Explanation of the Richmond Flying Squadron Plan by Secretary Jones.
To the Editor:
Some time ago I received a copy of your valuable paper, of September 25, containing a portion of an interview I had given, concerning my views as to how to cope with the present shortage of firemen in our local fire department.
I wish to call your attention to the fact that you state it would seem to be practical only for cities of, say, 150,000 or less—well, that is just what I was figuring on, a city of about 150,000— Richmond, and of course had no idea that any one would think that this plan with only three squadrons, or zones, would apply generally everywhere. If this plan was worked in larger cities there would naturally have to be more squadrons, and in smaller cities, fewer.
I might also add, that in mapping out my plan I figured on our local geography, and the shape ot our city, and other local conditions. In regard to your other objection that it would be necessary to further deplete the already short-handed companies to fill the ranks of the flying squadrons, etc., I will, to make it plain, give you the following figures: We have a roll of 201 firemen assigned to companies when our quota is full, and have 22 companies, four of which are in the far suburbs and are not affected by this plan, as there is only one man short in the four companies. We now have 56 vacancies, thus leaving 145 men on active duty, thus depleting the companies, some of them as high as five men, and others only one or two men and as our companies average from 10 to 11 men each, you will see that some companies have nine men, and others equally as important have only six or seven men each. Now, by taking from one to three men, as they can spare them best, from these already short-handed companies, but retaining at least six men in each company where two pieces of apparatus are maintained, we can thus obtain 24 men; eight for each of the three proposed flying squadrons, and as these flying squadrons would cover about three times the territory as an ordinary company would, and all of the 145 men would still be working. It seems apparent that there must naturally be more men available at fires with the men thus distributed in the flying squadrons, than as at present, with a number of companies short as many as four men, and to make myself more explicit, I submit the following table of companies, showing the quota when filled, together with the present vacancies in each, and also how they would show up with the flying squadrons in effect:
One Piece-triple combination suburban ompanies-not tigured on.
Now let’s see how this plan will work out under actual conditions. We will suppose an alarm from Box 27, to which four companies respond:
We will take another box, one located in the center of our city and also in the center of our mercantile district (Box 317), and show how it will work out, similar to above box:
Note.—You will see that 1 assign two flying squadrons to this box, as it is important, but with only one, we would have as many men as the present system.
Of course, men will have to be off duty on their relief days, and for meals, the same as they do now, and these will have to be deducted from these figures, but the larger numbpr of men can stand this, reduction better than the smaller.
You will understand that the figures noted represent our present abnormal short-handed condition, and when the companies are filled to their normal quotas, then we will have more men stationed in the companies and more in the flying squadrons, and the ratio of both will be improved accordingly, .and when the. quota is full, then is the time to put the “school system” suggested, into effect, but at the present time this could not he done successfully.
This plan originally was gotten up a long time ago when I was trying to figure out how the firemen could get more time off duty; they now have five days off each month, and before the shortage of men developed, I had worked it out so that with the flying squadrons we could always have more men, or as many as at present at every alarm and still allow the men ten days off each month, or every third day off, which can he done with our full quota of men, and when a local reporter came to me for a statement as to how we could cope with the man shortage, I just eliminated part of my original plan and gave him the interview that you doubtless saw.
Yours very truly,
L. S. JONES,
Secretary, Fire Department, Richmond, Virginia,