Pueblo Has Small Fire Loss
The low ratio of fire losses in Pueblo, Col., as compared to other cities is not due to the scarcity of wooden structures, by any means. In other words, Pueblo is not exactly fireproof. But Pueblo is equipped with a fire department of the highest grade, which is the next best thing. Not that it is the largest in the country, for it isn’t. Not that it has the most complete equipment in the world, for it hasn’t. Nor is it filled with a superabundance of men, rendering it efficient by reason of numbers alone. But it is one of the best managed departments, to which fact may be attributed the thoroughness with which every man on the force attends to his duties. Under the capable direction of Fire Chief Christy, who is a product of the ranks, the very highest degree of individual and collective efficiency has been reached and is being maintained. Fires are becoming smaller and smaller as the years go by, and, what is infinitely more significant, losses arcgrowing less—something nothing short of remarkable when the increase in population is taken into consideration. In 1911 Pueblo had 303 fires. Chief Christy was appointed by Mayor West in the spring of that year, taking the position in April. The insured loss represented by the fires was approximately $20,non, the lowest in the history of the department. In previous years the number of calls responded to averaged 380 per year, with the losses running up in high figures. This was before the strenuous building law went into effect, and when the entire department was equipped with horse-drawn apparatus. In 1912 the number of calls sent in was slightly in excess of the average established in years previous to 1911. with an insurance loss of exactly $12,269.52 for 278 fires, up to December 20. The uninsured loss was less than $16,000. The general efficiency of the department has recently been placed on a much higher plane by the introduction of motorized apparatus in two of the stations. Hose 1 is now equipped with a combination hose and truck wagon, and Engine 2 with a combination hose and chemical auto. A similar equipment has been purchased for Engine 1, which will be delivered some time this month. The three monster motors, together with the chief’s fifty-horsepower automobile and the assistant chief’s runabout, represent an expenditure of approximately $20,000. It will take as much more to motorize the entire department, and thus make it one of the fastest in the world.
According to the estimate furnished by Chief Christy, based upon a careful computation of the ground covered and the dispatch with which the average fire can now be reached, the new equipment will pay for itself in less than four years, at the end of which time the wear and tear on the apparatus will amount to practically nothing. In one fire station alone the actual saving annually. in running expenses, is fully $3,500 over and above those of stations where the horse-drawn apparatus still holds sway. With the installation of still other motorized equipment at least one of the stations can be done away with altogether, thus representing a substantial pruning of municipal expenses. It has been proven, beyond a doubt, that the big motors are far cheaper and more efficient than horses, in the long run. In one case particularly, during the year just closed, a probable $20,000 loss was averted by reason of the speedy arrival of the gasoline apparatus from Hose 2. The possession of Chief Christy’s automobile saves the maintenance of three horses, and of Assistant Chief Thompson’s the salary of a fire inspector, since he is now enabled to attend to that important function personally. Every motor truck in the city saves the maintenance of five horses—six, in fact, since one animal must be held for emergencies. The motor wagons take the place of emergencies as well as commonplaces, it is pointed out. “They don’t eat their heads off while in the station, and they don’t require exercising like horses.” is Chief Christy’s significant summary. The firemen’s salaries are not adequate—the only drawback to Pueblo’s fire protection system. They receive $30 monthly, with every fifth day off. The captains get $85, the assistant chief $115, and the chief $150. Every member of the force is on emergency duty at all times, day and night. When it is remembered that the fireman’s working day is twenty-four hours long the pay is not what it should be, and the wonder is that so highly efficient a force can be retained ant. maintained with the comparatively small remunerative outlay.