Philadelphia Fire Department to change to Two-Platoon
System, January 1, 1918
According to a supplementary report issued by the National Board of Fire Underwriters, the Committee on Fire Prevention of Philadelphia, Pa.. R. D. Harvey, chairman, the city is divided into eleven fire districts, with William H. Murphy as chief engineer and Ross B. Davis, as deputy chief engineer.
Each chief officer and superintendents of the subsidiary departments arc now provided with an automobile and there are five chiefs’ horse-drawn buggies in reserve.
A modern, fireproof repair shop was erected at 11th and Reed streets and new machinery is being installed; $100,000 was made available for this purpose.
MANUAL STRENGTH—There arc the following companies in service, with a nominal strength as indicated:
Fifty-fine engine companies, each 12 men; one combined engine and chemical company, 17 men; two combined engine and ladder companies, each 17 men; one combined engine and water tower company, 17 men; thirteen ladder companies, each 13 men; three combined latter and chemical companies, each 18 men; one fire boat company, 15 men ; two hose companies for high pressure service; 12 and 15 men; one hose company for high-pressure service and water tower, 20 men; three chemical companies, each 5 men.
The total strength of the depaprtmem has been increased by the addition of seven companies, but a further material increase in the number of companies is required for adequate general protection to all parts of the city.
As respects strength of individual companies and maintenance of total and company strength, conditions have not changed materially from those existing at the time of the report in 1911. However, it is reported by the chief that 40 drafted men for the National Army have already been called and this will be increased to about 200. Former firemen, and men particularly interested in fire department operations, are to be obtained where possible to take their place, but it is evident that there will have to be many new and inexperienced men, and with the present high wages in other fields, the city may not be able to fill all vacancies.
Of more serious aspect is the probable conditions that may arise next year. By act of the Assembly, the department must change over to the two-platoon basis January 1, 1918, with two shifts operating on 10-hour and 14-hour basis. To maintain the present strength of 689 men on at night, this will require 340 men additional, without any allowance for men sick or for vacations, which will bring the number to above 400. If no men are added and the two-platoon is put in force, the minimum night strength will be reduced from 689 to 514. and a serious condition brought about.
This large increase in maintenance cost, due to the necessity of providing two shifts of men, will also prevent the carrying out of the increase in the number of companies, as contemplated by the department and needed for protection, as to provide for these a total increase of over 700 men will be necessary.