FIRE APPARATUS

FIRE APPARATUS

The old maxim that “the best is the cheapest” can be applied nowhere with more pertinency than to fire apparatus. In this is to be included everything pertaining to tho equipment ,u firstclass style, of a fire company, from the most improved steam fire engine to the minutest and most insignificant tool required for the perfect working of the apparatus and tho Firemen. It is impossible to do good work with poor tools, and the best organized body of Firemen in the world cannot be expected to protect the property of their neighbors unless they are provided with tho requisite appliances for doing the work. How often we read in accounts of fires of engines being totally disabled through the bursting of its cheap hose, or the disarrangement of some portion of its equipment that had been bought because it was cheap. This consideration of “cheapness” is too frequently given undue and fatal weight by those charged with the purchase of fire apparatus, Officials socking to gain a cheap reputation for economy in the interests of the community they represent, nre prone to “saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung;” of equipping their fire departments with cheap machinery rather than that which is durable, and of the most approved make. Nothing could be more short-sighted than this, or more fatal to the interests of tho community thus imposed upon. In many instances Firemen are blamed for not saving more property at fires, when, were the facts known, it would be found that some economically inclinod purchasing committee had provided them with insufficient appliances, or entirely neglected to supply those most needed. Citizens are very apt to think that where the Firemen are supplied with an engine nothing further is required to enable them to extinguish any fire that may occur. An engine, steam or hand, is well enough as far as it goes, but to render it efficient, a thousand other things are necessary. Men who have actual experience us Firemen, and have made themselves familiar with the best modes of extinguishing fires, are the only persons who should be entrusted with the important duty of equipping a fire company with its apparatus. Without good fire apparatus and efficient fire companies, no city or village is safe. A conflagration is liable to overwhelm them at a moment’s notice, and may result from an insignificant blaze, which, with proper apparatus at hand, might have been extinguished without anyany damage. The past few years have furnished numerous illustrations of this fact It is short sighted penuriosness, miscalled economy, which neglects providing the most effectual means of protection against fire, or fails to equip its fire department thoroughly, or palms off upon it cheap material which cannot be relied upon for an hour’s work. “The best is always the cheapest” in the long run, and a surplus is to be preferred to a scant supply ol hie extinguishing appliances.

Fire Apparatus.

Fire Apparatus.

A few years ago every city of prominence had its manufacturer of fire apparatus, Steam Engines, Hand Engines, Hook and Ladder Trucks, Hose Carriages, etc. At present the number of such establishments is limited. The introduction of Steam Engines was a heavy blow to the manufacturers of the old hand machines, and, as it seemed probable that they would usurp the place of the latter, the manufacturers nearly all went to building Steam Engines. This required additional capital, expensive machinery, etc., and the demand was limited. Then came the hard times, cities and villages were crippled equally with individuals, and, as a consequence, Steam Engine building was at a discount. Several of the manufacturers suffered heavy losses and were obliged to give up business, and all were forced to curtail their expenses. The number of Steam Engine builders may now be counted on one’s fingers, and the number then exceeds the Hand Engine builders.

The Steamers not only superseded theN Hand Engines in service, but threw a large number of these second-hand machines on the market to be purchased by small places. These old machines are still floating about, and many of them are yet for sale. As soon as a community gets strong enough to supfor port sale. a Steamer, it offers its Hand Engines

j Hook and Ladder Trucks and Hose Carriages, however, are still in demand. Noth! ing has been found yet to take their places and probably will not be for some time to come. There has been, during the past year, quite a demand for such apparatus, yet j there is scarcely a half dozen builders of them left in the country. The Babcock Company of Chicago, J. S. Hunt, of Richmond, Ind.. Buckley & Merritt, and E. B. Leverich, of this city, are the principal ones left, where a few years ago, there used to be one or more in every prominent city.

The building of fire apparatus of this kind is a trade distinct in itself. Carriage buildj ers have sometimes undertaken it, but, unj less they conducted it as a separate branch of business, have neither satisfied their pa’ trons nor achieved pecuniary success. It would naturally be supposed that a wagon builder could build fire apparatus if he set about it, but experience has proved that apparatus building is more satisfactorily conducted as a separate business than otherwise. It requires a peculiar character of ; workmanship, and a thorough familiarity with the requirements of the Fire Service, We believe now is a good time to throw a little more energy into this line of business, There are any quantity of places that need new apparatus, and, as the times are manifestly growing easier, they could be readily persuaded to make the investment. The manufacturers have had strong and vigorpus allies in the JOURNAL and in the insurance papers, as well as insurance agents, who pertinaciously insist on every city and town being liberally supplied with fire apparatus. We are of the opinion that the time has come when the manufacturers will find it to their interest to push their business with increased vigor.