Robberies in Fire Stations
The occurrence in a New York City fire house in which the pay of the men, amounting to $1,300, left in an unlocked drawer by a member in his hurry to answer an alarm, was stolen, contains a lesson to all fire departments. The fire station, at the time of responding to an alarm, makes a particularly fertile field for the sneak thief. The men are all away and as a rule the station is unguarded. Often, as in the present case, in the haste of getting away, the men will leave money or other valuables exposed and unguarded, and it is an easy matter for the thief to help himself and make a successful getaway. It is significant that in the present case the alarm was a false one, pulled by a confederate of the thief, who timed it so that the men were called out just at the crucial moment when the money had been received from the bank.
Of course, the safest and most logical method to avoid the robbery of a fire department pay roll is to pay the men by means of checks. But this means considerable inconvenience for the individuals who have no checking account, and who are compelled to cash the checks before making necessary purchases. In fact, the men of Engine Co. 201 had been paid by check and had sent one of their number to obtain cash at a nearby bank. It was this cash that was stolen.
A plan in practice at the New Orleans Fire Department will no doubt form suggestions for others. This is to station men armed with two rifles and two revolvers at the desk of the pay clerk when the men are being given their salaries. This avoids all necessity of paying the men by check and insures safety from any attempt at robbery.
A graceful incident in connection with the New York robbery was the spontaneous action of the Uniformed Firemen’s Association in coming to the aid of the unfortunate men who lost their week’s salary. Even the officers, who are not members of the association, contributed their bit toward reimbursing the firemen for their loss. It is actions of this kind that show the spirit of the American fire-fighters.