Competitions Held to Maintain Interest of Auxiliaries; Members Secure Trucks for Installation of Pumps

PUSH, perseverence and patience have finally won out in the Norfolk, Virginia, Auxiliary Fire Force. After a year and seven months of training and of seeking equipment and material, this division of the Office of Civilian Defense has, through its own efforts, obtained and equipped eleven pumpers.

The OCD has given much equipment to the fire-fighters, including pumps, hose, ladders, gas masks, helmets, coats, shovels, ceiling hooks, axes and other necessary items. However, the trucks themselves were begged, bought or borrowed, were re-built and made ready for the installation of the pumps, completely through the efforts of members of the Auxiliary Fire Force.

The idea of organizing a number of companies of volunteer smoke-eaters was mulled over and discussed at great length by Richard M. Marshall, CoOrdinator of Civilian Defense in Norfolk, and Fire Chief Edw. J. Cannon, who has been vitally interested. Henry Cowles Whitehead was appointed chief of the civilian defense unit.

Organized December 30, 1941

The Norfolk Auxiliary Fire Force was organized on December 30, 1941, after many weeks of planning on the part of Chief Whitehead and Deputy Chief R. L. Woolard, of the Norfolk Fire Division, in whose hands the training of the volunteers was placed. At the organization meeting, 270 men and one woman were enrolled. Training began on January 7, 1942. Two drill periods were established at each of the 11 regular fire stations in the city. Permission to use antiquated pieces of regular equipment to drill on was granted by Chief Cannon.

Training on city-owned pumpers was continued until the spring of 1943. Captains in the Norfolk Fire Division served as teachers at weekly schools and supervised drills.

The greatest problem faced by the amateur smoke-eaters was maintaining interest at a high enough level to keep the ranks of the force intact while awaiting equipment. The draft, too, caused havoc among the members, but at least one active company was kept at each station at all times. When trucks were finally obtained interest mounted rapidly and the volunteers found the drills and schools of greater interest than ever before.

In April, 1942, a company of colored auxiliaries Was formed and in May a telephone system was set up so that Chief Whitehead could notify his men with a minimum of wasted time and effort in case of any type of emergency.

In order to bolster up the flagging interest of most of the volunteers who found that the same drills and schools repeated over and over on equipment which they could never actually use was rather boring, Chief Cannon, Deputy Chief Woolard, and Chief Whitehead arranged for competition between stations. The contest lasted through July and was won by Station No. 6. Old pieces of regular fire-fighting equipment were used. A silver cup was awarded to the winners.

The first equipment obtained by the OCD for the smoke-eaters was a batch of arm bands, distributed on September 30, 1942. The first shipment of OCD pumps had arrived in August but as there were no trucks on which to install them they were not issued.

In October, Station No. 12 started the ball rolling by making plans to beg or buy a truck of its own. Other stations soon followed suit. On November 17 a mass meeting was held at which time plans for obtaining more equipment were discussed and diplomas were awarded to 175 fire-fighters who had attended schools and drills regularly and were, in the opinion of the regular captains, qualified to be considered “graduates.” While the meeting was in progress a three-alarm fire was broadcast and most of the “graduates” assisted the regulars at the down-town blaze.

In January 1943 a shipment of ladders arrived front the OCD. In March helmets and gas masks were issued In April the volunteers placed tour trucks in commission and during the latter part of that month and in May five other trucks were completed. At present we have eleven trucks completed, these trucks secured as shown below:

Auxiliary Equipment

No. 3—Donated by Coca-Cola Bottling Works

No. 5—Secured by members of Company

No. 8—Secured by members of Company

No. 12—Secured by members of Company

No. 1—Donated by Nehi Bottling Works

No. 2—Secured by members of Company (Colored)

No. 7—Donated by Nehi Bottling Works

No. 4—Donated by City of Norfolk No. 6—Purchased by numbers of Company

No. 11—Donated by City of Norfolk No. 12—Donated by City of Norfolk

Manual on Rescue Work

A 126-page manual entitled “Field Care and Transportation of the Injured” has been published by the Medical Division of the Office of Civilian Defense. Designed for the training of rescue workers, medical auxiliaries, ambulance drivers and attendants and stretcher bearers, it contains chapters-on organiza tion and operation of the various units, general instructions, principles of bandaging injuries and conditions encountered in air raids and other wartime disasters, marking of casualties and disposal of the dead, methods of blanketing a casualty, methods of lashing a casualty to a stretcher, stretcher transportation, carrying casualties without stretchers and ambulance transportation.

Apparatus of Norfolk Auxiliary Fire Department Four of the pumpers equipped by the members.Testing apparatus.

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