Memory of Bad Fire Many Years Ago Prompted Action — Modern Apparatus Purchased by Popular Subscription — Change Justified

WITHIN the last three years, Richmond, Me., a town of two thousand population located on the Kennebec River, progressed from the hand drawn equipment class to a completely motorized Fire Department. All this was made possible by the splendid cooperation of the town’s residents.

Fifty-eight years ago the village was nearly wiped out by a fire that devastated the business section. The memory of that fire lingers. A progressive group formed the Richmond Fire Apparatus Association and started a drive to purchase a triple combination pumper through the aid of popular subscription. Two thousand dollars were raised and the pumper was ordered. The truck was delivered May. 1927, and turned over to the town.

Chief J. W. Randlette

In February, 1928, one of the worst fires since the big one of 1871 broke out in the new high school building. It was the first test of the new apparatus. A hot air explosion practically demolished the building but with the aid of three streams pumped by the new machine, the fire was confined to the school. Residential buildings all about it were not touched, although clapboards on some were scorched. In the town meeting that was held in March, the town took up the remaining payments of the truck.

In June. 1927, shortly after the apparatus was delivered, a town ordinance was passed organizing a regular Fire Department under the laws of the state. Previous to this, the department was volunteer. The new organization consisted of three chiefs, one elected from each of the three fire wards, four companies of ten men, including a foreman and assistant foreman. The idea of the three chiefs was to have one representative from each ward.

One officer stated he wanted a hall fixed up where the department could meet, the motorization of other pieces of apparatus, a fire alarm system, fire inspection work, practice in resuscitation methods and first aid, and frequent fire apparatus drills. The men were very enthusiastic. Before the next meeting, a hall was provided for meetings and for the housing of the pumper. With the aid of several donations, the department had three pieces of motorized apparatus by July. 1928. Firemen were given instruction.

A fire alarm was installed. August, 1928, consisting of a coded siren.

The pumper is only used on country calls. No. 3 Hose Company substitutes for the pumper: on a second alarm No. 2 Hose Company substitutes and No. 3 goes with the pumper. In this way the village is always protected.

However, all of the improvements and the new eqipment were not paid for. In the fall of 1928 the department conducted a three-day fair to raise funds. The profits paid a greater portion of the unpaid hills.

A GMC truck was found with a long chassis so that it could he converted into a ladder truck. This truck went into service September, 1929. Again the department was in debt, and again a three-day fair was successful in reducing the unsettled balance. Thus far the men had done all the necessary mechanical work, and they purchased their rubber coats, hats, gas masks, and department equipment. But the department was not satisfied with the progress made, and with the proceeds from the last fair, equipment was purchased for a salvage squad. No. 3 Hose Company was changed into a salvage company.

Apparatus and Members of Richmond Fire Department

By a new ordinance, the chief in charge has the power to call upon the constables of the town for police protection at fires.

Inspection work has been rigidly followed, and many bad conditions have been corrected. A notice from the chief has always resulted in prompt cooperation on the part of the residents.

Through the officers’ efforts, at the annual meeting the town passed an ordinance prohibiting shingle roofs in the business section, and the residential section surrounding the business district. A firemen’s relief association has been formed which pays sick and accident benefits to men in the performance of their duties, and a small death benefit when member passes away.

Men have been Invited to give lectures on modern fire fighting methods. All members of the department are members of the State Firemen’s Association. A large majority the town’s residents have endorsed what has been done protect them against fire.

Thank Goodness, Those Days are Gone Forever A celebration was held in Darby, Pa., to mark the 155th anniversary of the Darby Fire Company. Above are the Darby Ram,” the first engine used in the department, and two operators wearing the company belt and hats of that period. This pumper is capable of throwing from ten to fifteen gallons of water a minute. What an insignificant amount compared with the modern 1000-gallon pumper!





Some Departments Frequently Handicapped by Frequent Changes in Chief—Public Must Be Made Concious of Their Fire Department

THE nation consists, not alone of cities, but of thousands of towns and villages that are dependent upon the vigilance of volunteer fire departments for a continuance of their prosperity. The spirit that motivates the activities of the volunteer fire fighter differs naturally from those who are paid for their work. The volunteer renders an unselfish service for his community. Although his work shows no return or compensation, and there may perhaps be an utter lack of appreciation, yet, at the sounding of the gong or siren, regardless of weather conditions, or the time of the day. the volunteer is ready for duty. There are various factors that contribute toward the success of a volunteer fire department.

It seems hardly necessary to stress the great importance of selecting one for a leader who is recognized as a man capable of issuing and enforcing orders. He should be a man that will be respected. The fact that he may issue orders at a fire to others who are his co-workers in normal course of events, should not carry a counteracting influence against the feeling of obedience and respect. In many of the smaller departments, there appears to prevail a degree of resentment by members of the department against authority on the part of the chief. Everyone apparently wants to be the boss, with the result that there is often no order, no methods, and a lack of complete success in combatting the fire. This brings about another evil which is too common, and that is the changing of the chief or commanding officer. This is a most unwise procedure and necessitates the education of the new chief until he is entirely familiar with his duties.

in the volunteer fire department there are abundant possibilities for social growth, and the introduction of a fraternal spirit. This friendly spirit can be developed by regular periodical meetings at which interesting topics are brought up for discussion, and social activities that will hold the men together. In addition, there should be inaugurated competitive activities in the form of drills, which will assist in forging the fraternal bonds.

Larger city methods should be given some thought and study to acquaint members with the best practices that are in current use. Subscription to some of the outstanding fire fighting periodicals distributed about the fire station or meeting hall, have many indirect benefits. It is generally appreciated and acknowledged that it is lack of opportunity in actual fire fighting that has depreciated interest in some departments. The only remedy is to introduce some other activities would serve as a substitute. The feeling of pride, too, is of importance. It is therefore obvious that equipment commensurate with the extent of the community and an adequate and attractive quarters or meeting place must be provided. It is certain that a town with a few hand drawn hose reels and some minor equipment is not of the proper type to compel a community to think of their fire department as a progressive and up-to-date organization. There is hardly a community throughout the nation, where, given the proper incentive and a thorough acquaintance with the fundamental principals, that could not organize a good volunteer department to protect a township.

The town must be willing to support the fire department, both morally and financially. The education of the inhabitants with regard to the importance and significance of. fire protection, would tend to assist in securing the desired aid. Such assistance may be obtained by interest developed through talks given by the fire chief or his assistant at public meetings and also in the local schools. Occasional inspections by the fire department tend to bridge the gap that often exists between the volunteer organization and the average resident. When those living in a town become conscious of the volunteer fire fighters who have handed together to protect the property in their community, a long step will be taken in the reduction of the tremendous fire waste.