SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF 1947 FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
Observation Nationwide; Many New Innovations Tried Out; Industry Cooperates
BRIDGEPORT, Conn.—The “Father of Fire Prevention Week” and, through the years, its most articulate ambassador, T. Alfred Fleming, Director of Conservation of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, spearheaded a program in observance of 1947 Fire Prevention Week before more than 250 city and state officials on October 8 at the Stratfield Hotel, Bridgeport, Conn.
Following Mr. Fleming’s address, in which he emphasized the destructive waste of life and property by fire in this country, there was an exhibition of fire fighting and fire prevention equipment.
Photo by Frank Decerbo
Mr. Fleming commended State Police Commissioner Edward J. Hickey for setting up one of the best systems of fire prevention standards in the United States. “If other states would follow the example of Connecticut, they would truly attain the goal of fire prevention,” he said. The meeting was sponsored by the Bridgeport Safety Council and Mr. Fleming’s talk was broadcast over radio station WICC.
The Bridgeport Fire Department participated actively in the program. A standard fire alarm box and panel board was installed in the hotel ballroom with Capt. Joseph J. Brady, Acting Supt. of Fire Alarms, in attendance to explain its operation. Another feature was one of the original hand pumpers used in Bridgeport in the early days of the Fire Department. This was by way of contrast with the exhibition in front of the hotel, on Main street, of a new pumper recently acquired by the City.
During the evening a Navy training unit, using mobile fire control equipment, staged a demonstration aboard LST 1038 in the local harbor.
NORFOLK, Va.—Radio played a stellar role in the city’s 1947 Fire Prevention Week activities. Approximately twentyfive programs were given by the three radio stations of the city, with as many newspaper articles; in addition, the number of radio spot announcements ran into the hundreds, according to Henry Cowles Whitehead, Program Manager of station WTAR.
The Norfolk Fire Department staged a number of demonstrations and there was a large parade with ten pieces of fire apparatus and three bands. All of this was in addition to the usual promotion, including posters, talks before civic clubs and in schools; open-house in fire stations; fire drills and the like, in all of which the fire department actively cooperated.
Said Mr. Whitehead: “Those of us here in Norfolk, who have seen the Fire Department in the past years, feel that our Chief, R. L. Woolard is doing a magnificent job.”
AKRON, Ohio.—Highlighting its Fire Prevention Week program in Akron, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company featured in its display a genuine antique fire pump, built in 1833. This old handdrawn, hand-operated relic was acquired when the company purchased a Connecticut village fabric mill in 1913.
Following the tradition of the early volunteer fire service, when equipment was named after some famous fire, or military hero, this old “engine” was given the name “Pequot” after a battle and fire that occurred during the Connecticut Indian wars.
The progress made in fire fighting facilities in the following 114 years was dramatically shown by comparison between this old “armstrong” pump with its five-foot goose neck nozzle, two lengths of antediluvian leather hose, and today’s modern power pumpers such as participated in numerous Fire Prevention Week exhibitions and parades.
GRAYSTONE PARK, N. J.—Fire Prevention Week was not limited to observance by municipal and private plant fire departments, but was promoted by many public and private institutions and organizations.
Fire prevention in the State Hospital at Graystone, N.. J., dates from June 25, 1894, when, according to the minutes of the board of directors, an evacuation drill was held and efforts begun to organize a fire-fighting service.
Today the hospital fire department has a roster of sixty-seven names, three of these being full-time firemen: Fire Chief Charles H. Acker, and two fulltime drivers. About twenty of the volunteers live in the fire house dormitory. The present equipment includes three motorized pumpers, one a 1947 model, and a ladder truck and squad maintenance truck.
There are fifty-nine hydrants on the hospital grounds and several of the buildings are equipped with automatic sprinklers. Fire alarm boxes are located throughout the grounds and buildings. There are 635 fire extinguishers in the institution. All fire fighting equipment is inspected and tested periodically and the fire department conducts regular drills.
NEW YORK City.—This year the nation’s largest city entered into the spirit and letter of Fire Prevention Week on a larger scale than ever before in its history. The New York Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Commissioner Frank Quayle and Chief of Staff and Operations Frank Murphy, spearheaded the promotion, with heavy emphasis on getting the story of fire prevention over to young people.
Every available means of publicizing the Week was employed. In addition to broad use of press and radio there were drills, parades, demonstrations in which fire fighting equipment of bygone days was widely shown, and the story of Fire Prevention Week told in theatres and movie houses.
One incident of the celebration, unrehearsed, it is said, made the press headlines. It had to do with the Fire Prevention Week show staged at City Hall October 3, as the setting for Mayor O’Dwyer’s proclamation of the event.
Members of the Fire Department had erected an elaborate brownfront tenement house of canvas and timbers to emphasize the penalty of carelessness in handling lighted matches and cigarettes. James Barton, Broadway actor, was cast in the role of a drunk idly tossing a match through a window after lighting a cigarette. And for the performance. Barton was planted in the crowd beyond the police lines.
On cue. Barton weaved and lurched through the crowd and pushed past the restraining police lines into the staging area. He had proceeded only a few unsteady paces when Assistant Chief Inspector Frank Fristensky, Jr., commander of the Manhattan east uniform force, hurried forward and shoved the actor back into the crowd.
A policeman, who was aware of the stunt and the script, rushed to the inspector to prompt him on letting the “drunk” on stage. Sheepishly with an apologetic glance at Mayor O’Dwyer and Fire Commissioner Quayle, the Inspector slunk away to lose himself in the blue-coated ranks. The program then went on schedule, with the match starting the fire; the Mayor turning in a fire alarm; the response of a full assignment of firemen and their demonstration of modern fire suppression.
Cooperating with the Fire Department throughout the city were many industrial concerns and the public utilities. Among the latter, was the Consolidated Edison Company, whose store and window displays were outstanding. One of these is reproduced herewith.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Literally as well as figuratively, Knoxville got off to a noisy start with its Fire Prevention Week promotion this year.
The loud note was, however, sounded by the student cheering section of the University of Tennessee “volunteers” at a football game played in Shields-Watkins Stadium, home of the University’s “Vols,” on Saturday October 11, last day of Fire Prevention Week.
According to H. N. Witt, Chief, Bureau of Fire Prevention, Knoxville Fire Department, Tennessee University is one of the very few schools in the south to use card tricks, and the department feels that this unusual and novel display was a great contribution to Fire Prevention Week program.