Fire Prevention

Fire Prevention

There was a time, not so very long past, that the fire service was synonymous with fire fighting, and that there the subject ended. The fireman’s duty consisted solely in the extinguishment of fire once it had started, but further than that his interests did not go. But all this has been changed. The views of the chief and the men of his department have broadened, and the knowledge has come to them that the greater duty is not in the putting out, but in the prevention, of fires. While fire fighting is, of course, as important as ever it was, fire prevention is infinitely more so. For if the latter science is conscientiously lived up to the work of the firemen will be infinitely lessened. This fact is becoming more and more recognized, and FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING will devote much attention to the subject in the coming issues of this volume.




May I express at the outset the genuine pleasure it affords me to be in attendance at this important gathering, representing as I do the fire chiefs and the fire associations of the province of New Brunswick. I conceive it my duty to say to this association that those charged with the fire protection in the province of New Brunswick are in wholehearted sympathy with the work of this association, and I bring to you the warmest greetings of my brother chiefs and their hundreds of assistants for a successful, enthusiastic and profitable convention.

Fire Prevention Important.

Fire prevention is annually becoming a more and more important topic in the public mind. People are awakening to a true realization of the necessity of employing the most up-to-date measures to cope with fire evil, and as guardians of life and property, we must all appreciate the tremendous responsibilities that devolve upon us in our present positions. With the increased expansion that will undoubtedly come to Canada after the termination of the present gigantic war, our duties will become all the more responsible, and each and every one of us must give the closest thought and attention to the important matter which I propose to briefly discuss at this convention. The active sympathy of the public is to my mind the first and foremost factor in considering the question of fire prevention. It is a duty which one citizen owes to his fellow citizens to eliminate the opportunity for the outbreak of fire. In this connection too much precaution cannot be taken. There is no room in our country for the man who negligently permits the accumulation of waste materials which are not properly safeguarded. In many instances investigation has shown that the cause of fire has been the result of negligence and that the fire could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable diligence. There should, to my mind, be the strictest enforcement of by-laws relative to the maintenance of these firetraps, and the offender should receive the full penalty of the law. In the town of Chatham, where I have the honor to reside, I may say that it has been a part of my duty to carry out a systematic inspection of all premises in the town, and I am pleased to say that any suggestions I have made have been readily taken up and the necessary changes and improvements made. By cleanness in premises and the exercise of reasonable diligence on behalf of the occupants, I feel I am safe in saying that the opportunities for fire would be reduced at least .50 per cent. So I say that at the outset we must of necessity receive the sympathy and the active support of the citizens of our respective communities. Each citizen must take adequate steps to eliminate the risk.

Efficient Departments Necessary.

Next in importance to the co-operation of the public is the necessity for an efficient department and efficient fire-fighting equipment. Both these factors must prevail in order to achieve the best results. I am a firm believer in the need of both a paid and volunteer corps. Experience has taught me that in communities of from 1,000 to 6,000 in population a volunteer corps is indispensible. The advantages of the voluntary corps can be readily appreciated when it is considered that the volunteers are resident in various parts of the community and report immediately to the scene of the fire, instead of being required to report first to the engine station. Again, this system is advantageous from the standpoint that the paid corps is selected from the volunteer corps, consequently the permanent department is certain to have as its members admirably qualified men. After my experience as head of the fire department in the town of Chatham, I can recommend the paid and volunteer corps system as the most desirable to inaugurate. I recall a serious blaze about five years ago at the plant of the Maritime Pulp Company. The main plant was doomed to destruction before the alarm had been sounded, but the prompt response and ready service of the department served to save more than a hundred wooden dwellings within close proximity to the site of the plant.

•Excerpts from an address before the convention of the Dominion Association of Fire Chiefs at Toronto.

Water and Fire Systems.

With respect to fire apparatus, I do not propose to treat here with the various sprinkler systems, alarm systems, fire pumps, etc. That I consider a matter more for open discussion at this convention. I might, however, briefly outline the water and fire system which has been installed in the town of Chatham. The system comprises some 72 hydrants of Ludlow construction, with 6-inch connections, 5-inch valves, and 7-inch standpipes. There are 12 steamer nozzles with two 2 1/2-inch hose connections. The minimum size of the water mains is 6 inches with a maximum of 12 inches. There are 11 1/2 miles of cast iron pipe, the system covering an area of four square miles. The minimum pressure is 37 pounds with a maximum pressure of 71 pounds. All mains are inter-connected; there are 122 valves in the system, allowing any section to be disconnected without impairing the flow to the other sections. At the Chatham pumping station there is one H. D. Worthington pump with a capacity of 1,200,000 gallons, in addition to one Underwriters with a capacity of 750 gallons per minute, and one three-throw singleacting electric drive. A capacity of 1,000,000 gallons is now in course of construction.

Promptness a Big Factor.

I have been frequently asked why it is that in the town of Chatham, largely a wooden town, there are so few fires and practically no serious losses. I attribute this fact to the efficiency of the department and to the valuable equipment that the town is fortunate enough to possess. I have always enjoyed the hearty cooperation of all ranks in the department and it reflects credit on the members that they are at the scene of the fire in the shortest possible time. Promptness is a big factor and results cannot be expected if there is any delay. The old expression that “delays are dangerous” was never more true or applicable than to the case of a department being summoned to extinguish a fire. 1 recall the outbreak of a fire in a large pile of lumber—about 3,000,000 sup. ft. in all—the property of the .1. B. Snowball Company, Ltd., and in a short time the department had seven streams playing on the blaze, which was extinguished without any serious loss. Indeed the town of Chatham is fortunate in not having one case of total destruction by fire within the past year—a fire record which is indeed gratifying.

Forest Fires Regulations.

There are several other ramifications of this question that I would like to discuss, but 1 do not intend to trespass much further upon the valuable time of this association. 1 wanted to refer, however, to the advanced Forest Fires regulations which have been enacted by the Government of the province of New Brunswick. The public domain is New Brunswick’s greatest asset inasmuch as it affords the largest provincial revenue from the stumpage received. In the past magnificent tracts of timber lands have been destroyed through fire. To quote brief!)’ from the latest report of the Chief Forester: “The loss due to the destruction of timber alone, to say nothing of the rendering of the soil unfit for good natural reproduction, is so enormous that it surpasses the ordinary imagination. It is the common belief among the people, and it is probably true, that had not Cains River District been so severely burned, that the vast pine and spruce forests would have been almost inexhaustible, and that this area would still hold the important place in the forest industry of the province that it held in the early days of exploitation of the timber lands of New Brunswick.” I am pleased to say that the Government of New Brunswick has already taken the preliminary steps in the movement to increase the efficiency of the forces engaged in fighting the forest fires. It is the intention to start immediately on the building of telephone lines in the forest; erection of lookout stations; cutting fire trails; securing necessary tools for fighting fires; gasoline engines for railway work; in short everything that experience has taught as necessary will be undertaken in this new movement.

Railway Act Assists Fire Protection.

The provisions of the Railway Act, requiring railways to provide fire fighting equipment have served materially to assist the cause of fire protection, and with the new regulations in operation in New Brunswick, under the authority and supervision of the Chief Forester, the province is assured of ample protection from fire of its great forest wealth.

Following the failure of the city council to raise the pay of the members of the fire department to $100 a month, three of the five members resigned and Chief Case and one fireman were obliged to handle the motor truck alone for a time.