New Jersey Municipalities Take Steps to Meet Emergencies too Large for One Force to Handle

IT IS often said that the first few minutes at a fire are the most valuable for extinguishment purposes. Generally, the request for outside aid is not made until after the fire has gained considerable headway, perhaps beyond the control of the local department. Similarly, the much less spectacular, but collectively more hazardous and costly, small border line fires, could have losses in human lives and property damage reduced by an earlier response, or by out-of-town apparatus which may be geographically closer to the fire with respect to time and distance than the nearest unit of the municipality in which the fire occurs. Also, the neighboring unit, although located at a greater distance, may still be the first arrival by the oft-occurring coincidence of the unit in the city in which the fire occurs being out on another call.

Two Cities Cooperate

In view of this, mutual aid between the fire departments of Bloomfield, and East Orange, N. J., has been set up and is now becoming a factual practice. A contract, necessary under existing legislation, has been prepared as have mutual responses for first alarm border line fires with a greater penetration by each department into the other’s territory on second or other multiple alarms. The fire alarm systems of both communities have been inter-connected and have undergone a continuous “in service” test for over eight months.

A demonstration of the possibilities of such co-ordination was held in April. 1940. Box 1286 of the Bloomfield alarm system was pulled, calling out a regular first alarm response from Bloomfield. In addition, East Orange dispatched the engine company, nearest to the Bloomfield hypothetical fire. The East Orange Company arrived more than a minute before the first Bloomfield Company in spite of the fact that the alarm was transmitted over alarm circuits in the Bloomfield manual office, taken off the mutual aid circuit in East Orange office, and re-transmitted over the East Orange alarm circuit.

Test for Timing

The conditions were then reversed and box 131 of the East Orange system was pulled. The results were reversed, with Bloomfield’s nearest company arriving in advance of East Orange’s regular response. In both cases, the earlier arrival of the outside aid was not occasioned by any delays in response by either department. It was because the outside aid engine houses were geographically closer to the boxes pulled than those of the apparatus in the municipality in which the boxes were located. This is a common condition in the many closely built up and congested metropolitan areas in the United States.

A resolution of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, a message from the United States Conference of Mayors, an admonition by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and many other sources, stress the necessity of having plans on paper as to the best method of maintain ing the municipal signalling services in the face of any eventualities. Intermunicipal coordination of all such emergency signalling systems was the answer to the above messages. Practical tests of such cooperation over long periods of time in police recall systems, traffic signals, state wide teletype, and fire alarms, have demonstrated the value of such a plan in congested areas most vital in our National Defense.

If all such systems were so coordinated in our metropolitan areas, there would then be provided an almost infallible system of communication of various sorts by means of carrier currents over the entire area. Such an existing coverage could be made into an invaluable auxiliary to army communications when the eventuality of such useage arises.

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