FIREMEN’S ASSOCIATIONS AND TOURNAMENTS.
In our last issue we devoted nine pages to a full report of the proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association, held at Detroit recently. Whoever took the trouble to read that report cannot fail to be impressed with the value these associations are to the Fire Service. From the dignified nature of the proceedings, and the valuable character of the reports submitted on a great variety of topics pertaining to the duty of Firemen, it is plain to see that intelligence and wisdom presided at their councils. The delegates there assembled were representative men of their several Departments, are men of standing and affluence in their communities, and take pride in being Firemen. Men of this character cannot fail to lend dignity to any profession to which they may attach themselves, and to win for it the respect and confidence of their fellow citizens.
State Associations now exist in a number of States, and wherever such organizations have been formed an improvement in the Fire Department of the cities represented has been noted, and an added interest in fire matters developed. The discussion of the subjects of the merits of Steam Engines, chemical apparatus, the various kind of hose, the methods of handling fires, lead men to think and reason on these subjects, and to bring their intelligence to bear in the performance of their duties. In doing so, they are introducing new methods in dealing with fires, and improvements in apparatus, increasing their facilities fordoing their work, and consequently, reducing the cost of maintaining the Departments. It is economy for city governments to send representatives to these conventions, for the knowledge they acquire more than compensates for the cost of the trip. One subject that was discussed at the Michigan Convention, if no other had been alluded to, was of sufficient importance to pay for the gathering. This was relative to the best method of caring for hose. The importance of having the best hose rather than the cheapest was pointed out, and the necessity for properly caring for it was shown. This is a part of the drudgery of the business that is too often neglected. There is about service at a fire a degree of excitement that is attractive, bu when the fire is out, it is weary, discouraging work to be compelled to drag the apparatus back to the house, to clean the Engine and put it in readiness for another run; to unreel the hose, wash it, and so dispose of it that it will dry quickly and thoroughly. It is both laborious and uninviting to “ clean up ” after a fire, and put everything ship-shape for the next fire. But that fire may come in an hour, and there must be no delay. Tired out with their voluntary labor in saving tne property of their neighbors, for which they usually get ” more kicks than halfpence,” it is scarcely to be wondered at if they sometimes slight their work and neglect taking care of the hose, especially if a parsimonious city council has refused to provide them with the proper appliances for doing it. Every Department should have one or more towers for drying hose, with proper mechanical contrivances for suspending each section at full length, so that the air can readily circulate through it. These towers should be in charge of men specially detailed to look after the hose, so that when a fire is over, all hose used at it can be taken to the tower and left there to be cleaned and dried, while the reels are filled freshly with dry hose. To do this requires an extra amount of hose, but every Department that tries it will find it the cheapest plan in the end, for the hose will last twice as long, if well cared for, as it will if neglected. Besides, the hose will always be in good condition, and the Firemen know what they can depend upon. The discussion of this one topic at Detroit repaid every one who listened to it for all his trouble in attending the convention.
Numerous other topics were discussed, and among the thoughtful papers submitted were the reports of Mr. Seymour, the Statistician, and of Mr. Edmonds, on Water Supply ; Mr. Batwell, on Fire Apparatus, and Mr. S. D. Pond, on Fire Police. The general discussions following these and other papers were highly interesting. We allude to this convention at length for the purpose of directing attention to the advantages of such associations, and of urging upon the Firemen of those States where there are no such organizations the importance of forming State Associations. They not only tend to diffuse valuable knowledge regarding fire matters, but to promote a fraternal feeling among Firemen, and to unite them by even stronger bonds of sympathy than now exist.
While on this subject, we desire to suggest that the State Association Conventions and State Tournaments, where such are indulged in, should be held at the same time and place. The one serves to excite interest in the other, and, combined, they make an event full of attraction to Firemen. If held separately, and at different times, a divided duty is presented to the Fireman, and which to attend to the neglect of the other, becomes a mooted question. We are believers in good results flowing from tournaments when properly conducted. It is natural lor men to desire to enter into competitive trials with their fellows, be it in the shape of a walking match, a horse race, a sparring match, or a trial of Engines. When conducted fairly and in a spirit of honest emulation, we believe Firemen’s Tournaments are highly beneficial.