Reading Host to Eastern Association
The Reading, Pa., Fire Department, reputed to be the largest and oldest volunteer fire department in the nation, aided and abetted by the good folk of the entire area, went all out in welcoming the 25th Annual Conference of the Eastern Association of Fire Chiefs, June 1 to 3, inclusive. Nearly 400 fire chiefs and their families and guests enjoyed a conference in which entertainment and education were perfectly balanced.
President Herbert A. Friede, Superintendent of Communications, District of Columbia, opened the conference Monday, June 2. Addresses of welcome were delivered by Charles M. Stoner, Reading, Chairman of the Conference Committee who also introduced Mayor James B. Bamford, Jerome J. Staab, Director of Public Safety, and Fire Chief Edward C. Dell, all of Reading. Former Fire Chief Harry Howard also spoke.
Response to the welcoming messages was delivered by Chief Roi B. Woolley, Assistant Editor, FIRE ENGINEERING, after which came the memorial services to the departed members, and routine business of the Conference.
The Technical Sessions got underway in the afternoon with the opening address by Kyle P. Laughlin, Director, Fire Service Division, Federal Civil Defense Administration whose subject was “What Training Courses for Civil Defense Fire Fighters.” Director Laughlin urged trained inspections to rid cities of hazards and, in so doing, he said, the dangers of fire from an enemy attack would be greatly minimized.
Charles H. Howe Jr., Fire Marshal of Montgomery County, Md., told the interesting story of “A County That Made Good on a Fire Prevention Program.” He was followed by Fire Chief Charles G. Burnett of Newark, N. J., who gave the “story behind the story” of the recent Warren propane blast and fire in his city. “The nearest thing to an atomic attack the fire service has thus far seen,” is the way the chief expressed it.
Former secretary Charles E. Clark, Wayne, Pa., told the delegates about the Pennsylvania State fire prevention training program, following which there was a Round Table discussion engaged in by a panel of fire chiefs, with Chief Roi Woolley acting as chairman. The topics weighed pro and con covered a wide range, and there was considerable audience participation.
The evening saw an impressive exhibition of the apparatus and men of the 14 Reading Fire Companies lined up on Penn Square, between Fourth and Fifth streets.
Tuesday’s sessions opened with Chief Joseph Giammatteo, first vice-president, presiding. The first paper by Robert Byrus, Director Fire Service Extension, University of Maryland, College Park, Md., was titled “Bringing Training to the Fireman” and explained in detail the progress in statewide training made by the Maryland State Fire School.
T. C. George, Assistant Chief Inspector, Bureau of Explosives, New York City, discussed “the Hazards Fire Departments Face as a Result of Transportation,” pointing out the tremendous increase in highway traffic and corresponding greater movement of flammable and explosive cargoes.
Inside facts and figures about the Brighton, New York, natural gas disaster were given in a report by D. H. Platt, Chief, Albany Section, Accident Health Division, U. S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, Albany, N. Y. He paid compliments to officers and men of the Brighton Fire Department, and to the many Monroe County aiding forces which responded on the muutal aid calls, for holding the fire and life losses to the minimum.
Chief Ellis Wagner, of York, Pa., second vice-president, presided at the afternoon sessions, which were led off by the story about New York State’s radio network, told by Lieutenant Donald O’Brien, Field Engineer of the New York Division of Safety, Bureau of Fire. Radio is the very foundation of efficient mutual aid, the Lieutenant said, urging all fire officers to give serious thought to its installation locally and on a county, and even state, network basis. It is no longer practical for the fire service to share frequencies with police or other services, he stressed.
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Eastern Chiefs Meeting
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Chief Jacob Weber, of Bausnian Fire Co. No. 1, Bausnian, Pa., gave the delegates something to think about with his paper on “Is Water Relaying a Practical Operation for Volunteer Fireman.” His answer is an emphatic “yes!”
Chief Bernard Padget interested and amused the audience with his off-thecuff discussion of “Co-operation Between Paid and Volunteer Fire Departments.”
The meeting adjourned at 4:00 P. M., to travel to the Reading Fair Grounds where all hands waded into one of the famous Reading Clam Bakes, presented by Chairman Stoner and staff, including units of the Reading Fire Department— which also participated in a series of demonstrations of the methods of extinguishing oil fires by water fog, fog foam and wet water, using the latest type proportioners
Final sessions on Wednesday were presided over by President Friede and the vice-presidents. The main event was the presentation to the delegates of Chief Rudolph Swanson, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs who had just returned from European and Puerto Rican visits. Chief Swanson regaled the delegates with stories about European fire services.
Time was given the fifteen or more exhibitors to meet the conferees and tell about their products and services, after which the members got down to the serious business of electing officers for the coming year. The slate as finally determined was: President, Chief Joseph A. Gianimattec; first vice-president, Chief Ellis Wagner; second vice-president, Chief Charles Burnett, Newark; treasurer. Chief George Mitchell, East Orange (re-elected); secretary, Edward Clark, son of the former secretary, Charles E. Clark. Elected delegate to the Eastern Association from the State of New York was Chief Edward J. MacDonald of White Plains, N. Y.
The annual banquet was held Wednesday evening. Over 300 were in attendance, including a score and more of local and visiting notables. Chief speakers were the Rev. C. R. Rahn, pastor, Jacksonville Reformed Church, and Daniel C. McNenna, former Reading City clerk.
Before adjourning, the Conference adopted a number of Resolutions, among them one urging there be no lessening in the present regulations governing the transportation of explosives over the highways; one endorsing the Federal Civil Defense Administration’s fire service program, and another expressing the appreciation of the Conference to the City of Reading and its historic fire department.
New York City was selected as the location of the 1953 conference, with the Hotel Martinique as headquarters. The tentative dates are May 20, 21, 22.