Economic Fire Service at Murphysboro.
In rating the ability of a fire chief there, perhaps, is no better standard to measure by than to note how well he avails himself of the opportunities provided. By this standard Chief Albert Herring, of Murphysboro, Ill., surely ranks high.
In noting the situation with regard to the provisions for fire protection in this thriving little Illinois city and the part played by Chief Herring one is reminded of the little Gilbertian verse, with the sea salt flavor, so frequently heard, which runs:
“Oh, I am the cook and captain bold And the mate of the Nancy brig The bos’n tight and the midship mite And the crew of the captain’s gig.”
True, the Murphysboro fire chief has an assistant ; but inasmuch as the duties of these two men arc to protect a city of 12,000 inhabitants, with a large shoe factory, a brewery, two large flouring mills, railroad repair shops, five hotels, four banks and eight coal mines, not to mention the various other interests which the crossing of four trunk line railroads is likely to occasion, one may reasonably claim that these two firemen arc in the class with the busy sailor of the rhyme quoted. We doubt not that Chief Herring and his asistant are heartily thankful that the big shoe factory is fully sprinklered.
Chief Herring has asked the authorities for another man, and we believe that every experienced fire chief, iu view of the fact that there is a steamer, a hook and ladder truck and a hose wagon and a team of horses to look after, not to mention the many other duties that must be performed, will agree that the request for another man, making three iu all, is a very modest one.
Perhaps this modesty is explained by the fact that ( hief Herring is but twenty-nine years of age. This fact not only explains his reticence, but makes him eligible as well to claim tin t ite is the youngest chief of a paid fire department in the country. Anyone wishing to claim this title away front Chief Herring may well spe>k for it; for, surely, he has honors sufficient for so young a man. The only way in w’hich one can explain how only two men get away with so big a job is by taking account of the fact that the horses are reported to be the best trained fire team in that part of the State. Verily, a well trained team must be a great help in such a situation.
Up until about three years ago there was a volunteer fire company at Murphysboro of twenty men, but the city council discontinued it and hired Chief Herring and his assistant in their stead. The former commenced his fire service at tlit* age of seventeen in the volunteer company, and that he showed aptitude for the calling of a fireman seems well evidenced by the action of the city council in substituting him in the place of nineteen other men.
The formal rejx>rt of this department is not without interest. It shows that from May 1, 1908, to May 1, 1909, the department responded to 53 calls, and quenched fires which imperiled property valued at $139,500 with a loss of but $13,331. The cost of maintaining the department was $274.91 for improvements and feed and $1,440 paid in salaries. The total expense being, therefore, $1.714 91. One seemingly may draw the conclusion that for a place the size of Murphysboro the department is not over paid nor is there undue extravagance iu horse feed and improvements.
Chief Herring thinks he has performed creditable service and we think it unlikely that anyone will dispute that he has. The reader interested in these facts concerning the Murphysboro department is glad of the illustration, which accompanies this sketch, showing it as it turned out for the last Fourth of July celebration.