FIRE DEPARTMENT PROFITABLE TO MILITARY AIRCRAFT PLANT

FIRE DEPARTMENT PROFITABLE TO MILITARY AIRCRAFT PLANT

No Fire Losses for First Half of Current Year; Dept. Includes Both Volunteers and Paid Men

IT was only 15 years ago that fields of cotton swayed in the prevailing south wind just west of Hensley Air Force Base, located in the outskirts of Dallas, Texas. The nearby city of Grand Prairie, now boasting a population of 30,000 persons, was a mere hamlet that served to slow the motorists’ speed to and from Dallas on the Fort Worth Pike. The city limit of Dallas, a metropolis of 600,000 whose population has almost doubled since 1935, still was several miles away.

During the winter months, “blue northers” had a clean sweep across the cotton fields with only Hensley Air Force Base, today controlled by the Navy and more generally known as Dallas Nava! Air Station, to impede the chilling winds.

In summer, grass fires were a constant menace and fire fighting equipment was a long way away.

This picture, however, has completely changed in 1955. Where the cotton fields used to be, a modern aircraft building— Chance Vought Aircraft, Inc.—hums with the everyday activity of a building producing fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Silver-colored aircraft, their jet engines setting up a banshee wail as they blast from the air station’s mile-long runway, are in the sky most of the working day.

Surrounded by mesh fencing and with the flag of the Lone Star State flying under the national flag from a yard armtype pole, the sprawling plant is a city contained within itself. Radio-equipped police cars patrol the area while, within the huge plant, some 12,000 employes go about their everyday jobs.

As in the days of the cotton and grass fields, however, the specter of fire is never absent. But, for the first six months of 1955, Chance Vought has not filed a claim against its insurance companies for fire losses of any kind.

Much of the plant, occupied by Chance Vought since 1948, was built in 1942 and occupied by North American Aviation. With the end of the war North American moved back to California, leaving the wartime facility vacant. It finally was turned over to the Navy as a reserve plant and, as leaseholder, Chance Vought moved from Stratford, Conn., to Dallas to start the wheels humming again.

Claude L. McGlamery, after years of service as an inspector in the Fire Marshal’s office of the Dallas Fire Department, was lured to Chance Vought and made Chief of fire fighting. It is to the credit of Chief McGlamery, who also saw service as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force in the European Theatre, along with other men under him in the Chance Vought department, that fire losses have been kept to a minimum.

The Fire Department, along with the guard unit, is organized as a part of the plant internal security organization under the overall direction of R. E. Smith, former F.B.I. agent, who held a similar position with the North American Aviation plant. Mr. Smith reports to Peter J. Wacks, personnel manager and also a former F.B.I. agent.

230 Volunteers in Fire Department

In the Chance Vought Fire Department are approximately 230 volunteers who are trained in modern fire fighting methods. Scattered through the 2,300,000 square foot plant are four fire brigade wagons and one hose cart which the men use.

The fire brigade wagons contain fire fighting clothing and equipment as well as fire hose, forcible entry tools and other equipment needed in a modern factory. Forty-gallon foam and 50-pound CO2 extinguishers are located along with the carts. In all, seven different fire stations are located throughout the plant. Seventy-three firemen, drawn from Fire Departments of nearby municipalities or service trained, carry the brunt of fire prevention and fire protection.

These men, who undergo constant training and refresher courses, perform duties ranging from aircraft rescue work, to make-believe fire drills. Equipment is more complete and up-to-date than most of the small cities in Texas. Equipment at Chance Vought includes a 1,000 GPM American LaFrance pumper; one 500 GPM American LaFrance pumper, and one 500 GPM American-Marsh pumper; two rescue trucks, a pickup truck, and a 24-foot rescue boat on Mountain Creek Lake. Fifty-two per cent of all buildings are under sprinkler protection, and there are 1,856 fire extinguishers scattered throughout the plant. The Department also maintains 60,000 feet of fire hose.

The Chance Vought setup, organized much on the order of a metropolitan fire department, consists of an inspection section, a prevention section, a maintenance section for fire fig-hting systems, a watch patrol and a unit for handling of the fire fighting apparatus. Firemen, trained as divers, man the Company’s rescue boat on Mountain Creek Lake and always are on call by either Chance Vought or Navy personnel from the air station.

Fireman J. J. Narramore (at the wheel) and Fireman C. H. Walker bring Chance Vought Aircraft's rescue boat into its berth on Mountain Creek Lake. This fully-equipped rescue boat is on standby duty whenever Chance Vought's airplanes are flying, and also is available for rescue work uoon request from the Dallas Naval Air Station.Lieutenant L. J. Donnell, Chance Vought fireman in charge of instruction, explains the different types of fire extinguishers and their use to a group of volunteer firemen. The volunteer firemen are non-paid and receive instruction on company time.Four of these fully equipped fire carts are stationed at vantage points throughout the Chance Vought plant for use by volunteer firemen. In most cases, the equipment carried in the carts is sufficient to contain a fire until arrival of the regular Chance Vought Fire Department.

Through a reciprocal agreement, the Fire Department is available to aid departments of nearby communities. And fire demonstration teams, demonstrating the chemistryof fire, have been much in demand at club luncheons and other groups in Dallas.

Tying the Company’s fire fighting equipment together is a two-way radio station, KKE-781, manned by firemen 24 hours a day. This station also is used by the plant guard department. Through its radio connections, Chance Vought’s equipment works closely with the crash equipment from the Naval Air Station. Along with Navy equipment, the Company’s trucks answer all alerts on the runway.

Chief McGlamery’s philosophy as it concerns his job was acquired long ago when he first started in the Dallas Fire Department. “Do everything you can to prevent fires,” he says, “and then be ready to fight them.”

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