Rochester trains industrial fire brigades

Rochester trains industrial fire brigades


The author conducting a class at conference room of participating plant. Visual aids are employed with lectures whenever possible in order to increase effectiveness of presentations

Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. photo

Student group from DuPont plant protection brigade receives instruction in use of demand breathing apparatus at fire academy drill house

Rochester Fire Academy photo

PLANT FIRE PROTECTION and fire prevention are subjects upon which the well-being of the owners, the employees and the economic stability of a community depend to a very great extent. The Rochester Fire Bureau, as a part of its official operations, maintains a program for assisting all companies in the city who desire to increase the effectiveness of fire brigade personnel. Such men can be of great assistance to the local fire department in case of necessity, providing they are well trained in the fundamentals of fire fighting and their interest is maintained over long periods of time.

Rochester, third largest city in New York State, with a population of approximately 350,000, is known throughout the nation for the manufacture of such products as Eastman Kodak cameras and film, Bausch & Lomb optical instruments, Taylor thermometers, Stromberg – Carlson telephone and radio products, Ritter dental equipment, Gleason machines and tools, and General Railway signal systems. In addition, many nationally known companies operate plants within the city. There are approximately 25 firms in the city employing over 1,000 people; 16 employing between 500 and 999 people; 28 employing between 200 and 499 people; 33 employing between 100 and 199 people; 62 employing between 50 and 99 people, and many more with an employment of less than 50.

The efficient and effective operation of the fire brigades in our city is due to the management of these companies. Proper fire equipment is provided and maintained, and members are constantly trained in its use. Some of the larger plants have a paid full-time fire chief or marshal who has unlimited authority to enforce all fire rules and regulations of the plant.

Monthly meetings held

In the larger organizations the brigades have regular monthly meetings, followed by a lecture on some phase of fire fighting or a drill in the use of equipment. Once a year they hold an election of officers. In most of the plants a waiting list for membership in the brigade is maintained and when a vacancy occurs in the ranks it is filled from this list. Thereafter, the applicant is investigated and examined by the company physician and voted on by members of the brigade.

Until 1957 the only training given by a member of the Rochester Fire Bureau to the existing brigades was upon request. During 1957 the plant protection division was formed at the fire academy and all industrial plants and concerns employing 50 or more people were informed by letter advising them of training facilities available. These letters were followed by a personal contact with the safety director or some other authorized person of the concern. In many cases appointments were made for a survey of the plant to ascertain the type of manufacturing, materials used, and the type of fire fighting equipment available. Following this, dates were scheduled and a training program provided. As it is impossible to maintain a set program for all firms, training programs are arranged that will be applicable to their particular surroundings and production schedules.

Research and experimental work is also carried out as part of the program. In photo, engineers of Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. measure electrical feed back to ground as straight stream is played on grid charged with 35,000 volts

Rochester Fire Academy photo

Class conducted in the fire fighting area at the academy. Extinguishers are the same as those at plant where students are employed

Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. photo

Class conducted on grounds of plant to teach handling and use of hydrant lines and to familiarize students with layout of plant grounds

Rochester Fire Academy photo

Proper employment of water fog is taught at academy for use on oil pit fires. Actual fire fighting practice has increased confidence of men and efficiency of plant brigades

Today, the use of the academy facilities is not confined to large groups. Any organization or group, regardless of size, receives the same consideration. Any material required for demonstrations or practice fires is supplied by the training academy and the cost of the entire program, including materials and services of the instructors, is provided by the fire bureau. All the firm has to do is to make it possible for their employees to attend the classes.

Plant Protection Division The author was appointed to the fire bureau in 1938 and detailed to the old fire college in Edgerton Park in 1941. Prior to the opening of the new fire academy, he assisted Battalion Chief Albert E. Hoesterey (now retired) in compiling and editing the Rochester training manual. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1954 and became captain in 1957. During that year the plant protection division was organized and he was placed in charge.

Whenever the brigades cannot attend the fire academy, and to prevent any hardships to management, the instructors take their training aids to the place of business and conduct classes there. Where they have three shifts working, the members of the brigade on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift have been held over for a two-hour training course from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. For the shift working from 4 p.m. to midnight, classes have been held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., thus making it possible for every member of the brigade to receive his training.

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Subject matter

In all training programs, no matter how large or small the group, the subjects of chemistry of fire, and the care, handling and operation of all types of hand extinguishers are given. Also, fire prevention measures are covered not only for their place of employment but for the home as well. After lectures have been given, the groups are taken outdoors where actual fires are built involving materials of the three different classifications of fires. Members of the class are called on to select the proper extinguisher for that particular fire and then proceed to extinguish it in the approved manner, under supervision of the instructor.

Refresher courses

Due to the infrequent use of the fire fighting equipment, the fire bureau recommends that brigade members be given a refresher course at least every two years. This recommendation has been well received by management and there are many repeats each year. In instances where the hazards are great, the refresher courses are given annually. Some plants have fire bureau instructors at eight of their monthly meetings during the year.

Records are kept of attendance and subjects taught at every class. The following figures indicate the increased interest in the program since the formal program was instituted in 1957.

Because the majority of the organizations have only soda-acid, pressurized water, foam, carbon dioxide or dry chemical extinguishers, the following is a typical two-hour program given such groups:

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Inside lecture and demonstration:

Calling fire department

Value of training

Fire prevention methods at place of employment, also in the home

Chemistry of fire

Classification of fires

Methods of extinguishing

Care, handling and proper operation of the various types of extinguishers

Handling and operation of standpipe hose

Safety measures

Question and answer period

Outside demonstrations

Actual fires are simulated representing the three classifications of fires

Members are picked from the group to select the proper extinguisher for the type of fire that is burning, then extinguish it in the proper manner.

Question and answer period

Where brigades have ladders, drills are conducted in the carrying, placing raising, climbing and lowering. For those having hose houses, members are taught the single and double hose roll, how to make and break couplings and how to advance lines on the ground and up ladders. Hose lines are charged and each man is taught how to operate the nozzzle.

Some plants are equipped with breathing apparatus, in which case the staff prefers to give instructions at the fire academy. The fire fighting house, a three-story building which can be completely charged with smoke, is employed and brigade members receive experience wearing breathing apparatus under actual fire conditions.

If tarpaulins are provided for salvage work, these groups are given instructions in folding, carrying, spreading and maintenance. Instructions are also given to groups which have special appliances such as foam generators, fog applicators, bayonet nozzles, etc. In all classes, safety of the member and occupants of the building is stressed.

The fire bureau does not expect the trained personnel to extinguish all fires. However, with the knowledge gained, the brigades should be able to extinguish incipient fires, or to a certain degree confine a fire to a small area and hold it until the city fire department arrives. Experience to this date indicates the entire project is a subject which any fire department should investigate in the interest of sound fire protection.

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