RURAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS
Chiefs of Cities Can Assist Village Departments by Instruction and Encouragement—Rural Protection a Hard Problem—Necessity of Educating Farmer in Use of Fire Extinguishing Chemicals
I HAVE been assigned a subject in which I am deeply interested, and one that requires a person of far better speaking abilities than mine to give to it the true significance and its true necessities. While it may seem light and small to the chiefs of large municipalities, yet to me it comes as a subject for your deep consideration. You are the men to bring about a condition in rural districts, also your limits of responsibility in aiding and assisting nearby towns is constantly increasing and widening. Thus on you devolves the bulk of the work in bringing about a better state of rural protection. You are constantly watching to improve your own local conditions; why not use your genius in working for apparatus that is capable of combating the rural question? Therefore, gentlemen, we are going to put the initiative strictly up to you.
Rural (Village) Fire Companies
The organizing of fire companies in villages is easy enough in itself, but to maintain and keep active, and with proper knowledge in fighting fires, is a different question. It is prevalent among all smlal towns either to neglect their fire protection or, when they have fire companies, to pay more attention to the social end rather than that to which they are banded together.
Here is one place where you chiefs of the cities can inaugurate a system of instruction and education, and not let it die because the men in smaller towns show a lack of interest (for they will), but keep at them, and your efforts will be amply rewarded, I am sure. It seems like asking too much of you when you are so busy, but I am sure that every big chief would put his heart in a work—that of giving the benefit to others of years of experience which he has worked so hard to get.
I would like to put this up to the association as a subject for your deep consideration.
The Country Sections
Another branch of rural protection is the country sections. This is a far harder problem, and I am frank to say that I have not arrived at a good or efficient method yet, although I have given it a great deal of study. Here again larger municipalities are called time and again to go miles out in the country and give aid; but, owing to their heavy pieces that are equipped for a different class of work, it is not a good means of protection; nor is it fair for the cities to send out their necessary home apparatus. It is asking too much. Now I believe we can talk principally to the apparatus manufacturers. While they have and are building light equipments, yet they have not got one of the necessaries which I deem will go a long way in interesting the farmer, and that is a pump which is light and will raise water from quite a depth and throw at least an inch stream. This will require some engineering, but they have met most every other emergency, and I am sure that they can meet this.
Another thing is the question of proving to the farmer the value of chemicals. When you tell him that you can put a fire out with chemicals he begins to look wise and apparently smells a gold brick. Gentlemen, somebody has got to do a whole lot of educating.
Importance of Farm Lighting Equipments
Another thing that is proving of great value to the farmer is the farm lighting equipments, and it is through these outfits I believe a great system of rural protection can be worked out. There are great possibilities in the future, in the fire-fighting line, in these equipments. We have got to educate the farmer first, and then help protect him. In doing this you bring the farmer more of city life and help to make the country a more pleasant place to live in; and in doing so you do a great good for humanity in many ways.
The present apparatus, as advertised by the manufacturers, is doing wonderful work, and I am more for it than ever (meaning the small auto chemical outfits). I had the good fortune to arrive in a small town near Hudson, N. Y., recently, and the fire company was just returning from a fire a mile and a half out in the country. They had saved a farmhouse, although the barn where the fire started was only 25 feet away. They recharged their tanks four times during the fire. Their work that night proved to me that we are moving in the right direction, and with the proper amount of “push” behind it, which you men can give, I am sure that better days are coming for the farmer.
In closing I wish to emphasize and call the attention that apparatus builders should give to this subject, and that farm journals and periodicals should take up a system of education. Gentlemen, I thank you for your indulgence and patience in my efforts. I have not gone deeply into the subject, my object being to bring it more thoroughly before the public, and you are the men to do it.
The firemen of Revere, Mass., have asked for $5 a day for the permanent men, under the two-platoon system; also a sliding scale for the officers.
At the recent hand engine muster in Weymouth, Mass., there were thirteen contestants. The Protector, of Brockton, won $200 on a play of 192 ft. 3 1/2 ins. Hingham was only 2 1/4 ins. behind the first machine. The champion Hancock stood eighth in a field of thirteen. The hand engine muster at the Fitchburg fair was attended by six first-class and four second-class machines. The Red Jackets, of Cambridge, won $125 in the first class by a play of 190 ft. 7 1/4 ins., and the Hamilton, of Troy. N. H., won $40 in the second class on 180 ft. 7 3/4 ins. The Gen. Putnam and Franklin, of Worcester, were distanced.
*From a paper read before the annual convention of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, at Watertown, N. Y.