REPORT ON TRENTON FIRE DEPARTMENT

REPORT ON TRENTON FIRE DEPARTMENT

CHIEF J. W. BENNETT, OF TRENTON, N. J.

In a repprt on the fire conditions of Trenton, N. J., the National Board of Fire Underwriters has the following to say of the fire department: The city has a population of about 107,000, is nearly level, and covers 8 square miles. It has a commission form of government. Fire department under supervision of Board of Commissioners, and the direct control of the commissioner of Public Safety, who also controls the police, health building crematory, court and excise departments. The chief is the executive officer of the uniformed force, subject to the approval of the commissioners. He has supreme control at fires only. The gross fire loss for the 5 fiscal years ending February 28, 1914, amounted to $719,630, varying between $43,411 in 1912 and $263,879 in 1911. The annual number of fires averaged 235, varying from 177 in 1909 to 342 in 1913, with an average ioss per fire of $612, a moderate figure. Based on an average population of 101,000, the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 2.33, and the average loss per capita was $1.42, both low figures. The department has had a full paid force since 1892, which now numbers 117 men. Chief James W. Bennett, 60 years of age, has been in command since the death of C. S. Allen in 1911 and has been a member of the department 22 years. Assistant Chief Walter Lanning, aged 61, has been a member 22 years, and an assistant chief since 1901. Assistant Chief W. M. Stackhouse, aged 47, has also been a fireman 22 years, and has held his present position two years. The cost of maintenance last year was $132,789, or $1.26 per capita. By State law all positions are under civil service rules. Appointments and promotions are made by the Board of Commissioners from eligible lists furnished by the State Civil Service Commission after competitive mental and physical examinations; those for promotion give due weight to seniority and good conduct. Each captain makes a monthly efficiency report on the men in his company, and the chief reports on the captains. This is filed with the civil service commission and is used in rating for promotions. Members are on probation 3 months. Physical examinations are made by a physician appointed by the civil service commission; the department surgeon makes a second examination at the time of appointment. For appointment, age limits are 21 to 30 years, height limits 5 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 5 inches, weight limits, 140 to 235 pounds, and chest expansion 2 to 3]/2 inches. A pension fund is supported by half of the 2 per cent, tax on premiums of foreign fire insurance companies, fines, certain fees, 1 per cent, of the salaries of the men and an equal amount from the city. Members may be retired on half-pay for disability, or after 25 years’ servise, if 55 years old. Widows and dependent memebrs of families also receive pensions. Members injured during fire duty, or who become sick as a result of same, receive full pay. Sixteen members were volunteers and have served since the organization of the paid department. Four members are 60 years of age or over, five are between 55 and 60, and six are between 50 and 55.

Organization.

There arc 8 engine, 3 ladder and a combined auxiliary engine and chemical company in service in 11 stations, with a captain and lieutenant each. Members are trained to operate the automobile pumping engines and are trained as chauffeurs. Members are allowed 3 hours daily for meals, one day off in 6, and 14 to 30 days’ annual vacation, according to rank. Men on time off respond to serious fires and alarms they hear of in their own districts; except during the vacation period they may leave the city without permission on their day off. Continuous watch is maintained on the apparatus floor in all houses. The apparatus in service consists of three motor and two steam fire engines, five horse and one motor hose-chemical wagons, two horse and one motor ladder trucks, one motor chemical engine and 2 water towers. There is much reserve apparatus and all minor equipments required for the service demanded of the department. Regulations governing the department are made by the city commission; special cases are covered by orders from the director or chief. Companies drill weekly. The methods of operation at fires are similar to those of all large fire departments. Captains inspect business places and factories in their districts twice annually and at other times on order of the chief; reports are made on special forms and filed at headquarters. When hazardous conditions are found, occupants are requested to clean up; if, after a second inspection, nothing has been done, they are served with a copy of the ordinance and, after a third inspection, are brought to court and fined. One of the chiefs makes inspections upon receipt of a complaint. A clean-up week is held twice annually, during which all places are ordered to clean up. Two men are detailed to inspect the fire appliances at each performance in 4 theatres. Captains inspect mov.ng picture establishments in their districts daily. Frequently men are detaled to meetings in public halls and the armory. A new drill tower has been erected. The fire alarm system is under the supervision of the Director o)f Public Safety and is maintained by the Superintendent, Oliver M. Schaefer, with two linemen. There is no fire marshal. Police investigate suspicious fires.

Recommendations.

Four additional men for Auxiliary Company and 2 each to Engine 1, 2, 8 and Ladder 1. That an 8-man engine company be installed in the vicinity of Princeton avenue and Race street, equipped with an automobile combination pumping engine and hose wagon. Specifications for automobile combination pumping engine and hose wagons to require pumps to deliver 700 gallons per miunte at 120 pounds net water pressure and at least 50 per cent, of the rated capacity at 200 pounds net pressure. To have divided hose body with a capacity of 1,000 feet when carrying equal amounts of 2½and 3-inch hose. Motors to be capable of attaining a speed of 30 miles an hour, and of covering 20 miles in an hour over paved or macadamized streets, having such grades as the apparatus is likely to encounter in service. That each hose wagon carry about equal amounts of 2½and 3-inch hose, with a total of at least 1,000 feet, and that a complete shift be provided for each wagon; all 3-inch hose to be fitted with 2J^-inch couplings, properly beveled. That each hose wagon be provided with 2, and each ladder truck with 4 waterproof covers and that each engine be provided with a compound suction gage. That fire alarm headquarters be removed to the fireproof city hall or to a detached fireproof building, especially constructed to reduce as far as possible all liability to interruption of service. In the new location, all apparatus to be placed on incombustible mountings, arid no unnecessary combustibles to be permitted in firealarm rooms. Until this is done every effort should be made to safeguard the present quarters.

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