MAPLEWOOD MAKES F. P. WEEK A FIRE DEPARTMENT FUNCTION
Another community of approximately the same size as Richland makes its fire department inspections the focal point for its Fire Prevention week promotional activities. That is Maplewood, New Jersey, population 25,000, which found after long experience that if an outstanding fire prevention job was to be done the fire forces had to spark it, the aid of other local organizations could not always be counted upon.
Fire Chief L. Zimmer and the head of the Fire Prevention Bureau, Capt. James B. Henderson, have been able to wrap their fire prevention promotion around their quarterly inspection service. They say that in this way they secure the fullest measure of cooperation of business firms and other organizations.
Chief Zimmer and Captain Henderson believe that fire prevention shouldn’t be only a “shot in the arm” but should be carried on throughout the year. They find that by tying fire prevention activities to their matutinal inspections, which business folk have come to regard as something conducted in their own interests, they get compliance with definite recommendations, made by the department after study of actual conditions. In a word, the prevention of fire becomes a very personal, intimate matter with the business man in whose premises the fire department inspector has found a hazardous violation. They agree that it has taken some years to bring about this situation, but know that it pays off as the best sort of Fire Prevention Week campaigning.
Perhaps the basis of it all is the comprehensive fire prevention ordinance passed by the town in July of 1946. This provides for the establishment of a Fire Prevention Bureau, defined its setup and limitations, and prescribes the regulations for fire prevention and fire safety in connection with hazardous materials and processes.
Fire department officials claim much of the credit for the success of the program must be given the procedure of serving notification of violations on the property owner and occupant, and the method of following up violations which, they say. while seldom resulting in court action, nevertheless do bring about speedy correction.
Three printed forms and a card are used by the department in this connection. One is a notification of the violation ; another is a follow-up, and the third is filled in and signed and duly notarized, by the inspector, describing the violation and previous notices and giving final warning. In addition to these, a card index is kept of all mercantile and other business properties, and of all inspections and ensuing action taken.
The inspections have uncovered violations of nearly every type, including poor and dangerous electric wiring and much overfusing. Elimination of this evil has been furthered through the cooperation of the Middle Rating Office in East Orange, with the Maplewood Fire Department. The publicity given the inspections and types of violations by the local weekly newspaper has been of help.
The fire department does not rely entirely upon its quarterly inspections to get over Fire Prevention. As part of its continual pressure in this field, it conducts various activities among school children and homeowners, using all available means of publicity. During the spring and fall seasons owners of vacant lots are requested to clear away all flammable brush and rubbish. This has materially reduced the number of fires in this category.
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