellent work done by the patrol is intended or contemplated in advocating its incorporation with the department proper. But the work performed by it is one that should be maintained by the public and not by a private tax, and the usefulness of its splendid services can surely be further augmented when under the direct control of the fire department.
This law should also provide for the establishment and maintenance of a fire alarm telegraph system. It is an inseparable part of a modern fire department; and no department, however otherwise equipped, is efficient without it.
It is to be regretted that our departments do not train their men in the telegraph arm of the service. In cities having central offices, the employees might with profit become part of the uniformed force. The telegraph service—the most powerful ally to the fire service—like all other means, methods and appliances that relate to fire extinguishment, should be under the final authority of the chief engineer, because I believe that every part of the service under such control is brought better and surer under the quickening and wholesome influence of the uniformed force—the men who put out the fires, and who are anxious and ready to accelerate every means for doing so better.
And eventually, either separately or in close affinity with a general fire law, must come a general building law. Bad buildings discredit some of the best work of our firemen.
The parallel of this is illustrated in the man with one leg, one arm, one lung, one eye, and suffering from heart disease and with a variety of other fatal ailments promiscuously attending him. When that man dies, everybody wonders how he lived so long. Well, we have literally thousands of buildings in the physical condition of this man, and yet, when such a building burns, everybody wants to know why it burnt.
The subject of an improved and safe building art is so closely related to reduced fire losses that it must forever be a matter of the deepest concern to our firemen and indeed to all those charged by duty with caring for the public safety and welfare.
There can be no contention in view of the diversified construction in our country and in the different parts of it, that many, many years must elapse until we shall be benefited, on any broad scale, by laws and practices having to do with safer and better building.
As it is, the practical experience of the firemen of this country has been a guide to our architects, our builders, and has been the real instructor to our public authorities in framing the improved laws which now prevail in some of our cities; and the fire service has contributed, indeed, in every way, a great deal to a safe and improved construction throughout this country.
It is a serious question, in view of necessary concentration of values which modern commercial conditions impose, how far buildings shall be restricted in respect of height and area.
The exigencies of business and other conditions have caused to be reared enormous structures in all of our cities, covering extensive area, of great height and filled in many cases with merchandise or other material of a quickly inflammable character.
These buildings constitute a serious menace to surrounding property, and in some instances, and under certain circumstances, they threaten the safety of a city.
It is a wise legal restriction that no structure should be so built or occupied that in the event of fire it can for any reason whatsoever portend such a serious danger.
Experienced firemen realize the anxiety and responsibility of a fire of this class, where the resources of a department are seriously taxed, and when a single unfavorable circumstance, such as a poor water supply, the throwing out of service of companies and apparatus, or the occurrence of other fires at the same time, can have most disastrous results.
Even the laudable ambition of private gain should not overstep the limit of public prudence.
Other phases of such a general fire law should establish a standard size hose coupling, and such a provision would set at rest this important question.
And while it is not contemplated in the law that a State bureau should exercise any control over or abridge the authority ol any paid department, except to provide a minimum equipment, the bureau should record and contain the statistics relating to fire losses, which should be made in every State a matter of public record ; and, accordingly, the law should prescribe a uniform report as to certain facts on the part of all departments and communities, that will give a complete, reliable and authoritative exhibit of facts that concern practical fire extinguishment.
Notwithstanding all of our deficiencies in law and despite the many disadvantages under which work must be done, America, illustrious for her manifold accomplishments in the world’s progress, is alike distinguished for her advancement in fire extinguishment.
The necessities of this land have evolved the best practical methods of fire extinguishment extant, and to this country we owe the modern fireman and the modern system of fire extinguishment.
Other lands, comparatively secured from fire and only threatened remotely with dangers that are a daily menace with us, yet recognize in America the best index to their equipment.
The American firemen and the American fire service were the first to establish and pronounce that celerity is the fundament of efficient fire extinguishment.
She has impressed her valuable axiom on other lands so well, that we find in the gradual course of adoption in all foreign lands the telegraph service in conjunction with the fire service and to the release of horses. We find also the swinging harness. the sliding pole, the controlling nozzle, the auxiliary boiler constantly maintaining steam, and other American appliances, all conducing to the improvement and safety of foreign cities.
The celerity of the uniformed force has been of deep import on other callings in America.
The hospital ambulance, with its quick hitch ; the police patrol, with the swinging harness and its whole idea of response developed from the fire service ; and the official usage by the army of the United States of America of the quick hitching collar for the light batteries, reflect the highest compliment and credit to the American fire service, and its aid and benefits to callings other than its own.
And yet this country which has really created and fashioned the profession of fire extinguishment has done nothing to perpetuate it.
The knowledge which is often gained at the very peril of your lives—the experiences that are derived after many a memorable fight, are not and cannot be transmitted to those who are to come after us.
There is no profession practiced—there is no special calling followed in the world to-day without having its school where its teachings can be made authoritative and live forever. And yet here is a calling of vital interest to all, charged with the protection of life, charged with the protection of property, and exercising constantly a care and responsibility so sacred and so vast that it is alarming to see that it depends alone upon its daily experience to maintain its teachings.
We need a school for fire extinguishment 1
We need a school where those who wish to adopt the profession of a fireman can receive practical, competent and systematic training in the science and methods of fire extinguishment.
We need a school so that it will forever disabuse the idea that those unskilled, those untried and those incapable can he firemen.
We need a school because it will make uniform the instruction to all the best prevailing methods of fire extinguishment.
We need a school where the individual experiences of the fireman, the improvements and the progress of the service can be authoritatively promulgated, so that its teachings and its practice shall prevail and give equal advantage to all departments to obtain, enlarge and practice the best art of fire extinguishment.
We need a school which will be accepted by firemen and which will gather and broaden and perpetuate the best means and methods of fire extinguishment.
We need a school so that there shall be some recorded information which is authoritative and accepted by all firemen as establishing the accustomed manner of fire extinguishment, so that when another epidemic of investigation into fire department matters again comes over the land, some definite information may be available to the firemen.
Firemen should remember that at present no information is at hand, and there does not exist in regard to fire department matters and methods any collective data from which or by reason of which a standard of comparison can be made to judge different communities. It should also be remembered that the conditions to be taken into account, in order at any time to institute a true comparison, are so diverse, and embrace so many different factors, that the greatest forbearance should be exercised in the criticism of one community against another. In this same connection should be mentioned those instances within the experience of many here, where the department has done some of its most creditable work, but where, on account of an unusual loss or some attendant circumstance, inquiry and criticism is made, and the service placed in a defensive position, and one of blame instead of praise ; singularly enough in such cases, those arrayed against the department are usually triumphant in convincing and establishing their opinion, because as far as mere words go they are greater adepts at fire extinguishment than our best people. Firemen, unfortunately, do not detect quickly enough the necessity for repelling any misstatement regarding their work and their methods.
We need a school of fire extinguishment so that those in charge of large industrial plants and in charge of valuable property can be taught to be efficient in the use of the stationary appliances that are usually present, and so that these people can be a source of co-operation at times, instead of a detriment to a department.
We need a school because it would compel the recognition of fire extinguishment as a science, and because it would exert an active influence in removing the service from the field of politics.
We need a school because it would dignify the calling of a fireman, and because it would elevate the art and methods of fire extinguishment, and advance its practical methods better than could be done in any other manner.
We need a school so that a permanent interest can be aroused in an intelligent public mind, and that will emphasize that the work you are doing and have been doing for years ranks as a profession. We need a school that will enable people to realize what the fire service is.
Do you ever think yourself of the wide sphere of the duties of our departments, and how impartially and justly they are performed, and how the broad functions of the service should cherish the admiration of all.
No home so wealthy—none so poor ; no property so great— none so small; no life so treasured—none so vile ; nationality, creed—no distinction is known, none ever made. It recognizes peril to fife and fire alone !
And, finally, we need a school so that through its instrumentality the great duty of fire protection may be further fostered that its best methods will endure ; and to the further end that for his care, alacrity, judgment, arduous and perilous work in protecting and conserving the material interests of his country, her lives, her storehouses, her very wealth, the meed of just praise may be given to the American fireman.