Record-Breaking Exhibits Spark 84th Annual International Fire Chiefs Conference
Times Picayune photo
New Orleans and its notable fire department prove popular hosts to visiting fire officials and guests from near and far-away places
Conference High Points
Registration: Number registered
from 42 states, all U. S. possessions and many countries, 2,104
Exhibits: One hundred ten booths and 15 outside spaces
Place of 1958 Conference: Los Angeles, Cal., September 15-18
Officers for 1958: President, Donald S. Charles, Charlotte, N. C.; First Vice President, Chief Reynold G. Malmquist, Minneapolis, Minn.; Second Vice President, Chief A. H. Lintelman, Baytown, Tex.; Treasurer, Chief G. A. Mitchell, Opelika, Ala.; Executive Secretary, Jay W. Stevens, San Francisco, Cal.; Secretary-Manager, B. Richter Townsend, New York, N. Y.
THE 84th ANNUAL CONFERENCE of the International Association of Fire Chiefs marked the sixth time that the Queen City and its illustrious fire force have been hosts to the Association. This year’s gathering, like its forerunners, set new records. In actual registration, it was the second largest conference in Association history; in exhibits it marked a brilliant new high; in technical, business and entertainment programs, it measured up to tradition.
The conference opened Monday morning, September 9th, in the spacious New Orleans Municipal Auditorium with President Wayne E. Swanson, Rockford, Ill., presiding. Dr. J. D. Gray of the First Baptist Church gave the invocation after which the colors were posted and the national anthems of the United States and Canada were sung by Fire Fighter Joseph Hart, New Orleans Fire Department.
Host Chief Howard L. Dey wished the conference success and introduced Mayor de Lesseps Morrisson who officially welcomed the visitors and exhibited a color film illustrating progressive developments of the 240-year-old city.
The Mayor presented the “keys of the city” to Chief Swanson, together with a plaque of “honorary citizen” of New Orleans.
Chief Donald S. Charles, first vice president, Charlotte, N. C., responded to the address of welcome. President Swanson in his annual address reviewed the progress of the Association during the past year. During his term of office he traveled over 60,000 miles, including a trip to Europe.
Following the president’s address, Louisiana Fire Marshal John E. Coon conveyed a welcome from Governor Earl K. Long and presented Chief Swanson with a scroll of honorary citizen of Louisiana.
Chief Swanson introduced Chief George MeAlpine, Oklahoma City, past president, who called all attending past presidents to the rostrum where he presented each with an engraved metal card commemorating their service to the Association. Those present were Chiefs William Brosnan, Albany, Ga., 1931; Robert Bogan, Baton Rouge, La., 1936; Ray Tiller, Waterloo, Ia., 1939; William J. Cawker, Topeka, Kans., 1949; Rudolph H. Swanson, Jamestown, N. Y., 1951; and Wayne E. Swanson, Rockford, Ill., 1956.
The solemn and impressive memorial service for the 64 deceased members of the Association during 1956-57 was conducted by the New Orleans Fire Department, its chaplain, the Reverend Joseph A. Laux, officiating; Rabbi Dr. Julian B. Feibelman, Temple Sinai, delivered the closing prayer.
At noon the fire department staged a parade of its latest apparatus before the delegates at the Municipal Auditorium.
Business begins Monday afternoon
The business session opened Monday afternoon with a report of the Training Committee headed by Robert C. Byrus, director, Fire Service Extension, University of Maryland. He said a weakness of fire instruction today is the lack of tactical training. Present training methods include fundamentals on how to use the various apparatus and equipment, but fall short of teaching when to use them. Byrus urged the Association to provide its training committee with adequate funds to enable it to study and develop such a tactical program.
William D. Rossiter, chief, Iowa State Fire Marshal Division, chairman of the Arson Committee, stressed the lack of reliable information presently available to assist the fire service in the field of arson. He recommended, among other things, that a uniform reporting method be devised by the IAFC in cooperation with the arson investigators association.
Fire Marshal William J. Scott, Toronto, Ont., reporting for the Advanced Training Committee, urged training in fire department administration along lines previously approved by the board of directors. The members present voted to authorize funds for the committee to continue its study leading to the establishment of courses designed strictly for administrative training, sponsored by the Association.
Following the report of Secretary-Manager B. Richter Townsend, Chief Donald Holbrook, Meadowood, N. H., chairman of the Volunteer Committee, spoke on the activities of his group.
Presiding officer Chief Donald S. Charles then introduced Chief Raul Gandara of Puerto Rico who in turn, presented several visiting officers from foreign
New Orleans F. D. photo
Photo by George Beaumont
lands. These included Assistant Chief Tamanasa Shimizo, Osaka, Japan; Chief Nunez Roque, Guanabaoca, Cuba; Chief Louis C. Endara and Captain Ernesto Arosemena of the Republic of Panama, and Chief Omar Brown, Virgin Islands.
The first speaker of the afternoon session was John Redmond, president, International Association of Fire Fighters who called for a reduction of working
hours for firemen. George Robinson, assistant chief engineer, National Board of Fire Underwriters, next warned that fire losses may amount to more than $1 billion this year and stressed the fact that in 1956 one-tenth of one per cent of the 409,000 fires which occurred that year caused 32 per cent of the total losses suffered by this country.
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Tuesday morning the conference resumed witli First Vice President Charles presiding. Executive Secretary Jay W. Stevens, chairman of the Fire Prevention Committee, delivered an inspired report on the progress of the governors’ conferences on home safety which are sponsored by the Association. He reported that 23 state governors’ meetings have been held to date but he counseled greater effort in the future if the death rate from fire is to be substantially lowered.
Frank L. Brannigan, safety engineer, Safety and Fire Protection Branch, United States Atomic Energy Commission, warned fire chiefs to prepare for the dangers which may face them with the ever-widening industrial uses of atomic energy.
The morning session closed with an address by Olin Culberson, chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas, and for 35 years secretary-treasurer of the Texas Firemen’s and Fire Marshal’s Association, who spoke for the volunteers of the service.
Attitude toward church fires
The afternoon session opened witli an outstanding paper delivered by Chief Leo C. Driscoll, Boston, on the subject “What Should We Do about Church Fires?” He warned his listeners to adopt a realistic attitude on the subject and not to soften their demands for fire safety in deference to the clergy. “Treat churches like any other occupancy,” he urged.
“What the Boy Scouts Mean to the Fire Service” was the title of a paper delivered by Chief Albert E. Kimball of Hingham, Mass. He was followed by Chief Harold J. Burke (ret.) New York, who demonstrated and described the latest type fire detection system actuated by nuclear energy.
The afternoon session closed with a lively panel discussion on what fire chiefs believe is needed in the improvement of fire apparatus design. Chief Roi B. Woolley, editor of FIRE ENGINEERING, as moderator, presided over a panel consisting of Chief Edward MacDonald, White Plains, N. Y.; Chief Dan Vogel, Cincinnati; and Chief Edward Wischer, Milwaukee. The discussion, in which the audience participated with enthusiasm, elicited a number of constructive ideas.
That evening saw the Fire Chiefs’ Ball and Floor Show in the auditorium where the guests were entertained by a top flight professional cast headlined byCandy Candido, a Walt Disney star and native of New Orleans. Dancing followed.
Wednesday morning’s session, with Second Vice President Reynold C. Malmquist in the chair, opened with Fire Marshal William J. Scott of Ontario reporting on “What a Special Study of Fire and Police Integration Revealed.” Scott told his listeners no single proposal has posed such a threat to the fire service in the last 20 years as that of merging fire and law-and-order forces.
W. Thomas Schaardt, a specialist in fire station architecture, reviewed the essentials of modern fire station design and construction. Fire stations, no less than all other types of buildings, are being streamlined, he maintained.
New Orleans F. D. photo
Speaking for the Committee on Communications of the IAFC, its chairman, Chief Joseph Giammatteo of Glen Echo. Md., reported his group’s unanimous opposition to the proposed single radio frequency for all municipal services, FCC hearings on which were recently held.
Another high point of the conference was the panel discussion titled “As the Fire Commissioner Sees the Fire Service.” If the fire fighter thinks he has troubles he should listen to those recounted by Commissioners Claude Armour of Memphis; Paxton Mendelssohn of Detroit and Public Safety Director Joseph Sestric of St. Louis. Commissioner Armour made the point that the fire service should do away with many of the antiquated ideas and traditions that have been handicapping the service. He also counseled the chiefs to promote in every possible way for professional recognition.
Director Sestric withheld no punches in pointing out to the chiefs some of their shortcomings. “. . . Administratively, our fire departments are in a rut,” he said, “and everybody knows that the only difference between a rut and a grave is length and breadth.” He recommended that the fire service begin now to remedy this weakness and assume its administrative as well as fire fighting responsibilities.
Commissioner Mendelssohn reviewed his philosophy as an administrative head of a department and pointed out that he has the authority to give direct fire fighting orders to the chief of department. During his services as commissioner he stated he has never used this authority, but depended entirely on the wisdom and experience of his professional commanders.
Lintelman second vice president
The results of the contest for the post of second vice president were announced after conclusion of the panel. Chief A. FI. Lintelman of Baytown, Tex., was elected.
Rain squalls failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the delegates and their wives for their afternoon’s excursion aboard the big river steamer President. The entire New Orleans waterfront was reviewed, the delegates getting a good understanding of the vast shipping facilifies and attendant fire hazards, and how New Orleans fire fighters cope with them.
New Orleans F. D. photo
The toastmaster at the banquet held that evening, was Charles Price of the New Orleans office of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The guest speaker was Justin Wilson, safety consultant, Baton Rouge, La., who beguiled his audience with many humorous stories of the “Cajuns” of fact and fiction. Retiring President Swanson introduced the official “family” for the coming year after which the officers were duly sworn. President Charles presented Chief Swanson with the ritualistic past president’s diamond ring; the outgoing president also was the recipient of a beautiful down comforter, made by Mrs. Clyde Canning, wife of the enterprising head of the Exhibitis Committee.
Many resolutions approved
The conference concluded Thursday with business sessions, during which members acted on twelve resolutions:
- Opposing integration of fire and police services (approved)
- Requesting greater representation of fire chiefs on the standards committee of the National Fire Protection Association (referred to IAFC Executive Committee for action)
- Supporting the “Keep America Beautiful” anti-litter drive (approved)
- Supporting the 1957 Muscular Distrophy campaign (approved)
- Requesting commercial broadcast stations to withhold broadcasting of news of disasters for at least 15 minutes after they receive notice (approved)
- Complimenting the National Board of Fire Underwriters for its cooperation (approved)
- Expressing appreciation of the training program on radiation hazards organized and conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission (approved )
- Recommending the marking of homes containing invalids with a suitable symbol to facilitate identification of such places and removal of patients (approved and referred to Board of Directors to prepare symbol)
- Deploring deaths by fire of children and commending the Hartford Fire Insurance Company’s Junior Fire Marshal safety program (approved)
- Requesting the Federal Civil Defense Administration to re-establish program which provides matching funds for fire service (referred to board of directors for further study)
New Orleans F. D. photo
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- Endorsing the Association’s Fire Education Fund previously voted upon (approved)
- Conveying appreciation of the Association and visiting officials to Fire Chief Howard Dey, the officers and members of the New Orleans Fire Department, to city officials and all others who contributed to the success of the 84th Annual Conference (approved)
Other matters included a further discussion of four amendments to the bylaws; ways and means to improve the educational programs of the conference; the advisability of devoting more consideration to volunteer fire departments; the possibility of providing members with certain information which they may require.
The newly elected officers spoke briefly, after which President Charles re-appointed Jay W. Stevens executive secretary and Chief Clyde Canning chairman of the Exhibit Committee. The City of Los Angeles and the dates of September 15 to 18 were approved for the 1958 conference. Final adjournment came with Chief William Taylor, Burbank, Cal., offering prayer.