FIRE DEPARTMENT CHANGES AT NEWPORT, R. I.
The Board of Police and Fire Commissioners of Newport, Ky., at a special meeting recently, dismissed John Waters as chief of the fire department, and elected Louis Krebs, superintendent of public works, to take his place. The change was made by a vote of 4 to 1, Commissioner Brown voting to retain Chief Waters. He also voted against Superintendent Krebs for chief. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s New’port correspondent says that action of the board is the “final result of a plan for a change in the head of the fire department. Ostensibly it was done as a result of the charges that were made against Chief Waters that were sustained at the meeting.” A motion to dismiss Chief Waters brought Commissioner Brown to his feet. He -aid that he thought the board was acting harshly, lie thought that the fire department w-as in most capable hands, and deprecated any change. He said he did not knowwho the new man w-as to be, as he had not been let into the conferences held by the other members; but he wanted to state that he would not vote for Waters’s successor. unless he was satisfied he was a better man. On motion the board then went into executive session and elected Supt. Krebs. “Chief Waters (says the same correspondent) leaves the department with the best record of any incumbent of the office. A practical mechanic, he has maintained the department in excellent shape.” Mr. Krebs, the new chief, has held the office of superintendent of public works for several years. He will be succeeded by a brother-in-law of the mayor.
CHIEF WATERS’S ANSWER.
Chief J. J. Waters wrote to the board in his own defence as follows:
“To the I lonorable Board of Police and Fire Commissioners of Newport, Ky.
“Gentlemen:—I understood from newspaper talk the past week, together with rumors heard on the streetcorners, etc., that at the present meeting of your honorable board, charges were to be preferred against me as chief of the city’s fire department; so it would be false on my part to plead ignorance of your action tonight. In these charges you state that I failed to respond immediately to a call of fire occasioned bv the burning of a dump in the southern part of the city. I sent men to the dunio at ray convenience, and they extinguished said fire, and, when questioned at the time by your honorable board about the affair, I explained it to your seeming satisfaction. As calls to the dump were liable to be made very frequently by every passerby, I inspected the premises, and, finding that no possible danger to life or property accrued therefrom, I decided not to respond to every call therefrom, unless convinced the fire was such as to prove a menace to adjacent property. However, as a safeguard, I asked your honorable board then for specific directions as to whether 1 was to respond to the beck and call of every ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’ who saw fit to call the department to the dump. Your honorable board failed to advise me what course to pursue. I had, therefore, nothing but my own judgment upon which to rely. Has my judgment erred? Was there at that time or any time since a fire at the duriip sufficient to imperil life or property? In your next charge you state that I reduced Fireman Thomasson and placed Fireman Prout in his stead as electrician of the department, without consulting you. To this I reply: I did so, not from any wish to assume arbitrary power or ignore higher authority, but simply because my construction of the rules of the department gave me that license. The general council gives to the chief of the fire department, by ordinance, entire control and management of the fire alarm system, and the rules of the fire department say the men of the department shall serve in such capacity as the chief shall elect. With all due respect for the ability of Thomasson as a fireman and with no desire to belittle him, I made the transfer of the two men because I deemed Fireman Prout the better man for that particular place—my sole motive was the betterment of the department through its fire alarm system—so much for this charge. As to the charge of telling a fireman to borrow a piece of rope at the corner drug store on a certain occasion, the charge, if charge it can be called, is too trifling for consideration. While the other charges are equally as petty, still the general public, wdiose interests I have always zealously guarded, might think me derelict in duty or arbitrary in dealing, did they not hear my answer to your complaint. It is your privilege, gentlemen, to prefer these charges; it is mine to refute and deny them. You cannot substantiate them. You have launched them with the sole view of deposing me. I will not resign, so I extend to you the honor .of retiring me.
“Chief of Fire Department’.’