THE CHIEFS AND TWO-PLATOONS.
From correspondence coming to this journal from various sections of the country it is seen that the two-platoon system for fire departments is growing steadily, as a number of cities are considering its adoption and that likewise the plan is growing in favor among the chiefs. That this latter is so is but natural for the chiefs have all along been considerate of the interests of the men, but in many instances have been reluctant to recommend two-platoons from the sense of duty that is so strong in them. They very properly feared that its adoption might endanger the good discipline of the members of the department and that in some cases an insufficient force available at a serious fire in its early stages might result in more serious fire losses than otherwise. It has been the chiefs’ sense of their responsibility to the municipalities they serve that occasioned this feeling and it is one that does them great credit as they are generally pleased to allow the men as much time off as the efficiency of the department and the safety of the city would allow. The favor with which many chiefs are now coming to regard the two-platoon system is sufficiently marked that it should not be ignored and careful consideration ought to be given to the question. It would appear at first glance that the two-platoon system is not one which can now be condemned or endorsed as a general principle, but that it is one of those questions that are local in that its Applicability to each particular community must be gone into very thoroughly in order to determine whether or no it can be introduced with increased efficiency and without detriment to the service. So many local questions bear upon it, such as the financial standing of a city, availability of additional men suitable for firemen, the equipment of the department and other essential points before the problem can be satisfactorily settled by any community except that interested in the change. In other words, the two-platoon system is a home-rule proposition and must be decided after a very careful consideration and a decision rendered by the people. There are, however, some phases of the question, such as that of good discipline and efficiency, and in a general way a determination of what general conditions should obtain before two-platoons can be introduced with safety, that chief engineers can at this time take up with benefit to themselves, and so it would seem to be a timely and good subject for the members of the International Association of Fire Engineers to discuss at this year’s convention in Chicago. Such discussion would serve to render chiefs well posted on the more general aspects of the question when it arises in their cities and would enable them to apply those general principles to the purely local conditions with the best and most prompt results. The two-platoon proposition can not be ignored; it must be handled carefully and broadly. There are none who can do this better than the officers in charge of the fire protection of their cities, and who are thoroughly conversant with every phase of the situation, financial and technical.