How This Fire Department Brought These bosses Down to the Minimum—Careful Inspection—Efficiency in Operation—Cooperation with Citizens

AS we are rather proud of the record of the fire department in reducing the per capita loss of Newport News in the past five years and as the reasons may provide hints to other chiefs in their similar efforts, I am going to give the principal reasons for this reduction. The record of per capita loss by years is as follows:

Our Fire Inspection System is handled mainly by the chief, and assistant chief, but frequently captains, lieutenants, and privates are sent on a tour of inspection. This is done so that the men can familiarize themselves with the various buildings and their construction, and it also proves educational. Up to this date, no unusual conditions have confronted us during inspections. At times, violations of our fire ordinances are met with, and in handling these, we suggest and advise a means of correcting the defects. If at the end of ten days the violation has not been corrected, the party concerned is summoned the police court, and upon conviction, is fined and made to conform with the requirements of the ordinance.

Newport News Firemen at Drill on Drill Tower

I have no trouble in maintaining discipline in this division, but at the present the city manager and city council are drawing up a set of rules to govern the men. We have a drill tower located in the rear of headquarters where the officers and men are trained in the art of life saving, entering buildings, wall scaling, etc. They are also instructed the use of the various tools used, and hose connections made in handling fires.

Any member of this division that willingly violates any of its rules, if the case demands, is reprimanded or taken before the city manager to answer the charges prefered against him. The city manager’s decision is final in all such cases.

Fire hydrants are rented by the year, and the water works superintendent and myself cooperate in every way possible for the betterment of each division. Our apparatus is kept in good condition by the men in charge. After every alarm each piece of apparatus is inspected and any defects found arc corrected at once. The paid men of this division make all repairs possible, but in case they are unable to do so, the apparatus is then sent to the city shops to be put in condition at once.

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We assist the rural districts whenever our services are desired, provided we can help without making any shortage of apparatus in the city. It is required, that in case our services are desired, the chief of the district in question must notify the chief of this city, which keeps us from responding to all unnecessary alarms where help is not really needed.

The police department cooperates with us in many ways, such as clearing traffic, keeping back the crowds, investigations, etc. They also direct us when apparatus is approaching a corner from different directions. Such action avoids the apparatus colliding with each other at corner intersections.

The newspapers of this city render invaluable service to us and the public. They are continually publishing items for us in regards to fire protection, and fire prevention. In that manner we are able to advise the public of the dangers of fire hazards, and carelessness. The managers of the theatres here also cooperate with us in bringing the dangers of fire hazards, and carelessness to the minds of the public. All the local organizations assist us in every way possible in keeping down our fire loss, and they do not hesitate to bring such facts to the minds of their members when ever practicable. Such cooperation with this division has been of invaluable aid in bringing down our fire loss.

The shingle roof problem is handled by a city ordinance which states that all shingle roofs must be removed by 1930. At the present time, if a shingle roof is burned 25%, no repairs can be made, but a fire resisting roof must replace the shingles. We have up for consideration by the city manager, and city council, the two platoon system, or every third day off. At the present time we are working with every fourth day off. Giving the men shorter hours, I believe would tend to better the efficiency of the department.

After an alarm that requires the use of hose, the hose is stretched out and allowed to dry for a day or two, and then is rolled up and placed upon racks built for that purpose.

We have a City Ordinance here that requires all vehicles, at the approach of fire apparatus, to pull to the curb and remain standing until such apparatus has passed.

I believe in buying the best of fire equipment, because it can be depended on in case of emergencies. We have very few incendiary fires, as we do not hesitate to push all investigations if the fire shows any signs of incendiarism. We have obtained convictions of parties guilty of incendiary fires, and they are now serving time for their actions.

I believe that no Fireman should be allowed to do any work whatsoever during his off hours, as his off hours are given to allow him a rest from the hours of confinement, and the mental strain which naturally is connected with every fire department.

Providence, R. I., Establishes Fire Prevention Bureau— Providence, R. I., has established a bureau of fire prevention and investigation, and the causes of all fires will be probed should any doubt exist as to its origin, or should there be a suspicion of incendiarism.

Pella, Ia., Firemen Make Fire Run in Blizzard—Acting on a call for assistance from Leighton, Chief Van Vark and ten firemen from Pella, Ia., responded to the call, driving the apparatus for ten miles in a raging blizzard. The snow helped in a measure to prevent the spread of flames.

Fire Prevention School in Kansas City—A Fire Insurance School is to he held in the Salvage Patrol Quarters at 1019 Cherry Street, Kansas City, Mo., starting on January 12. Fire prevention, and the details of the insurance profession are to be taught. This school is set forth in connection with the Officers Association of Fire Patrols, Salvage Corps and Protective Departments of the United States and Canada. This association is one of the coming organizations in this field and is trying to promote the formation of salvage corps in municipal fire departments.

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