NORTH CAROLINA STATE FIREMEN’S ASSOCIATION
The twenty-ninth annual convention of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association was held at Raleigh, on July 17-21. The convention was called to order by the President, James D. McNeill, and an address of welcome was made by Mayor Johnson, of Raleigh. Oher addresses were by Attorney General T. W. Bickett, of North Carolina. Papers read were: “Benefits of hire Alarm Systems for Cities and Towns,” by Charles Maulin, Gamewell Fire Alarm Company ; “Fire Shutters and Flue Construction,” by Sherwood Brockwell, North Carolina Bureau of Fire Prevention; “Why the Cities and Towns Should Furnish free Water for Private Fire Protection,” by Chief Charles D. Farmer of Raleigh; “Benefits and Economy of Motor Pumping Engines for Smaller Cities,” by Chief H. E. Nissen, Winston-Salem; “The Smoke Helmet and Devices for Artificial Respiration,” by Chief Louis Behrens, of Charleston, S. C. Features of the meeting included an exhibition run of the Raleigh fire department, baseball games, a parade, an engine contest, hose wagon races, hook and ladder contest, etc., and a ball. The official program for the convention contained a portrait of Chief James D. McNeill, president of the Association, together with the following: James D. McNeill, President North Carolina State Firemens Association. Ex-President National Firemens Association of America. Fifty years in the Volunteer service of the State. Chief McNeill joined the Fayettville Fire Department on May 20, 1866, in his 17th year; was elected Chief of the Fayetteville Fire Department in 1882; has been practically in continuous service ever since; was elected President of the State Association in 1894, and re-elected at every term since; was elected President of the National Association at the Convention held in Congress Hall at the World’s Fair in 1904; was re-elected three times and declined a fourth term. Under his leadership, as a State Senator and President, the present laws creating the Relief Fund for Disabled Firemen and their dependents, and those far more than doubling the efficiency of the Fire Department of the entire State, have been placed upon the statute books of the State. His success in protecting a city covering four square miles, and keeping losses down to about $8,000 a year he attributes to always having the right man at the right place at the right time, with the right kind of apparatus to ‘kill’ the fire before it gets started, and, should it get ahead of him, to fight it as though it was a personal insult to him and his department, and whip it to a finish. He retired as Fire Chief in May, and is now serving his fourth term as Mayor of Fayetteville, holding both positions during his former three terms. Recently Mr. McNeill gave a history of the organization and development of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association a_____d its course. He said: “In 1888 the few fire departments in North Carolina were in such a chaotic and unorganized condition that Chief E. B. Englehard, of Raleigh; Chief C. D. Benbow, of Greensboro, and the writer, chief of the Fayetteville department, decided to call a meeting of the firemen of the state to meet in Greensboro on September 26, 1888, for the purpose of organizing a state association for the betterment of the service. The attendance was small but enthusiastic, and we organized the N. C. State Firemen’s Association to carry out the following purposes: ‘For the protection and promotion of the best interests of the firemen of North Carolina, the compilation of fire statistics, the collection of information concerning the practical workings of the different systems of organization, the examination and inquiry into the merits of the different kinds of fire apparatus in use and the improvements in the same and the cultivation of a fraternal spirit of fellowship between the several companies and departments of the state.’ The organization has been a success from the start, and has grown from four or five companies until it now has upon its rolls and enjoying its benefits practically every department in the state—over 100 in number. Under its guidance and influence not only has the fire service in North Carolina been increased in efficiency to a degree the equal to any state in the Union, but there has been placed upon the statute books of the state beneficial laws providing for the protection of the firemen and their dependents, who may become injured or disabled and that safeguards them from being dependent upon others for relief on account of their patriotic services as firemen. The organic and legislative work of the association has clearly marked our value to the vital interests of the entire people of the state, so that we stand to-day as one of the leading civic and beneficent institutions of the state, and can be truthfully called North Carolina’s greatest commercial asset. As a further proof of our value as a commercial asset to the state, let me remind you that at the time and for several years after our organization there was not a single state fire insurance company organized or doing business in the state, but all of our money was going north and to foreign countries for premiums and protection, while under the protection that we have given to the property in the towns and cities of North Carolina there arc now about as many home companies in the fire insurance business as in all of the other southern states put together; all of them making money and keeping within the state hundreds of thousands of dollars that formerly went elsewhere. It is to educate both ourselves and the people generally to a more enlightened view of the dangers of the situation that we strive to show to our fellow-men the value of our services to them and theirs. While the main work of the association has been and will continue to be the upbuilding and advancement of the efficiency of the several departments throughout the state, vet upon my recommendation we took up the business proposition of gathering such statistics as would intelligently show that the towns and cities where we are giving protection were not receiving from the fire insurance companies the rates that we are justly entitled to.