MAIMED AND DISABLED FIREMEN.
A paragraph that has found its way into the press states that the Boston Fire Commissioners ask the Common Council to petition the Legislature for an act authorizing the city to pension maimed and worn-out Firemen. There are enough now in the Department to impair its efficiency, and yet the Commissioners feel that it would be cruel to turn them out without providing for their wants. The existing statute allowing the city to appropriate $3000 annually does not meet the difficulty. Disabled men in a Fire ‘Department are like wounded soldiers in hospital when the army is engaged in an active campaign—they cannot do duty, they cannot be deserted, and, as they must be cared for, they constitute a serious drawback to the efficiency of the active force. Every Paid Department is limited as to the number of men employed to the very lowest number necessary to handle the apparatus. There are no supernumeraries, but every man is expected to be on hand for hard, exhaustive duty whenever the alarm sounds. If one or more men in a Company fail by reason of injuries, sickness or other cause, to be present for duty, the more burdensome become the labors required of the other members. In the event of a large fire occurring when the Company is short handed, the press and the public condemn the Firemen for inefficiency. Whatever tends to impair the work of the Firemen jeopards the safety of the lives and property of citizens. The loss of two or three minutes in getting the apparatus to a fire may cost the lives of several persons, and the reason for the delay may be the shorthandedness of the Company. At the Cannon street fire, where five persons were burned to death, the apparatus was promptly on the ground, but if they could have been two minutes earlier those lives would have been saved. As it was, their promptness saved other lives. Had the first Company due been short handed, and delayed in consequence, the loss of life would have been still greater.
Firemen are exposed to unusual perils. In the large cities, especially, no one of them expects to pass many years in the service withont receiving serious injury. A short time since a man who had been an oltl Fireman, was appointed to the force on Saturday ; before Monday noon he had been called out on third alarms three times, and on each occasion his life was placed in jeopardy. At every large fire that occurs the Firemen are subjected to great risks, and, of late, some of them have been injured at almost every fire of magnitude, both in this and other cities. It is wise legislation that provides for their retirement from active service after they have become incapacitated, and supplies them with the means of support, not leaving them subjects of charity. Every Paid Department in the country is to-day carrying on its rolls rrieri who, from length of service or injuries received, are not able to perform full duty. Rat er than dismiss them, and so reduce them to beggary, their superiors detail them as clerks, messengers, etc. Hut each one of these men is occupying a place and receiving the pay of an active young man, and the Companies are kept short handed in ‘consequence. The messenger and clerical work could be performed bv others who are not Firemen quite as well. This is unjust to the men, and also to citizens, who expect to sec the Fire Department ot all other branches the public service—maintained at the very highest point of efficiency. In the continuous battle waged against fire, there is no place for non-combatants—the full strength of the army is required to secure success. We hope Boston will succeed in getting the relief asked for, and that the law will be so liberal in its provisions that a Fireman who has been injured in the line of his duty may be retired from service and still receive the full pay of his rank while in service. For Volunteer Departments there should be a law passed in every State providing for the payment of pensions by the State to Firemen who are injured in the course of duty. It cannot well be left to communities, unless the payment of such pensions is, by State law, made compulsory upon the treasurers of counties or cities, but it can be much more readily accomplished by making such pensions a tax upon State treasuries, and payable by the State Treasurer. This plan is feasible, for the services of Firemen have grown to be so important that State Legislatures cannot refuse to accede to any reasonable demand made by them. Of course, the details attendant upon pensioning Firemen could be easily arranged, and a commission ot State officers delegated to examine each case. It is a matter that we hope to see generally taken up by the Firemen, and pressed upon the various State Legislatures.
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