SMALL FIRE DEPARTMENTS.
The organization of Fire Departments in the smaller towns and villages is usually, by reason of lack of experience of those interested, attended with certain disadvantages which become apparent in course of time, and are the source of much trouble. Most of the smaller organizations are burdened with a multiplicity of officers, so that in many cases they outnumber the privates. Usually the duty officers need consist only of a Foreman and assistant, they detailing men to fill other positions as needed. This plan possesses obvious advantages over the system of electing men to fill the various positions required in service. One of the most faithful sources of discord in voluntary organizations, is the conflict of authority between the petty officers. We have known a large department to become disrupted on account of a dispute as to which of two regularly elected pipemen was first entitled to the pipe. It may be accepted as an axiom, that the fewer the officers the better the company or department. Red tape has no place in the fire service, and should, and in fact must, be avoided.
Mistakes are almost invariably made in the selection of apparatus, it being generally too heavy for speedy action. While a country department may have a large membership, but a comparatively small part of it can be relied on for immediate aid in case of fire ; hence the apparatus should be light and easily handled. It is of the utmost importance that a fire be attacked in its incipiency, and this can never be done if the apparatus must await the assembly of a large company. Apparatus intended for small towns, and to be manually operated, should never be heavier than can be drawn and operated by ten or twelve men. The stream of a small Hand Engine if applied at the right time and place, is better than that of a dozen streams applied latter.
The writer is one of those that can change his mind, and while it has taken us some time to arrive at the conclusion, we are convinced that the Chemical Engine embodies more of the requisites demanded by country fire service than anything else yet produced. Steamers for small towns are a luxury, and an expensive one.
Heavy Hand Engines the same. Light hand or Chemical Engines will, in the iuture, do their work in the small towns to the exclusion of all others.
As the requirements of the fire service become thoroughly understood, there seems to be a growing disposition to adopt the principle so strenuously advocated by Mr. Bird, one of the most remarkable men ever connected with the service, and who was unfortunate only in being in his idea far ahead of his time, and was denied that appreciation which the future will accord him.