THE BIG CHIEF OF PHILADELPHIA.
The representative of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING paid a visit to Chief J. C. Baxter, of Philadelphia, last week, and had a very pleasant interview with him. The following describes his impressions of the head of the Quaker City fire department and shows what his ideas are as to the duties of anyone holding such a position as his, his opinions on the high-pressure water system installed in the city for its protection against fire, what he thinks as to dispensing with apparatus or men since its installation, and how he feels as to the proposed schemes for the betterment of the International Association of Fire Engineers: John C. Baxter, Philadelphia’s big fire chief is a wellknown figure to those engaged in the fire service of the country. A man of a very retiring nature, reticent and conservative to a degree, he may appear to those who are not familiar with these characteristics as a very cold proposition. This, however, he is not. Chief Baxter has a very friendly disposition, and he warms up to such a degree when the subject of his profession is discussed, that one is surprised at the clear, forcible and voluble manner in which he enters into minute descriptions of the events in the career through tvhich he has passed as a fireman. For forty-five years Chief Baxter has devoted himself to the fire service of Philadelphia. He was so ardent a fireman that he never thought of taking a wife until he was forty-four years of age, and for a long time after that event he seldom had the time to spend in his home, so closely was he confined to the fire station. The duties of the fireman were his hobby, and he carried it out with a perseverance that eventually landed him at the head of the third department in the United States—a position which should have been given him many years before, if merit had been the chief requirement for that office. Today Chief Baxter is a well preserved man in the prime of life. Standing six feet five inches, with broad shoulders, and erect of head, he is a typical superintendent of such a large fire department as that of the Quaker City. He rose altogether from the ranks, and has a record for an officer of steadiness and pertinacity that w-ould be the envy of a firstolass army commander. He is the friend of all firemen; he is leader of the Pennsylvania Veterans; president of the Philadelnhia Volunteer Firemen’s Benevolent association, and is generally selected to marshal the parades of the hosts of firemen that annually meet in the Beaver State. Chief Baxter is also a thoroughly well informed man in everything pertaining to the profession in which he occupies so prominent a nlace. During all the long years in which he has been in the service he has carried with him an honorable record as a firefighter, and it was only three years ago that he met with a very serious accident while directing his men at a big blaze on Ridge avenue, when his feet were burned through his rubber boots, necessitating his withdrawing from active service for a considerable time. In speaking of the high-pressure fire service line in his city, the chief said it was a good thing and had proved very effective in more than one conflagration since its installation. At a fire in the Butler wholesale grocery store last week, the service proved so effective that the flames were confined to the building in which they started, although the structure was a very inflammable one. He stated, however, that there would be no reduction in the apparatus or men now composing the department. On the subject of employing paid firemen to be on duty at places of amusement, he said that he approved the plan, and that his department furnished firemen to such houses whenever performances were given. These men had to report any defect in the fire equipment of the building, and, should the necessary requirements so reported not be promptly attended to, the bureau of public safety had the power to close the house complained of. Chief Baxter is in perfect accord with the movement on foot to improve the International Association of Fire Engineers, especially as to holding the annual meetings in centres of large populations, where the greatest attendance would be secured, and he also approves of selecting places, regardless of any invitations that may be received to visit distant localities, where a loss of membership is sure to follow.