Politics in the Fire Department
One of the most vicious and at the same time one of the hardest things to combat is politics in the fire department. There are some cities in which the chief is entirely removed from this sinister influence and where he holds his office under civil service rules. But there are, unfortunately, too many municipalities in which the head of a fire department is a creature of the political party in power, or at least holds his office subject to the dictation of such a party as represented in a “boss.” The unfortunate chief who is in this case, if he is a conscientious officer who honestly wishes to do his duty by the taxpayers and bring his department up to the top notch of efficiency, finds himself hampered and constricted by this influence. If a member of the department transgresses the rules and has any political backing it requires a chief with considerable sand to go against the powers-that-be and risk his head to punish the offender and if he is not punished, then discipline in the department is at an end.
Similarly if the violator of Fire Prevention ordinances exercises his political influence the chief finds himself against a stone wall and the city and the department again are the sufferers.
The only remedy for this unfortunate state of affairs too frequently existing in fire departments is to take the office of the chief absolutely out of politics and place him and it under rigid civil service rules. By so doing the chief is given a free hand to enforce both discipline and Fire Prevention regulations and those who would use their political influence to nullify his acts are powerless to do so.
The prominent business men and other citizens who are interested in the welfare of their cities in cases where the chief is subject to political influence should at once take up this matter and act to remove the head of the fire department entirely from the dictation of politicians. This matter is in the hands of the citizens and they alone can correct the evil.
A peculiar situation developed in Gutenberg, N. J., when a series of wells used by the residents for water supply went dry owing to the blasting of adjoining rocks for the excavation of a sewer. The residents in the section have been compelled to request water supply from the Hackensack Water Company.
One of the largest bond offerings of this year was that recently placed on the market in New York City for $8,520,000, by the city and county of San Francisco—4yi per cent, gold water bonds. The object of this issue is to complete the great Hctch-Hetchy system of water supply for the city of San Francisco. This great work, which is one of the largest every undertaken in this country, is now nearing completion and this bond issue is the final for the project.