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.