PACIFIC COAST CHIEFS ENDORSE I. A. F. E. FIRE PREVENTION PROGRAM
Many Important Fire-Fighting Subjects Discussed by Far Western Fire Chiefs— Officers Elected—Fresno Next Year
ENTHUSIASTICALLY endorsing a national fire prevention campaign of unprecedented scope, demanding uniform laws governing the manufacture and sale of gas, gasoline and oil stoves, urging the installation of fire alarm boxes in all schools, theatres and hospitals in cities and towns having central fire alarm stations, recommending greater encouragement toward the wider use of automatic sprinklers, the Pacific Coast Association of Fire Chiefs closed its thirty-second annual convention in Seattle last week with a great fire prevention demonstration and the presentation of the big Thos. H. Ince Trophy to the City of Seattle for its record for the past fiscal year.
Delegates from the Pacific Coast to the convention of the International Association of Fire Engineers at Louisville, Kentucky, were instructed to endorse and support in every way possible the proposed campaign of fire prevention which the International body has been planning for the past year and which will be centered about a feature motion picture now being completed in the Metro Goldwyn Maver Studios at Culver City, Cal., under the title of “The Passing of the Horses.” Under an arrangement made by the International body with Louis B. Mayer the Association will receive approximately $250,000 from the proceeds of the picture. In addition Mr. Mayer has given three cups which are to be offered to the cities and towns making the best fire prevention records during the coming year. These trophies will apply to any section of the United States whereas the lnce Trophies are confined to the Pacific Coast States.
Practically all of the papers presented brought forth constructive discussions and following the usual opening ceremonies, in which Mayor E. J. Brown of Seattle welcomed the 455 delegates present and likening the fire department executives to generals, Commissioner C. A. Bigelow of Portland, Ore., who has been the city official in touch with the fire department for more than twenty years said that the chiefs of the Pacific Coast were responsible for more than $15,000,000,000 of property and more than eight million human lives. He deplored the indifference of public sentiment toward the fire problem of the country but said that in his opinion the activities of the Fire Chiefs’ Associations were surely bringing about a change.
Discussion on Volunteer Departments
Chief Mark Ryan of Redwood City, Calif., led the first discussion which was on “Volunteer Fire Departments.” Chief Ryan said that a volunteer department was largely a problem of personnel but that equipment was just as important as in large cities with fully paid departments.
“The man who joins a volunteer fire department has a most important function to perform,” he continued, “as he is one of an organization that is responsible for the lives and property of his city. To be of any value to the fire service of his city he must answer all calls, attend all drills and business meetings of the department.” Stated drill dates once or twice a month were advocated and it was emphasized in the discussions that a drill should never be postponed or called off.
Chief Lee G. Holden of Portland, Ore., said that, “with a bucket brigade you take a chance—if you can get only one piece of modern apparatus do not stint—get a good piece.” The question of water supply was brought up, and while considerable discussion was had, it was generally considered that it was a matter of local concern. They did urge, however, that city officials be informed of the seriousness of permitting real estate development companies to lay pipes that were adequate only for household consumption, which it was brought out, is the custom in many of the growing communities on the Pacific Coast.
Chief Holden said that such organizations reflect the chief. He cited Chief Tom Graham of Corvallis, Ore, which was declared to have one of the best volunteer fire departments in America, as an example, saying, “Tom Graham is the fire department of Corvallis.”
The Los Angeles County Department
With the rapid expansion of Los Angeles there has developed a new situation in the fire protection field, according to Norman Johnson, assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which is composed of 32 fire districts caring for a population of more than 500,000 people, most of whom bought large tracts of land through realty development schemes. The territory adjacent to the city of Los Angeles is hilly in character and covered with brush and forests. Serious lire hazards exist and due to many campers especially during the summer months the district is constantly threatened. It was to meet this condition that the Los Angeles County Fire Department was organized and a special law was passed by the California legislature permitting the Board of Supervisors of a county 10 form fire protection districts in the unincorporated communities. The department is organized along similar lines as a city department with necessary modifications and changes.
Strongly urging the adoption of standardized equipment in every particular George S. Sherwood, general shop foreman of the Seattle Fire Department, said that only about fifteen per cent of the cities of the United States were properly standardized. He cited numerous instances where the lack of standard equipment has resulted in unnecessary excessive losses. Standardization does not apply only to hose couplings, said Sherwood, but to every feature of fire department apparatus and equipment, even to axes and truck ladders. Mr. Sherwood explained how Seattle had standardized its ladders recently with benefit to the efficiency of the department in action.
Gasoline Fire Boats
Considerable interest was evinced in the new gasoline fire boat under construction for the Los Angeles Fire Department at San Pedro, Cal., and Chief Ralph J. Scott, of Los Angeles, was called upon to explain it. Chief Scott said that the new type, equipped with a specially designed scries of pumps, was accepted only after more than a year’s careful study of all type of engines and pumps by the leading engineers of the Coast. He proclaimed it the “greatest machine in fire boat construction in the United States,” and said that the old steam type of boat was a thing of the past. The new type, he said would give a high speed with minimum weight.
Lubrication and Automatic Sprinklers Discussed
Proper lubrication was the subject of a talk, illustrated by charts and slides by Herbert L. Dickey, lubrication engineer of New York City. Mr. Dickey described in detail the functions of oil in a motor and gave some constructive and instructive suggestions for the use of the master mechanics of the various fire departments. For the first time the mechanics of the departments were given a place on the program for educational purposes and the session was a pronounced success. The care of batteries was also a subject discussed in detail by the master mechanics, the discussion being led by Frank McQuoid of Seattle.
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Pacific Coast Chiefs’ Convention
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The chiefs in attendance listened with considerable interest and participated freely in the discussion on the paper on automatic sprinklers by Major R. Cartwright of the Board of Fire Underwriters of the Pacific. Major Cartwright illustrated his talk on the efficiency of automatic sprinklers by citing actual cases which have come to the attention of the underwriters in coast cities during recent months. He urged the chiefs to continually caution owners of sprinkler systems to watch the water lines carefully, to see that when the test comes they should be ready to function without delay. The high water charges made by utilities for supplying sprinkler systems has prevented many installations from being made, said the Mayor and as a result of the discussion the convention adopted a resolution calling for more equitable rates to sprinkler owners from the water companies. The resolution reads as follows:
“Whereas, this association is of the opinion that automatic sprinklers are a public benefit, that they have proved to be an efficient means of fire extinguishment and that they tend to conserve human life, wealth and property from disastrous fires, and
Whereas, it is believed that an automatic sprinkler system docs not increase the demand on the public utility providing water but instead tends to decrease it; it is the desire of this association to encourage the installation of automatic sprinklers and to discourage high monthly charges for connections with public mains to automatic sprinkler systems, provided the individual or individuals receiving this service assume the entire cost of the installation and maintenance of the connection.”
Assistant Chief W. J. Williams of Fresno, California described the city ordinance of that city which compels the installation of sprinkler systems in all mercantile establishments, particularly for the basements. The chiefs in their discussion following the presentation of Major Cartwright’s conclusions were unanimous in their opinion that every community should adopt similar measures as rapidly as possible. Chief Williams stated that at first there was considerable opposition to the law when it was first proposed but since it has been in operation it has become more popular as experience is had by the property owners. Major Cartwright pointed out that it was the duty of every fire department to become entirely familiar with every sprinklered risk in their respective communities so they may properly control water.
The Regulation of Fireworks
E. F. Coop, chief of the Fire Department at Pasadena, California, twice winner of trophies for fire prevention records, spoke on pyrotechnics, a subject which has been uppermost in the minds of the Pacific Coast chiefs for several years back. Chief Coop said that he solved the problems by having his department control the entire Fourth of July celebration by holding a massive demonstration in the “Pasadena Rose Bowl.” Chief Coop reported the results of a questionnaire he sent to fortyfour cities and towns on the Pacific Coast.
A suggestion in the paper that fireworks be displayed under the supervision of and control of the fire department caused considerable debate. Charges were made that in many communities where fireworks ordinances are supposed to be in effect they are waived aside at least once annually in favor of the Chinese in their celebration of their new year. Walter Culver of Piedmont, Cal., who stated that his city had not had a fire resulting from fireworks for the past five years, urged action against favoritism shown to the Chinese and a motion was adopted to carry out his suggestion. Culver said that if the American boy was to be deprived of the pleasure of fireworks he was unalterably opposed to any concessions being granted to the Chinese. Chief Ralph J. Scott of Los Angeles reported a loss in one of his city’s largest department stores which, he said, was of a most dangerous character as the result of fireworks exploding in the crowd of shoppers. When the fire department arrived, he said, the several stories of the building were crowded and the people were at the windows presenting the appearance of an impending disaster. Only the prompt work of the department in extinguishing the flames on the first floor prevented a terrible loss of life, he said. Since that experience the Los Angeles fire department has not had any trouble with the larger and more reliable stores in regards to fire works. Chief DeGraves of South Vancouver, B. C., said that the fireworks problem in the Dominion is handled by the Royal Mounted Police and that with the exception of some experiences with Chinese they have little difficulty with the problem on the other side of the border. Chinese who now desire to handle fireworks are forced to make application to the various fire departments through the Chinese Consul. On a motion the newly elected president was instructed to appoint a committee which is to draft a model law on the manufacture and use of fireworks for presentation to the various state legislatures.
Discussion on Salvage Corps
In the absence of Frank McAuliffe of the Chicago Fire Prevention Patrol his paper on “Efficiency in Salvage Work” was read by Secretary Jay W. Stevens.
Mr. McAuliffe suggested that a central company be organized in every city department to care for salvage and rescue work and expressed the opinion that to prohibit response outside of certain territory in the city is an error. He is of the opinion that salvage, while an important branch of the service, must be considered from a different angle than fire extinguishing and life saving apparatus.
Chief Ralph J. Scott of Los Angeles said that he has organized three salvage companies in his department and that a fourth will be started to function during October. He said that each of the 1500 men of the Los Angeles fire department are compelled to attend a school on salvage work. As the result of his salvage crews Chief Scott said that the fire loss in his community has been reduced during the past year by $500,000 of property valuation. The Los Angeles Department uses the Underwriters’ Laboratories standard specification covers. In fighting fires in top floors of buildings Chief Scott said that his department had solved the water problem by the invention of one of his men. Wherever possible a specially designed hose is used to drain the excess water off the floor and out of the building, thus eliminating the water danger to lower floors. In loft buildings lie said, they remove the toilet and run the line into the drain pipe. Every truck in the Los Angeles department is equipped with 15 standard covers in addition to those carried by the regular salvage crews. He urged all smaller departments to also pay more attention to salvage.
Chief Geo. Mantor of Seattle said that when his departmentfirst started salvage work the instructors advised the use of less water wherever possible. All fires have to be figured individually and not be treated alike, he said.
Other Papers Considered
How the city of Oakland, California, plans to get rid of old frame fire traps by the recent creation of a Condemnation Board was told by Commissioner of Public Health and Safety Frank Colbourn. By creating a special body, said Colbourn they have succeeded in eliminating political influence.
The “controversy” over “Specification vs Brand Hose” again came up and in a paper prepared by Chief Chas. R. Swanson of Everett, Washington, it was divided into three angles: Problems of manufacturing, Inspection and Acceptance and Service.
M. B. Anfenger of the Standard Oil Company of California, engineer in charge of Fire Prevention and Protection read his views on the fighting of oil fires in which he said “that the element of greatest uncertainty in connection with oil tank fires that have occurred in the past has been the question of whether the burning tank would Foil over, and if so, when.” Mr. Anfenger illustrated his address with slides showing the various stages of oil tires and the effect upon the tanks.
Franklin H. Wentworth, secretary of the National Fire Protection Association appeared before the convention on Wednesday and spoke briefly on the subject of fire prevention saying that the time had come for a new method of attack on the problem of the fire waste of the country. Following this Jay W. Stevens told of the plans of the International Association of Fire Engineers in relation to the Mayer film and the plans for carrying the message to the people of America through the medium of the service clubs which have already signified their interest and willingness to cooperate.
The results of the 1924-1925 Ince Trophy Contest in the Pacific Coast territory were as follows: For cities of more than 100,000 population, the big trophy, Seattle; for cities of between 15,000 and 100,000 population, the second cup, Fresno, California. For cities of less than 15,000, Bend, Oregon. The committee studied reports of 72 cities which participated and said that apparently the average per capita loss for these cities was $1.00.
Election of Officers
Sam H. Short, Chief at Oakland, California, was elected president succeeding Ralph B. Hawcroft of Reno; Geo. M. Mantor, nominated by Mark Ryan the logical successor to the first vice presidency according to custom, was elected first vice president and Chief Ryan was re-elected second vice-president. Fresno, California, which also won the Ince trophy last year, was selected for the 1926 meeting place.