The Chicago Fire Patrol.

The Chicago Fire Patrol.

In another column we print a letter from “Citizen,” of San Francisco, in which he makes some insinuations against the Chicago Fire Patrol. The same correspondent did the same thing once before, provoking thereby a sharp from Superintendent Bullwinkle, which brought forth a rejoinder from Captain White, of the San Francisco Patrol, which, in turn, brought another letter from Superintendent Bullwinkle. There has been much questioning of the published record of the time made by the Chicago Patrol in hitching up ; it certainly is remarkable, but it is another illustration to sustain the point we have so frequently made, viz :

that drill and discipline will accomplish almost anything, and are nowhere so necessary as in the Fire Service. “ Citizen ” wants to known why the Chicago Patrol did not give exhibitions of their efficiency at the National Tournament. The Patrol did not participate in the Tournament for the reason that no competing company was entered, and there was no prize offered for an exhibition of the Patrol Service. Besides, the Patrol is a small organization, and the insurance companies did not wish any portion of it taken outside the city limits during a season of so much excitement. As for Superintendent Bullwinkle’s hitching for any one who asks, he never refuses any person whose position entitles him to make such request. It sometimes happens that officers of Fire Departments visit the house, as they do Engine and Truck houses, and, without making themselves known, may have been refused courtesies that would otherwise have been cheerfully shown them. If the Patrol were to hitch for every person who asks, they would be on exhibition all the time.

During the Tournament the Patrol house was visited by thousands of Firemen, and the men were kept pretty busy hitching for officers of other Departments. The Editor of the JOURNAL was present one evening when Commissioners Gorman and Perley, and Chief Bates, of New York, Commissioners Vernor and Crowl, of Detroit, several other gentlemen, and a number of ladies were in attendance. Superintendent Bullwinkle not only showed them everything connected with his business, but hitched up in all possible ways for their gratification. And, further, he insisted upon his visitors, most of them experts, timing the work for themselves. This was done, the time being taken by two different timers, the writer of this holding one of them. The results were as follows : Men in their beds and the horses in the stalls, two men on the floor ; the alarm was struck ; the bedclothes were instantly pulled off the men in bed and hoisted to the ceiling; trapdoors fell from the sides of their beds, forming stairs leading directly into the wagon below ; down came the men, the horses rushed to the pole, there were a few snaps made, the front doors flew open, and, in 4seconds from the sounding of the alarm, the front wheels of the wagon were crossing the door-sill as the wagon passed into the street. With the horses at . the pole and four men in position, the hitching was done so quickly that the time could not be caught. Then the Superintendent did the hitching alone, and subsequently one of the men did the single hitching. The Superintendent does all the work that any of his men can do, and is their instructor in everything. The exhibitions which he gave during the Tournament, when experts from all parts of the country were requested to and did take the time, disproves the assertion, so often made, that he will allow no one to time him. So far is this from being true, that when strangers witness the operation, they are always asked to take the time for themselves. During the Tournament, the Patrol was visited by officers of Patrols in other cities, and they were lavish in their praises of what they saw and the courtesy they received. The writer was present a second evening, when several of these officers were among the visitors, and Superintendent Bullwinkle certainly showed them every attention possible. There has been so much carping regarding the Chicago Fire Patrol, and as the allegation has been made that their quick work was “ done on paper ” and not in service, we deem it but a matter of justice to give the above facts, and to further assure all persons who have a right to trespass upon the time and courtesy of Superintendent Bullwinkle, that he will esteem it a great pleasure to show them all there is to see in his house.

“ Citizen ” has evidently been miss informed as to the facts. Fire Commissioners, Chief Engineers, and other officers of Departments by the score, whose names are recorded in Superintendent Bullvvinkle’s register, will bear witness to the work performed by the Chicago Patrol, the excellent discipline observed in the men, the neatness and elegance of the house, and the politeness with which they were received. While it may be a disputed question as to the policy of permitting such organizations to exist independent of the Fire Departments— really a part of the Fire Service, but not subject to the control of the fire authorities—there can be no question either as to their value or efficiency. That Superintendent Bullwinkle has been able to succeed so well is due as much to the liberal manner in which he has been sustained by those who furnish the means as to his own capacity. While he is eminently well qualified for the position he holds, these qualifications would avail him little if there was niggardly management behind him, to quibble over every dollar spent, and find fault with everything done. Give the Patrols in other cities equally liberal management, and their equipment and efficiency would be correspondingly improved. The men are now in the service ; all that is wanted is the means. Lacking the latter, the former are crippled in their efforts to render the most efficient service. Chicago insurance companies boast that they have the best Patrol in the world ; if they have, it is because they fully trusted the man they placed in charge of it, and spent their money liberally. Here is a timely hint for insurance companies of other cities.



The Fire Patrol of this city was organized by the Board of Underwriters on the 2d day of October, 1871, and consisted of a permanent force of six men, with an auxiliary force of four additional men for night service. The design of the insurance companies in making this organization was to have a body of men in their service independent of the regular Fire Department, who would look after their especial interests, by promptly putting out fires within their districts, or saving property from damage by fire or water. The command of this company was given to Captain B. B. Bullwinkle, and he still remains in charge.

Their system of doing work is indicated in the following extract from a report made by a committee of the National Board of Underwriters, appointed to investigate the matter. They say:

“ The object of the fire patrol is to extinguish incipient fires ; ‘ or to protect and save life and property in or contiguous to burning buildings, and to remove and take charge of such property, or any part thereof, when necessary.” ’

‘When first organized in New York city, a few insurance companies were compelled to meet the entire expenses of the experiment. To-day, all the companies where it is in operation willingly contribute to the Fire Patrol, eager to participate in its benefits and share its honors.

Its present perfection is marvelous, especially in the full-paid departments of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. Only young men of good physical ability, energy, activity and determined resolution, are chosen. These, trained to celerity of action and skillful exactness by their daily “ system drill,” are ready for action at any moment. The horses trained to take their places before the wagon at sound of the gong, stand harnessed and unfastened in their stalls. The equipments of the Chicago Patrol, as they “ turn out ” to a fire, consist of two fine horses, a wagon constructed especially for their use, weighing 2,700 lbs, carrying 15 men, 40C0vers, 2 Babcock Extinguishers and extra charges, 2 axes, 6 brooms, 6 scoop-shovels, a crowbar, spear and pikepole, one sledge-hammer and two lanterns; also 6 belts, each containing a hammer and nails, for use in tacking up covers, and a knife to cut lacing in belting of machinery. * * * * *

In the operations of the Fire Patrol the first efforts are to locate the fire, and get as close as possible to it, by opening doors and windows and allowing smoke to escape, so as to get direct action upon the fire and prevent an indiscriminate throwing of water, and, if possible extinguish it with a chemical extinguisher ; and, if necessary, to remove goods from the vicinity of the fire and spread covers before the Fire Department begin to throw water. After the fire, to clear out the rubbish with shovels and brooms, put the premises In order and replace goods as nearly as possible. If much water has been thrown, it is often necessary to cut passages for its escape. With the spear they perforate the ceilings, allowing the water to pas directly through, and thus save soaking the entire ceilings. Openings thus made are easily closed, so as to leave little or no indications of their perforation. A circulation of air is secured to drive out smoke, and fires kindled to dry out dampness. Where upper rooms are flooded, merchandise in lower stories is protected by covers ; cases of goods in cellars are raised upon skids to allow water to pass under them, and every means available used to lessen the cost of the fire to insurance companies. * *

Their value cannot be directly computed as aside from the notable service rendered at large fires ; a great share of their work is in the extinguishment of incipient fires, before the arrival of the Fire Department. Their promptness has received very complete recognition in Chicago and other large cities,