FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEM OF AN ORGANIZED COMMUNITY
This Summer Resort, After Meny Fires, Now Has Ample Fire-Fighting Facilities—Fire Boat Unique Feature
SOMETHING uniquie in the way of fire protection has been developed at Delavan Lake, Wis. Like all other ventures of a similar nature, difficulty was experienced in raising funds for the purchase of the necessary apparatus and equipment to safeguard the community.
First, it may be well to explain the situation as it exists there. Delavan Lake is a popular summer resort in southern Wisconsin, within two hours drive from Chicago and its shores are lined with beautiful summer homes of Chicagoans, mainly. It has three or four large hotels and a number of aggregations of cottages, like subdivisions, comprising anywhere from twenty to two hundred cottages, all frame construction. The lake is about five miles long and averages about a mile wide, with a roadway circling it at a varying distance of from an eighth of a mile to half a mile back from the shore, which is about fourteen miles in length. The population about the lake during the summer is four thousand.
This district was without fire protection of any kind for many years and of course had numerous fires, often spreading from one cottage to another until several had burned and in one tragic instance two children were burned to death, when they might have been saved had there been any fire fighting equipment. At this fire eleven cottages were burned.
The residents about the lake have for many years had what is termed the Delavan Lake Improvement Association, which is a voluntary organization of about 170 members, and is maintained by small annual dues ($10). This association does whatever it can to help improve things about the lake and has committees in charge of various activities and the chairmen of these are men of prominence in business and social activities in Chicago, who give their time and efforts freely for the general good. One such committee is on membership, one is to see to the stocking of the lake with fish, one sees that the sanitary laws are observed, another looks after the lake level, which is controlled by a dam at the outlet of the lake, one is the Road Committee and cooperates with the local officials in keeping the roads in good order, and lastly there is a Fire Protection Committee, appointed after the above mentioned tragic fire.
This committee sought the advice of an experienced fire fighter, Division Fire Marshal John P. Stahl, of the Chicago Fire Department, a frequent visitor and close friend of the Chairman of the committee, Dr. C. V. Bachelle of Chicago, and after a careful study of the conditions about the lake, his advice was followed in planning the department and the equipment was installed by degrees.
Chemical Engines Installed
The funds for this had to be raised by a thorough and painful canvass of the members for subscriptions. This was not accomplished with ease, for many who were approached did not believe the plan feasible or possible. However, finally a four-tank chemical engine, on a truck chassis, with full equipment of ladders, hand pumps, foam extinguishers, axes, pike poles, first aid outfit, lung motor, salvage covers, etc., built by Pirsch, was installed as the first unit. This was an immediate success and did good work with its crew of volunteers. It was soon found that the territory was too much for one engine to cover, so the following year another truck with similar equipment, but with one large 100-gallon chemical tank, was stationed on the opposite side of the lake. On that side they also have the cooperation of a small chemical engine, a two-tank affair, belonging to an organization which is a member of the association. So that gave the community the protection of three chemical engines with a combined capacity was over 300 gallons.
Fire Boat Added to Department
As the interest of the lake people in the Fire Department developed it was found possible to add a fire boat to the department so that water could be gotten anywhere about the lake. The boat was all the more necessary on account of the numerous high and steep banks making the approach of land companies to the water impossible at such places. Therefore, about three years ago a second-hand boat was secured and a Barton pump installed in this equipment, which served very well.
Since then, to further protect the territory, which as before stated is fourteen miles about the lake, two more engines, Pirsch equipped, have been installed. These are also equipped with Barton pumps, booster tanks, hand pumps, inhalators, first aid outfits and all the lesser equipment. Therefore, now the lake has an engine company every two miles about its circumference.
Up-to-Date Boat Replaces Old One
This year the old fire boat was replaced by a new Chris Craft, 24-footer, powered with 100 horse power Chrysler marine motor, and the latest model 550-gallon Barton pump, the old boat having become unseaworthy, and the pump used in it was put in service on one of the fire engines. This new outfit has been very satisfactory and is most efficient.
An interesting feature is the manner in which the boat is housed. It is slung up above the water under a wide-spreading roof, between two narrow crib piers, by means of sets of tackles, one fore and one aft, which are actuated by a shaft running the whole length of the pier shelter. Thus the boat is protected from the battering of the waves in rough weather, and rain is kept from the hose and equipment. When an alarm comes in, a release catch is sprung and by means of a brake the descent of the boat is controlled and in less than half a minute the boat is in the water ready to go. It has a speed of between 30 and 40 miles per hour and is also used as a rescue company in cases of drowning or other water accidents. It carries 400 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose and at fires is reinforced by the land companies carrying additional hose.
Co. No. 6 on Private Estate
The last company to be installed is No. 6, and is located on the estate of Chas. A. Stevens, a prominent Chicago silk merchant, who has a beautiful and extensive estate on the lake, and who as a hobby raises fancy Toggenburg goats, which have a national reputation. It is the interest that such men of business put in their country homes and community and their help that have made possible this unique and practical enterprise, far from the great city in which their main activities are expended.
These companies with the exception of the fire boat are in service all winter, as many of the cottages are occupied all the year round and there is an increasing tendency of people to come to the lake for week-end parties, and for winter sports. With the overheating of houses and chimneys, it makes the fire service necessary.
From spring to fall of the year every two weeks, meetings are held, and in the winter once a month, at which fire problems are discussed and methods of handling especial fire hazards about the lake are considered or else drills are held. At such times often fire officers of experience from Chicago are present as invited guests and give volunteers instruction and advice. Among these were F. C. McAuliffe, Chief of the Chicago Patrols and Division Marshal Stahl of the Chicago Fire Department.
The officers of this department are C. V. Bachelle, Chief; A. G. Granath, First Assistant, Chief; and E. G. Buzzell, Second Assistant Chief.
Thus a lakeside summer resort has furnished its own upto-date and efficient fire protection by voluntary subscription and maintains it and its other activities by very modest annual dues.
Firemen of Reeseville, Wis., voted to purchase new fire apparatus.
Irving Labensky, Superintendent of Fire Alarms, New London, Conn., died on Christmas day from injuries sustained when an automobile struck a ladder on which he was working. He was engaged in carrying out his duties in connection with the fire alarm system at the time of the mishap.