Ellensburg Fire Department Resigns.
The resignation of the entire fire department at Ellensburg, Wash., as a means of protest against the attitude of the city government, seems justified, if one is to accept Chief Schuller’s statement of conditions now prevailing. If conditions are as Chief Schuller pictures them, and there appears no reason to doubt his statements, then the Ellensburg attitude toward fire protection, if at all typical, goes far to explain why fire losses run high. The citizens of Ellensburg when they are niggardly with their fire department are saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung in the words of the old adage.
Chief Schuller in justification of the action of himself and men in resigning, has this to say of conditions:
“Conditions have become such that the members of the department feel that in justice to themselves they roust resign from the service of the city. We have long been handicapped with insufficient and evtn useless firefighting apparatus and fire protection in the city seents to he the last thing that worries the minds of the residents. We have frequently been late to fires because directions were not given properly and we have to shoulder the blame that was not ours. Now things have reached their limit. We cannot allow these changes to continues and affairs-must he better if Ellettshurg is to have fire protection.
“The fire team, for instance, has been in the service of the city for over 12 years. The horses are old and ought to be pensioned, hut the city depends upon them to. haul heavy wagons and the steamer, to a fire. I have repeatedly asked for a new team, but 1 have been put off and set aside while fire losses go on in the city.
“I have said that a fire alarm system could be installed in this city for $2,200 and Ellensburg be placed in its proper place among other cities of its class as regards fire protection. But in spite of my protests the people of the city are willing to take chances that the town will not burn and are willing to believe that their neighbor’s house instead of their own will be the next to take fire. We are badly handicapped by the present system of taking alarms over the telephone, but protests have done no good.
“We need more fire hydrants. When one of our residences burned to the ground recently most of the building might have been saved had a lire hydrant been within proper distance of the house. But the nearest plug was six blocks away and when the hoys made the run the hose on the wagon was not sufficient to reach the required distance and the team had to he sent back for more hose. While the horses were gone the house burned to the ground. The men tried to use the chemical, hut were driven from their work by the smoke and flames. I had asked for fire hydrants in that district not more than two weeks ago. but my petition, which u’as signed by householders, was shelved.
“And again; thepaid firemen have to sleep in the fire station and at the present time the quarters assigned them are not fit for the use of human beings. We have a cramped, stuffy room, poorly ventilated, crowded uncomfortably, unsanitary to the highest degree and directly responsible, according to my physician, for my recent illness. Now, under the new condition of affairs, some of this room is to be taken from us and the shed which was used to store fuel is to he converted into a tool house.
“These conditions are unbearable, and we have decided that if the city council and the people of the city of Ellensburg will not afford us proper relief that we must take the only means in our power of avoiding the squalor and of ridding ourselves of the many handicaps which are heaped upon us. That is by leaving the service of the city. Our resignations have been handed to the chairman of the fire and water committee and presumably will he placed in the hands of the city council at its next meeting. We will seek other means of employment and the city may, if it can. secure other men to afford it protection from fire.”