New York Fire College Opens Winter Term
The fall and winter term of the New York Fire College was formally opened at Fire Department Headquarters on December 2, with Deputy Fire Chief Maher of Brooklyn in the lecturer’s chair as professor of the science of fire fighting. The first lesson for the day was opened with the following question by Chief Maher:
“If a fire was burning on the fiftieth floor of a building and the water tower could reach only to the seventh floor with a stream of water, what would you do?”
“This is no place for us.” interposed Capt. William P. Barrett to Capt. George Moodie, both of the Philadelphia Fire Department, who have joined the college, so that they may report to Director of Public Safety Porter and enable him to plan a fire college for the Quaker City. “You see, we don’t have to fight fires ’way up in the sky just yet,” added Moodie.
“Don’t be worried, Captain. We’ll talk about the apparatus and tools for fire-fighting and take up the skyscraper problem later on,” explained Maher. With models of fire engines, trucks, water towers and hook and ladders, and a varied assortment of appliances to the left, to the right, and before and behind him, with which he illustrated his lecture from time to time, Maher told what was required of practical fire fighters these days. On the wall was a large blackboard, on which he chalked his problems and explained them to the students. There are also two other men in the class from fire departments in other cities—Battalion Chief William Kearns, of the Jersey City Fire Department, and Fireman Julius P. Beaudrot, of the Charleston, S. C., department. With the two Philadelphia captains, they have been assigned to fire companies, where they may have practical experience while attending the fire college, and for the time being they must work with the regular firemen at fires and obey orders as if they were members of the New York department. While the officers were being instructed in the fire college the firemen were taking a post-graduate course in the school of instruction in the open court of the building, under the direction of Thomas I.arkin, battalion chief. Each officer and man will be required to attend three days of each week until the course is completed. The curriculum of the fire college has more than a dozen special lectures, including two on “Administration,” by Fire Commissioner Johnson; “General Fire Fighting,” by Chief KenIon; “Proper Prosecution and Trials,” by Deputy Commissioner George W. Olvany; “Construction, Care of House and Responsibility of Commanding Officers,” by Deputy Commissioner Philip P. Farley; “Fire Fighting in Loft Buildings,” by Deputy Chief Joseph B. Martin; “Fire Fighting in Cold Storage and Oil Plants,” by Deputy Chief Thomas Lally; “Fire Fighting in Mercantile Buildings,” by Deputy Chief Thomas Langford; “Fire Prevention and Inspection.” by Deputy Chief William Guerin; “Electrical Fires,” by Prof. Dana Pierce; “Inspection of Combustibles,” by Inspector II. S. Kennedy; “Fire Alarm Telegraph,” by Leonard Day, of that bureau, and “Chemistry of Fire, Explosives and Combustibles.” by former Inspector David I. Kelly. Fire Commissioner Johnson addressed the firemen at the opening of the college. He said in part:
“It used to he sufficient for men to get the apparatus to fires and extinguish them, and the main virtues of a fireman were daring, courage, endurance, the facing of danger and those martial elements of human action. Now, these elements must still be preserved in this work but it has gone as far beyond that as the machine gun has gone ahead of the Indian’s war club. As fire fighters you must study harder than you ever studied before, because you have to know ten times as much as you ever knew before. You must specialize. It is not like the old times, of the glare and splendor, of the exhibition of bravery and skill, which was fine enough, but you have to get into the hard science of the thing. And all these years they seemed to have forgotten that a great many fires might have been prevented. I make no reflection upon any predecessor of mine, but I do say this: That the subject of incendiarism in this city is faced squarely now for the first time. Why it was not done before I do not know. When we organized this Bureau of Fire Prevention and began to gather data and statistics, and when I was confronted with the facts, I realized that one out of every four fires in New York City was a made fire. In German and English cities an incendiary fire creates as much excitement as a murder. Think of it, 25 per cent, of our fires are set for the purpose of collecting the insurance! We are facing that problem, and we are going to inquire into what is the cause of this condition, which compares so unfavorably with the situation in European cities. If the fault is in the careless or loose or wrongful methods of doing fire insurance business, let us not be frightened. I see nothing to be afraid of as long as we make out our case.”
One of the first of the forty-five new fire houses to be built was opened on Dec. 3 at Fiftieth street and Lexington avenue, which was partly destroyed by the explosion at the New York Central Terminal excavation some time ago. The motor truck now at fire headquarters will be placed there, making it a double truck house. It will be in charge of Capt. George J. Fox.