THE FIRE CHIEFS’ CONVENTION.
Bird’s-Eye View of the Assemblage.—Mayor Low’s Greeting.
From all over the United States and from Europe and from Australia came the delegates to the thirtieth convention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs at the Grand Central Palace which opened on Tuesday morning and lasted till Friday. Of the old familiar faces some had gone for ever, but among those at the opening of the meeting were former Chief Damrell, of Boston, the first president and the organiser of the association; ex-Chiefs John Stagg, of Paterson, second vicepresident; Henry Hill, of Wyoming, the veteran secretary of the organisation; D. C. Larkin, of Dayton, its worthy treasurer; Miles Humphreys, of Pittsburgh, Pa., its president; Henry J. Eaton, the well tried head of the Hartford, Conn., fire department, one of the oldest members and the oldest fire chief in the United States; James C. Baxter, of Philadelphia; former Chief George C. Hale, of Kansas City, Mo.; J. A. Archibald, of Cincinnati; Mayhew W. Bronson, of Larchmont, N. Y.; Chief Croker, of New York city; and many others well known in the ranks of the fire service. From England were present Chiefs William Ely, of Leicester; William Harrison, of Oldham; Geal, of Bury; and G. W. Parker, of Manchester—all good and true types of the sturdy Lancashire man. From Australia Chief David J. Stein, of Melbourne, was on hand.
The convention, on being called to order by President Humphreys was opened with prayer by Fire Chaplain Walkley. Mayor Low, who had been ushered in by Thomas E. Crimmins, chairman of the citizens’ entertainment committee, Dr. Henry H. Archer, Georgc’Ehret, jr., Jacob Ruppert, jr., and Fire Chief Croker were introduced by the president and made the following address:
MAYOR LOW’S ADDRESS.
“I am proud to welcome to New York the comrades of our fire department from other cities and countries. A fireman never plays with fire. He knows too well that it is an adversary demanding all his skill, force and energy to overcome. In order to overcome fire the fighter must be alert and ready in an instant to adopt new methods in fighting flames. This necessity brings forward the significance of today’s convention. With the advent into the fire question of that great power, electricity, and its use in fire alarms, it is necessary for a fireman to be not only brave but more or less acquainted with the froces he encounters and makes use of in fighting fire. A fireman first of all is necessarily brave. I had the honor of awarding medals some time ago to the firemen of this city, and I was touched by the stories of bravery and valor which earned for the men their rewards. I do not wonder that all men love firemen whose records are illuminated by deeds of daring. Conditions in firefighting are changing constantly, and tall buildings and new water supply demand new apparatus. It is a hard battle all the way through. I congratulate the convention on coming together each year. Such convening is of inestimable benefit. There is no fire department so capable and complete that it cannot learn from others. When a department knows it all it is in serious danger. A department that is not willing to learn cannot expect to each. There is nothing which cannot be improved, and capable and efficient as the New York fire department is, I welcome the delegates to this convention and to New York city, as being capable of teaching us.”
Fire Commissioner Sturgis, who sat on the right hand of Mayor Low, with Chief Croker on his right, followed the mayor, and in his speech paid a glowing tribute to former Chief Hale, of Kansas City, Mo., as the inventor of so many ingenious appliances for the extinguishment of fire, and shortening the time necessary for getting horses and apparatus out quickly to a fire. The only allusion he made to the citv fire department was when he expressed his regret that but two of the fireboats were available for exhibition purposes, the others being under repair. _ „ .
Chief Devine, of Salt Lake City, Utah, a former president of the association, followed Commissioner Sturgis, and in fitting terms thanked Mayor Low for his words of welcome.
After a few remarks from President Humphreys there was an adjournment for a short time to examine the work on the rapid transit excavation, which, of course, owing to the disastrous explosion which temporarily wrecked the Murray Hill hotel, was of unusual interest to the visiting chiefs.
During the morning session former Chief Hendricks, of New Haven, Conn., read a paper entitled ‘‘How should firemen be best rewarded after having saved lives at the risk of losing their own?” One method was promotion of the fireman irrespective of creed, religious or political. Chief Croker also sent in one on “Wire glass windows: the advantages, if any, over shutters,” which was read for him. In it he thoroughly indorsed the use of wire glass, which (he said) “retards fire without hiding it—permits the blaze to declare itself. It can be cracked, but it cannot be scattered. If fractured, it retains its place.” He enlarged on the value of wire glass in the downtown structures of this city, where the use of these windows instead of iron shutters would permit the firemen to find a blaze instantly, instead of being compelled to hunt for it. He said that if the large business houses were thus equipped, the firemen would seldom have difficulty in restricting the fire to the apartment or section of the building in which it originated.
Wednesday was nearly entirely devoted to the inspection of the exhibits, with tests, where tests were required. The regular program was adhered to throughout, and the ladies were especially catered to by the ladies’ entertainment committee. An automobile ride, a theatre party, receptions and dancing filled up the measure of the social part of the gathering.
Chief Stein, of Melbourne, Australia, one of the foreign visiting chiefs, said that he had visited a number of European cities, and that he had already spent several months in this country visiting cities and studying the fire departments. “I have gained a good deal of information (he said) and shall carry back a good many ideas.” On being asked to make a comparison of the departments in Melbourne and New York, he replied: “A fair comparison can hardly be made. Melbourne has a population of only 500,000. It is merely a question of money. You spend large sums of money yearly while we spend only $200,000. The thing that impresses me most here is the seeming indifference you pay to loss of life. If any one is killed at a fire in Melbourne an inquiry is made at once, while here it seems to me such is not the case. While I have been here a number of lives have been lost, but I have heard of no inquiry. I think certain advantages make our department excel yours in some things, but on the whole, of course, yours is by far the better. I think that any fault that does exist is due to the building laws and not to the department.”
Whenever any allusion was made to the Croker case the applause was loud and long. Captain Brophy, of Boston, for instance, called forth the loudest when, on speaking concerning another matter, he said: “Firemen should begin at the bottom of the ladder and work their way to the top. When through merit and courage they arrive there, there ought to be no power but old age or death to depose them. When political changes come, let the spoilsmen take all of the other offices, if they will; let them take the commissionerships, secretaryships and clerkships, and depose even the scrubwomen, who keep clean the floors and windows of the offices of their mightinesses, but hands off the chief and the chief’s men. They and their positions should be sacred to all who have the love of bravery in their hearts. The fire department is too important and these men are too valuable for you to touch.” ,
ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
The following officers were elected:
Edward F. Croker, president;
Henry A. Hills, secretary.
Edward Hughes, first vice-president.
John Stagg, second vice-president.
The next place of meeting, Atlantic City, N. J.
(To bo continued.)