Instructions to Volunteers
In our correspondence column is published a communication from Chief Engineer George W. Booth, of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, in which he comments on the letter of Ex-Chief Benjamin L. Wallace, published in our issue of April 23, suggesting a plan of instruction to the volunteer fire departments of small towns. As Mr. Booth rightly says the problem of the small volunteer department is a somewhat difficult one. There is, in most cases, no one in the town itself with sufficient experience in fighting fires to properly drill the members of the department. The chief, in the very nature of the case, cannot have had the training necessary to properly instruct the men in the various duties that they will be called upon to perform in connection with the work they are engaged in, as he himself will not have had any more opportunity to meet such emergencies than they have. To properly drill and instruct the men of these departments a member of a paid department who has had some experience in the instruction of his own members, preferably an officer, should be detailed for this work. But at once there looms the difficulty of the expenses involved in such instruction. Not often can a small town spare the funds from its budget necessary to accomplish this, and certainly the volunteers, who are public spirited enough to give their services in the protection of the town from fire should not be asked to also dip into their pockets for this additional sacrifice. The plan mentioned by Mr. Booth as having been adopted in the State of North Carolina, of detailing a former chief of a fire department, to look after this work offers one very good solution to the difficulty. Chief Brockwell has, no doubt, done much to add to the efficiency of the volunteers of the State of North Carolina, and other States that have not already done so. should authorize their fire insurance commissioners or fire marshals to inaugurate some such plan of instruction in the small town departments, making the necessary appropriation to carry on the work. The State’s money so spent would be well invested.