Many Cities Have Obsolete Apparatus
Municipal fire protection throughout the United States has deteriorated during the past few years, the Committee on Fire Prevention and Engineering Standards of the National Board of Fire Underwriters has stated in a report presented recently.
“Fire departments were not able to purchase new apparatus or equipment and the replacement of fire apparatus is a problem which is facing most city authorities. The long period of depression, followed by the war years. has left many cities with obsolete ladder trucks and pumpers,” the report said.
“Another factor is the general tendency throughout the country to increase the off-duty time of firemen, i his change of operating conditions, in many cases to a 48-hour week, would not be objectionable, and in fact would he advantageous as providing a larger total force at time of a catastrophe, were it not that in many cases sufficient men have not been added to maintain even a reasonable manning of individual companies.
“In fact, in many cases no men have been added, with the result that individual company strength is such as to permit use of only such hose lines as are of value on fires in their early stage,” the engineering report stated.
Training of firemen is also inadequate, the committee reported, stating there has not been time, nor have funds been provided to utilize fire-fighting training methods developed by the armed forces during the war, “although there is little doubt that some practical innovations in training methods devised by the Army and Navy will eventually he employed by fire departments.”
Water supplies of municipalities show the least retrogression, since various extensions and improvements were authorized during the war on account of necessary industrial and housing developments. Nevertheless, the committee stated, many planned improvements were delayed.
The committee’s findings on municipal fire protection were based on the National Board’s inspections of tire-fighting facilities and structural conditions in cities throughout the nation.
The committee stated that the field of fire protection is “constantly becoming more complicated, owing to advancing industrial processes and methods, and hv changes in the economic and social phases of our highly developed civilization. Industrial and chemical processes brought into being during the war, increased responsibilities of public officials in the realm of safetyto the public, movement of population, the inflated price scale, and even shortened hours of the average working man. all give rise to problems with which we are called upon to deal.”