FIRE DEPARTMENT OF NORWICH
Special correspondence of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.
Norwich, Connecticut, was settled in 1659, and incorporated a city in 1789. It was known as the “Rose of New England,” and is situated at the head of navigation on the river Thames, fourteen miles front New London. It has had a fire department since 1769. In that year money was subscribed to build an engine—the first one the town had owned. It was built by Norwich mechanics and is still in a fair state of preservation and kept as a relic by the department. The subscription list is still in existence and owned by the heirs of John Bliss, wdto raised the money necessary to pay for it. The Torrent, as this first engine was called, represents the earliest and most primitive fire engines. It was probably the second of the antiquated type built in this country, the first one, slightly more antique, being constructed iti Boston. There is no suction-pipe in the Torrent, and to operate the pumps it is necessary to fill the tank by hand. The water was forced to a height of about thirty-five feet through a three-fourths of an inch standpipe, which is clearly brought out in the accompanying cut of the machine. In order to change the direction of the stream, it was necessary to move the engine. At the time the Torrent went into service the entire town constituted the fire department. Every able man, woman and child was expected to answer an alarm of fire. All carried buckets, the old law requiring each family to own at least two. Two lanes, the wet and dry ones, were formed. The buckets, filled with water, were passed up the wet lane, which included the men of the town, and, after being emptied into the tank of the engine, were sent down the drv lane, composed of women and children. The discipline was always good. If anybody interfered with the working of either lane it was the rule to douse him with a bucketful of water. The clumsy pumps were worked by a relay of men, who sang songs in unison, getting the swing of the songs and pumps into the same rhythm. On November occurred the first large fire Norwich had ever experienced. The money loss was $40,000— a large amount in those days. This large fire, the loss being entirely total, quickened public opinion in regard to the benefits of fire insurance, mutual companies having been already established in some of the larger cities. A meeting was held, and a committee appointed to organise a company and procure a charter. Two years later the charter was obtained, under the title of the Mutual Assurance company. The sixty-seventh policy is at the oresent time at the department headquarters. This type of engines prevailed until about the year 1840. when two modern hand fire engines were purchased, followed by others, until 1861. when the first steam fire engine was purchased, This engiue was known as the Wauregan steam fire engine No. 1, and was in active service until December 16, 1905, when it was shipped to the American-LaFranee Eire Engine company in part payment for a new engine. In 1866-67 three Jeffers engines of the fourth-class size were purchased and put into service, supplementing the old hand-engines. It is a peculiar coincidence that the passing of the hand-engines came in 1869, just too years after the old Torrent was put into service. The last record of their use in the city, the latter-day ones being, of course, of modern type, with suction-hose and hose-connections, was in April, 1869. The completion of Eairview reservoir and a fire hydrant service of the city was. the opening of more practical firefighting. Kollowing the passing of the hand-engines came the organisation of the volunteer hose companies that were hacked by the four steam fire engines already purchased and used at second-alarm fires. The city continued to maintain a wholly volunteer fire department from the completion of the city’s waterworks in 1869 until November, 1902. The volunteer fire department of Norwich was always considered firstelass; but, to make room for improvements, a combination chemical and hose wagon was purchased, with a pair of horses and Tree permanent men hired and placed in commission. This was the start of the partly paid department now being maintained by the city. The election of Chief Howard L. Stanton in July, 1901, was the beginning of the new era in the fire service in Norwich. At that date the chief was the only permanent man, and the department owned one horse used by the chief, which was boarded in a stable. Today the department has eleven horses, fourteen permanent men, forty call men. or hunkers, and about 150 volunteer firemen located on the outskirts, the centre of the city or business district, being wholly part paid. During the present chief’s administration there have been purchased and placed in commission ten horses, one new aerial truck, sixty-five-foot ladder, fully equipped with all necessary small ladders, one Seagrave city truck, with a fifty-foot extension ladder, one combination chemical and hose wagon, two straight hose wagons, one third-size Atnerican-LaErance fire engine, five sets of harnesses. 5.000 feet of new hose, besides small tools and equipment necessary to start a part paid system. The fire system has been entirely rebuilt; fourteen new boxes have been added to the system and a new storage battery and six-circuit repeater and switchboard installed in the fire department headquarters. The new central fire station. erected at a cost of $25,000. and occupied one year, is a modern and up-to-date building. It is known as a three-way station, besides having a door for mens’ entrance and entrance to department headquarters, in this station at present there are housed the aerial truck, engine, two hose wagons, exercise wagon, and chief’s buggy. There are stalls for eight horses and a box stall. On the right of the main floor is a separate room for the exercise wagon, with storage and room for cleaning harnesses, and bench and vice for repair work. There is also a two-inch standpipe for fire purposes and to flush the sewer, as the stalls arc connected therewith. On the left of the main floor is the room for the chief’s driver Out of this room are closets for storage, stall for the chief’s horse and a door into the tower. It is so arranged that the horses can be taken out of a rear door, so that they will not be required to cross the main floor, if they want to take them out to be shod or clipped. The manure pit in the cellar extends the width of the building, and is shut off from the cellar by a heavy stone wall and ventilated through the roof. Going upstairs from the department headquarters entrance at the south end leads to the chief’s offices, there being two rooms, the one in the tower being the outer office with his private office next along the front. There are five rooms and a bath under his direction. His offices are fitted with bath and shower, closets, new safe, desk and furniture, making a neat and attractive appearance, with the walls tinted a pretty shade of green. From the outer office the sliding-pole used by the chief lands near his buggy on the first floor. The other rooms under his direction are a bedroom and an instrument and battery room for the fire alarm telegraph, thus giving him the entire front on the second story. A door from the hall to the chief’s office leads to the dormitory, where the men bunk. There are sixteen beds in this room, with two sliding-poles, one coming down from the recreation room above, and the other leading to the apparatus room below, the latter being protected by a brass railing. At the north end of the room are swinging doors opening into a hall, where there is another sliding-pole to the apparatus room, with pneumatic landing pads on the floors to prevent injury. In the rear of the dormitory are the washroom, lavatory and bath for the men. There are five porcelain sinks, with hot and cold water fixtures, two bathtubs, two closets and a porcelain slop-sink. Then conies the locker room for the permanent men. This room has lockers with drawers and shelf room for bed linen. Next along the rear to the north are three captains’ rooms, which are connected with the main hall to the first floor on the north side. There is a stairway to the recreation room on the north side, where there is a gymnasium room in front, and adjoining that is a billiard and smokingroom, wherein is a pool table and plenty of room for a number of tables. In this room is a case of lockers for the call men, all ventilated at the top with wire netting. There is a sink in each room. Out of the billiard room is an octagonal smokingroom formed by the tower, and from that is a large closet. Behind this is a large unfinished space under the roof. There is also the wire room on the north corner of this floor, where all the wires which enter the building are exposed. All wires come in from underground through Akron pipeducts in a pillar of the building to this room and include the fire alarm, telephone, electric light and charging wire for storage battery. This is one of the features, there being no wires showing on the outside of the building. Above the billiard room is an unfinished room which can be used for storage. On the west side of the gymnasium is an unfinished space, where racks are to be built, on which hose can be laid to dry and drain into the hose tower. Near the hose tower is a steam pipe into the hot room, where wet garments can be dried. Norwich is a city of about 25,000 population; but the fire department is protecting about 30,000, as there is a dual government—town and city. The area of the city in scpiare miles is five and three-tenths; of the town, twenty-six and three-tenth square miles; miles of streets in the city, sixty-five; hydrant pressure at the lowest point, five pounds; at highest, too pounds; number of hydrants, 425. The fire department protects some of the largest cotton, woolen and silk mills in the country, besides large gun and pistol shops and other industries. It has always been a manufacturing city, and besides these factories, there are many fine residences and public buildings to protect. The following are the fire department statistics for the past year: Number of alarms, 133; bell alarms, twenty; telephone, seventy-one; still, forty-two; fires in brick or stone buildings, thirty-five; in frame buildings, seventy-eight; other than buildings, twenty—total, 133; number of fires confined to place of origin, 130; extending to adjoining buildings, three; confined to floor where originated, 129; number of alarms in 1903, eighty-five; in 1904, 105; in 1905, r33—increase over year 1904, eighteen; value of buildings at risk, $552,850; of contents, $606,325—total, $1,159,175; insurance on buildings at risk, $401,650; on contents, $473,400—-total insurance carried, $875,050: insurance paid on buildings at risk, $14,036.20: on contents at risk, $it,o82—total insurance paid, $25,118.20: loss over insurance on buildings, $4,250; on contents, $4,250; total, $8,500; total loss, insured and uninsured, $33,618.20; losses on buildings in which fires did not originate, $539: on contents. $250—total exposure losses, $789; total insurance loss in 1904, $27,652.99; total loss, insured and uninsured, in 1904, $34,102.99; total insurance loss in 1905, $25,118.20: total loss, insured and uninsured, in 1905, $33,618.20.
CHIEF HOWARD L. STANTON
was born in Norwich in 1854, and has been a member of the fire department since 1872. He was elected foreman of hose company No. 5 in 1879 and served until appointed second assistant chief in 1881. He served as second assistant chief until the death of Chief Joseph B. Carrier in 1890, when he was appointed first assistant chief under Chief L. W. Greeneberg. He served as first assistant chief until July, 1899, when he resigned from the department to attend to his regular business. Chief Greeneberg resigned in 1901, and Chief Stanton was called upon to fill the position, leaving a good position to accept that of chief of the fire department. He is entirely a self-made man, and was obliged to leave school when but twelve years of age and to go to work in a shop. He mastered the machinist trade and worked in different gun and pistol, shops in the city and at building high-class machinery, until elected chief of the department. He was with the Norwich contingent that went to the Boston fire in 1872. Norwich sent two engines and three hose reels and about 125 volunteer firemen. He is the only one left in the department that went to that fire. In his own city he is known as one who never asks a man to go where he would not go himself. Norwich has had but five chiefs in forty years; three are dead, and one former chief and Chief Stanton are living. Chief Stanton is a member of the International Asso-. ciation of Fire Engineers. He was president of the Connecticut State Firemen’s association in 1897, and has been a member since the association was formed. He is also a member of the Connecticut Fire Chiefs’ club, and is its first vicepresident at the present time. As a fire chief he is well known throughout the country. He is also a member of the Masonic fraternity, and is a thirty-second-degree Mason and member of the Mystic Shrine, and has held offices in all the bodies and been presiding officer in nearly all. He is a director of the Masonic Temple corporation and trustee of one of the largest savings banks of the city.
Chief Kane, of St. Joseph, Mo., having been offered a bribe of $300 by the agent of a fire supply company, at present unknown to fame, caused the man to repeat his offer before .3 witness, and then promptly knocked hint down, and made him apologise to boot. The man did so, and got out of St. Joseph bv the first train.