Setting Fires for Excitement
The remarkable, and, fortunately, unusual incidents which culminated in the conviction and sentencing of six members of the Darien, Conn., fire department to prison terms of varying severity, as reported in our last issue, suggests considerable food for thought.
The cause, apparently, of these young fellows’ rash acts was wholly a desire for excitement. There certainly was no pecuniary gain involved—in fact one of the young men destroyed property belonging to a near relative. This was according to their own confessions.
The Darien case certainly reveals a very unfortunate state of affairs. If time hung so heavily on these young men’s hands as to cause this insatiable desire for excitement, and the excitement took the natural outlet of a wish to run with the fire apparatus. it should have been an easy matter to direct this longing into useful channels. Practise runs with the fire apparatus, drills in fire-fighting, friendly contests in ladder climbing, hose coupling, and other such feats, could easily have satisfied this longing for action, and, at the same time, served the useful purposes of training these young men in their calling as firemen. As it is, neglecting this opportunity has been the absolute wreck of six young lives. There is not a cheerful prospect ahead of these men when they emerge from the serving of their prison sentences.
And what are the lessons of these acts to other departments—especially those under the volunteer system? Principally, the question of keeping the interest of the men aroused so there would be no chance for those of flighty minds going astray, as these young men have done. The answer to this, of course, is drills and training, with a judicious admixture of enough entertainment as make the service attractive. If this plan is followed out, there should be little chance of incendiarism among the members.