Fire Department as an Investment.
The above caption is the title of a paper read by G. M. Brock, assistant chief of the fire department at Revelstake, B. C., at the convention of the Pacific Coast Association of Fire Chiefs held in September at Vancouver, B. C. Chief Brock said:
It may be well to say, in offering this paper for your consideration, that the smaller towns are in mind rather than the large cities, and particularly the places of three to four thousand inhabitants. Do such towns as have fire departments well equipped and up-to-date and with volunteers properly officered and working in harmony, get the reductions in insurance rates that they should? Do the insurance companies appear to be in any way concerned when fire departments are neglected, demoralized and worthless? We could not count the towns on both sides of the line that have burned up because of the neglect of the firemen or their apparatus. The property owners in those towns seemed to have no trouble in getting insured, though. Was it any harder to get titan in the places where the departments are supported and up-to-date and fires are knocked out within a few minutes after they appear? If a town is about to buy an engine or put in a part paid brigade with a chief and a force of paid and call men, the officials usually ask what reduction in rates will be given and the underwriters give them a figure. This seems to end the matter in many cases where nothing is thought of but low rates, whether the improvement is made or not. Sometimes if the new engine was put in a glass case, the reduced rate would hold and business men would be satisfied. Reduced rates do not put out fires and we do not get enough fireproof buildings in small towns to be worth mentioning. Both underwriters and property owners must depend upon the fire departments, and one that is not in first class shape as to men, organization and equipment is no fire department at all. It has been stated that insurance men put a premium on incendiarism by taking a man’s word for the value of the property when insurance is written. They do not discourage fire bugs by publishing in big letters in the papers that Mr. So and So’s claim was paid within a few days after the fire. If a fire bug knew that the cause of this fire would be investigated instead of the money hustled to him, he wouldn’t be so quick to play the dangerous game. The insurance men make a great deal of commotion about the fire losses and publish in the papers every day such facts as that each minute in the day five hundred dollars worth of property burns up in Canada and the States, but it is still easy to get insurance and easy to pocket the money after a loss. The actual condition of a fire department and its efficiency in a sudden emergency, are unknown to the underwriter and apparently of no great interest to him: if they were he would certainly be represented at our firemen’s conventions. Low insurance rates are what each town wants; they are usually necessary to its prosperity. But we want them based upon real efficiency, so far as the fire departments arc concerned, and not upon apparatus that might as well be in glass cases, or reports and statistics that arc unreliable and misleading. The towns will then be compelled to keep the departments efficient and there will be better service, a livelier interest in departments and more respect for the fireman. If the volunteer’s work is not appreciated he is going to let others do it. A first-class fire department is the best possible investment for any town, big or little, and there is more to it than insurance rates. Protection to human life is the first consideration. Then it does not pay any honest business man to burn out. no matter how well insured Towns and cities need till the information they can got from conventions and other sources, as to just what is a first-class fire desources. as to just what is a first-class fire de partment.
When firemen of Engine Company No. 11 and Truck Company No. 4. Indianapolis, Ind., entered the basement of the Becker Roofing Company bidding a number, of cans; of gasoline exploded, knocking them out in the street. No one was injured in getting the bounce out of the building.