Increasing Volunteer Efficiency
The efficient volunteer Fire Department should have regular drills and meetings, frequent inspections to familiarize the men with their districts, and promote fire prevention, hearty cooperation with neighboring Fire Departments, and respect for and cooperation with the Chief of the department, with perfect discipline in the ranks.
THERE why smaller is no cities reason and towns cannot have just as efficient inspections, preventive measures and service as those of our larger municipalities, if the Chief and his Fire Department have the welfare of their community at heart. The Chief should find time to institute frequent inspections, so as to keep the town a clean and safe place and prevent fire losses and hazards in the community. The Chief can prepare articles for the newspapers. He can appear before local organizations in talks on fire prevention, hazards, and in an endeavor to sell the Fire Department and its services. He can explain to his public the dangers of gasoline, kerosene, matches, pyrolin paints, bonfires, electricity, and so on, and he can explain what to do in case of fire.
Time works slowly. Sometimes we feel discouraged and wonder how to stir interest among the public in fire prevention. This was my stickler. During Fire Prevention Week of 1933, I put the usual questionnaires into the schools, with the “Stamp Out Fire” cards for the first, second and third grades. After much patient waiting and several trips to the schools, I gathered in all of these questionnaires from six different schools. I read them over and, believe me, I never knew a city so free from hazards and so well protected!
Series of Articles in Local Papers
It was too good to be true! I read between the lines: the public thought there was a catch. I did not dare undeceive them or hurt their feelings. Out came the old pencil and paper, reference books, and so on. For three or four evenings I worked and wound up with twentytwo pages of answers to the questionnaire. This was, however, too much for publication in one issue of the papers, so I split it up into fifteen articles, headed, “Do you know?” “Do You Remember?” “Are You Careless?” and so on. These I took to the local papers. They gladly published the articles and they went over good. People had been afraid to admit the truth of conditions as they were, but. since the publication of the articles, I have had compliments from many sources, and many have admitted the truth contained in them.
Reaching the Youngsters Through the Schools
The teachers in the schools read the articles in answer to their questionnaire, to the pupils. Since that time, they bring classes to the fire house, and the driver or myself or both get the children to ask all the questions they want to and we answer them seriously. No foolishness is allowed except at the sliding pole, for this takes each pupil’s eye. We try to put across to these youngsters the dangers connected with fire, give them many “do’s” and “don’ts” and explain simply the workings of the Fire Department. They go back to their classes and write essays on the trip, explaining just what they have actually learned. These simple essays often make very interesting reading; they are educational both to the scholars and ourselves. It is wise to educate the children of today, for they are the grown-ups of tomorrow!
Train the Men Through Meetings and Drills
To have an efficient Fire Department, there should be regular meetings and drills, made interesting and instructive by good speakers, expert first aid men and firemen from larger cities nearby, who can explain their methods. It is an advantage for the Chief, his officers and in fact, the firemen also, in their travels about the country, to visit other fire houses and talk shop with the firemen they meet there, exchanging ideas, and above all, keeping eyes and ears open for new ideas and suggestions. Fire magazines and fire literature should be read and studied, with the best books on the subject. Read what the Chief of your neighboring city has to say, invite him over, have him give you information first hand, get acquainted with him. Form county fire organizations, hold meetings, with speeches and demonstrations, and a general get together.
Reduction of Water Damage
It is important to cut down water damage and water loss at fires. If the city pressure is great enough, or a pumper is in use, it is wise to purchase a 2 1/2-inch Siamese connection, with a three-way one-inch connection for one side and some one-inch hose. Lay a line of 2 1/2-inch hose from hydrant to pumper and a 2 1/2inch line to the fire from the pumper. While you are making this lay, send a man in with the booster line to start work at once. Cut the Siamese in at the fire and take three one-inch lines to work with, if the blaze is of small proportions.
A case in point was a recent fire in a seven room residence, caused by a bolt of lightning. Half the basement was a roaring furnace, the cold air duct had collapsed, and flame was rolling into the dining room and parlor. It was so hot that the entire first floor had to be refurnished, with the lace curtains destroyed and the windows cracked. We used the one-inch layout on this fire and here is the answer:
Mr. Holly G. Painter, Fire Chief, Kent, Ohio.
DEAR MR. PAINTER: This is to thank you for the fine way in which the recent fire at my residence was handled. This fire, which started in my absence, had every opportunity to assume serious proportion. Due to the efficient work of the Kent firemen, I am happy to say. flames were extinguished with a minimum of loss.
It is a pleasure to tell you that there were no articles missing from the house after the fire was over.
You have every reason to be proud of your department and the way in which they function. It is a real service to the people of Kent.
Again thanking you, I remain
M. W. STAPLES.
Careful Picking of Men Essential
Every Chief can win similar praise for his department, if he will educate his men, lead them and work with them. In turn he must pick intelligent, hard working, clear thinking men, who will follow him through.
In case the weather is too bad for outdoor practice, the Chief can fall back upon blackboard chalk talks, practice the men in resuscitation, the tying of rope knots, the laying of dry hose on the floor of the fire house, and other useful information. It is well, occasionally, to nut an under officer in charge for an evening, to show what he knows. Let him carry out the drill, or turn it over to one of his men. This will show the Chief what qualifications his men have, and will bring out a wide range of ideas. He can then pick out the best, and this plan will be found of great benefit.
The Chief Should be a Leader
Above all, the Chief should be a man among men— a leader and work with and for his men. He should use discipline where necessary, but be fair to one and all and show no partiality.
Dances and parties for the members, with an occasional chicken or hot dish supper, is a great help to sociability. A family spirit should be encouraged among the group; this creates a better spirit of cooperation. There must be some fun mixed in to round out this picture.
Finally, let’s all work for a better and more concentrated effort for Fire Prevention !