Motors Add Efficiency at Battle Greek
One impertinent innovation was made in the fire department of Battle Creek, Mich., last year. Motor carhave been placed in No. 1 station, innovations that are planned for the future are —more motor cars. The city officials of Battle Creek and Chief Weeks have always endeavor ed to keep the department supplied with the very latest fire fighting apparatus, and changes are being made in the equipment regularly. But the innovation of the motor car is the most radical shange in the department since the fullpaid firemen were appointed. Eventually it will mean the retirement of practically every horse in the department. During the year 1911, 143 alarms were answered by the department, and since the auto truck was put into service in July, it has answered in every call since but one. Due, to no doubt to the usual Fourth of Juiy celebrations, July led in the number of fires. Last years record of 143 fires is the largest in the history of the department. The year previous had 119 fires, which was the high record in its day. A total of $160,000 of damage was done by these fires. The Quacker Oats plant was visited by a $70,000 blaze,which was held in check by the department so that only a part of the building was destroyed. The total plant is value at $150,000, so that the fire loss was kept down comparatively low.
Chief W. P. Weeks heads a department of 32 men, and four stations. Fifteen men are stationed at No. 1 station. The equipment at these stations is as follows:
No 1 station; Chiefs auto; auto truck, carrying ten firemen, 120 feet of hose; 40 gallon chemical and other apparatus; 60 feet aerial truck with water tower; a combination chemical and hose wagon, equiped with a Hart wagon nozzle.
No. 2 station; Metropolitan steamer, threehorse hitch, pumping 1,000 gallons per minute: combination chemical and hose wagon; six men
No. 3 station: Ahrens engine, pumping 500 gallons per minute; combination chemical and hose wagon; five full pay men and one call man.
No. 4 station; combination chemical and hose wagon; four men and Assistant Chief I reland.
“The automobile has demonstrated its practicability in the fire department to my satisfaction,” said Chief Weeks. “And it only remains to demonstrate its use and advantages to the people. Then we will take up the work of replacing all the horses with auto-driven apparatus. It will mean a big saving to the department. It costs so cents a day to feed a team of horses and care for them. The auto truck has been maintained at a total cost of 4 cents a day for December, and made 14 runs, answering every call.
“And in addition to this, the auto is four times as fast as the horse in all kinds of weather, and under any condition. They get out of the stable quicker, lay the lines faster, and when the fire is out. they are back at the station in less time, and ready to get into service immediately,” said Chief Weeks. “When the roads are good, the auto travels fine. In a foot of snow, that bothers the horses, the truck travels just as well. When there is sleet, the auto is barely troubled, when the horses have trouble staying on their feet.” The chief’s auto was the first secured in the department. This was purchased at a cost of $2,000 from the Jackson automobile company, and it is equipped with a 50-horse power engine. It carries four men, three Hallcock extinguishers, for small fires, and a number of emergency tools, including wire cutters, and apparatus for opening heavy doors. Besides this there is a trunk equipped. with medicines, bandages and other materials, for first aid to the injured. The big auto truck was purchased from the American-La France company, at a cost of $5,500. It is of all metal construction, so as to be entirely fire proof. It is equipped with a 70-horse power engine, and is capable of traveling 60 miles an hour. Over ordinary roads, and loaded with firemen, the auto frequently travels 45 miles an hour in going to a fire. It carries 1,200 feet of hose, and by a system that was invented by the local firemen, the hose can be laid with this auto at a fire almost as rapidly as the car can travel. Once the men are on the ground, the machine is of great value in laying in the lines of hose very rapidly, so that in a few minutes, two and three streams are playing on the blaze. The auto also carries a 40gailon chemical tank, and 200 feet of chemical hose. Four new men have been appointed to the fire department in the last year. These are as follows: A. R. Smith, driver of motor at No. 1 station; firemen, No. 1 station, Claud Van Dyne; No. 2 station, Edward Finney and Joe E. Moore.
Fire Marshal C. H. Totten of Lanton, Ill., in his annual report for the fire department recommended the securing of a motor hose and chemical fire apparatus.