Some of the Elements Which Help to Make The Short Course Fire College a Success
How the Florida Short Course has Helped to Reduce Fire Losses in State—Methods of Instruction
In the following paper the author points out the necessity for the formation of short course Fire Colleges in every state of the Union. He shows some of the benefits that have accrued to his own state—Florida—by the inauguration of such a course:
THE short course Fire Colleges that have been conducted in the various States have unquestionably been successful, not only from an educational standpoint, but they have helped to put the fire service of the smaller cities and towns on a higher plane in the estimation of the various city officials and large taxpayers. The knowledge gained also puts the small town Fire Chief in the position of knowing what he is talking about when he goes before his city officials for equipment. For example, if he wants salvage covers, and the Mayor asks him why he wants them, he does not have to say that he wants them because such and such a city has them, and has made good use of them. If he has attended a state Fire College, he can quickly and intelligently show his Mayor how the covers will be of tangible benefit to his city. And if his Mayor has the interest of his city at heart—and nearly all of them have—the Chief will get those covers.
Men Specialized on Subjects in This Year’s Florida Course
The first Florida Fire College was held at Daytona Beach, May 7, 8 and 9, 1930. with a fine crop of instructors. At our first college we had a group system of instruction, a man was assigned to a group, under a group leader, he stayed with that group and attended every class, being graded by his group leader in the different subjects, and a report of his standing was sent to his Mayor. But this year instead of having each group attend classes in all subjects, the men were requested to register for some special course, and urged to stay with that course for the full three days. The committee felt that in this way, a city could send, say three men to attend the college and each one specialize in a different phase ot fire fighting, at the end of three days we would be able to send back three men capable of acting as instructors in their respective departments. .
The men were not merely given demonstrations ot the different evolutions but every man was required to handle the equipment pertaining to the phase of fire fighting in which he was specializing until he was familiar enough with it to be able to disseminate it to his fellow firemen at home.
Few Papers as Possible Read at Sessions
The reading of papers was held to a minimum at this college. The committee felt that a man could take a paper home with him and get as much good out of it in the quiet of his home or station, as he could by having some one read it to him. With this thought in mind we requested the South-Eastern Underwriters Association to print us enough copies of three different papers to hand out to every man.
The papers picked as being of the most use were. Building Codes and Construction,” by L. C. Sledge, Engineer, S. E. U. A., “Electrical Hazards,” by T. P. Branch. Engineer, S. E. U. A., and “Fire Prevention.” by J. H. Howland, Engineer, National Board. In handling the papers in this way it gave us more time for practical work during the day, and left the night sessions open for round table discussion, and such papers as we thought should be read.
“The time is not far distant when every state in the country will have fire college, as the firemen throughout the land have come to the conclusion that there is still much to learn about fire fighting and fire prevention. Anybody, if he is given enough time, can learn things for himself, but why take years of observation and practice to learn a thing that specialists can teach in a short time?”
Method of Instruction at Short Course
Following is a short resume of the different courses with the instructor in each: Fire Alarm Systems, by J. S. McGehee, Superintendent of Fire Alarms, Atlanta, Ga. The equipment for this course was furnished by the Gamewell Fire Alarm Company.
Salvage and inspection was handled by Chief D. W. Brosnan, of Albany, Ga., first Vice-President of the I. A. F. C. This class put in two days learning the principles of salvage work and the handling of equipment. On the third day this class was taken on a tour of inspection, making actual building inspections, and being instructed in the proper salvage methods to be employed in each of the different types of buildings. In connection with this course moving pictures which were furnished by the Association were shown. The entire assembly saw these pictures. I know of two cases since this college where the improvement line of work was so pronounced that it was the cause ot editorial comment in the papers. I know of another case in a small city in my state where they had a fire in a garage apartment. The house was full of smoke when the department arrived. They put two lines in the second floor and after they had ruined everything up stairs, they found that the only fire they had was in a small closet on the ground floor. No one from this city had attended the Fire College. Chief Brosnan turned out some real salvage men for us.
Excellent Instructors Handle Important Subjects
Drill evolutions were split up, ladder evolutions being held in the morning of each day with Assistant Chief R. V. Johnson, of Daytona Beach as instructor. We were fortunate in having a man of Chief Johnson s ability to handle this subject. He is a graduate of the Boston Fire School where he specialized in ladder work. In the afternoon the class in drill evolutions were instructed in hose lay outs. This work was handled by our good friend Sherwood Brockwcll, of Raieigh, N. C., and if there is one man who stands out above all others as an instructor it is this man Brockwcll. We were indeed fortunate in getting a man of his outstanding ability to come down to Florida and assist us in making our Fire College the success that it was.
Ventilation and inspection was handled in a very efficient manner by Assist. Chief J. B. Chancey, of Jacksonville, Fla. A four story miniature metal building was used in demonstrating the principles of ventilation. On the third day the class was taken on a tour of inspection and instructed in inspection work and the proper method of ventilating different types of buildings under all varieties of fire conditions.
Truck construction, maintenance and operation was handled by Assistant Chief J. R. Larrabee, of West Palm Beach. Chief Larrabee is one of the outstanding truck engineers in the State of Florida, and made a very able instructor. This class took a type 75, American-La France pumper and worked on it for the full three days. The engine and chassis were gone over in detail, then the pump was taken out and dismantled, going into the function of every part.
At the night sessions there were papers on the Chemistry of fires, by Prof. Harry K. Brown, a volunteer member of the Sebring, Fla., Fire Department. Prof. Brown bandied this subject in a way that could be understood by all. Building inspection was by H. D. Cutter, of the Southeastern Underwriters Association. Mr. Cutter has proven himself a real friend to the committee in his efforts to help us in making this college a success.
First aid and artificial resuscitation was handled at one of the night sessions by Chief J. F. MacMillian of Cocoa. Fla., a son of Chief H. R. MacMillian of Jacksonville. Chief MacMillian has a certificate of proficiency from the Red Cross and made a very able instructor in this important subject.
Keeping Up Interest in the College Work
One of the things that we had a hard time to overcome in Florida was the feeling by city officials that the Fire College was just another excuse for a good time. We overcome this by having speakers appear on the programs of the Florida League of Municipalities, and the Insurance Agents Convention, and by radio talks on the subject. One thing that we are having a still harder time overcoming is the lack of interest shown by a few of the older Chiefs in the state, but I might say they are very few.
A feature that I think has kept the interest up in the Fire College is the fact that we split our State Fireman’s Association up into six districts with a district Vice-President in charge of each district who is required to hold at least three meetings in his district each year. We have demonstrations at each meeting, with speakers to talk on the value of the Fire College.
State Fire Loss Reduced by College
The Fire Loss in the State of Florida was reduced $294,179 in 1930, and from all reports there will be another reduction this year. The adjusters all say that the proportionate content loss, and water damage was much less in the past year than it has been in former years. At least part of this reduction is unquestionably the result of knowledge gained at the Fire College by the small town firemen.
Fire fighting has truly become a profession, and upon the training and judgment of the men in the fire service depends the safety, not only of our cities, but of the lives of our people. The men in the large cities have been able to get this training, due to the fact that they have the money to set up drill schools with trained drill masters. But it is not so with the small town departments. Quite frequently the only information they have about some new device or hazard has been secured from a trade magazine. Frequently the head of a small town Fire Department is appointed who has not had previous experience in this line of work, (this is wrong but we all know that it is done) and no way of acquiring the necessary knowledge.
On my way home from last year’s Florida Fire College I stopped and asked the Chief of a small town department why he had not attended the college. He said: “The Mayor did not think that it would do us any good as we only have one truck and a volunteer department.” I told his Mayor that his Chief was just the kind of fellow that we were trying to help. I drew his attention to the fact that they have several three and four story buildings in the town, and a fire in one of these buildings is just as big a fire as if it happens in a three or four story building in a large city, but the Chief in a large city has trained assistants to help him, whereas the small town chief will have to depend on his own personal knowledge, and of course the more he learns the better Fire Chief he will be. We have not got this Mayor in line yet, but we will have before the next College.
Every State Should have a Fire College
The time is not far distant when every state in the country will have a Fire College, as the firemen throughout the land have come to the conclusion that there is still much to learn about fire fighting and fire prevention. Anybody, if he is given enough time, he can learn things for himself, but why take years of observation and practice to learn a thing that specialists can teach us in a short time? It is hard for the officers of the International Association to go into every state and organize, for that reason I recommend that the officers of the International urge the District Organizations to take this over in their respective Districts, so that we can have a fire college in every State before we meet next year.
The fire college has been a success; not only in Florida but in every state that I have any knowledge of.
(Excerpts from a paper read before the annual convention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs at Havana, Cuba.)