Richmond Looking After Fire Automobiles.
What Captain Charles F. Taylor, president of the Richmond, Va., board of fire commissioners, calls the “motorizing” of the fire department, is becoming a live topic with the commissioners, especially since the filing of a special report by Chief Joynes, since his return from the international meeting of firemen in Grand Rapids.
The whole question has been under consideration by the fire commissioners for some time. In fact the hoard recently determined to make a first move by purchasing an automobile for the chief from the general expense fund provided for this year, believing that the maintenance of an automobile for the emergency purposes of the chief of the department would be no more expensive, if as costly, as the keep of a horse and buggy. Hut the city attorney ruled that the hoard could not make so radical a departure out of its expense account without authority from the council, and the matter has been laid by for the present.
The Washington department is being closely watched as a basis of comparison, but the experience at the capital city cannot be taken to show that such a change would he altogether practicable in a city with as many and as steep hills as Richmond. President Taylor, of the fire board,
1 as been making inquiries as to the practicability of attaching gasoline motors to the present type of hose wagon, on which chemical tanks are Carried. his belief being that a light, quick-running vehicle, could reach and extinguish many fires in their incipiency, even before the big, ponderous five engines arrive. And even at the larger fires, where the engines are used, the motor-driven hose wagons would require no hostler to look after the team, so that its whole company might lie used to fight the flames, nor would such a wagon have a pair of heavy draft horses to feed, day in and day out, whether there were any fire alarm or no.
If the present wishes of the fire board are carried out next year will see some interesting experiments in the interests of greater efficiency and econotny in the administration of the local lire department. An even more important question before the fire board is that of securing more favorable insurance rates. From assurances received from the Southeastern Tariff Association, it is now believed that as soon as the department is standardized—that is, as soon as provision is made by which the present call men may be placed on the regular pay-roll, and kept at the enginchouses. thus recruiting the companies to their full fighting strength—the reductions asked for will be granted, which would have the effect of giving Richmond rates as low as those enjoyed by any city in the Blast.