Is “Fire Prevention,” Not “Fire Protection,” the Question?
In an address to the members of the Illinois State Firemen’s Association, recently in convention at Ottawa, Ill., John C. McDonnell, chief of the Chicago fire prevention bureau, held up fire prevention and not fire protection as the great question of the hour. This, of course, gave rise to considerable discussion in the Chicago papers and in the city council, whose members, it would appear, hold a very different opinion. The Chicago Tribune, as if in anticipation of the propounding of the McDonnell theory, held apparently the same view, as so far back as March 11, 1912, it said editorially when criticizing the opponents of the proposal to extend the fire limits: “It would seem that with so lurid a page as Chicago has in her history, this city would be one of the most alert and advanced in the matter of fire precautions. Yet it is not. The present attempt to extend the fire limits is meeting obstruction. though conditions are thoroughly wrong.” In its impression of July 27, of the same year, it assumed the role of a prophet and warned the citizens as follows: “When the council refused to extend the fire limits to the city limits there was an expression of the power of ‘interests,’ selfish, shortsighted interests opposed to just public action and the general good.” Commenting the other day on these remarks of the Tribune. James J. Condon, president of the West End Improvement Club, 29th ward, Chicago, pointed out that since “40,000 of flimsy structures have been erected all around us. The fire protecton was absolutely inadequate before these buildings were constructed. What will happen now in case of fire? Chief Seyferlich,” he continues, “declares that only luck has saved the city from sweeping conflagration. What is the sense in establishing a bureau of fire protection at one end of the city hall when a bureau of inflammability is operating to its full capacity at the other end of the building? Without extension of the fire limits to the city limits all our efforts at practical fire prevention will be silly and futile and will but make us the laughing stock of all the other great municipalities which have started their work front that basic foundation and are now making records they can well be proud of?”
The Buffalo, N. Y., fire department has inaugurated a movement favoring the two platoon.