That Chicago Fire Hose Contract.
Under the caption “Fire Hose Trick Seen,” the Chicago Record-Herald, of a recent date, published the following:
Adverse discrimination was alleged by officials of several fire hose manufacturing companies who appeared at yesterday’s session of the council finance committee and explained to Mayor Harrison and the committee why only three companies bid for the city’s $40,000 hose contract, for which bids recently were invited. Eighteen or twenty companies formerly competed for the business. The three bids were made on specifications drawn up fly laboratory experts of the Chicago Hoard of Underwriters, and were in keeping with the recommendation of the Merriam commission that fire hose be purchased on specifications instead of fly specified grades, as the city heretofore bought hose. Fire Marshal Seyferlich referred the bids to the committee, suspecting the existence of an agreement between the companies to refrain from bidding on the new specifications. “The city never has bought any fire hose in this way,” Chief Seyferlich said, “and I want the committee to take the task of awarding the contract off of my hands. I am familiar with all brands of fire hose commonly used, hut I have no knowledge of the durability of hose purchased by specifications.” Speaking for the manufacturers who did not hid for the city’s contract, W. T. Cole, president of the Fabric’ Fire Hose Company of New York, declared the underwriters’ specifications favored one particular company, and that no reputable manufacturer wanted to make hose according to the specifications. “My company thinks a whole lot of its name and reputation. and won’t put its brand oil hose made according to specifications drawn up in a laboratory and by persons who have no practical knowledge of the manufacture of fire hose.” said Mr. Cole. “Other cities have tried specification hose and found that it would not wear well.”
C. E. Jenkins, representing the H. Channon Company, declared his firm had hid on the specifications and would guarantee the hose for three years if given the contract. There is no guarantee clause in the specifications, it being declared this was unnecessary, as hose manufactured according to the requirements would stand every severe test as to quality of materials used and durability. No other bidder except the H. Channon Company would agree to guarantee the hose. “We want to get the best fire hose that money will buy,” said Mayor Harrison. “I don’t just understand why the companies that bid for the contract can afford to maxc specification hose at a less price to the city than the hose formerly supplied. It doesn’t seem fair to me to accuse the underwriters of favoring one company, and I don’t take any stock in that statement.”
I he committee later authorized the purchase of 10.000 feet of specification fire hose. The price is to be 95 cents a foot. H Channon & Co., will supply 6,000 feet and the Manhattan l ire Hose Manufacturing company will supply 1,000 feet. The specifications under which the hose is to be purchased were supplied at the fire underwriters’ laboratories. Formerly the department has used hose guaranteed for specified term of years by the manufacturers.