No ‘Dry Run’ This
Three hundred firemen from 25 DuPage and Kane County, Ill., communities, as well as visiting firemen from Cook County, staged a demonstration of fire fighting in West Chicago, on May 17, that was unique of its kind, to say the least.
The fire fighters were scheduled to put out a set fire in an abandoned twostory frame factory building at Factory and Bowery sts., in the suburb of Chicago. But when the men and equipment rolled into town they were shunted to the North Western Railway roundhouse in the center of West Chicago.
Fire Chief Arnold Berndt of that city said it was a wonderful demonstration. The 300 blaze beaters swarmed over the huge circular building, carrying hose lines, shooting streams of water and even chopping holes in the 2-in. plank roof, which was blazing brightly. Many visiting firemen, uncertain as to the exact location of their scheduled “wet run,” raced to the roundhouse, happy that a new twist had been injected into the scheduled proceedings.
“This sure is a dandy,” a fireman from Batavia told Chief Berndt. “How did you ever happen to think of this?”
Berndt told him several things, including the fact that he hadn’t thought of it, and to get back to work. It was no “dry run” this, but a real fire—in fact, a $200,000 blaze I It destroyed not only most of the round house but four steam locomotives, and damaged four diesels. A North Western locomotive engineer went in with firemen and drove the diesels out of the building, then took one locomotive and towed out the steam engines.
The busy 300 firemen received a good workout under heavy smoke conditions created by the burning wooden roof and oily engines.
A whistle had been prearranged signal for lunch in the original demonstration plans. When a fire chief blew a whistle for more hose, or something, half the fire fighters dropped their hose and tools and started off for lunch. They were summoned back in a hurry by Chief Berndt.
Another fireman, who had been instructed to keep watch on a fire truck, was found playing the stream of his hose to wash off the apparatus. When told the fire was a real one, he did an about face and turned the stream on the fire.
After the roundhouse workout, with the fire extinguished and the fire fighters having eaten lunch, the regular “wet run” was finally held. The men doused this, too, but it was generally agreed, nobody had their heart in it.