A Fire Fan is a Worker
To the Editor:
In a previous issue of FIRE ENGINEERING, a writer asks the question “What is a Fire Fan?” and proceeds to answer it in as interesting an article as one has ever read on such a subject.
When he takes up the subject of the “Box Associations” he shows a real appreciation of their aims, but of course he could not mention them all and accordingly we venture to introduce the name of one of the hardest worked and least-advertised, the Box 4 Associates, Inc., of Worcester. Mass. As in the other groups, the Box 4 man is not a spark, nor a member of the sidewalk committee, but it also may be doubted whether he has ever thought of himself as a fire fan.
Born of the smoke and flame of a disastrous blaze some sixteen years ago, when a group of civilian volunteers found themselves working within the fire lines, the organization has grown to be a very practical auxiliary of the Fire Department, having definite duties in any fire emergency. The Worcester Fire Department, commanded by Chief Charles L. McCarthy, is maintained at a high standard. It has no place for spectators, nor time to waste on uninstructed assistance. It is a set of practical smoke-eating firemen. Anyone who works with it must know at least the rudiments of the play. Himself one of the outstanding fire fighters of the east, Chief McCarthy recognized that a citizens’ auxiliary could be made of some use to the Fire Department, and through the department to the community. He saw to it that Box 4 received certain elements of training and in return has been accorded the co-operation of Box 4 through a series of duties which, on reflection, might be described as arduous.
When a second alarm comes tapping over the circuits, the Associates, summoned by a notification system, respond with boots, coats and helmets, and on arrival at the fire come immediately under the orders of the Fire Chief. They remain on duty as part of the fire-fighting force until dismissed. Each member reports at the location of the Fire Patrol Truck and until detailed for other duties, he goes to work with the patrol crew. He has also had instruction from Superintendent Lorton C. Walden, of the Protective Department. He knows, at least, how to open a cover and most important, where not to put it. Details to other duties may come thick and fast and the member may soon be stretching water lines, carrying tools or messages, or making part of a crew to cover a vacant fire house.
A short time ago, after careful study, the Associates bought a flood-lighting outfit, which is operated by the members at all multiple alarms or when specially called. The value of this equipment needs no description. On arrival at a fire it goes into action like any other piece of apparatus, as directed by the Chief. Because it is so useful during overhauling, it is often the last unit to be ordered home.
The floodlights have been used outside the fire service. One cold night, when an airplane made a forced landing on an ice-covered lake, the police asked for their help and although a “no-service” call finally went on record, the lights had responded and were ready if needed Again, in a flood emergency, when hard-pressed city forces were overtaken by darkness, the lights were called for and for seven hours in a driving rain lit up a gravel pit which was furnishing badly-needed earth for a dike. Neither of these jobs made the morning papers.
In a city of wooden dwellings, the Glorious Fourth can be an anxious celebration for the Fire Department. One of the problems is to cover still alarms and minor fires without stripping the department to a point where a serious fire may lack an adequate response. Each Fourth-of-July period, the Associates procure and man auxiliary trucks which, under the command of a regular officer, are stationed at some ten fire houses.
These trucks carry hose and tools and become a second section of the company to which they are attached. When a still rings in. this auxiliary truck responds and deals with the fire. Usually it is a bonfire, or some minor occurrence and the chief result is added practice in the handling of 2 1/2-inch water lines. But not always. The record shows that the Box 4 trucks have handled house fires and cellar fires and every run they made and every minute they worked was just that much load lifted from the hardworked regulars. The experience gained in this duty has paid real dividends in greater emergencies.
Among the minor jobs may be numbered the patrolling of fire-boxes to dampen the spirits of Hallowe’en celebrators, who have an urge to pull the hook, and the furnishing of coffee and doughnuts by the commissary detail at multiple alarms.
The Box 4 Associates comprise 50 active members, who rate badges and are supposed to do the heavy work, plus 50 associate members who are probationers and also do heavy work. Meetings are held once a month and are like any other meeting of any other outfit, but the real gatherings are the active duty calls. The extremely efficient Fire Department holds multiple alarms to a minimum, but even at one-alarm jobs there is often something to do.
Vice-President, Box 4 Associates,
In Defense of Camden
To the Editor:
I note under the heading of “Some notable ‘Firsts’ in the Fire Service” appearing in your magazine of January, 1938, that Brooklyn is credited with having the second oldest fully paid Fire Department in the Country. I wish to offer for your consideration the following data.
Investigating in the morgue of the Courier-Post newspapers we find the following: “Camden paid Fire Department was established September 2, 1869. First Fire Marshal (Chief), Wm. Abels. First Fire Houses: one at 5th and Plum (Arch) St., one at Broadway and Ferry Ave., Independence Fire Company. First equipment, two engines, two hose carts and one ladder truck. Hose cart and engine at Broadway and Ferry Avenue. Hose cart, engine and ladder truck at 5th and Plum (Arch) Street. All were horse drawn.
It appears from the records that Camden has Brooklyn beaten by fourteen days. September 2, 1869, was the day the paid department was put in service. The ordinance, as records show in the City Clerk’s office, was passed a month prior to the installation of the department.
Plans will be made very soon to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of our department. The fact that it is the second oldest will give the celebration added distinction.
Hoping that you will give Camden the honor that is due her, I remain,
Very truly yours,
ROBERT A. WONSETLER,
Camden, N. J.
Fire Education in the Schools
To the Editor:
I am writing from a little town of 5,019 population in Michigan, of which we are proud. We have one of the best, if not the best equipped department for a town of that size in the state. We have two pumpers and one ladder truck, an old pumper in good shape and one 1938 model American-LaFrance 750gallon pumper. But what I want to describe is what we are doing to hold down the fire losses.
We have a plan of our own which is working out very well. Every year we have all the schools come at different times to the fire station. The high school students are excluded.
We start with the first grades and continue through the eighth grades. The teachers bring the children to the station and we show the pupils the apparatus and equipment, and explain their uses. Then we take them upstairs to the sleeping quarters and one man puts the children on the sliding pole and another is at the bottom to catch them if they come down too fast.
Next, we have our little school on fire prevention matters in the back of the station, and what to do in case of fire. These tots do not forget. After one lesson, they know what to do.
After the children are questioned, they are taken for a ride in the truck for a distance of about four city blocks, back to school. We tell them that if they don’t know their lesson, they will have to walk back to school. So far, no one has had to walk back. The children look forward to these annual visits.
Parents confirm our belief in this method. They tell us that the children make them examine the chimneys in attics, and provide cans for the oil mops.
When children reach high school, they think they know a great deal. Besides, after they have made the visit for eight years, there is not much loss by not continuing the same thing through the high school years. However, we continue to give fire drills in the high school.
We have a very good fire loss record. In 22 years we have had but one death through fire.
I am proud to tell you what a little department, consisting of four paid men and nine volunteers, can do if there are city officials who are broad-minded enough to help the firemen in their work.
HAROLD N. VOGT
Chief, Fire Department,
Boy Scouts for Department Aides
To the Editor:
I can remember years back, when the fire service was merely a job of excitement and fascination, and not much science or training was employed in fire protection. Today, the fire service has become a profession, and fire prevention, science and vocational training are essential to the preservation of life and our national resources.
Fire prevention is first in order and is most important. It must be kept before the public constantly. National Fire Prevention Week is good as far as it goes, but is only for a period, and is then forgotten.
The Fire Department of Dallas, Tex., is striving daily to educate the public on the importance of fire prevention, and to our long list of common (horse sense) ideas, we have added another feature. Several of our fire companies are sponsoring and training a Boy Scout troop at the fire stations. We conceived the idea that we would not only be helping to build character, but at the same time have 20 or 30 Boy Scouts in the neighborhood to help prevent fires
In the past two years, our vocational instructor has given the following lessons to classes in the department:
Standard First Aid Refrigerating sysAdvanced First Aid tems
Safety Accident Prevention
Dallas Key Rate
Public Water System
Air Conditioning systems
Chemistry of fire Public Relations
We do not claim to be original, just prodding along, trying to make Dallas safe and a better place in which to live. Has some one else an idea?
Very truly yours,
S. E. HANSEN,
Chief of Fire Department,