From the Publisher’s Desk

From the Publisher’s Desk


A Look at Fire Engineering Volume 1, Number 1

We have been on a nostalgia kick lately— fire nostalgia that is—and for a good reason. In just two years from now Fire Engineering will be celebrating its 100th anniversary and there will be a hot time in the old town that year as far as we’re concerned.

Our nostalgia, of course, took us back to Volume 1, Number 1 of Fire Engineering (then called the National Fireman’s Journal). The opening column on the first page of this issue carried a 36-line poem called “The Fire Last Night,” which pretty much told in its opening lines what the fire service and the new magazine were all about:

Ding! Dong!

Ding! Dong!

The alarm flashed over the wire:

The quick horses sprang

To their places and—clang!

The steamers rolled off to the fire.

The poem sounds corny now, but it must have made a hit with the new readers because the first column of the front page of succeeding issues also started with spirited poetry like “The fight is o’er, the desperate battle done…”

The Fireman’s Journal, incidentally, was a weekly, published every Saturday at five cents per copy. “Random Sparks” was the title of an unsigned column published in the early issues of the National Fireman’s Journal. It carried brief notices of fires, personalities, news, apparatus deliveries and what have you. Typical of the weekly entries were:

“The Albany boys are packing their hydrants with sawdust.” (No explanation.)

“A couple of firemen in Kingston, N.Y., walked around their engine house for nine hours for a bet of a glass of lager.”

“The temperance fever has reached Newburgh, N.Y. Nearly forty members of the fire department signed the pledge last week under the preaching of J. T. Doutney, the reformer.”

There were other notable entries in the first issue of what was to become Fire Engineering, but not so strangely that first issue bears a lot of resemblance to the one you have in your hand.

From the Publisher’s Desk

From the Publisher’s Desk


Fire Service Contributes To Safety and Economy

It’s somewhat surprising when you think of it just how much the fire service touches on the lives of the citizens that it protects. We are not talking here of the occasional contact with a citizen that the service has at a fire or a fire prevention inspection. We are talking of the economic aspects of the fire service.

Almost every item that a fire fighter wears or uses has contributed in some way to the economy of our nation. And it’s no little contribution. In a survey that we conducted about three years ago, we discovered that the fire service spent some $900 million in supplying itself. This included the bricks that went into new fire stations, the apparatus housed in the stations, and the equipment that the apparatus carried.

We didn’t quite realize how deeply the fire service was involved in the economy until last year when shortages of copper and certain other metals and metal products contributed to the delays in getting deliveries of new apparatus. Even the little metal domes that cover warning lights (brass, we think) were hard to come by.

Oil provided the most highly visible shortage at the time. The fire service, of course, was never short of fuel to respond to alarms. But we discovered that oil through the magic of petrochemicals eventually wound up in the fabric and rubber of fire hose, in fire fighters’ helmets and turnout gear, and other products that are too numerous to mention here.

A lot of people at the time assumed that if the synthetics ran out, we could easily revert to cotton. Hadn’t Uncle Sam been buying and storing cotton to help the farmer ever since the Great Depression? But when manufacturers went looking for cotton, lo and behold, the cupboard was bare— bare enough, that is, to elevate the cost of cotton fabric beyond that of synthetic.

So, you see that the 23,000 fire departments and their 1 million members not only save lives, but make a heavy contribution to the economy.