Should Have Mechanical Experience Before He Comes Into the Department—His Work and Responsibilities

TO my way of looking at this topic it makes no difference whether you are from a first class city or from a fourth class city, the problem of the l ire Department Mechanic, his qualifications and duties, are the same.

I will first consider the people, who have their money invested in taxes, a part of which goes for the support of the Fire Department. There is only one man in each Fire Department that must answer to the taxpayer for the efficiency and low cost of upkeep and that man is the Chief of the Department. In order for the Chief to make his department produce and his officers and men assist him properly, he must keep his apparatus and equipment in first class condition, as it is absolutely impossible to replace them every couple of years.

Selecting the Fire Department Mechanic

One of the many ways to show the people who help to support the Fire Department, that it is being run for their best interests, is the method employed in the selection of a mechanic to service the equipment. I deem it absolutely essential that the person employed be fully qualified for the position. There is quite a difference between a driver of apparatus and a mechanic in the Fire Department. A driver can be made after he becomes an employee in the Fire Department but a mechanic must be a man that understands the “science of mechanics.” I say without any fear of contradiction that all men are not mechanically inclined and if an individual is not, why go through the trouble and expense of placing him in a mechanic’s position when you know he should be filling some other job. To begin with, what qualifications are required of a mechanic in the Fire Department? My idea is as follows:

Qualifications Required

To save expenditures in any F’ire Department, large or small, the man should have mechanical experience before he comes into the department. Insofar as the ordinary department does not have sufficient repair jobs or overhauling of motors and apparatus to make a mechanic of a man, it is unfair to a community to have it spend money experimenting and trying to educate a person, when the equipment does not warrant it.

My idea of the proper qualification of a mechanic for any Fire Department, is a man who is thoroughly acquainted with motors. By that, I mean a man who has been in a shop where he had to produce a day’s work. Such a man must make a good showing on the outside or he is soon out of a job. If he is called upon to overhaul a motor, he must be able to tear it down and put it back in a good running condition in the shortest time possible in order that his employer may build up an established reputation in the community. People will have faith in the concern, because of its good mechanics and their ability to produce a job for a low price. So when you employ a mechanic, select a man w’ho has been educated and trained with some outside concern, at their expense and time. When you get a man, who has received such training, after he comes into the Fire Department, he can apply his spare time to pumps, hydraulics and the w’orking operations of the department.

Duties of the Mechanic

Duties that this mechanic should be able to perform in order to qualify embrace all work to be done on motors and machinery. He should be able to handle any piece of machinery that is part of the department. For example, if he is in a small department and has very little in the way of tools and equipment to turn out work, there are usually outside concerns in the community who will gladly let the mechanic come in and do the work on their equipment in order to help the Fire Department out.

How many times have you had something happen at night, plenty of machine shops in your town but no mechanic to do the work? It may just be a small welding job or some similar work and if the mechanic employed by the department is capable of doing all around work as he should be, it will probably save you the trouble of putting your apparatus out of service for hours. The average department cannot afford to do that, for no city can afford to have high price apparatus and equipment out of service.


The Index to Volume LXXXVII, covering fhe issues of FIRE ENGINEERING from January fo December, 1934, is now on the press and will be mailed to readers on request.

A man that qualifies as a mechanic should be carefully selected before he comes into a department, as everyone is concerned with the results of his work from the Chief of the department, who is responsible for and must protect the lives and property of the taxpayer, down to the lowest ranking man in the Fire Department, who must work with the apparatus and equipment, of which your qualified mechanic has to service and take care. The efficiency of the fire service and the very lives of the men themselves depend upon how well this man does his work.

From the foregoing it becomes apparent that the Chief of the Fire Department, who is held solely responsible for the safety of his men and the ability of his apparatus to respond and do efficient work when called, should be absolutely unhampered in the selection of the man he thinks best qualified to fill the very responsible position of Fire Department Mechanic.

(Excerpts from a paper read before annual convention of the Wisconsin Paid Firemen’s Association.)

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