In Defense of Volunteers

To THE Editor:—In reading the issue of your valuable paper of Feb. 25, 1914, I noticed that a certain Alderman of Ithaca, N. Y., in arguing for a paid fire department recently said: “I would venture to say that three (3) professional fire fighters in New York City can do more efficient work than twenty-five (25) firemen in any volunteer department.” This seems to me to be a very erratic assertion for any one to make, especially when most all firemen, both paid and volunteer, are aware of the fact of what little knowledge of fire fighting ability is possessed by “City Fathers.” This country would have a terrible time to extinguish the many fires that occur nowadays if it were not for the volunteer departments In small villages and in many cities excellent service is received from volunteers, which I might add, is due mostly to the department head. Discipline with proper rules and regulations strictly enforced, greatly assist, but without them we must expect most everything, which means— nothing. It is laughable to the writer to see so many department heads throughout the country endeavoring and using all of their energy to have nothing but a “paid department,” with a handful of men, just so they can say it is a “paid department.” In many cases this so-called handful of men is not sufficient in number to extinguish a small blaze without calling for assistance from bystanders.

I know of several cities where the chief is compelled to send in second alarms, or calls, in order to receive—not more apparatus, but sufficient help; and in order to have sufficient help the second call apparatus is compelled to respond, leaving such sections of a city unnecessarily unprotected. What is the reason for such arrangements? It is easily answered. We all know the “City Fathers” will not provide sufficient help. “Help” for fire departments, with livable wages, seems a joke. “Help” and livable wages for the department of public instruction is considered a proper necessity by the “City Fathers.” Therefore, isn’t it ridiculous to see so many small cities trying to maintain a “Paid Fire Department” without a sufficient number of men? Then, again, instead of assigning more permanent men than the city can afford, with wages not even equal to the day laborer, a less number of men with livable wages, assisted by good call men or volunteers, cannot help but be successful.

The idea that three well trained firemen from New York City can do more efficient work than twenty-five firemen from any volunteer department! I question very much if the Alderman from Ithaca is aware of the fact that it has only been within the past two or three years that New York City’s department used, or even had on their apparatus, chemical tanks, or even had in their possession what the whole country has used for years—yes, and it is truthful to say “extinguished 75 per cent, of their fires”—combination wagons, or auto combination wagons. I don’t wish to cause the least doubt in any one’s mind that New York has a great fire department, and under the guidance of a great man, a better life-saving department does not exist. But there are many cities throughout these United States that have just as up-to-date equipment, including systems which have been copied by the big city known as the “Metropolis.” It might be that the home of Cornell College has a volunteer department whose sole purpose is to hold picnics, attend conventions and fairs, whose members open their coats and show a fireman’s nickel shield, and tell of the number of years they have been “a fireman,” but never think for what reason they are firemen, and what their actual duty is. In Schenectady we have nine fully equipped stations, one hose depot and repair shop, eighty-five permanent paid men (fairly well paid) with liberal furloughs, in addition ten volunteer companies (numbering approximately thirty men to a company) who are provided with nicely furnished quarters. At fires the volunteers^ are called, and I receive over fifty per cent, of them, which gives me from ten to fifteen;, men to a company. They are prompt and obedient, well drilled, and obey the command of their officers. They will stick by me any length of time and under all conditions of weather.

The schedule of attendance at fires during the year of 1913 shows a percentage of a little over fifty-two. It might be asked, whats become of the balance? Many of the balance should not be called “firemen”; they are a disgrace to that brave calling. But it has always been and it always will be that in volunteer fire departments a few creep in forthe purpose of shunning jury duty and to enjoy the social functions. Then again many remain in such a department who in their earlier days were good men, but owing to old age sometimes, and lack of interest with the right spirit, forget for what reason they are filling the places of a good man. In such cases their resignation should be demanded and their names placed on what is called an “honorary roll.” With nothing but active, first, class volunteer firemen wearing the fireman’s shield or badge the criticism so often heard would greatly diminish, and much more credi_____— would be extended to the good and active man. I thank you for the space this, “an, answer to the Alderman from the City of Ithaca,” has taken. I feel that such remarks probably are hastily made, but they do no_____ look good in print, especially when the firemanic world knows better.

Respectfully yours,


Chief Engineer Bureau of Fire.

Schenectady, N. Y.,

February 2, 1914.





Editors National Fireman’s Journal:

GENTLEMEN: Your prospectus has reached the Firemen of our city, and a general endorsement of your new project meets me at every turn. I need only to say that these are anxiously looking for the arrival of the first number. It has boon a general wonder why the Firemen of this country have not long ago had a journal of their own, especially when one recalls tho thousands that are scattered throughout the United States. We shall give you our cordial support in this section, and aid in circulating the JOURNAL throughout the upper country. We have rather a selfish feeling here as to our department; that is, outsiders may think so; but we are second to none in the States, and one of the main reasons is that it has at its head one of the old Veteran Firemen of New York city, Chief David Scannel. Ho has brought it up to so perfect a system, that the city and department could not do without him, and so they have just elected him to tho Ghief Engineership again. The Board of Fire Commissioners are composed of a body of men unequaled by any Commissioners in the country for experience ar.d knowledge of the working of a department. Among them are Edward Flaherty, ex-Fireman of old 31 Engine, of your city. To give you a more minute idea of our force, I would stato that tho Board of Fire Commissioners at present consists of William Ford, Gordon E. Sloss, Edward Flaherty, Benard Ordenstoin, and Charles Field. The department consists of eleven Steam Fire Engines, seventeen Horse Hose-reels, four Hook and Ladder Carriages and Horses, together with the necessary equipments, ready in active service; and four Steam Fire Engines, two Hose-reels, and two Hook and Ladder Trucks in reserve at the Corporation Yard, tho condition of which is as fully kept up to the standard required as that of the appratus in active service.

The department as now organized is entitled to two hundred and sixty members, sixty-four of whom are permanently engaged, and one hundred and ninety-six men at call.

The officers aro David Scannel, Chief Engineer; Matthew Brady, John E. Boss, James Riley, and George W. Corbell, Assistant Engineers; Samuel Rainey, Superintendent of Steam Fire Engines; James Stoddard, his Assistant Superintendent. Engineer Riley and Supt. of Steamers, Samuel Rainey, are the gentlomen who not long ago visited your city. Rainey holds the same position here as our old friend, Gilbert (Gilly) J. Orr does in your Department. We have now one thousand two hundred and eight hydrants throughout the city, an increase of sixty-six over last year. All tho Engines and H. and L. Trucks are in excellent working condition, as is also all tho appendages connected with them. During the year a Hayes’ Fire Escape Truck has been built and placed in service in the house of Hook and Ladder Company No. 2, on Broadway Street. It is proposed to have a Fire Boat, similar in style to your Havemeyer. The Department has but eighteen thousand feet ot reliable hose. This is entirely inadequate to the wants of the city. An abundant supply of water for all emergencies is necessary, but it is just as necessary that good and sufficient means be constantly on hand to make proper use of said water, or the Department is, in a measure, powerless to arrest a large fire.

Experience has demonstrated the fact, that, with an abundant supply of water, as San Francisco now has in tho business port ion of the city, where fires occur frequently in the upper stories of buildings filled with valuable goods, tho danger of damage by water is very great, especially when, as at present, it is necessary to run a line of hose to the upper floors and turn on water, which must of necessity cause more or less damage to goods, furniture, etc., on the lower floors. This could in a great measure be avoided if the city had a chemical engine for such service, which could be used to advantage in nearly all cases, and the danger to stock greatly lessened, if not wholly prevented. The experience of cities where the chemical engines have been fully tested, warrants the assertion that fully three-fourth of all fires are extinguished by the chemical apparatus with scarcely any damage or loss by water.

We have no less than forty-nine cisterns scattered throughout the city, which hold just’ 3,889,856 gallons. The cost of running our Dopartmont last year was $230,941.11, of which $155,940,00 were for salaries. In my next I will give you a list of our companies.

“ Isoo.”


AUBURN, NOV. 12, 1877.

Editors National Fireman’s Journal:

Having boen handed a letter from you to our worthy Chief, Joo H. Morris, he wished mo to answer the same, and if agreeable to you to offer correspondence on fire matters from this city. AVishing you success in your new departure, I would inform you that our “ department” consists of eight active companies and throe reserve, divided into seven hose and one truck company.

Neptune Hose 1 is housed on Market Street; has fifteen men, Byron AVitham, foreman. They have a handsome spider for duty, but their building is very poor; still the parlors are fitted up equal to any in the State.

Letchworlh Hose 2 is housed on Ouasco Street; numbers fifteen men, with M. L. Erhart, foreman. Their building is new, and is fitted up in tho best of style.

Niagara Hose 3 is situated on Williams Street; numbers fifteen men, with J. McGrail as foreman. It is one of the best working companies in the city; but the house is not of tho host pattern.

Cayuga Hose 4 is housed on Franklin Streot. It consists of fifteen men; Ed. J. Jewhurst, foreman.

C. N. Ross Hose 5 is a double company, active and reserve, and is named after our State Treasurer. They number forty men. Foreman, George Brill. They have the largest house in the city, situated on Wall Streot.

Good Will Hose 6 is a first-class company. Although the newest in the department, they have done a large amount of fire duty. They are housed on Wall Street; have twenty men ; foreman, Joe Coughlin.

Exempt Hose 7 is an independent company. It consists of about ten active members. Allen McKain, foreman. They have a good building, but slightly furnished.

Logan Hook and Ladder 1 is the oldest company but one in the department, having just celebrated its fifty-third anniversary on the 23d of October, 1877. They have thirty men; foreman, William C. Burgers. The building on Market Streot, where they are stationed, is a poor one; but the company parlors are the best furnished of any in the city. Tho company spiders carry about six hundred feet of hose, and weigh near four hundred and eighty pounds, while the truck is heavily ladened, and brings down about three thousand six hundred pounds.

Our Engineers’ Department is composed of Joe H. Morris, Chief, fourth term; R. B. Stalker, first assistant, second term; D. 8. Pearson, second assistant, first term. The boys have been bothered hut little with work this year; still we had two small fires quite recently, hut no alarms for cither. The Stato championship race of one-half mile, lay two hundred feet hose, and attach pipe, for ono hundred dollars and Stato Belt between Eldridge Hose 6, of Elmira, Now York, and Niagara Hose 3, of this city, did not take place on account of the weather. The membors of No. C were on hand, and were looked after by the Niagaras; but the sport was postponed till next year.

Hook and Ladder 1 have commenced their annual hops in the company rooms, on tho second and fourth Thursday in every month. Hose 6 have opened their sociables at the Academy of Music. C.N. Ross Hose 5 aro holding reunions in their rooms every other week. The ball of Hose 3, in the Academy of Music, November 12, was a grand success. “PEN.”


ROCHESTER, N. Y., Nov. 14, 1877.

Editors National Fireman’s Journal:

We are not as notorious in Rochester in fire matters as in other things—political for instance. We do not have fires enough to keep the “boys” awake; but they are very spry on an alarm being sounded. A destructive conflagration here is a thing in the far past; and were we to have a $100,000 fire, nino days would not he long enough for the “wonder” to subside.

Our department consists of four steam fire engines in active service, if working two or three times a year can he called active, their fenders, a Truck Company, AVheelod Babcock Extinguisher, all embraced in the Paid Department; two volunteer Hose Companies, and the Protectors, the most valuable anxilliary in a Fire Department ever in operation. The whole department is under control of the Executive Board, which is also in charge of the Water Works, telegraph system, etc, The Board has lately adopted new regulations for the department, and they are longer than the Constitution of the United States; sensible in some respects, and in some not. They attempt to abridge the political rights of the employes, and that is a thing that won’t work.

We have the best system of water works in the world—through the central part of the city the Holly system, in connection with the Hemlock or gravitating system. The mains throughout the city are long, and there is nevea scarcity of watar. A fire is “flooded out before it has a chance to “spread.” The hose boys attach to a hydrant, and there is no use for a steamer. The capacity of the works is almost beyond computation. The water from Hemlock Lake is the purest in the world, and is a specific for all discuses—fire included, if such an expression is pardonable. The largest mains are thirty-six and twonty-four inches in diameter, and nothing less than six inches is used. There are over seven hundred hydrants, and the number is constantly being added to. The Chief Engineer of the department is Sam S. Gibson, and he gives entire satisfaction to all. He is an old Fireman, although a young man.

Wishing for the success of the JOURNAL, with your permission and the acceptance of this introductory letter, you will be kept posted on fire matters here. Yours,

X. F.


CHARLESTON, S. C., Nov 7, 1877.

Editors National Fireman a Journal:

Thero is but little to say of fire matters here. We have had but few fires in tho p .st year, and the most of them wore insignificant.

There have boon no changes of lato in tho organization, and the system is still “volunteer.” Our department is a very large one, consisting of twenty-two companies, coinposod of fourteen steamors five hand engines, and three hook and laddor trucks; eight of the companies are colored. Tho engines and trucks are pulled by tho mon, with two exceptions, where horses are used. The water supply is altogether from wells and tidal drains, yot the department is very effective, doing its work quickly and well.

There is not tho esprit de corps which existed before tho war, and many, both in and out of the department, advocate a paid department, with fewer engines and a better water supply. Our firemen, howovor, aro as gallant as ever— roady and willing at all times.

Most of tho steamers arc Amoskeags, and nearly all the hose used is rubber—made by “ Tho Gutta Percha and Rubber Manufacturing Co., of New York.”

our JOURNAL will find many readers among our boys, who will bo glad to hear of their brother Firemen, and to be kept posted on tiro mitten.

Wishing you all success, I am,

Yours truly,



WoODSOCKKT, K. I., Nov. 12, 1877.

fjhtors NoiuimU fireman’s Journal :

The announcement made that a FIREMAN’S JOURNAL had been started in New York for the sole interest of the Firemen throughout the United States, meets with great favor here. 1 can assure you that you can count on many subscribers in our Department. We wish you every success.

We have just held our annual meeting, which was presided over by Chief Engineer Elliott, a large attendance being present. After the usual routine of business, the election of officers was proceeded with, Nathaniel Elliott being reelected Chief Engineer; Moses Chandler, 1st 60 Assistant; George Worrali, 2d Assistant; Clinton Puffer, Clerk ; George C. Wilder, Treasurer. A discussion on the expenditures elicited the fact that the debt of the last year was reduced $2,500. It was voted that hereafter the reports of the Engineers and Treasurer be made to October 15th. The steamer house committee was continued. The Engineers were authorized to purchase two hose carriages, not to exceed 1,200 feet of hose, a $150 extension ladder, and to place a pump in the Croton mill. It was voted to raise by tax not over $7,500, nor less than $7,000. George Worrali, Horace Cook, and A. D. Vose were chosen Assessors. The collection of the taxes were let to Henry M. Brown at seven mills on the dollar, and he was elected Collector, the taxes to be collected by March 1st next. The Treasurer was authorized to borrow not over $5,oOo, and to renew notes. A. [D. Vose was authorized to endorse. The salary of the Engineers is to be the same as last year, $1,000, The meeting dissolved.

All our apparatuses arc in fair condition ; but there is a great lack of good hose. We have had no fires of any account for some time past.

” PHIL.”


Piiii.A2iLi.rniA, PENN., Nov. 15, 1877.

Editors National fireman’s Journal:

It is almost needless for me to inform you that the announcement that we arc to have at lastarca! FIREMAN’S JouRNAi.hasquitesurprised many here. Your prospectus has been well canvassed, and it is not only cordially endorsed, but be assured that the JOURNAL will receive the hearty support of all the Firemen of our city.

We have but little or no news to send you this week ; but be assured we shall keep you posted in all leading events.

‘The meeting of the Volunteer Firemen’s Association, which was held last week, was largely attended. The Lyle Monument Committee reported that the monument is now at Ivy Hill Cemctary, and will, in the course of a few clays, be erected in the ground of the Association, in that cemctary.

The Anniversary Committee reported that they had engaged the National Guards Hall banquclting room for the 14th of December, and also issued tickets -for the affair, at one dollar each. It is proposed to make this an oldfashioned Firemen’s reunion.

There are many reports in circulation that the so-called ring of the City Council intend running the Department to the exclusion of the Fire commissioners. An attempt will be made, it is said, to abolish the Commission. I can only quote from one of our home journals the true feelings expressed about it :

“ If they do pass the ordinance, it will be one of the most foolish pieces of business that has occurred for some time. It will ruin the little discipline the Fire Department now possesses, and it would soon become rotten and so demoralized that other steps will be found necessary to be resorted to with the view of bettering the condition that the Councilmen would place the Department in. To be sure, the Councilmen would have more political control over the Firemen, and use them when they want to fix up delegates. Rowan is the bitter enemy to the Board, which he would like to use occasionally. At present the Commissioners are fast losing their power by the action of the Councilmen, who are claiming all the appointments; not only that, but also all the contracts which fall under their jurisdiction. The adoption of the ordinance will do the Department no good, while its demoralization is sure to follow. The proposed change has caused much anxiety among the insurance people of our city, for they well know what the result will be.”

The controversy regarding the awards of contract, by the Fire Commissioners, for gum hose, or patent carbolized hose, has caused some little trouble. It seems that the Commissioners have declined to award the contract, on the ground that the bidders have no legal rights to avail themselves of the patent. No fires of any note.

A move is on foot to consolidate the Fire Department with the police, making them do double duty. One point raised is that twelve men is too large a number for a company ; then again a project is also gaining headway to place the control of the Department in the hands of the insurance companies. I cannot give you the full details in this lettes, but will in my next.

“ MORO.”


CAMBRIDGE, NOV. 9, 1877.

Editors National fireman’s Journal:

The prospectus of the NATIONAL FIREMAN’S JOURNAL meets the approval of the Firemen generally, and as the policy marked out will tend to the benefit of Firemen, in that they will be enabled to exchange opinions on topics connected with their several lines of duty, will serve to meet the want long felt by the intelligent Firemen of the country, of a journal devoted to their interests, and in which they can express their views in regard to the management of fires, appliances for the prevention and extinguishment of the same, fire escapes, hose, etc., etc. Trusting your paper may meet with the success it deserves, I will now give you a synopsis of our Department in this city.

The Fire Department of the city of Cambridge consists of a Chief and four Assistant Engineers, five Steam Fire Engines of the Amoskeag pattern, with hose carriages connected with each one, two Hook and Ladder Trucks, and one supply hose carriage, and one relief engine, the whole being supplied with all the modern improvements applicable to the duties required of them.

The several engine stations are considered models in all that pertains to the needs of a first-class Fire Department.

The Department has in use the Gamewell system of Fire Alarm Telegraph, automatic in its workings, with headquarters second to none in the country.

The city has been remarkably free from disastrous conflagrations the present year, mainly owing to the promptness and efficiency of the Department, to which the underwriters will bear ample testimony, and which is the pride of our citizens, “ WARREN.”


CHICAGO, NOV, 14, 1877.

Editors National fireman’s Journal:

The Chicago Firemen rejoice, with the rest of mankind, that at last they have a JOURNAL devoted solely to their interests, and wherein they can hold converse with their brother Firemen in all parts of the Union. They have long felt the want of such a paper as you propose to publish and when it becomes generally known, you will find the Fire laddies from Maine to Texas, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, will rally to its support.

I hope I will soon see some spicy letters in your JOURNAL from the pens of those versatile and accomplished writers, “John Doaks ” and “ Veteran.”

I have nothing to write about in regard to fires this week; in fact, we have few of them. Our Firemen are having an easy time of it, nothing to do and big pay, for the very good reason that we have an engine house on nearly every block, and our Marshal is continually crying for more.

Prayers are offered in all our churches on Sabbath mornings that no fire breaks out near our Western limits, as our Marshal’s great hobby is to drive all fires into the lake, as he did at the great fire of ’74, when acres of property were consumed, and our inhabitants arc fearful a like calamity would befall us should a fire break out anywhere near Western Avenue. It’s lucky for the Michiganders that the lake is between them and us, for if it was not, some day Benner would certainly burn that Slate up trying to force a fire out of the country into the Dominion of Canada.

For a time our Chief stopped the ringing of the fire alarm bells; but the business men and others so annoyed our Mayor with petitions, that he was compelled for the sake of his peace to order Marshal Benner to ring them again.

Rotary Sam, the man who is better posted and knows more about fire matters all over the world than any one else, has been detailed off to the city limits.

Our Fire Dapartment is becoming terribly excited over the aspirations of a certain Alderman, who calculates, and some people assert it as a fixed fact, that as soon as his Aldermanship is over, he is to step into Fire Marshal Benner’s big bools. At present the Alderman attends all fires on the North side, where he resides, and on a second alarm on the West and South sides you will find him there. He spends the better portion of his time in the Chief’s office, watching the routine of affairs, so as to be fully posted in the workings of the Department when he is inducted in the Marshalship which he expects will be next April. That he has been promised the position by Mayor Heath is positively asserted, and that he had that position in view when he moved in the Council to have the Marshal’s salary raised to five thousand dollars, is not doubted by anyone. He has got rid of Assistant Marshals Sweeny and Pietre, by having one appointed Inspector of Uniforms and the other Master Mechanic.

Some of the fire laddies arc unkind enongh to say that the fire tugs were kept upon the river at an expense of ten dollars per day each, for the purpose of protecting a certain soap factory, and can’t sec why the authorities should be so anxious about the one located on the river, while the other soap factories received no more than the mass of the community.

The “ Florence House,” on the Calumet, is doing a big business, and is a great resort for our Firemen, who are fond of fishing and duck shooting. Any of the boys can get a furlough provided they register at the “ Florence.” It is no uncommon sight to see four or five members, with sometimes an Assistant Marshal at their head, spending a day or two there, and the horses and concord wagons of our Fire Department make an interesting display to the unsophisticated fishermen of the Calumet.

We have one Assistant Marshal who is acknowledged to be the nobbiest man in the city, and is “ the observed among the observers,” by his style and dash. He is a bachelor of about sixty, more or less, and the funny man on the Tribune is continually publishing his marriage to a Cleveland or St. Louis belle, much to the disgust of more than a score of young ladies residing in this Burg.

In my next I will have more to say about the general workings of our Department.

Praying always for the success of the NATIONAL FIREMAN’S JOURNAL, I sign myself