EXTINGUISHMENT ONLY ONE OF MANY DUTIES OF THE FIREMAN
Relative Importance of Fire Prevention —Importance of Building Inspection in Work—Knowledge of First Aid Needed
Fire Department, St. Louis, Mo
IT is your duty as a fireman, having been duly appointed to the position, to protect the public’s life and property from fire. You undoubtedly learned, however, soon after joining the department, that extinguishing fires is just one of the many things you are expected to do.
You must be prepared to serve in many capacities, insofar as there are a considerable number of duties not coming under any specific branch of the municipal government that are assigned by the city to your department. Most cities today have the Drill School, where the recruit is taught the use of fire department equipment and appliances. These schools are generally under the supervision of officers who were previously assigned to similar training schools in other cities where such schools have been established for some time, thus assuring the highest calibre of talent in the education of the students in this most important civic service. The course the recruit is made to take soon teaches him that his position as a fireman is not going to be an easy one, and the man who is looking for a “snap” finds he has shouldered a real man’s-size job for his life’s work.
Relative Importance of Fire Prevention
As mentioned before, fire fighting, in itself, is but one of the many tasks performed by the fireman. Many chief officers, today, consider fire prevention as one of the department’s most important duties. While there is no definite way to accurately check the number of fires prevented through this activity of the Department, it is a known fact that losses have been materially reduced in the last few years, and a great deal of credit therefor is given to the Fire Department which plays a major part in the city’s efforts toward averting possible losses by fire. As an example, the department of which I am a member, last Fire Prevention Week, sent forty-eight firemen to deliver talks on fire prevention in schools, to parent-teacher organizations, mother clubs and mercantile establishments. I am sure that their efforts will be well repaid.
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Place of Building Inspection in Work
Building inspection, too, is of genuine importance in pointing out fire hazards to merchants and teaching officers and others the many fire hazards in buildings. Besides, it familiarizes the firemen with buildings and stocks carried by firms in their respective districts, which, oftentimes proves to be valuable knowledge. It is a known fact that many a fireman’s life has been saved by a timely warning of an officer familiar with a burning building because of such previous inspection.
Proper inspection also serves to convince the merchant that the department is working in his interests, and many sprinkler systems have been installed in buildings through the untiring efforts of fire inspectors who realize the wonderful advantages of such equipment to the business man.
Knowledge of First Aid Essential
First aid, as now taken up by the fire departments, is an essential study and a great aid to the communities served. It has been said by the Red Cross that 95% of the deaths from accidents are caused by improper first aid. In a great many cases of accidents in which firemen are injured, it has been found that the untrained person, with every effort to do good, generally does harm instead. As one doctor has put it, at all times proper first aid is half the battle in picking up patients and getting them to hospitals regardless of the nature of their injuries, and especially so in the case of fractures.
In rendering first aid, the inhalator proves to be one of the greatest inventions of modern times, but to be properly used in resuscitation it must be handled by those skilled in its application. Such skill in the effective use of this wonderful instrument is developed only through long and hard training. There are cases on record where people drowned, and under water for some little time were revived and soon restored to perfect health through this wonderful method. It is essential, too, that the fireman be familiar with the oxy-acetylene torches used in cutting steel bars, plates, etc., when entering buildings otherwise inaccessible. Equipment for such purposes is maintained by practically all modern fire departments of today.
It should be your zeal to train yourself to serve your city in a scientific and proficient way, for, centainly, you recognize that as your duty to the people who have put their trust and confidence in you for the protection of their lives and property.
(From a paper read before the annual convention of the Illinois Firemen’s Association.)