I.A.F.C. Board of Directors Meets
The mid-winter meeting of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs was held at the Concourse-Plaza Hotel, New York, N. Y., January 16-18, with Chief Wayne Swanson of Rockford, Ill., presiding. A number of invited guests attended the open sessions.
Among the more important measures taken by the Board were:
Appropriation of funds for study of the possibilities of a broad educational and training program on fire department administration, a project launched by former IAFC General Manager John Gerletti; also funds for furthering volunteer-IAFC relations.
Ratification of the lease for the new headquarters offices at Madison Avenue and East 37th Street, Manhattan.
Preparation of preliminary plans for the 1957 Conference to be held in New Orleans.
Increase in the registration fee for the annual conference to $10.00 for man and wife, with $5.00 per person for each additional member of the family or guest.
Decision to hold the 1958 Conference at Los Angeles, Cal., the dates to be announced later.
Appointment of a number of new committees and new chairmen for most continuing committees.
Consideration of a number of changes in the by-laws and constitution.
Review of the membership situation and proposal to increase the present total.
National Board Luncheon
On Thursday, January 17, the IAFC officers and directors and invited guests were the guests of the National Board of Fire Underwriters at a luncheon at the Concourse-Plaza. Included among the guests were Thomas P. O’Brien, deputy chief in charge, Bureau of Fire Comunications and Martin Scott, fire marshal of the New York Fire Department; Percy Bugbee, general manager, National Fire Protection Association and other notables.
After welcoming the guests, John Neale, chief engineer, NBFU, who presided, posed a question for the members of the Association who were present.
It is encouraging to note for the first time in many years the loss of life by fire has dropped, said Mr. Neale. It isn’t a very big drop, he added, but it is a good indication that the increased inspections being made by the nation’s fire services are paying off. This is also reflected, he believed, in a reduction in the number of fires. However, he was concerned with the increase in actual fire losses, which apparently are continuing their climb and have now reached an all-time high.
“Is this due to the inflationary value of the dollar, or to what?” asked Mr. Neale, pointing out that we seem to be having more big fires and more costly fires. “Perhaps you men here can give me the reasons. Is it delayed discovery? Are the shorter working hours and the fact that some firemen are holding down outside jobs responsible?”
Fire Chief William Miller of Los Angeles and others expressed the opinion that work done by firemen on the outside had no bearing on large losses. To admit that it does is to admit that the efficiency of the fire service has fallen, said Chief Miller, who attributed the main reasons to faulty design and construction of our buildings and to the pressure of modem production which encourages carelessness. The big answer, he maintained, is public education. Firemen should talk to the people, he contended. Plant management and watchmen should be educated to the value of preventing fire and of safeguarding buildings and people against fire. “Firemen are getting better in their work,” Chief Miller insisted.
Other chiefs took a different view. Chief Newton Wheeler of Miami, believed that shorter hours and outside employment do affect the efficiency of a department. Time away from jobs means loss of contact with the fire department, he said, giving as his answer the need for stepped-up training.
Fire Chief William Fitzgerald of Seattle, Wash., claimed that where there is divided interest, efficiency must drop. He urged installation of more automatic fire detection and fire extinguishing systems, such as supervised central station service and sprinklers.
Chief R. C. Malmquist, Minneapolis, second vice-president of the IAFC, also urged more and better educational programs and training of management, including watchmen, in fire safety.