MINNEAPOLIS AND ITS FIRE CHIEFS.
MINNEAPOLIS never seems easy or contented unless at the beginning of every new year she makes, or attempts to make changes in her fire department. This year is no exception to the rule, and there seems to be a determined effort on the part of one party to depose Chief Canterbury and reinstate former Chief Stetson. No reason appears to to be assigned for making the change, from which we may safely infer that the party in power so wills it. We are the advocates neither of Chief Canterbury nor of former Chief Stetson, nor do we pretend to say whether or not the former would do better as assistant chief. That is no concern of ours. What we would insist upon is the worse than folly of persisting year by year in such a course, and the mischief done to fire departments by this perpetually recurring system of changing their chief officers. The evil effects upon the rank and file are too obvious to need pointing out, and in a lumber city like Minneapolis, in which, if anywhere, there is need of a thoroughly united and thoroughly disiplined fire department, the slightest disaffection in the ranks or the smallest blunder in handling a fire on the part of officers or men might be productive of a conflagration,in which millions of dollars worth of property and many lives would certainly be lost. And such a catastrophe it is perfectly possible to bring about,if the firemen are in the least degree demoralized, owing either to lack of discipline or disorganization arising from the enlistment of men into their ranks, who are enrolled, simply because they are in favor with the party in authority in the city hall. In thus writing, we would not for one moment as much as hint that the fire department of Minneapolis is not all it ought to be. On the contrary, we know that, in spite of adverse outside influences, it bears, as it has always borne a very high reputation for efficiency and good work. But, if its members are once fully persuaded in their own minds that their tenure of office is dependent, not upon merit or fitness, but upon their political or religious opinions—that they are enrolled to serve, not during good behavior, but just so long as they can keep in with the dominant political party, the seeds of demoralization and disorganization thus sown cannot fail, sooner or later, to bring forth evil fruits. In that case, the harvest will also be disastrous.