Organization and Strength of Companies

Organization and Strength of Companies

Report of Committee on Organization and Strength

A CAREFUL study of the subject of company organization and strength suggests the importance of first determining the character of the service which the company must render and the capacity of the company for rendering its unit of this service. Therefore, please keep in mind throughout the considerations of this subject, the thoughts of character of service and unit of this service. When this is once determined, it will be a comparatively simple matter to formulate a method of organization for the company and determining the manual strength, which it must have in order to carry out its operation, as a company unit.

These thoughts are open for discussion, but the uppermost thought to keep in mind at the present time is that of giving the best service possible, as the best service we can conceive of is none too good in the ever present emergencies of saving life and property from the ravages of fireStatistics show that a large per cent of the defeats for fire departments is due to undermanning of companies.

It is unfortunate that space will not allow the publishing of the discussion which followed the reading of this paper. It was most interesting and served to bring out many valuable ideas. The paper, however, we feel sure, will be of real interest and service to our readers.—Editor.

Although we have what is commonly termed American Practice, this Association has never prescribed any definite statement, as to what constitutes the exact character of service that should be rendered by an Engine Company, a Hose Company, a Truck Company, a Chemical Company, a Water Tower Company, a Fire Boat Company, or a Rescue Squad, nor has this Association ever prescribed in detail the character and extent of the service, which each of these companies should render; therefore, as it is a prerequisite for the establishment of even tentative standards, this committee has assumed that the service that should be expected from each one of these companies and their capacity for performing this service should be as near to the schedule that we have prescribed in this report as it is possible to make it.

*Report prepared by William H. Murphy, Chief of Philadelphia Fire Dept., chairman and his committee and adopted at the 1919-20 Convention of International Association of Fire Engineers.

As no previous action has been taken by the Association on these matters, it is hoped that the members will question and debate the soundness and reasonableness of this basis, for the entire subject of standardization of company organization and strength is dependent thereon.

Two Phases of Organization

It must be remembered that there are two distinct phases of the subject of organization and strength, which for the purpose of these standards are nominated, as Organization Strength and Operating Strength. While it is not so important to maintain the Organization Strength at all times, it is of the utmost importance that the Operating Strength be maintained at the prescribed minimum in order that the company may render its full unit of service when in operation at a fire. It is impossible to determine the Organization Strength of the company until we have first settled upon the Operating Strength, for in the final analysis, its Operating Strength at a fire is what actually provides the service for which the company is organized. After the Operating Strength has been fixed, the total Organization Strength can easily be arrived at by making the necessary provision to replace men absent on account of sickness, special leaves, days off and vacation periods.

Operating Strength

The Operating Strength, as given below, is based among other things on the strength that will be required to operate these companies effectively in the manufacturing, mercantile and shipping districts and districts where there is considerable life hazard, such as in the vicinity of schools and hospitals and office buildings. In purely residential sections, the Engine, Hose and Truck Companies may each be reduced by two men.

Engine Company

It is assumed that as a unit an Engine Company shall be capable of supplying and handling two effective streams. To perform this service, it will require one Officer, three Hose or Pipemen for each stream and the following additional men depend upon the character of the apparatus with which the company is provided; when the company is provided with a combination pumper and hose wagon, one Engineer, who shall also serve as a Driver; when the company is equipped with an automobile pumper and an automobile hose wagon, it will require an Engineer for the pumping engine, who will also serve as a Driver for that apparatus and a Driver for the hose wagon, who will serve as an extra Hoseman, after the apparatus has been placed on the fire ground; when the company is equipped with a tractorized steamer or a horse drawn steamer and an automobile hose wagon, or a horse drawn hose wagon, it will require an Engineer to operate the steamer, and a Driver or Chauffeur, who shall act as Stoker and a Driver or Chauffeur for the hose wagon, who shall also serve as Hoseman; when the company is equipped with a triple combination, it will require an Engineer, who will serve as Driver and as the Operator of the chemical tanks. Thus, it is seen that the Operating strength of an Engine Company must be as follows:—

Hose Company

The services required of a Hose Company are practically the same as that of an Engine Company with the exception that where the Engineer is required with the Engine Company, a hydrant man is required with the Hose Company, making the Operating Strength as follows: one Officer, one Hydrant Man, who can he used as a Driver, six Pipe or Hosemen, which makes a total Operating Strength of eight men.

High Pressure

The work of a high pressure Company is similar to that of the ordinary hose company with the exception that for high pressure work larger and much heavier hose is used; the lines are frequently longer and the nozzles are generally larger. This difference in service necessitates increased manual strength. Assuming that a High Pressure Company will provide and operate two powerful streams, it will require one Driver and nine men, one of these men to serve as a Hydrant man, the driver being used as a Hoseman after the lines have been properly placed, making the total strength of eleven.

Truck Company

In the case of Truck Companies, it is assumed that one Truck Company shall serve three Engine Companies, and that the Truck Company shall provide the service of life saving, forcible entry, accessibility by ladders, ventilation, general opening up and assisting engine or hose companies. On this basis of service, the Operating Strength of a Truck Company should be one Officer, one Tillerman, one Driver and six Laddermen, making a total of nine.

Chemical Company

The services required of a Chemical Company consist of stretching and handling one chemical line, that may he as long as 250 or 300 feet, through aisles, stairways, upper floors, cellars, lofts, etc., and over stocks, as well. To comply with this requirement in an efficient and speedy manner, it will require one Officer, one Driver, who shall also serve as Tank Man and three Hose or Pipemen, making a total of five men.

Water Tower Company

The services required of a Water Tower Company is to provide a tower stream and one or more streams for deck pipe. It will require one officer, a Driver, who shall also serve as Operator of the Tower and one Hoseman for each deck pipe, making a total strength from four to five men (dependent on the number of deck pipes).

Fire Boat Company

The services required of a Fire Boat Company, is to render service on water fronts, vessels and land fires. To properly provide this service, it will require one Officer, one Engineer, two Stokers or Firemen, ten Hosemen and one Pilot, making the total Operating Strength fifteen.

Rescue Squad

The Rescue Squad should render the service of exploring buildings, subways and similar locations heavily charged with smoke, dangerous gases and vapors, searching for disabled occupants, carrying forward chemical lines in such buildings and locations and the replacement of Pipe or Hose and Laddermen, who are overcome by smoke, gases and injuries. To render this service, it will require one officer, two Helmet Men (based on the assumption of operating two helmets), two Guide Men, one of which may act as Driver and six replacement men, based on replacing one Engine Company, making a total of eleven men.

Organization Strength

With the Operating Strength established, we can now consider the Organization Strength. The Organization Strength of companies will differ from the Operating Strength by the number of men that are necessary to make replacement for men off on sick and special leaves, days off and vacation periods and vacancies for any other causes. Then again, the Organization Strength will differ, when the company is on the Continuous Service System, from what it would be if the company were on the Two Platoon basis. It is believed that this can be set forth best by retabulating the companies giving the Operating Strength and the replacements. The sum of these two will give the Organization Strength that is necessary to insure the Operating Strength, as determined above.

In the foregoing the required operating condition is given, as well as the Organization Strength, but whether every Chief will be able to have his desires complied with is another issue, so in conclusion would remark that while these numbers may seem rather large in some instances, we must consider that the Fire Department work is not restricted exclusively to the extinguishing of fires. The members are used for various purposes, details of various kinds for fire prevention and fire inspection work, this usually coming under the supervision of the Fire Marshal and covers the work of theatres, moving picture houses, factories and warehouses, and work of that nature in the general fire prevention line; details on fire grounds are required occasionally; also for police work in the event of strikes, riots, etc. A particular point to keep in view is speedy action in getting into service and a sufficient number of men must be on hand that the labor will not fall severely on any one or two men, which is the condition when companies are not sufficiently manned, or hose has to be taken to any great height, etc. Proper operating force is particularly important, as pertains to truck work and a sufficient number of men should be considered for a company that the saving of life can be undertaken by one or two individuals alone, if necessary, while another portion of the company is getting their ladders or life nets ready. Again the third portion of a truck company can be used for the inside work of opening up or ventilation. As we have remarked previously, the Operating Strength is the important and necessary factor.

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