Qualifications of the Volunteer
ORGANIZATION means unity and unity means strength and strength means power, and so we have organization standing for unity, strength and power. All that organization needs, therefore, to accomplish good or evil is opportunity. Organization may be termed a collection of individual units brought together for a given purpose. These units may be human beings, voluntarily banding themselves together for one reason or another; or the units may be the atoms or the electrons of the hidden world seeking strength and power under the native laws. Every government is based upon organization—each in its own way and according to its own needs and standards.
Business, when it outgrew primitive man, was the child of organization under many names; until today, combinations of combinations rule the commodities ot life in all parts of the world.
Indiana Towns Dependent Upon Volunteer Firemen
In the state of Indiana we have 408 cities and towns that have some form of fire protection. Of the 408 towns, we have only 55 cities that have paid Fire Departments, leaving 353 towns solely dependent upon volunteer firemen for fire protection. In these 353 towns we find the population exceeds 1,000,000 inhabitants who are dependent upon the services of volunteer firemen.
Value of Organization to the Volunteer
Slight thought is given to the volunteer firemen and the valuable services they are rendering to our state by the average citizen. It has taken many years of training and hard work to enable our four thousand volunteer firmen to standardize the present system many of our modern volunteer departments have in Indiana today. When we visualize the city of Madison having four fire stations with first class equipment, a Gamewell fire alarm system, over one hundred volunteer firemen with ample finance in the treasury of each company to purchase adequate fire-fighting supplies; and when we realize that the actual value of this equipment will exceed seventy thousand dollars and was all made possible by volunteer firemen, we must appreciate the value of organization. In Lake County alone we have seventeen well-organized and equipped volunteer Fire Departments. In fact, every section of the state has volunteer fire companies modernized and well-equipped, rendering their communities outstanding service. If we are to reduce the fire loss of Indiana, it will be necessary that each of the 353 cities having volunteer Fire Departments form a perfect organization, and by a unified effort we can meet with success in fighting fires and reducing our state and national fire loss.
The man who protects your property from fire is organized and through a well-organized volunteer Fire Department he has an opportunity to crystallize the best ideas for the welfare of the public. For after all, the real step forward in the great march of progress is organization.
Importance of Discipline and Honor
The very first consideration in any enterprise is howstable and well-organized is the business. Naturally this applies to Fire Departments, both paid and volunteer; so in placing valuation upon a volunteer Fire Department, that is the first important thought you conceive. In my estimation there are several distinct and important factors to be considered in determining what a well-organized volunteer Fire Department really is. First of all, “discipline” should be considered. By that I mean, men who stand ready to obey orders given by those responsible for the performance of the members of the fire company.
“Honor” is an essential qualification for a volunteer fireman. By that I mean men should be selected as firemen who consider it an honor to serve their city as volunteers. A volunteer should look upon his duties as a fireman with the same valor as the soldier on the field of battle. The real worth of what a volunteer fireman does in the performance of his duties and remuneration for services are the last objects to be considered.
Intelligence and Availability Necessary
Intelligence becomes a matter of serious consideration, for an intelligent man can readily grasp the importance of obedience and honor in the performance of his prescribed duties. The intelligent man can be well trained and educated in the profession of a fireman and his availability can always be relied upon by his superior officers in carrying out his part of the program in the event of fire.
Availability to render the most efficient service to the community is also a major objective in the personnel ot a volunteer Fire Department. A man should be selected who can be available day or night in the event of a fire. He should reside, if possible, centrally and in easy access to the place where the fire-fighting equipment is kept. After careful consideration in selecting the personnel of a fire company, we find we have a well-organized group of honorable citizens—men who are ready to give to their duties their time and efforts to perfect a well-disciplined Fire Department, consisting of men available at all times in the event of a conflagration.
After we have men who meet these necessary requirements, the question then arises as to how to best take advantage of the prescribed methods. First of all, secure quarters for the storage of the equipment where it will be accessible to all the firemen, regardless of how obsolete the equipment may be. Cleanliness should be considered important in its care, for dirty and ill kept equipment denotes a poorly organized Fire Department. Therefore, it is essential that the equipment be kept clean and free from dirt and dust, and at no time should any obstacle ever be permitted to be stored or placed between the fire truck and the door. This is a hindrance and may cause a delay in responding to the alarm which is the most important operation of a fire company, for they should make an immediate response to an alarm of a fire The second operation of importance is to apply as quickly as possible an effective stream upon the base of the fire.
Personnel and Training
In organizing a volunteer Fire Department, a good, competent man should be selected as Chief. Careful note should be made as to his qualifications and temperament. Then the assistants, such as Assistant Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, Drivers, Pipeman, and Plugman should be selected according to their fitness to perform their assigned duties. Then the men should be trained so when the occasion requires it they can properly function at their assigned duties in a capable manner that will meet with proper approval.
Duties of the Chief
The Fire Chief should institute a modern inspection system for all business districts in his respective city. The proper educational work such as “Fire Prevention Week,” “Spring Clean-up Week,” “Holiday Precautions,” “Fire Drills in Schools,” seeing that proper precaution is taken at all public gatherings, all are duties of the Fire Chief. After an efficient system like this has been instituted in a city, then comes the return to the citizens of a lower insurance classification. A contented feeling that their city is well protected against fire will arise, and naturally, the firemen will meet with quick response for any assistance they may ask for. Better equipment will be purchased when efficiency is shown by the firemen. Better days for volunteer firemen are sure to follow such a compensation for services rendered and protection against injury or death in the line of duty. Tax exemption and other measures of benefit to members of the Fire Department also are incidents of such work.
If you were to listen to each fireman, it would take a long time to get the consensus of their opinions. Each would have his own viewpoints on what was needed for contentment and happiness in his Fire Department. Organization has brought the firemen together. They discuss questions relating to their own welfare, so in a wellorganized volunteer Fire Department regular meetings are an essential necessity, for at these meetings from the discussions that arise there will originate many concrete solutions of all organization problems, for it will have the spoken approval of the majority of those present.
(From a paper read before the annual meeting of the Indiana Section, American YVater Works Association, at Lafayette, Ind.)