Growth of Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Chief Mark Kesler has completed his eighth year as head of the Oklahoma City department. During the eight years, improvements in the department have kept pace with the wonderful growth of the city, and to-day the Oklahoma City department ranks with the best in the country. Incidentally, Chief Kesler has rounded out more than 23 years as a fire lighter. He started with the Kansas City department when he was 20 years of age, serving there 13 years. Ten years ago he went to Guthrie as chief and remained in that city for two years and three months, when he was asked to go to Oklahoma City. It was while at Kansas City that Chief Kesler originated the eight horse street hitch which was never duplicated until he went there, and Oklahoma City alone now has an example of this marvelous piece of training for lire horses. Eight years ago when the chief took charge of the department, Oklahoma City had two fire stations. These were manned by nine firemen, including the chief. There were six horses, two hose wagons and one second-hand engine in the way of equipment. To-day there are 03 men in all capacities in the department, which has in the way of apparatus 57 horses, nine hose wagons, seven engines, live hook and ladder trucks, two automobiles, a 55-foot water tower, chief and assistant chief’s buggies, a supply wagon and an electrician’s wagon. The apparatus is housed in nine stations, including one of the finest and best equipped central stations in the country. Incidentally Oklahoma City has a fire lighting force recognized throughout the country as one of the best drilled and most efficient organizations of its kind, and to Chief Kesler belongs the credit for its development. “I do not contemplate much change in the department for the coming year,” he said recently. “We should have two more automobiles particularly for use in the outlying districts. For the central part of the city the horsedrawn apparatus is sufficient now, but the auto is best for long distance runs, and there is a big territory to be covered where the equipment is a long distance away. I do not think automobiles will entirely take the place of horses in lire departments until a machine is perfected so that power can be applied to all four wheels,” said Chief Kesler in reply to a question as to the general use of autos. “There should be such a vehicle made, to be driven with an electric storage battery, and it would, no doubt, be entirely successful. But for the present, the gasolene auto, on which the power is applied to the two rear wheels only, is too uncertain to warrant its universal adoption.”