Television Gives Boost To Fire Prevention Programs
Widely and Effectively Used in Connection With Fire Prevention Week Activities
THIS year’s Fire Prevention Week was apparently on a par with that of 1952, measured by the amount and quality of material reaching Fire Engineering. This year the press and radio devoted considerable time and space to getting over the fire prevention message to the public, and cooperating with the fire departments.
Several of the larger cities this year put forth special efforts to hang up Fire Prevention Week records. Notable among them were New York and Philadelphia. Both used the newspapers, including daily, weekly and foreign language press. Both used radio and television time, generously furnished the fire departments. “Interview” programs on TV were particularly successful in Philadelphia, it is said. In the latter city, the house publications of over 100 firms contained Fire Prevention Week messages. In addition, there were the customary displays of posters, the essay contests, open house at fire stations, promotional activity among school children, Boy and Girl Scouts, Service clubs and the like.
In New York City what the N. Y. Times said editorially was “something definitely new” was added to the observance of Fire Prevention Week with the organization under the chairmanship of Fire Commissioner Grumet of a committee of the city’s business and industrial leaders “to map fire prevention on a year-round basis.” Says the Times: “If any fault could be found with Fire Prevention Week in the past, it was that its warnings received emphasis for seven days out of the 365 and then were permitted to grow dim for the remainder of the year.”
In Chicago which it would appear has the inglorious distinction of leading all large American cities in the accidental deaths by fire during the past twelve months, and which provided the historical basis for Fire Prevention Week itself, the observances were highlighted by the removal of the bronze plaque commemorating the start of the great Chicago Fire from the old two-and-ahalf story brick and stone dwelling at 558 De Koven street, which is said to be the site of Mrs. O’Leary’s home. This house will be torn down shortly to be replaced by a new building, which in turn will bear the inscription and plaque.
Edwards Air Force Base Also Wages Active F.P. Week Drive
Under the direction of Norris T. Morton, Chaplain (Major) U.S.A.F., APFTC, chairman of the Fire Prevention Committee for Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, Calif., the Base’s Fire Prevention Week’s observances occupied nearly every waking hour of a large part of the Base personnel.
The program opened Monday, October 5, with chapel service. The United States Air Force Band played just outside the chapel before services. Immediately following services, came a parade of fire apparatus, accompanied by the band, which toured the Base and housing area, ending at the grammar and high school. A touch of realism was added the event when, about the time the parade was finished, several pieces of fire apparatus were suddenly called back to the base on an alarm.
Department Fire Prevention models were placed on display in the Chapel Annex during the week and created much interest. Students of the elementary school participated in a special Fire Prevention Week drill followed by a response of fire apparatus. Winners of the poster contest were rewarded with rides on the apparatus.
In addition to extensive displays of Fire Prevention Week posters, pictures and special signs alerting “Observance of National Fire Prevention Week” placed on the Base bulletin boards, high school students were addressed in the Elementary School auditorum.
Special film showings were conducted at the two Base Theatres. An important feature of the Week was the inspection of each building on the base by area fire marshals.
A series of lectures on different phases of fire prevention was given to all personnel, civilian and military using the theatres.
Mutual Aid Response Features Airforce Base F.P. Week
This year, numerous military installations throughout the nation conducted extensive Fire Prevention Week drives and exercises. Notable among them was Westover Airforce Base, Chicopee Falls, Mass., which built its promotion around a simulated general alarm fire and mutual aid response from surrounding cities.
The following is taken from a special report to the Base Fire Marshal from Master Sergeant Emanuel Brombert, M/Sgt. USAF, Asst. NCOIC Fire Department.
A simulated general alarm was sounded October 5 at Westover Air Force Base which gave Westover’s mutual aid program its biggest test of this year.
Upon sounding the general alarm, fire apparatus from the following communities responded: Chicopee, Mass.; Holyoke, Mass., and Springfield, Mass.
Responding apparatus, which consisted of five pumping engines, two ladder companies and one modified truck with its deluge gun and foam making equipment was utilized.
Air police escorts were dispatched to the main gates to escort responding apparatus to where drill was held.
The first alarm was received at 9 A. M. Monday morning. Engine Company No. 1 (750 gpm pumper), Engine Company No. 2 (750 gpm pumper) Engine Company No. 10 (500 gpm pumper) and Fire Chief John F. Dowd responded.
Responding companies immediately laid two lines each and started pumping water. Fire Chief Dowd sounded the general alarm which put into operation Westover’s mutual aid program, with nearby communities, also putting into service auxiliary firemen, who reported to drill area for assignment.
The following mutual aid equipment responded and personnel in order of arrival: Lt. Col. John Rand, Base Fire Marshal; CWO L. E. Clark, Assistant Fire Marshal; chief’s car (Chicopee Fire Department); Chicopee ladder company; Chicopee deluge and foam truck; Holyoke ladder company; two pumper companies from Springfield.
As responding mutual aid apparatus arrived, they were spotted and put into service.
The Chicopee deluge and foam truck was set up and the two lines from Company No. 10 were shut down and connected to the Chicopee deluge gun.
Ladder company from Chicopee was set up as water tower and the two lines from Company No. 1 were tied in. Holyoke ladder was set up and used also as a water tower and the two lines from Company No. 2 were tied in.
Two responding pumpers from Springfield were manned by off-duty Westover firemen to cover in at Fire Department Headquarters.
A total of 2400 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose was used in this drill. Pumping pressure was 90 pounds for hand lines and was increased to 150 pounds for major fire streams.
A Prize-Winning Essay on F.P. Week
It has been many years since Fire Engineering published one of the prizewinning essays written by some schoolboy or girl; the following is worthy of publication. It was written by a student, Judith Schultz, of Petersburg, Va., High School and submitted by Fire Chief J. N. Farmer of Petersburg. Every fire officer who promotes fire prevention and Fire Prevention Week might well adapt this to his use.
Ways of Preventing Fires
“You’re driving home after a pleasant day in town. The leaves are turning and you can’t help thinking how pretty they are. Maybe your children have raked them off the yard, and you can have a bonfire tonight. You’re so busy thinking you scarcely hear the distant scream of fire engines. They come closer, and finally hearing them, you pull over to the side of the street to let them pass. The brilliant red vehicles streak by, flashing in the late afternoon sun. Suddenly a wave of fear hits you. You wait a minute to see if the engines turn onto another street, but no, they continue on down this one. You pull quickly away from the curb not bothering to look in your rear view mirror. “What’s that crazy guy in back blowing his horn for?” You wonder, “Doesn’t he know those engines are going up my street? What if it’s my house that’s on fire?”
Panic fills you as you think of your two little girls home alone. You had meant to get home sooner, but somehow the time had just flown. You remember the last time the children had come home from school to find you not there. Ten year old Janie had decided to surprise you by baking a cake. It had been so cute you’d never reprimanded her for lighting the gas oven when you weren’t there. You really must talk to her about that, but what if it’s too late? Supposing she had tried again, and there had been an explosion. Oh, no, that’s just foolish, nothing could happen to your family. Or could it?
“Last Sunday there had been that big wind storm, and a fuse blew right in the middle of it. The children had been frightened, and wouldn’t let you out of their sight, so you had sent your kid sister down to the cellar to put a new one in. Maybe she hadn’t been able to find any, and had used a penny. You knew you should have gone yourself, but in all the confusion.”
“You can hear the engines ahead of you. Is that smoke you smell?
“As you near home your mind is filled with so many things; those oily rags, left over from fall house-cleaning, pushed back in a corner of the hall closet, the electric lamp cord under your bedroom rug. You knew it shouldn’t be there, but you weren’t going to have your lovely room spoiled by some hideous cord. These things seemed vaguely familiar, as though you had heard them all before. Where, where you wonder, and then you remember. It was a television program you saw the other day, something about Fire Prevention Week. “How silly,” you had thought. “If a woman is a good housekeeper she won’t have any fire hazards.” You can still see the quiet, well spoken man in the dark uniform, as he pleaded with people to stop taking chances. He had seemed so very earnest, and perhaps a little weary, as though he had said it over and over again with no avail. What was it he had said, about every one believing he was free from the disaster of fire until it struck? Yes, he was right, that was how you had felt, never even considering that your home and life could be destroyed by fire.
Then suddenly you’re home. You park quickly, and look across the street. There’s your house, not scarred by flames and smoke, but neat and sparkling white, as you had left it. In the front yard two small girls industriously rake leaves. You lean against the steering wheel, and let the tears come. ‘Now, isn’t that silly,’ you think, ‘Why am I crying?’ But it’s not silly, and you know why. This afternoon you had a bad scare, and you’re going to see that you never have cause to feel this way again. You light a cigarette, and start to toss the match out the window. You catch yourself, however, and smiling a little, drop it into the ashtray. ‘Oh yes,’ you say out loud, ‘it’s going to be hard to break all these habits, but I’m going to do it. I only wish everyone would.’”
A Fire Commissioner Has Something to Say About the Fireman
It is always encouraging to have a fire commissioner get behind Fire Prevention Week. It is doubly helpful when that official can put down thoughts such as are contained in the following. This was submitted by Chief George J. Riley of Roseland, N. J., whose fire commissioner, Harry Lee, of Roseland, chairman of the borough’s fire committee, believes that it might be well to remind people not only about observing Fire Prevention Week for themselves, but for the protection of thier firemen.
Oh, for the Life of n Fireman!
“Self preservation is the first law of nature and thousands of people prove it annually. It is easy, if we are honest about it, for most of us to follow this rule, because we are imbued with this practice, and it’s the nature of us mortals.
“Nature fortifies us with a sense of responsibility, an inherent desire to protect ourselves or our loved ones.
“It is therefore the first law of nature for us to overlook the fact that there are many individuals in the world who, notwithstanding the urge of nature to protect themselves, cast it aside and voluntarily offer their lives to help others. These men deserve our praises and everlasting gratitude and consideration.
“Consider the firemen and their efforts to save our lives and our property. To my way of thinking it makes little difference whether he gets paid or is a volunteer. In either case he unselfishly risks his neck to save yours.
“Knowing this, it is little wonder that the excitement of the fire engines rushing to answer the alarm behind screaming sirens, announcing impending danger, causes most of us to pause, as the urge to rush after the fire engines consumes us.
“What lies ahead for the fireman? What misfortune or trap awaits him? What trap is ready to snap? What kind of accident or sudden death lurks in the fire, hidden by a smoke screen? Will the walls collapse? Will his lungs be seared by smoke and heat or will the sudden flash of fire and smoke snuff out his life by consuming the life-giving oxygen? Will he die saving a life, or worse, saving some materialistic things?
“What about the thoughts that run through our minds as we are enveloped in flames awaiting the firemen rushing to our aid? Heck, let’s face it! Our lives and our loved ones, our property, these are the things we think of as we yell ‘Firemen, save me! Save my home!’
“But how about the firemen? We can return a little of his unselfishness by thinking more about him and his loved ones. Volumes have been written about how to save our lives and property if fire overtakes us. What to do or not to do to prevent fires? However, not nearly enough has been written to appeal to our better side—to protect the lives of firemen.
“Every day people gape at the terrific damage caused by fire. A gutted or completely destroyed building. Even as they gape in amazement, grief-stricken families of firemen try to conceal their agony.
“It is not enough to write about it, to call him a hero, to tell how his life was extinguished as the fire was brought under control, how women and children were saved.
“It is my fervent prayer and hope that peoples all over who read this will try hereafter to prevent fires, realizing the danger lurking around a fireman the instant the fire alarm is turned in, as he races to answer the alarm.
“Let us resolve to think about fires before they occur, because if it is started through your carelessness and failure to follow common sense preventive measures, you may find it difficult to forgive yourself.
“As a ‘fire commissioner’ I see both sides. I see the causes of fires and the gruesome effects. The carelessly tossed match or cigarette, the overlooked electrical equipment, unsafe storage of materials and combustibles, the many other causes of fires resulting in havoc and destruction which could so often be prevented.
“There are no soothing words to relieve the pain of burns; seared lungs or other injuries firemen receive, nor to assuage his grieving loved ones left behind. No amount of condolences or regrets will heal his wounds or bring back his life so suddenly snuffed out.
“So, I appeal to you to be careful instead of sorry. Then you will have a clear conscience, if and when a fire does occur.
“Save the fireman’s neck—so he can live to save yours!”