The 1970s—The Challenging Yec Years for the Fire Service
Fire Engineering Symposium looks at manpower problems, apparatus of the future, consolidation of districts, use of TV, computers at fires
William E. Clark—Supervisor of Fire Service Training, Wisconsin State Board of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education
Donald F. Favreau—Executive Director, International Fire Administration Institute, State University of New York at Albany
Anthony R. Granito—Supervisor of Fire Training, New York State Division of Fire Safety
David B. Gratz—Chief of the Silver Spring, Md., Fire De partment
Keith E. Klinger—Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles County Fire Department
Donald M. O’Brien—General Manager, International Association of Fire Chiefs
John T. O’Hagan—Chief of Department, New York Fire Department
Keith Royer—Supervisor, Fire Service Extension, Iowa State University
Lester R. Schick—Chief of the Davenport, Iowa, Fire De partment, President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs
Henry D. Smith—Chief of Firemen’s Training, Texas A & M. University
The 1970s promise to be years of explosive expansion in the fields of technology and government. The chain reaction effects of changing methods and viewpoints that can now be foreseen will envelop us with irresistible reality in the next decade.
Is the fire service preparing to take advantage of the widening wonders of technology and to shape its future as a government service to the people? What will the manpower problems be and how will they be met? What will be done to adapt to social and technological changes? What advantages will the fire service gain from advances in communications equipment and methods?
These are the questions that must be answered by the fire service. And they must be answered in the ’70s because those years promise to be decisive ones for the future of the fire service.
Is the fire service preparing to find the answers it must have? To find out, the editors of FIRE ENGINEERING conducted a symposium of fire chiefs and educators at the Sheraton-O’Hare in Chicago last February 27 and 28.
The Wingspread Conference in February 1966 developed “statements of national significance as an aid to clearer understanding of the fire problem and of the steps to be taken in achieving the objectives of bringing the national fire problem into sharp focus.” The FIRE ENGINEERING Symposium was called to explore the specifics—present and future—in the problem areas defined by the Wingspread Conference. It was felt that if we could spell out our problems, take a long-range view of current trends and visualize the changes of the next decade, we could become better prepared to meet the challenging years in the ’70s.
The symposium members, whose names appear at the top of this page, gathered around a conference room table at 9 o’clock Monday morning with James F. Casey, editor of FIRE ENGINEERING, as moderator and worked until after 9 o’clock that night with only brief breaks for lunch and dinner. Each symposium member presented a paper on the current problems and the future of one facet of the fire service. General discussions were held after each group of three or four men spoke on a particular subject within the general field of manpower utilization, social and technological changes or communications. Most of these men had participated in the Wingspread Conference.
Everyone was back at the symposium table at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning for a three-hour general discussion of questions raised during the previous day and night. Opinions were challenged, additional facts were cited, and the future was explored.
What will the fireman of the ’70s be like, and what kind of apparatus will he need? What role will labor play in the fire department of the ’70s, and how will training methods have to be changed to take advantages of new educational techniques? What effect will the cost effectiveness analyst have on fire departments when he proposes that the big fires destroy everything so why be geared to fight them? Who is going to write the standards for the fire service in the years to come, and will the small department be able to resist the manpower and economic pressures toward the consolidation of several departments into metropolitan or county fire departments?
These are the issues that were scrutinized. In the following pages of this special section, FIRE ENGINEERING reports on the symposium presentations and discussions.
Personnel: ‘This is the time to accept the challenge’
Apparatus and equipment will be only part of the changes to be expected in the ’70s. The fireman, himself, will be different in the next decade, the conference members expect. Education will develop a man with a new outlook on his job, and this may breed its own problem, which troubled Chief Keith E. Klinger of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
“Are we going to have any firemen, or are we going to have intelligent people who are not going to be on the fire line?” Klinger pondered.
Although the fireman of the ’70s will be better educated, he also will display less loyalty than the present fireman toward his superiors, the Los Angeles County chief predicted. With shorter hours, he will be more interested in recreation and how much time he will have for recreation.
“He is going to have less practical experience,” said Klinger. “He is going to get it all out of the books. He is not going to get the practical experience the old-timers have.
“He will be union labor—union motivated more than ever. He is going to have a tendency to avoid danger. I think this is just the new breed. Tbis is the way they work. He is going to have less physical stamina than the man of today. He is going to have less mechanical adaptability.”
Product of an easier early life
Klinger saw tomorrow’s fireman as a product of an easier early life who “is not going to know how to do the domestic chores that we have in the fire service. I am talking about handling brooms and shovels and pickaxes and things of this kind that he has never had to use.”
Age levels also are expected to change in the fire service of the ’70s. Chief Lester Schick of Davenport, Iowa, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, called attention to a noticeable trend toward the appointment of younger men as chiefs. In their forties, most of these new chiefs have about 20 years of practical fire service experience and a substantially better background than their predecessors.
“These men,” Schick commented, “are impatient. They are dissatisfied with the situation as it now exists.”
And if changes are to be made to meet the demands of the present and future, education will be the vital catalyst, the conference indicated.
Development of fire service executives
As Professor Donald F. Favreau, executive director of the International Fire Administration Institute of the State University of New York at Albany, put it in his summation of the problem: “In my opinion, fire service executives are not born, they are made either through the school of hard knocks or through a formal, systematic and deliberate plan of developmental action. Unfortunately, graduates of the former school are too old to work.”
Technical competence is not enough for the modern fire executive, Favreau declared. He also must be “conceptually, perceptually and administratively competent” if he is to mold the human and physical resources of his department into a dynamic organization that will bodi satisfy the people it is serving and nurture a high degree of morale on the part of the firemen.
“This is the time for the entire fire service to accept the challenge,” Favreau asserted.
“H ‘ill the new degree-equipped graduate consider the fire service as a career? What is the fire service doing to attract this caliber of person to consider a fire service career? Are the duties and problems of the fire service a challenge to a college graduate?’
Donald F. Favreau
Reminding the conference that “professionalism begins with education,” the professor stated that 54 million persons in the United States are now attending schools and a projected figure of 9 million will be enrolled in schools of higher learning by 1970. And the fire service is now involved in the educational process. The number of fire science degree programs is increasing steadily, with California leading the nation.
College degrees fo become necessary
Along this same line, Schick foresaw the time when college degrees in fire administration, fire science, fire protection engineering—and even education—will be necessary for men to become chief officers and fire marshals.
But Favreau saw these educational advances* raising questions: “Will the new degree-equipped graduate consider the fire service as a career? What is the fire service doing to attract this caliber of person to consider a fire service career? Are the duties and problems of the fire service a challenge to a college graduate?”
For the first time in the nation’s history, Favreau reminded the conference, white collar workers will outnumber blue collar workers. Furthermore, by 1970, half of our population will be under the age of 25. By 1975 or 1976, he added, half the population will be under 35 years of age, and by 1980, perhaps three quarters of the population will be under 35.
These people will have more schooling and will have been conditioned to work “with what they have between their ears, not with their hands.” That creates a problem, Favreau said, of how you replace the manual worker.
Younger men less bound by tradition
There is a bright side to the lower median age of leaders in the next few decades that Chief David B. Gratz of Silver Spring, Md., pointed out. “The younger the man,” he commented, “the less bound by tradition and the less encumbered by stereotyped concepts” he is apt to be. So he can take a brand new look at the fire service.
While there is less motivation among the great mass of people, in every group there is a number of persons striving to reach the top. Donald M. O’Brien, general manager of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said these are the people whom the fire chiefs should be helping to get to the top.
An air of optimism about the fire fighter of the ’70s was provided by William E. Clark, supervisor of fire service training in Wisconsin, who recalled that the old-timers have always said that the young people coming into the job are not as good as they were years ago.
“We have to make allowances for the differences in viewpoint when we are dealing with the new generation,” Clark advised. “The fact that these fellows may not want to work as hard as our generation is, I think, good. If they have to work as hard as we did, we haven’t had any progress.”
The manpower problem of the next decade will encompass both the selection of fire fighters and the ways to use them to the greatest advantage, according to Keith Royer, supervisor, Fire Service Extension, Iowa State University. He expressed the belief that the same amount of work will have to be done with fewer persons, which will require greater selectivity in recruiting. There just will be no room for misfits in a fire department.
Fewer persons to do the work
“If we think we are in bad shape manpower-wise today,” Royer said, “I think we are going to get a lot worse.”
Favreau called the manpower utilization problems of the ’70s “as challenging as they are complex.” A combination of medical progress and the large increase in the birth rate of the ’40s and ’50s over that of the depression years in the ’30s is resulting in a work force heavily weighted with inexperienced young people and older workers. That leaves a work force deficient in the area of the prime working age, he explained.
As a result of the knowledge explosion we are experiencing, Favreau said, “it is becoming increasingly apparent today that education may well be a lifelong process, that dynamic conditions will require those seeking professional aspirations to constantly keep abreast of the current developments in their field of specialization.”
Recruiting: ‘Direct entry at the lieutenant’s level?’
Problems in recruiting were foreseen by Favreau. Business men go to a university and recruit sophisticated students right on the campus, but you never hear of a fire chief doing that.
Schick explained that the fire service has a problem “because we are hamstrung with civil service laws and regulations, and we have to hold an examination in many cases … by state law in a given month.”
The monetary side of the recruiting picture was mentioned by O’Brien, who told of a talk he made before some high school students about salaries in the New York City Fire Department. When he finished, a teacher said that New York’s starting salary was higher than he was earning even after an automatic raise for a master’s degree.
“Believe it or not,” the IAFC general manager said, “there are many cities in this country which offer higher starting salaries to their firemen” than some engineers get entering private industry. Furthermore, “the possibilities for rapid promotion and getting into five-figure salaries is about one-half the time required for the same engineer to go up through the ranks in private industry.”
Direct recruitment of lieutenants
A suggestion involving recruiting was the entry of trained men into the fire service as lieutenants instead of fire fighters.
“I think we are at a time when a decision needs to be made,” Royer asserted. “I am saying that we are so inbred that this is compounding our problem, that we are inbred only by tradition. What I am saying is that should we be training people for direct entry at the . . . lieutenant’s level? I don’t know.”
Somehow, there needs to be a separation of the officer personnel and the work force, Royer argued. And this need remains regardless of the future educational level of the fire fighter. Royer felt that there always should be an “avenue open for the individual to come from the work force into the officer ranks.”
Weakness in recruiting lieutenants
Conceding the similarity of the hazards of leadership, Chief John T. O’Hagan of New York City called attention to a distinct difference between a college graduate entering the army as a lieutenant and entering a fire department as a lieutenant. In the army, he pointed out, soldiers are expendable in battle, and “if the officer in the army goes out and makes a mistake in battle and loses 10 or 12 men, nobody knows about it. It is just absorbed.”
If this happens in the fire service, the New York chief continued, the rightful indignation will be overwhelming.
Stressing the necessity for practical experience, he told how 10 more men could have been lost in the 23rd Sheet fire in New York City, where 12 fire fighters died, if it had not been for the decisiveness of a young lieutenant who made sure that everybody else got out of the cellar.
O’Hagan urged taking a recruiting program to high schools to get students interested in going on to junior college fire science courses. The fire service would “get better people” when, at the age of 21, a man entered a fire department with two-year college indoctrination.
Anthony R. Granito, supervisor of fire training, New York State Division of Fire Safety, called attention to the fact that recruitment for management is becoming more difficult because both industry and insurance companies are competing for fire service personnel.
Labor: ‘When the union knocks on your door . . . ’
Labor relations promises to play a wider role in the fire service of the ’70s, and it is evident that this subject will be of increasing concern to the fire chief.
“Chief, what will you do when the union knocks on your door?”, asked Favreau. “Do you have a firm grasp of what is happening in labor relations on the national scene as well as in local fire departments?”
Labor relations, the International Fire Administration Institute executive director emphasized, has a sharp impact on any organization—including fire departments. They “affect employer-employee relationships, direct and indirect operational costs, strain management authority and challenge management’s prerogative to manage.”
Favreau deplored the fact that in some cities the fire chief is not even consulted during collective bargaining and drafting of the contract.
“In fact,” said Favreau, “he may not even be a member of the negotiating team. Yet, decisions are made and contracts are signed which affect the effective and efficient functioning of his organization. How can he carry out his management responsibilities under such frustrating conditions?”
In the ’70s, top priority must be given to thoroughly indoctrinating fire chiefs in labor relations fundamentals to improve their position at the bargaining table, the professor advised.
“When you come face to face today in labor negotiations, you are eyeball to eyeball with sophisticated, professionally trained negotiators,” Favreau stated. “You had better know what it is that you are in there bargaining for, or a contract is going to be signed that the chief finds he cannot carry out. Therefore, you end up with frustration; you end up with a strike.
“Now, are you going to go out and hire a professional negotiator? If you go to the bargaining table without any training, I can assure you that labor will remove your trousers so skillfully that you will not even know that they are off.
“You see, when labor knocks at your door, it is too late because it takes time to learn these negotiating skills,” Favreau warned.
Cities fail to prepare for bargaining
Schick recalled that the secretary of the International Association of Fire Fighters in Iowa has already taken a labor course at Harvard University while the municipalities have failed to similarly prepare their executives for the bargaining table.
The IAFC president questioned whether the fire service should bear the burden of supplying an expert for negotiating a contract. He suggested that municipal administrations should acquire persons knowledgeable in the labor field to handle labor pacts for all departments. The fire chief then could depend on the municipal labor relations man to uphold the city’s interests at the bargaining table.
“What 1 am saying is that should we be training people for direct entry at the . . . lieutenant’s level? I don’t know.”
“The labor specialist is not familiar with the operational problems of the f ire service, which are separate and distinct from a normal, profit-making, commercial organization. And it is in this particular area where the fire chief will have to fill in the information, gap.”
John T. O’Hagan
This approach to labor relations was recently adopted by Los Angeles County, Klinger told the conference. The personnel director represents the county at all negotiations and arbitration sessions and reports directly to the Board of Supervisors.
The labor relations setup in New York City was explained by O’Hagan. A labor specialist from private industry has joined the mayor’s executive offices as the director of labor relations. He negotiates all city contracts with unions representing city employees and has a staff of labor lawyers and consultants for arbitration and fact-finding procedures.
Knowledge about management needed
“The labor specialist is not familiar with the operational problems of the fire service, which are separate and distinct from a normal, profit-making, commerical organization. And it is in this particular area where the fire chief will have to fill in the information gap,” O’Hagan remarked.
The New York chief commented that the public does not want public employees to have the right to strike, but they also do not want city workers to be deprived of just rights that labor has won in other fields. So, the public is demanding a workable program to engender harmonious relations between city employees and management.
O’Hagan cautioned that city negotiators may yield to union demands on nonmonetary issues without fully realizing the repercussions on a fire department. For example, a city negotiator may not realize what granting an extra day of personal leave can involve. This, O’Hagan pointed out, is where the fire chief has to speak up and say, “Another day of personal leave means you will have to hire 55 more men to maintain adequate manning of apparatus.”
“It is this area in which we have to be involved,” O’Hagan observed. “I don’t think there is anything complicated about it.
Job improved by labor insistence
“Labor negotiations are frustrating at times, but labor has done a tremendous amount of work to upgrade salaries and to attract qualified personnel to careers in the fire service,” he added. “If you don’t pay a competitive salary, you are not going to get people who will put us on professional level. Better equipment, better protective apparatus for the men, and so forth. All of these I have seen come about through the assistance of labor.”
As James F. Casey, editor of FIRE ENGINEERING and conference moderator, noted, when such things as a reduction in hours and additional time off are involved, “the fire chiefs, themselves, must then demand more manpower to cope with these labor gains.”
O’Hagan took the stand that to attain professionalism, firemen have to increase their skills and knowledge and contribute more to the community to achieve greater recognition. If they spend more time outside the firehouse on professional fire surveys and inspections, then “you can justify the need for, say, a porter to do the more general tasks.
There is another issue the fire service must face, and that, Favreau declared, is whether “a fire officer, who is a member of management—a person who can command discipline from fire subordinates—continues to be an active member of the union.” A decision must be reached in the ’70s, he added.
Volunteers: ‘The competition for a man’s time’
A change in the volunteer fireman over the years was noted by Gratz. The Silver Spring, Md., chief recalled that when he became a volunteer 20 years ago, he didn’t have money or a car to go anywhere, so he was at the fire station when he wasn’t working or going to school. This is no longer true of volunteers. They have an entirely different set of values—and more money, he said.
Also, he continued, “As the job becomes more dangerous, with greater problems, the mothers and fathers of the youngsters now look at this thing a little differently. It is no longer a question of jumping off the back step and running like hell down the street to a brush fire. Now that boy comes in, and he is on the 20th floor of a building with the hallway charged so thick he can’t see, and it is hotter than the devil. Or he is running to a nuclear laboratory we have or biological laboratories—and all of these things which are so much more hazardous. They say, ‘No, this isn’t for me. I am not getting paid. What am I doing here?’ ”
Furthermore, when a department does get another volunteer, it gets him until he goes to college, until he gets married, until he gets drafted, or until something else, Gratz remarked.
Reduction in manpower expected
“So I feel that we are going to see in many urban areas a substantial reduction in volunteer manpower. In the rural area, no. I believe,” said Gratz, “that we will see this for many years to come because in most rural communities the volunteer department is a real social part of the community.”
Clark agreed with Gratz that the recruiting problem is just as acute in volunteer departments as it is in paid departments because “the competition for a man’s time today is much greater than it used to be.
“Today, they have so many other things to do and so much more money to do it with,” Clark continued, “that they don’t have time for the volunteer fire service. Then, again—another point that Dave made—as they get smarter, they are less prone to jeopardize life and limb for the fun of it.”
Shorter work week to aid volunteers
Automation of industry, which is expected to gain speed in the next decade, should go a long way toward solving the manpower problem in many areas of the volunteer fire service, according to Richard P. Sylvia, associate editor of FIRE ENGINEERING.
“First, the shorter the work week, the more time volunteers can spend at home,” he said. “In these days of the 35 and 40-hour week, a volunteer fireman who works out of town is unavailable to his department for some 8 to 10 hours or more each working day, depending on how long it takes him to commute to his job. The five-day week generally means that a fireman is home two full days a week— usually Saturday and Sunday. With the advent of the 24-hour week, which more and more people are predicting, a man will work no more than three or four days. This will leave him as much as four days a week to spend at home.
“The bonus in this thinking,” Sylvia thought, “is that automated factories are expected to be operated as much as seven days a week for economic reasons. This means that the days off for workers will be spread over the week. And in turn, this means that volunteer firemen will be home on different days. The present story of a full crew on weekends and only a handful available on other days will end.”
The second benefit that automation can be expected to bring is better fire fighting equipment that can do more with less manpower, according to Sylvia.
Training: ‘Revolution in the fire service’
Computers and television will play important roles in training the fire fighter of the ’70s, according to Henry D. Smith, chief, firemen’s training, Texas A. & M. University. They offer a solution to unsatisfactory methods in use today.
“Most of the industrial fire fighter’s training is still being done with conventional classroom instruction, much of which is not producing adequate behavior change back on the fire scene,” Smith charged. “With the tremendous information explosion, this is intolerable and inexcusable.”
However, greater emphasis will be placed upon the increased use of instructional systems. Smith believed that more attention will be given to the use of programmed instruction, computer-assisted instruction and audio-visual information retrieval systems.
“Industrial training directors boast impressive time-saving advantages with properly programmed instruction materials,” Smith said. “Other benefits include uniformity of training and decentralization of training. Programmed instruction also provides active student response, small steps, self-pacing, immediate feedback and reinforcement.”
In computer-assisted instruction, a central computer becomes an intermediary between the student and the knowledge sought. The transaction between the student and the system is usually in the form of a conversational interaction. Conversation with the computer may be in the form of computerized typewriters, film and audio readers, or cathode ray tubes and light pens, Smith explained.
Audio-visual materials are expected to assume an everincreasing role. Tests indicate that video-taped classroom presentations, including interaction of the students, can be re-run with little or no significant difference in the student’s learning, Smith reported. There also will be an increased use of simulators, he predicted.
Revolution in fire service training
“Surely the advent of the electronic age has provided education with its greatest opportunities,” said Smith. “If this be true, then we may predict that over the next 10 to 15 years, computer and data processing systems will tend to revolutionize fire training education.”
Smith advised the fire service to make use of municipal computer facilities at every opportunity. He cited these specialized areas in which the fire service can use computers: fire loss data, fire alarm information, alarm dispatching information, prediction of probable fires and locations, prediction of fire loss totals, training records, and equipment maintenance records.
Education: ‘Sudden thirst for greater knowledge’
Education of fire fighters was seen at the conference both as a force for solving administrative problems and also as a factor in creating personnel problems.
Citing the estimate that better than 25 percent of the population will be involved in higher education programs in the coming years, Granito saw difficulties ahead because these people will not be satisfied with the more laborious side of the fire service.
“This is what I say,” Klinger injected. “Who is going to fight the fires?”
“Many students or many people in education feel that they can supplant practical experience with book learning, if you want to call it this, and they feel that they are being thwarted because they are not rising to the top faster, using their academic background rather than the practical experience that the individual who has been in the service for a long time considers more important than his book knowledge,” Granito stated.
“There is no question that ice are following the police in many areas, but I think things have improved … There are a lot of people working very hard to see the improvement realized.”
Anthony R. Granito
“The targets for tomorrow must he limited only by the imagination if basic requirements for progress are to be met. Adequate research, coupled with experimental studies and fireground application, will then provide knowledgeable solutions.”
Henry D. Smith
Experience different from service
In discussing municipal recognition of service and experience, in which education plays a part, Clark declared, “I make a sharp distinction between 20 years of service and 20 years of experience. Some people have 20 years’ experience, some merely have 20 years of service, and I don’t think they should he granted the same recognition.”
Clark went on to say that Wisconsin is considering a salary formula for recognizing the increased value of firemen and policemen who enter educational programs. He felt that the added compensation for an associate degree would be considerable.
He credited the police with making the move into the higher education field that resulted in “considerable interest in the professionalization of the fire service. Let’s be quite honest about it. What brought it about? When the police started moving ahead, that’s what brought it about.” As a resull of this trend, he said, fire fighters “now have a sudden thirst for greater knowledge.”
“There is no question that we are following the police in many areas,” Granito commented, “but I think things have improved.”
In New York State, he said, the legislature had before it a bill (which later failed to pass) making training mandatory for every fireman before he could attain permanent civil service status. He expected that within a couple of years “we will get into the area of the volunteer fire service with standard training.”
Gains in college programs cited
Four years ago, the New York State training supervisor reported, only two community colleges outside of New York City had programs in fire administration or fire protection technology. Last September, there were 13 community colleges teaching fire administration and three others that were going into the s.rea of fire protection engineering. The student enrollment was less than 400, but the projected enrollment for the coming school year is about 2,500.
“So I think there is an improvement,” Granito commented. “There are a lot of people working very hard to see the improvement realized.”
Motivation in education was discussed by Favreau, who remarked that an individual can be motivated by either a promotion or a pay increase when he gets a degree, or by refunding the tuition cost to him.
Favreau explained that according to Professor A. H. Maslow’s motivation spectrum, running from the physical to the social, the first motivator is survival. The second is security. When you get toward the other end of the spectrum, Favreau remarked, you wind up with more selfesteem and self-realization.
Technology to depend on education
Clark expressed the opinion that if technological advances are going to be made in the fire service, “they are going to depend upon the educational advances. The further we advance educationally, the further we will advance generally.” He felt that the fire service has “lagged pretty far behind” technologically.
“If I were to attempt to lay the blame at anybody’s doorstep,” he continued, “it would be at that of municipal officials who fail to recognize the importance of the problem fail to support the fire service in the manner in which we think it should be supported.”
Apparatus: ‘Limited only by the imagination’
The next decade is expected to see great advances in apparatus and equipment. As Smith of Texas A. & M. expressed it:
“The single fact that we expect our technical information alone to be doubled within the next 8 to 10 years means there must be correspondingly greater strides in designs and new concepts for fire protection apparatus and equipment. Although the achievements of today have been quite impressive, the targets for tomorrow must be limited only by the imagination if basic requirements for progress are to he met. Adequate research, coupled with experimental studies and fireground application, will then provide knowledgeable solutions.” (See articles on pages 126 and 130.)
Smith saw multiple-purpose, single-unit chemical trucks using chemicals with 1,000 times the fire extinguishing power per pound of chemicals used today. Some of the chemical apparatus will be airborne and remotely controlled for handling tank and elevated fires. Rocket-powered back packs will allow firemen to take hose to heights and effect quicker rescues.
On the ground, air-cushioned apparatus will be available to travel over all types of difficult terrain, including marshes.
One operator for several pumps
Remote-controlled equipment will make it possible for one man to operate the pumps of several engines, Smith predicted, explaining that in industry, several machines can now be controlled by one man. With this equipment, pump operators of all but one engine would be free to perform other fire fighting work after making the hookup.
Closed circuit television, he continued, will make practical the use of automatic and remote-controlled monitor units, such as deluge sets, deck guns and ladder pipes. The use of video tape recorder cameras, which has barely started in the fire service, will be common at fires and on the training ground. Fireground and training operations can be taped and then played back for critical review.
Extinguishing methods will see some radical advances, Smith declared. There will be apparatus that will produce inert gases with a cell affinity that will encompass flammable gas vapor spills, and there will be equipment to direct a flame-destroying catalyst into a fire area. For dispersing explosive gases, counter-reactors will be available.
Even the equipment now customarily used will take on a different look, Smith believed. Fire hose will become much lighter and be resistant to both chemicals and heat. In addition, quick-connect couplings will be used for both hose and hydrants. At the same time, the need for better manpower utilization will bring about the extensive use of 1,000 to 1,500-gpm pumpers which wall lay 4 to 6-in hose lines.
The fireman, himself, will benefit from the expected production of lighter protective clothing which will be air-conditioned and include radio communications equipment.
Smith also looked for progress in the construction field that wall aid fire departments. He expected the use of both portable and permanently installed detectors and scanners for locating gas leaks and heat. Building materials, he added, will be able to extinguish fire as they’ decompose without producing toxic by-products.
Changes in fire fighting equipment also were predicted by Klinger, who felt that the fireman of the future will require lighter weight equipment—“lighter nozzles, lighter hose, lighter suctions, lighter everything for this man to operate because he is not going to exert himself.”
The Los Angeles County chief continued: “You are going to have less complicated pumps, less complicated dials. Everything is going to be automation for the fireman of the future.”
“Speaking about automated pumpers,” Casey interjected, “let’s not forget that these pumpers will need water. If the population is going to keep on exploding as Don Favreau said, then building construction is going to keep on exploding. And the more buildings we have, the more hydrants and mains will be needed.”
Casey mentioned San Francisco’s marvelous water system, which was spurred on by the great earthquake and fire.
“When cities start creeping out to the suburbs,” he warned, “the fire chief had better make sure that the water mains also creep out. And if he can’t get mains, then he I ret ter make sure that he has enough tankers—at least to protect dwellings.”
Klinger cited the role his department played in the development of a 4 1/2-inch suction hose light enough in 10-foot lengths for one man to carry. He also said that his department was working on the development of 2Js-inch hose that will weigh only 17 pounds in 50-foot lengths. A hose bed with a capacity of 1,600 feet of hose now in use will hold 5,000 feet of the new hose.
Lighter, longer lasting breathing apparatus
Dissatisfaction with the weight and time limitation of self-contained, demand type breathing apparatus was voiced by O’Hagan. (See article on page 140.)
“We are looking for a mask of considerably longer duration to fill the need in special situations, such as fires in tunnels,” the New’ York City chief said.
O’Hagan said that his department considered going to pneumatic tools for forcible entry. Electric concrete breakers used by the New York department have a blow in the 40 to 60-pound range, he said, and something around 100 pounds was needed. What is needed is a lightweight compressor that can be carried in an apparatus compartment without having to appreciably increase the strength of the chassis.
“We could not get a compressor that could meet these criteria,” he said.
Skepticism about innovations decried
“When w’e do have developments in the fire service,” O’Hagan commented, “many times they are met with derision, skepticism, and the thinking of not ‘Can this equipment help me do the job better?’ but rather, ‘Can I put the fire out without it?’ And I have found this thinking in my own job when we were receiving new equipment like our tower ladder and our super pumper.”
In New York City, w’alkie-talkies are assigned only to chief officers, and there is a “crying need for a small, compact communications instrument to be assigned to company officers when they are working in hazardous areas and when, because of the conditions of the fire, they cannot have the continuous supervision and radio contact with chief officers,” said O’Hagan.
The absence of many significant changes in equipment was cited by Clark. He recalled that when he first went into the fire department 30 years ago, he walked into a station that housed a pumper rated at 1,000 gpm at 160 psi and 250 gpm at 600 psi. Today, there is a different pumper in that station, but the new pumper has the same pumping capacities as the old one.
“In the 30 years that I have spent in this business, there have been three significant additions to our arsenal of equipment,” the Wisconsin fire training leader recalled. “One is the Snorkel, one is high expansion foam—the bubble machines—and the third is the super pumper. And all of them have arrived, I would say, within the last 10 years.”
“You are going to have less complicated pumps, less complicated dials. Everything is going to he automation for the fireman of the future.”
Keith E. Klinger
“Cost effectiveness analysis makes an assumption that you do not go for the optimum. You are going to make sacrifices . . . You are going to sacrifice or give up certain buddings in the event that fire occurs.”
David B. Gratz
In the future, Clark expects to see diesel engines and automatic transmissions become more popular.
Sound also was mentioned as a tool of the future fire fighter. When Klinger brought up the possible use of sound for extinguishing fire, O’Brien recalled that experiments with sound have been going on for 20 years.
“I’d like to mention here,” Casey said, “another piece of apparatus that the fire chief of the future will have to give more thought to. And that’s ambulances!” Casey went on to say that “traditionally, ambulance service has been supplied by the local undertakers, but the local undertakers now want out—it’s no longer profitable.
“Somebody will have to step into the vacuum they are creating,” he added, “and hopefully it will be the fire departments, where the ambulance service logically belongs.
“If we don’t do it, the cops will,” he emphasized, “which will be another step on the road to disparity!”
Cost Analysis: ‘You are going to make sacrifices’
A subject with both management and economic overtones, cost effectiveness analysis, and its impact on the future of the fire service was introduced by Gratz. There are two ways it can look at a problem, he explained. For a fixed amount of dollars, you determine the most effectiveness you can obtain, or for a fixed amount of effectiveness, you determine the cost.
For years, the fire service has been taking a fixed amount of effectiveness and then asking how much it will cost. But cost effectiveness analysis introduces a big difference in thinking.
“Cost effectiveness analysis makes an assumption that you do not go for the optimum,” the Silver Spring chief explained. “You are going to make sacrifices. In other words, you reach a point in your deliberations where you finally come to a conclusion that it doesn’t pay you to spend more money, more effort and more time because you are not getting a fair return.”
The application of this concept is done with mathematical equations, computers and a new breed of individual— the systems analyst.
Gratz suggested that fires be graded from 1 to 10, according to severity, with the ones causing the most extensive losses categorized by the higher numbers. When a cost analyst looks at the fire experience in the upper half of the scale, the Silver Spring chief contended, “he is going to find out that in most cases—at least a substantial percentage— the fire department, no matter how big it is, probably is not changing the final outcome in any way.”
So the systems analyst is going to find that the fire service is trying to organize to meet the problem of the large fire when “it doesn’t really make any difference in the final outcome in many cases.” Then the analyst is going to look at the fire in the lower half of the scale—“the food on the stove, the automobile fire and that type operation.”
“He is going to look at a relatively recently built city of 100,000—and we are going to have more and more of these because of suburbia and the increase in our population— and he is going to see that the annual per capita cost is probably going to be around $15. It is not too unrealistic. Project that over a period of 10 years and we are talking about what? Fifteen million dollars. Fifteen million dollars to keep this Class 10 type of fire department organized,” Gratz continued.
Then the analyst is going to ask what would happen if the fire suppression effort were cut in half, with only $7.5 million spent over 10 years. Gratz doubted that the fire loss would double, and some increase in losses would be acceptable to the systems analyst. He would point to the failure to change the loss picture in the top severity bracket of fires and suggest not worrying about the really big ones. Accepting inevitable losses would, in the example used by Gratz, leave a net decrease in fire service costs in the mythical city of about $6.7 million over a 10-year period.
Loss of life won’t be accepted by public
Gratz pointed out that one of the shortcomings of this philosophy is the effect on loss of life, but “in a very substantial amount of cases, the loss of life occurred before the fire department got there, or they couldn’t do anything about it after they got there.” He expressed the belief that public opinion will not permit the analyst to “accept the fact we are going to lose so many lives,” like the military does.
However, the seed has been planted, people in government are aware of it, and Gratz saw growth ahead for cost effectiveness analysis in the fire service.
The most difficult part of this philosophy, Gratz declared, “will be an acceptance on the part of those of us in the fire service … that you are going to sacrifice or give up certain buildings in the event that fire occurs—that we are not going to try to fight it, keep beating the dead horse.”
Future answers to this problem, he said, lie in finding a way to reduce the incidence of fire—or minimize its magnitude—by constructing buildings that just won’t burn, by engaging in better urban planning that will reduce the firespread potential, by developing highly trained specialists in fire inspection, and by building up a more sophisticated suppression force.
Referring to the systems analyst mentioned by Gratz, O’Hagan said, “I fully expect that during my time as the chief of department this approach will have to be made in New York Ciy. But before w’e reach the optimum organization of our forces, we are going to have to update our dispatching and control system to enable us to make better use of our overall strength and take full advantage of our size.
The New York chief urged working with specialists who will do fire analysis in depth.
“When we get an extraordinary fire,” he said, “we should have every one investigated, just as every air crash is investigated, by a team of experts to delve into the fine points of what contributed to the fire problem and the loss.”
He concluded that “the federal government is the only one with the resources to provide the coordination and the full-time staff that we need, but I don’t think it is going to come easily.”
Analysis and more meaningful principles
O’Hagan felt that the analysis of a large fire department as a system, something that would take several years and would cost millions of dollars, would result in “certain principles that would be more meaningful than the present manning standard” of the AIA.
“The results of the study could not be applied in total to any one particular city. But it would develop sound principles and analytical techniques which would be useful in developing sound data for more effective planning. It would be a professional service that would improve the administration of fire departments throughout the country,” O’Hagan said.
Schick foresaw “the development and creation of a research and survey section within the IAFC. This section of the IAFC would be available to municipalities, other governmental subdivisions, etc., to provide leadership in the development of administration, organization and operation of fire departments. As experience dictates and the need develops, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that services in the field of fire protection engineering will also be made available from this division of the International Association.”
Fire service may not grow with population
Although the population will continue to grow, Gratz did not agree that the number of fire fighters would increase proportionately.
“I think the demand will be there, but I don’t believe the economic resources are going to be available to have the fire protection increase,” he said.
Sooner or later, he predicted, the systems analyst is going to figure out the cost of fire protection as we know it today and is going to say, “Let’s make sure all the buildings are of fire-resistant construction and are all sprinklered. We will do something with private homes in terms of smoke detectors or alarms.” Then urban planners will lay out a city so that if a building catches fire and if no effort at extinguishment is made, it will burn itself out without the fire spreading. (See article on page 132.)
“The only fire protection force you are going to have in that city is going to be a highly skilled team of inspectors and people who put sprinkler heads back in and that type of thing,” Gratz declared. “The fire department, as we know it, is not going to exist.
Fresno renewal project cited
The Fresno, Calif., urban renewal project was cited by Schick, who noted that an 18-square block area is now 64 percent sprinklered and by 1970 is expected to be 90 percent sprinklered. Also, the ratio of fire fighters to 100,000 residents was reduced in 11 years from seven firemen to four.
Gratz suggested an urban renewal test area of 20 blocks like this in New York City that a systems analyst could compare to another 20-block area in a pilot project.
“Actually, we have an area like that, and we have had it for some time,” O’Hagan replied. “North of 34th Street up to, say, 59th Street is all fireproof construction. Anything that is hazardous at all has sprinkler protection in it.”
The result, O’Hagan stated, is that “the fires there are generally held to one alarm, three engines and two trucks. But you can still take an awful lot of punishment—physical punishment—at these fires.”
Computers: ‘Valuable fireground tools’
In addition to their use for training and administration, computers are expected to become valuable tools on the fireground. Information available in building department files, on Sanborn maps and in fire inspection reports can become instantly available through computers so that a chief can make fireground tactical decisions based on facts that today take too long to retrieve.
“We have the capability to get instant recall out of a computer, feed it through our fire alarm headquarters and project it on a cathode tube in a fire chief’s automobile on tlie fireground,” Gratz asserted. “All you have to do is crank the information into the computer and, instantly, you get it back.” (See article on page 129.)
“Some day,” said O’Hagan, “we will have to have a common computer with the building department so that when a chief responds to the scene of a fire—and he gives the address—within a minute lie will have the information back on the date of construction, type of construction, locations of shafts, floor loading, occupancy, and what have you.”
“The development and creation of a research and survey section within the IAFC . . . (could he) avail able to municipalities and other governmental subdivisions, etc., to provide leadership in the development of administration, organization and operation of fire departments.”
Lester R. Schick
“People in growing areas are more willing to accept ideas on the sheer basis of whether the idea is good or bad for them. That applies to proposals affecting their fire departments as well as other government services.”
Richard P. Sylvia
Information not available on fireground
Referring to the 12 men who died in the 23rd Street fire in New York, O’Hagan said, “If they had known of the structural alterations that had taken place in the cellar, of the increased dead load that had been placed on the floor, of the highly flammable contents and occupancy of the cellar, it is quite possible that the loss of life could have been averted. Conditions on the fire scene did not make it apparent.”
A predictive use of the computer is also in the cards, Gratz believed. He thought that the time will come when a chief will feed into a computer the wind velocity and direction, humidity, temperature, structural conditions, occupancy information and such “to get a reasonable prediction of what might be expected” at that fire.
From that, the chief “will be able to get additional information. That is going to be the tricky part, but if we could just at this moment get all of the information available in the trunk of the chief’s car or in a company officer’s fileget that back—what a tremendous advantage that would be,” Gratz declared.
One of the problems right now is how the information the fire service needs is to be fed into computers. Royer disclosed that people who are doing data processing have indicated that “it is easier to teach programming to the expert in the field than it is to take a programmer and teach him the field.”
Firemen can become programmers
O’Brien supported this approach by saying that the Philadelphia Fire Department had been advised by computer people to train firemen to do programming. Department members were tested for their ability to do this type of work, and some of them are now being trained.
What to feed into computers is another problem facing the fire service. Klinger reported that California counties are setting up a computer system which will be operated out of Sacramento and will contain information needed throughout the state by various government agencies.
“I have a man who sits on the committee,” Klinger said, “and they want to know from the fire service what we need … and this gets to be a real problem. We don’t know … What do you want to know rrom all the fire agencies in the State of California?”
Some of the facts that might be desirable, Klinger suggested, might include fire deaths, the types of buildings having the most fires and how many buildings are sprinklered.
Consolidation: ‘Larger jurisdictional areas’
The question of jurisdictional area is being discussed more and more in the fire service, and this geographical issue promises to grow in importance during the ’70s.
The development of individual fire departments to cover entire counties’ metropolitan areas, or possibly regional areas, was discussed by Granito, supervisor of fire training in the New York State Division of Fire Safety. The magna unit, encompassing groups of municipalities, would eliminate many overlapping conditions, he explained. Fire prevention codes and fire prevention practices would be unified for extensive areas, management could be more efficient and economical on this larger scale, manpower could be better utilized, and financial problems could be solved more easily through a broader tax base.
The effectiveness of mutual aid is sometimes handicapped, Granito asserted, by a lack of equipment and training standardization when fire department jurisdictions are limited. Also, recruitment and leadership may suffer because of a department’s limited geographical area and residence requirements. A broader geographic base can provide greater manpower to fill the ranks of an expanding fire service.
Besf use of manpower and financial resources
The magna unit, Granito maintained, can fulfill the objectives and functions of the fire service while best utilizing manpower and financial resources. In determining the feasibility of a magna unit for any area, Granito emphasized, consideration must be given to existing political boundaries, interdependence of the communities, present and projected inter-governmental pacts and relationships, and public as well as fire service attitudes toward the proposed consolidation.
Local governments, Clark commented, frequently do not have adequate capabilities for handling their fire problems, and in many cases “they are too big to be small and too small to be big. I think this is apparent in smaller cities.
“Experience is important in any business,” the Wisconsin training supervisor continued, “and it is, I think, quite important in fire fighting technology. The small♦er communities do not get sufficient experience. Consequently the lack of experience has to be made up through training, but the smaller city is not in a position to give its fire department adequate training. They can’t afford it, and they don’t have the capability within the department to institute and execute an adequate training program.”
Klinger agreed that more consolidation of fire protection districts is in the cards. Referring to his own county, he predicted that “everything in the Basin in Los Angeles County will be consolidated in one fire department.
“We have surveys we made ourselves,” he declared, “where we can close down station after station after station and utilize the manpower. It is a duplication upon duplication upon duplication, and it is wrong.”
Referring to duplication, Clark cited the situation in Milwaukee County, Wis., where “18 dispatchers are on duty in 18 different fire departments. In a 24-hour period, you can multiply that by three, which will be 54 people doing the work that could be done by three, and there has been a lot of talk there of a county fire department.”
IAFC action for consolidation urged
“If this is what the fire service wants,” said Klinger, “if this is needed to save the taxpayers’ money and to save the fire service—to build a fire service to bring out the latest things, to do the right thing—the International Association of Fire Chiefs should spend the money and have somebody in Washington to carry it through.”
However, Klinger disagreed with the thought that “by going into a county or larger fire department you get more efficiency. I don’t believe this in most cases. I say that by the consolidation you are going to save the taxpayers’ money, but I don’t think efficiently.”
Acceptance depends on type of community
The necessity for public acceptance of consolidation proposals was cited by Sylvia. The associate editor of FIRE ENGINEERING referred to two types of communities—those with relatively stable populations long rooted in the community, such as are common in the East, and those whose populations have rapidly expanded in recent years.
Where the population has been relatively non-mobile, he said, people “are reluctant to change, so that any opposition to a county department will gain great support among these people. On the other hand, you have communities where the population has increased—doubled or tripled in the last 10 or 20 years. These people do not have the territorial loyalty that you find in the more staid communities, and these people in growing areas are more willing to accept ideas on the sheer basis of whether the idea is good or bad for them. That applies to proposals affecting their fire departments as well as other government services.”
“Fire has traditionally been regarded as strictly a local problem,” Clark commented. “This has impeded progress in many ways. I think it is safe to predict that in the very near future we shall see a rapidly growing trend to consolidate many small fire departments into broader-based organizations such as county fire departments or fire districts embracing several towns.”
Federal Government: ‘Stronger role’
The role of the federal government in the fire service is expected to become an important development in the “70s. Gratz voiced the necessity for activity on this level “because of all the interrelationships among the different levels of government today. Whether we like it or not, the federal government is going to play a much stronger role in everyone’s life in the years to come.”
The chiefs on the I AFC’s Metropolitan Committee were polled on whether federal aid should be sought by the fire service, and out of “some 20-odd replies,” O’Hagan reported, only one chief “said he didn’t think we should get involved.”
O’Hagan called for a central coordinating commission “to give us direction and to find out what research is going on in the federal government, which is the largest research organization, I am sure, in the world.”
Clark hoped that “the federal government wall at long last take an active roll in coping with the fire problem.”
Communications: ‘TV takes the computer to the fire’
Television will be the big step forward in fire service communications in the ’70s, it was indicated by O’Brien. The IAFC general manager mentioned the plans of the Philadelphia Fire Department to use TV cameras to tape fireground activity and then run off the tapes later for critical review.
With a television system, a fire alarm dispatcher will activate a computer to retrieve a wealth of information about the building involved and he will transmit this to a monitor receiver in a chief’s car or a communication van, O’Brien predicted.
“In the event some unusual incident occurred, such as a transportation accident involving new and exotic materials,” O’Brien said, “it would be possible to contact some regional or central information bank, again computerised, which would flash back a resume of the hazards involved, the best method of combatting it and where to call for special assistance.”
The bulk of the equipment has limited such communication to fixed installations, O’Brien explained, but the advancement into greater miniaturization and the transistor make it possible to build readily portable gear that will serve well.
Impetus from fire service needed
“Frankly, what I have been talking about is possible today and requires only impetus from the fire service. I am sure that some pioneer may soon put into practice what we are discussing.”
“We are using television in helicopters, and we use it on fires all the time,” Klinger stated. “You can see what is going on even before you leave quarters. We are going into video tape. This will give instant replay of our training. We are working on a portable deal so we can walk up to a trainee laying a line, or whatever he is doing, and take a picture. If he makes a mistake, you say, ‘Now, look, arrest it. Start all over.’
“Frankly, what I have been talking about is possible today and requires only impetus from the fire service. I am sure that some pioneer may soon put into practice what we are discussing.”
Donald M. O’Brien
“We live in a day-to-day compromise, and the fire service is a great example of it. We could reduce our fire loss in the next five years to 10 percent of what it is note, hut nobody has the guts to take action because too many people would be hurt by it, financially and otherwise. So we compromise.”
William E. Clark
“We are going to use it inside buildings on fire and aboard our helicopters working at fires so we can project for all the officers can see.”
Infrared detection of concealed fire
The handling of smoky fires could be facilitated by the development of an infrared fire locator that could be tied into a department’s information network by radio and TV, O’Brien suggested. The U. S. Forest Service, he recalled, is now using airborne infrared equipment to determine the hot spots and perimeters of forest fires. (See article on page 136.)
O’Brien foresaw the time when a chief would scan a building with infrared equipment and “the information he obtained would be transmitted to a central intelligence bank at fire alarm headquarters, analyzed by a computer and then fed back to his field TV monitor in the form of data on the location of the fire in the building, the quickest route to reach it and the built-in protection available. This would require at the most 30 seconds.”
Although helmet radios “have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another,” O’Brien was optimistic about a new radio that “adds little weight or bulk and doesn’t disturb the helmet balance.”
Closely limited range for walkie-talkies
Another step forward in radio use on the fireground, it was suggested, would be walkie-talkies in an upper megacycle range that would have a definitely limited transmission range of only a couple of thousand feet or so. O’Brien felt that this was possible. As a matter of fact, he explained, “police radar is operating way up in the 10,000 megacycles, but the state of the art hasn’t reached the point where they oan make this practical.”
“In the area of electronic communication let’s not forget ambulance service and first aid,” Casey brought up. “Chief Larry Kenney of Miami will soon put telemetric electrocardiographs on his ambulances. With this unit—at a heart case—fire fighters radio back the patient’s electrocardiogram to a hospital. The cardiogram is interpreted at the hospital and instructions are then radioed back to the doctor and fire fighters at the scene.”
The brightness of the radio future seen by O’Brien included not only “marked improvement” in walkie-talkies, but also a solution to critical overcrowding of frequencies. The solution, he thought, “will appear as we reach the stage where our usage will threaten saturation of the airways.”
O’Brien felt that the problem would be solved by compatible sharing of a frequency, rather than through more compressed frequency space. (See article on page 134.)
Prevention: ‘Nobody has the guts to take action’
Back in 1730, an entirely new approach to the fire protection problem was almost adopted by the Common Council in New York. Clark told the conference it was proposed that every merchant be required to have a hogshead of water surrounded by bags of gunpowder to blow it up during a fire—a rudimentary automatic sprinkler system. The proposal was defeated by two votes.
If this system had been adopted, the Wisconsin fire training leader conjectured, progress would have been natural, and today “every place would be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. And this could be done today if there was any city council or any state legislative body that had guts enough to pass such legislation.
“We live in a day-to-day compromise, and the fire service is a great example of it. We could reduce our fire loss in the next five years to 10 percent of what it is now, but nobody has the guts to take the action because too many people would be hurt by it, financially and otherwise. So we compromise.”
Style and economy instead of safety
Clark declared that no thought has been given to limiting the amount of combustibles in a building, such as a hotel, because “it wouldn’t be stylish. I have spoken to furniture dealers. Oh, yes, the furniture could be obtained. It wouldn’t cost any more, but it is just not as stylish. We make compromises—compromises because of economy, even compromises because of style, constant compromise. We don’t have to put up with these things.”
He cited Seattle as an example of a city that requires automatic sprinklers in all mercantile building basements.
“I understand,” he stated, “they haven’t had a serious mercantile basement fire since this ordinance went into effect. We don’t have to live with this thing, but we do it willingly.”
The fire department has “just so much influence in the community,” O’Hagan responded, “and you can get just so much done. In about the last six or seven years, on orders from the fire department, we have installed about 3,500 sprinkler systems, and the severity of fires in the wharf section of lower Manhattan has dropped off tremendously. We really didn’t have a serious incident there in five years. Where we lost 12 men, this was another place where if the cellar had been sprinklered—it was an unusual layout, an interconnected building that was more or less illegal—we wouldn’t have had this loss either.”
Multiple dwellings, the chief from New York asserted, present another problem—the human problem. In old buildings with a rapid turnover of disadvantaged people, it is necessary to get the fire prevention message over to the residents.
“We are not reaching them with the methods of fire prevention,” O’Hagan commented. “We can’t stop it, and there is an increase.”
Usefulness of making appearance
The usefulness of having men on the road making inspections of business areas and wooded areas where there are juvenile camps such as in his Los Angeles County territory was extolled by Klinger. Everything is unscheduled, so the people never know when one of the 43 patrols on the road will appear. Klinger felt that this was a material factor in preventing fires where the patrols were maintained.
But O’Hagan was dubious, saying, “We have our ghetto area, and as soon as they see the apparatus going out once, they start pulling them (boxes) just for entertainment . . . They’ll start their own fires. In this area you have a lot of vacant buildings, and when the apparatus pulls in, they wave you down, and then they stand across the street. If you get the fire before it goes through the roof, they boo, and if it goes through the roof, they cheer.”
A dim view of the value of inspections in limiting fires was expressed by Clark. He recalled that when New York started in-service inspections, the district where he was a captain at the time could not participate in the program because the apparatus did not have radio equipment. However, after the in-service inspections started, “there was a noticeable reduction in the number of fires—including my district where we hadn’t started inspecting.” The next year, he added, the number of fires in New York City “went back up again.”
The power of suggestion
In another example, he cited the time after his retirement from the fire department when he took charge of fire protection for a plant that averaged 120 fires a year. The plant newspaper printed his picture with a story of his appointment.
“The number of fires dropped right away,” he recalled. “Then toward the end of the month they started to creep back up again.”
During Fire Prevention Week, he had the plant brigade put on demonstrations, extinguishing small fires back of the cafeteria at lunch time.
“You know what happened?” he asked. “We had only one fire that month, and it was next to the last day of the month.
“Now, this was too much for coincidence. So the number of fires started to creep back up again. I took two janitors and made them inspectors—put badges and caps on them. They wouldn’t have known a violation if they fell over it, but the very fact these guys were walking around the plant drew the attention of the work force to fire, made them think about it a little bit. The net result of all this was that the year I was there, we had only 60 fires—cut right in half with no real, conscious effort at fire prevention.
“I came to the conclusion,” Clark said, “that if we just get people thinking about fires, they will subconsciously stop causing fires. After all, it is people who cause fires, and I think one of the biggest mistakes we make in fire investigation is in just finding out how the fire started, not who started it. If the cause is defective wiring, who made it defective.”
His inspectors are busy checking out ordinances and state laws, Klinger said, “but I think our junior fire department in the fifth and sixth grades probably eliminates more fire hazards than any inspection program.”
The children, he explained, inspect their homes and insist that their parents eliminate fire hazards. Tn years to come, he added, “these youngsters in the fifth and sixth grades are going to pay off because they are getting more fireminded.
Klinger also called for “better built-in fire protection in our buildings.” Aerial apparatus, he pointed out, is able to take care of only a few floors of high-rise buildings. Occupants on the higher floors, he declared, are not going to be taken care of “except by one thing, and that is better builtin fire protection, which the engineers and architects are going to have to provide.”
Fire service must accept challenge
Schick mentioned that a program to take basic fire prevention, fire protection and fire fighting to the citizen is under development in this country. This, he felt, could materially affect and reduce the fire problem,
“The fire service must accept the challenge and responsibility to make this information, knowledge and training available in all local programs designed to educate the citizen,” the IAFC president declared.
At the same time, he saw public confidence being built up, with the public turning to the fire service for answers to fire problems. The IAFC, he said, has provided leadership and will engage in greater activity. Schick expected the “development and creation of a research survey section within the IAFC.” It would be available to municipalities to provide leadership in the development of administration, organization and operation of fire departments. Also, he saw the “possibility that services in the field of fire protection engineering will also be made available from this division of the International Association.”
Standards: ‘We need a new look’
The question of who will establish standards for the fire service in the ’70s and what role the insurance industry will play was raised during the conference. Gratz, for one, felt that although the AIA Grading Schedule has been the basic standard for this nation’s fire protection for many years, we have reached the point where “we need a new look at standards for fire protection.”
“I think it is unrealistic in a country that is growing like this one to assume that one basic standard is going to solve everyone’s problems,” the Silver Spring chief asserted.
Furthermore, he said, “I think we have all seen a lessening of influence indicated from the insurance industry. This is not generally admitted, but “when you talk privately with people in the insurance industry, from people who own their own agencies on up to insurance executives, they will be quite candid, in private, that ‘Yes, there is less emphasis on the fire insurance picture,’ ” Gratz disclosed.
Urges leadership by the IAFC
“I frankly feel that somebody is going to have to grab the bull by the horns. I have always felt it should be the International Association of Fire Chiefs that should provide direction and leadership. And I do not think it should be done unilaterally. I think it should be done in cooperation with the insurance industry as long as it has a vested interest.”
Gratz feared that the fire service must face an entirely new approach because of its economic problems. What concerned him was “that this impetus or view is going to come from outside the fire service instead of from within. It will take a lot of courage, a lot of work, and perhaps some money, for us to do this ourselves, but if we don’t . . . they are going to send in the outside expert.”
Fire service fails to attend sessions
“One of the criticism of the NFPA committees, expressed all over the fire service,” O’Brien declared, “is ‘The only people they are sending to meetings are those from the manufacturers and the insurance industry,’ and the NFPA will come back and tell you, ’We have invited the fire service people to come, and how many do we get?’ ”
Leadership in setting standards, declared the IAFC president, is a responsibility of government—federal, state, county or municipal. The people in government, he added, “have to realize that it is up to them.” He did not think that the IAFC should have to “go out and establish standards that are for the good of the country as a whole.”
Those who make their living from the fire service, O’Brien argued, “certainly owe something to the service that in the future we can build up. That is basic in any endeavor you are in. So, through the Association, we could certainly come up with the standards because, after all, who are the people that know any more about it than the fire chiefs?”
“If we don’t set standards of performance ourselves,” said Gratz, “and I’m not talking about technical standards, but if we don’t set managerial and operational standards and say that we feel a fire chief should have certain expertise, he should have certain education, he should have certain experience, and that a fire department should be able to perform certain things—if we don’t do that ourselves from within—I believe the day will come when someone is going to do it from the outside.”
The Public: ‘Serious lack of communication’
In a discussion of fire service public relations, Clark charged, “There is a serious lack of communication between the public and the fire service.” He also found “a serious lack of communication within the fire service.”
Clark deplored the lack of attention the fire service gets from the public. While crime news gets a vast amount of attention, fire news gets relatively little, he noted.
O’Hagan sought to explain some of this difference in attention by citing the year when three fires each resulted in five deaths.
“It gets one splash in the press, and that’s it,” commented O’Hagan. In a minder case, there are news stories when it happens, but “the crime is not solved right away, so there is continuing publicity” through the manhunt, the grand jury and finally the trial.
Fire prevention was mentioned as one area in which the fire service by necessity must reach the general public. Smith mentioned fire prevention demonstrations as one way of gaining public attention. But almost every worthwhile activity, it was found, can help develop better communications with the public.
Public relations taught to every man
Every man in the Los Angeles County Fire Department “is taught public relations,” Klinger remarked. “He is taught what he should say and what he should not say. Every year we have refresher courses . . . I’ll drive probably 700 miles to contact all my people once a year. This is one of the most important things I do—to try to get across to them our public relations program.” (see article on page 121.)
No matter how well an applicant does in examinations, if he has a personality that will irritate the public, “we don’t want him,” Klinger declared, “because 70 percent of our business today in the fire service is public relations.”
“About 90 percent of the public communications problem,” Sylvia commented, “rests right with the chief of the department.”
Contrast in fire service reaction
He recalled an offer made by a radio station to a county fire chiefs organization to participate in a weekly program, but they turned it down because they felt the job was beyond their capabilities. On the other hand, the Quincy, Mass., Fire Department did a weekly radio show using many firemen to explain how they extinguished fires, how equipment was used and other phases of the department’ s work.
“They put on a program the people responded to, Sylvia reported, “and it took comparatively little effort except the desire to do it.”
Stature: ‘We are not ready for the ’70s’
Economics was seen by Klinger as a key to the future of the fire service. He felt that the economic problems are becoming worse every year and the next 10 years will be the answer to whether the fire service will survive.
“If we don’t have this economic salvation for the fire service,” the Los Angeles County chief warned, “you are going to be working for the police department … If you don’t have better public relations, if you don’t have people who are working with federal government, with the state government and with the county and local governments, you are going to be lost because the police service … is going to take you over, and you are not going to have anything to say about it.”
Klinger also called attention to spiraling fire department salaries and cited San Francisco, where “over 95 percent of the budget is salaries.
“Maybe history is going to repeat itself,” he remarked. “Maybe we will all go back to volunteers. Maybe this is what is going to happen, because when you price yourself out of business, you are in trouble. And this is what I am afraid of in the next 10 years.”
Condition of fire service decried
Royer commented that “the picture is as black as Keith Klinger painted it, and I would say that in the fire service, we are not ready for the ’70s. We are not ready for the ’60s, let alone the ’70s.”
Referring to weaknesses of the fire service, the Iowa training supervisor declared that “we are not using much of the knowledge and know-how that we already have.” This he blamed on the failure to establish specific objectives for the entire fire service. After charging that the national fire service organizations have been unable to outline objectives, he warned that “we had better get together and determine what our fate is going to be … or we are going to find the fire service, in effect, done away with as we know it today.”
Among the goals he suggested were better utilization of equipment and manpower.
“Whether we can get ready for the ’70s, I don’t know, and, of course, if we are not ready for the ’70s, we may not be here in the ’80s,” Royer warned.
Chiefs blamed for confusion
O’Hagan doubted that there is “a profession or a calling in the country that seems to be less coordinated and more confused than the fire service.” And while some may place the blame elsewhere, he observed that “a large degree of the responsibility also lies with the professional fire chief and our inability, up to now, to organize our resources, our manpower, and our membership into a coordinated force to effect the changes that are so necessary for a fire service.
Recalling the social changes that have been effected by angry young men in our society, O’Hagan declared, “If we are to leave a legacy to the people who are to follow us— being a member of the old breed—we have to become angry old chiefs . . . We have to come up with plans of action. We have to organize and coordinate our people, and I think the time to do it is now.
“Times are changing, and we have been rather slow in adjusting to the changes, say, through the ’50s and ’60s,” O’Hagan challenged. “Let’s get some action programs to meet the challenges of the ’70s.”