Fire-Drill Abandoned at Baltimore.
The Baltimore News says that “in connection with the investigation of firefighting in various cities of the country by a national commission, the question has arisen as to whether firempn are kept in the best physical condition, so that their response to fires shall be without the loss of a fraction of a second of time, and that they shall have the requisite physical strength and endurance to fight quick and dangerous blazes. Chief Horton who is regarded as one of the leading firefighters of the country, declares that the men of the Baltimore department have less sickness per capita than in the departments of any of the other large cities; also that the physical condition of the men on the average was better than in the department of any city he had visited. There used to be a compulsory physical exercise for the firemen, but this was abandoned several years ago, at the advice of the surgeon of the fire board.” Chief Horton added: “In my opinion the men get plenty of exercise to keep them in first-class physical condition. They make their own beds, clean the apparatus every day, scrub out the enginehouses, slide down the brass poles, take the apparatus out on runs, and make three regular hitches a day—at 8 a. m., noon and 8:30 p. m.—besides making a hitch every time an alarm is rung in. The average annual number of alarms of fire is about 1,400, and, adding to this number the three regular quick hitches a day makes more than 2,400 a year— surely more than enough to keep the men on edge for this work. Once a weey every truck is taken out and thoroughly tested, the men climbing the 85-ft. ladders and trying out the smaller ladders, too. This, in addition to the regular runs, I think frequent enough. It must be remembered that, whenever a man goes up one of those big ladders he takes an actual physical risk. There are fire-training schools in some cities, and men have more than once been killed in practising on the ladders. The Baltimore firemen are in excellent physical condition to fight fires; but I think it an unwarranted risk to send any of the men up the ladders more frequently than necessary. They get exercise enough, and arc capable, clear-eyed and hardy, ready for any emergency. Persons who believe that the firemen’s chief ocupation is sitting around the enginehouses playing checkers, have no idea of the amount of work they are daily called upon to do.”