How Firemen are Trained in Pittsburgh
Methods Adopted in the Training School for Officers and Men in the Pennsylvania City—Up-to-Date Methods—Steel Training Tower
TRAINING the fireman—from “rookie” to officer —in the science of fire fighting has become one of the most important features of the modern Fire Department. The following article describes the methods employed in the training school for officers and firemen in the city of Pittsburgh, Pa.:
The Training School for Firemen in the Bureau of Fire, under the Department of Public Safety of the City of Pittsburgh was established through an Ordinance passed by City Council, September 21, 1915, and approved by Mayor Joseph G. Armstrong, September 27, following, the Training School to comprise the following classes:
Company Class, Officers’ Class, Engineers’ Class and Probationary Firemen’s Class, the classes to consist of courses of instructions by means of lectures, practical lessons and manual training in the following subjects:
Discipline and Administration; First Aid to the Injured; Fire Prevention: General Fire Fighting; Use of Apparatus, Implements and Tools; Auxiliary Appliances; Engines and Boilers; Fire Alarm Telegraph and Auxiliary Systems; Gasoline Motor Machinery; Care and Repair of Hose; High Tension Electric Currents; High Pressure Service; Combustibles, Chemicals and Explosives, and the Care of Horses.
Administration of Training School
The activities of the Training School are administered by a Board of Instructors, which Board is under the control of the Director of the Department of Public Safety, with the Chief of the Bureau of Fire as President, ex-officio of said board and has the authority to make to the Director from time to time such recommendations, as in its opinion may add to the efficiency of the bureau and the school.
All members of the Bureau of Fire, except those who are members of the Board of Instructors, are required to take the prescribed course of instructions in their respective classes.
All those officers and firemen eligible for promotion shall attend the school under such requirements, rules and regulations as may be established by the Board of Instructors.
So far as practicable no officer or fireman shall be promoted until he has successfully concluded the course of instruction to the satisfaction of the hoard. Upon the completion of the several courses of instruction, the board shall hold examinations, oral and practical, and certify to the Director of the Department of Public Safety the names of all those in the various classes who have made an average rating of seventy per cent, or over. In order of their standing, and against each name shall be placed the rate per cent attained.
All probationary firemen failing to make a general average of seventy per cent, shall be dismissed. Any officer or fireman failing to make a general average of seventy per cent shall be required to take the course a second time. If he fails to qualify upon a second examination, the board shall make and lodge with the Director of the Department of Public Safety a charge of either “Disability for Service” or “Inefficiency” as the case may be.
Constitution and Duties of Board of Instructors
The constitution of the Board of Instructors and their duties in detail are as follows:
Chief, Bureau of Fire.— President Ex-officio.
Battalion Chiefs.—In charge of Company and Officers’ Classes, and Instructors in Discipline and Administration, High Pressure Service and General Fire Fighting.
Two Instructors.— General Instructors in all classes, and have entire charge of the Probationary Firemen’s Class.
Surgeon of Fire and Police Bureau.— Instructor in First Aid to the Injured.
Superintendent of Bureau of Electricity.— Instructor in High
Tension Electric Currents, Fire Alarm Telegraph and Auxiliary Systems.
Superintendent of Municipal Garage.— Instructor in Gasoline Motor Machinery.
Superintendent of Municipal Garage.— In charge of Pumpman’s Class and Instructor in Care, Operation and Maintenance of Motors and Pumps.
Inspector of Board of Fire Prevention.— Instructor in Combustibles, Chemicals and Explosives, and Fire Prevention.
Regulations as to Attendance at Classes
All lire companies are required to attend Company Class with their full complement of officers and men at such times as the Board may direct. The course of instructions in this class includes the use of apparatus, implements and tools, the entire work incidental to the duties of the service, except the actual extinguishing of fire, and handling and placing of apparatus in service, implements and tools and their practical use, hose line combinations, emergency repair of hose and the removal of “burst-lengths,” under the various conditions occurring at fires, tying of knots and hitches, ladder exercises and rescue work.
The Various Classes
In the Officers’ Class, all Captains (and firemen who are eligible for promotion) are required to attend the class under such rules and regulations as may be determined by the Board of Instructors.
This class is operated in sections. Each section being required to attend twice a week, from 9 a. m. to 12 m., or 1 p. m. to 4 p. m., for a period of six weeks.
Special Instructions given in this class shall consist of the latest methods of fire-fighting, manner and means of fire prevention, command and control, practical instructions in concerted action and instructions in “Team Work’’ given so as to unite the proficient units of the organization into a capable whole, to the extent that not only the loss from fire, but the destruction of property by water and other means of fire-fighting may be minimized.
In the Pumpmen and Driver’s Class, all pumpmen, drivers (and firemen eligible for promotion to the position of pumpmen) shall be required to attend this class and take a course of instruction limited to the care, maintenance and operation of pumpers and gasoline motors under such rules and requirements as may be determined by the Board.
In the Probationary Firemen’s Class, all probationary firemen are required to attend this class for a period of at least fifteen days upon their appointment as probationary firemen, and shall receive practical instructions in the use of apparatus, implements and tools, auxiliary fire appliances, scaling ladder and other appliances and elementary lessons in the science of fire fighting and first aid to the injured.
The Training Tower
Following the creation of the Training School by Council the School was located and installed in the quarters of Engine and Truck Companies No. 14 on Neville Street near Ellsworth Avenue where the first class of instructions was held on March 8, 1915 with Captain Alvin K. Foster, of Engine Co. No. 19, and Captain James Kane, of Engine Co. No. 34, as instructors.
During the latter part of 1915 a six-story steel frame training tower structure with outside walls of wood, was erected in the yard in the rear of the above Fire Station which was placed into service April 1, 1916. This structure which is about twenty-five feet square is equipped with two rows of windows facing the yard for scaling ladder work, an inside stairway and a standpipe equipped with inside and outside fire department connections. The first floor of the training tower is used as a class room for general instructions in operating fire alarm boxes and the transmission of the different signals used in the Fire Department as well as practical instructions in the use of the different tools and appliances and their proper names, the latter part of the above instructions being carried on indoors during bad weather when it is impossible for the men to work outside.
Owing to the lack of space and suitable quarters for class rooms, etc., the complete course of instructions as provided for in thp ordinance creating the school cannot be carried out to their fullest extent. At present company classes only are conducted at the school, while classes for officers are conducted in the quarters of the Battalion Chief of each battalion.
Periods of Attendance at School
The uniformed fire fighting force attend the Training School each day of the week except Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays from 9 a. m. to 12 noon and from 1 p. m. to 4 p. m., the seven Battalion Fire Districts following out attendance in consecutive order.
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I raining the Firemen in Pittsburgh
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Companies of Battalions attend school for a period of two weeks when they are working night turn. A schedule is arranged for each battalion showing the dates on which the various fire companies in each battalion shall attend school.
The companies are arranged on the schedule so that approximately the same number of men attend the school each day. These schedules are made out at Fire Headquarters every two weeks, a copy of which is given to the Battalion Chiefs and one to the Training School Instructors.
Where holidays or other causes interfere with the operation of the school during any particular week, companies are assigned at a suitable period. Each fire company under the present arranged schedule attends the school on an average of four times per vear.
Methods of administration are determined bv the chiefs assembled and in turn are given at officers’ classes which are held at the various battalion headquarters, each battalion having a different evening of the week on which the officers who are working night turn assemble for classes which are conducted by the battalion chief in command of the district.
Time Evolutions Used at School
The following timed evolutions are used at the Training School, for the performance of which, the various Fire Companies attending the School are timed and given a percentage rating.
Stretching a 2J4 inch line of hose to roof of training school by way of stairway, using all the men on the Company.
Connecting lines into four-way Siamese, using three inch lead line, branch pipe and hose stick. Connecting lines into threeway Siamese, using three inch lead line, branch pipe and hose stick. Stretching line of hose to roof of training school, using ladder and stairway. Stretching lines into turret, using two 2½ inch one three inch line. Pulling line of hose up onto roof, using hose roller, rope and axe and approved knots. Pulling twenty-five foot ladder up onto roof with use of approved knots. Connecting lines into standpipe, using a 2½ inch line from each fire hydrant outside of building. Stretching two 2½ inch lines into a two-way Siamese. Connecting lines into Y’s, using 2]A inch lines. Connecting lines into Y’s, using three inch lines. Connecting two small one inch lead lines to a inch line, using Fen Y. Making end for end connection in inch line, using double male and double female connections. Extending length of line, using shut off nozzle increaser. Operating chemical tank and line. Handling line of hose on ladder, using rope hose strap. Raising and lowering of twenty-five foot ladder and the handling of same. Raising and operating aerial ladder and extension.
Principal Instructions Taught
In addition to the timed evolutions used at the school the following principal instructions are taught at the regular class sessions:
How to use hose jacket on 2½ and 3 inch lines of hose. How to connect lines of hose into standpipes, using both inside and outside connections. General instructions on the operation of standpipes and automatic sprinklers. How to connect two pumpers or steam fire engines to one single opening fire hydrant. How to tandem two pumpers or steam fire engines. How to connect lines of hose into cellar pipes and sprays. The suction reducer and its use. Tying approved knots. Proper method of charging chemical tanks and hand fire extinguishers. How to break glass, both plain and wired, from doors and windows. Proper method of ventilating buildings. Shooting life line to window or roof of building. Sliding down life line from window or roof of building. Jumping into life net and proper way of holding same. Building chain of pompier ladders from ground to roof of building. Standing on window sill with one pompier ladder. Sitting on window sill with one pompier ladder. How to carry sick or unconscious persons. The proper use of body wrapper. How to lower dummy “Mulligan” from window or roof of building. Artificial respiration, using Sylvester’s and Schafer’s methods. General instructions in the use of smoke helmets, gas masks and pulntotor. Operation of fire alarm boxes and transmission of signals.
Salvage Work Also Taught
Among the newer activities of fire departmental work in which Pittsburgh during the last two years lias made great strides is that of Salvage Work which is part of the course of training received at the class sessions of the Training School which consists of how to spread and handle covers as well as how to fold, repair and preserve same.
Not only are salvage covers carried on the Emergency Squad Wagon located in the downtown business district of the city, the only unit of its kind in the Department at the present time, but are also carried on all of the Hook and Ladder trucks in the Department as well as on most of the pumpers and combination hose and chemical wagons, eight covers being carried on each of the twenty-one Hook and Ladder trucks and from one to two covers on pumpers and combination wagons.
By the practice of common sense salvage methods at fires quite a record has been run up by the Pittsburgh Fire Department in this new line of work and together with the up-to-date salvage methods taught at the school have had a tendency to increase the moral of the men in the Department in general in exercising more care in their work at fires, particularly in that of preventing unnecessary damage by water to stock and contents of business buildings and especially to furniture and household goods of small home owners and occupants who in many cases do not carry anv insurance to cover losses caused by fire.
Approximately 100,000 men have passed through the school and have received instructions at Company Class Sessions since the school was first organized. In addition to the regular men who have received instructions in Company Classes, a number of men including officers and privates of other fire departments outside of the city of Pittsburgh have taken courses of instructions at the school during the regular class sessions and at night answered all alarms with Engine Company Xo. 14 and Truck Company No. 14, in the rear of whose quarters the school is located.
Record of the School Chief Instructor
Captain Foster, the present Chief Instructor of the Firemen’s Training School, joined the hire Department as a Substitute Hoseman, October 12, 1893. He was appointed regularly as a ladderman April 1, 1895, and assigned to Truck Company No. 1 in the downtown business district. He was promoted to driver April 9, 1896, transferred to Engine Co. No. 15, and appointed to Assistant Engineer of Engine Co. No. 15, May 4, 1900. His next promotion was to Lieutenant on the same Company on December 5, 1903, and on December 1, 1906, he was promoted to Captain and assigned to Engine Co. No. 19 in the downtown business district, where he remained as Captain until March 20, 1915, when he was promoted to Training School Instructor.
Sent to New York Fire College
On March 31, 1915, Captain Foster, along with Captain James Kane of Engine Company No. 34, now retired and in the employ of the Dupont Powder Company as Chief of their fire fighting forces, who was appointed Instructor with Captain Foster, were sent to the New York hire College for a thirty-day course of instructions and training to fit them for their new positions.
Upon their arrival in New York City and reporting to Chief John Kenlon, Captain Foster and Captain Kane were assigned for duty on Truck Company No. 24, located on West 33rd Street near Sixth Avenue, one of the busiest truck companies in the city. Captain Foster and Captain Kane answered all alarms of fire with this company at night and attended the school or college courses each working day from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m.
Captain Foster and Captain Kane graduated from the Fire College with high honors, and their work, attendance and strict attention was highly commended by Chief Kenlon in a letter to the late Charles S. Hubbard, at that time Director of the Department of Public Safety.
Record of the Assistant Instructor
Training School Instructor, Captain Louis J. Conley, assistant to Instructor Foster has been a member of the Fire Department for twelve years, entering the Department as a substitute hoseman and being assigned for duty on Engine Company No. 25 on July 10, 1916 at the time the two-platoon system was installed in the department. He was appointed as a regular hoseman on Engine Company No. 25 on October 10, 1916, and on February 7, 1924, was promoted to Junior Lieutenant and assigned to Engine Company X’o. 55. On March 16, 1924, he was transferred to Lieutenant on Truck Company No. 3 in the downtown business district and on October 1, 1925. was promoted to Senior Lieutenant and transferred to Engine Company No. 25, where In remained until appointed Training School Instructor November 4, 1926.
Captain Conley is thirty-three years old. During the World War, he left the F’ire Department to serve overseas with the United States Marine Corps, ranking as a non-commissioned officer. At the end of the war Captain Conley returned to the Fire Department after an absence of eighteen months.
After the retirement of Captain Kane in 1918, Captain Frank C. Loxterman of Engine Company No. 4, at present one of the Deputy Chiefs of the department was appointed to fill the vacancy of Instructor on October 1, 1918, which position he held until May 1, 1923. when he was appointed to the position of Battalion Chief and assigned to the Third Battalion.
Officers Who Have Served at Head of School
Following the appointment of Captain Loxterman to the position of Battalion Chief, Captain Peter J. McGuire of Engine Company No. 32 was promoted to the position of Training School Instructor.
During a former city administration the Training School was practically abolished by the newly appointed City Officials with the reorganization of the Fire Department and the action of City Council in eliminating the two positions of Training School Instructors from the city budget. With this action, Captain Foster and Captain McGuire were relieved of their duties as Instructors. Captain Foster was assigned to Engine Company No. 14 as captain and Captain McGuire to Engine Company No. 7 as captain. Captain McGuire did not accept this assignment and retired on pension, June 16, 1924.
With the appointment of the present Chief, Richard L.. Smith, as Chief, February 1, 1926, and the reorganization of the Department after he took command, the Training School was immediately re-established by Chief Smith and Captain Foster was restored to his old position and again put in command of the school as Chief Instructor.
Chief Smith has always been a strong advocate for the Training School and all its activities and evolutions and has endeavored to bring the school up to the highest point of efficiency possible with the limited means at his command to carry on the full work of the school, with the result that today Pittsburgh has a Firemen’s Training School that has proven its worth to the department, and that any city of its size can be well proud.