Shall the Fire Department Do Salvage Work?
The question as to the advisability of the fire department doing salvage work at fires is one that is coming very prominently to the fore of late. It has been proposed by the authors of several papers read recently before fire chiefs’ and firemen’s associations that this is the legitimate work of the fire department just as truly as is the extinguishment of fire. Up to recently this work has been looked upon as distinctly in the province of the fire insurance patrols, salvage corps, and similar bodies, and these organizations, under the auspices of the underwriters, have done splendid work in keeping down the fire loss, as far as the prevention of water damage and preliminary work of salvage at fires, such as coverage, is concerned.
Of late, however, some fire departments, especially in the West and in cities where no insurance salvage corps have been established, have undertaken this work and excellent and efficient municipal fire patrols have been organized. In such cases, no doubt, notably good work has been done in keeping down the fire losses of the city and generally where such corps exist the chief speaks enthusiastically of the results obtained.
However, it is a mooted question whether this plan is a good one for general adoption, and there has developed considerable opposition to it. This was manifest at the late convention of the New England Association of Fire Chiefs at Pittsfield, in the discussion of a paper on this subject. The stand was taken at that meeting that the expense of such salvage work should be borne by the insurance interests or at least part of it, as they derive the greatest benefit therefrom.
There is. of course, much to be said on both sides of the salvage question. The fire dejartment has its hands full in handling fire extinguishment. esjieeiallv where the fire-forces are not manned with any too great numbers. To take men from this force especially to devote their time to the work of salvage would no doubt work a hardship, and might tend to reduce the efficiency of the force in its legitimate work of fighting fire.
There is room for much discussion and consideration by the I. A. F. E. and other organizations on the subject and this plan should not he adopted or rejected until it has been thoroughly analyzed and studied front every possible angle so far as it concerns the average fire department.
In this connection it is significant that the New England Association of Fire Chiefs at its recent convention appointed a committee of five to make a study of the benefits to be derived from the doing of salvage work by fire departments and it is hoped that this committee will be instrumental in throwing a little light on this important subject.