The Fire Service of New Orleans.
The following communications were recently addressed to the Board of Control of the New Orleans Fire Department upon the subject of the alleged inefficiency of the fire service of the city:
NEW ORLEANS, January 11, 1889. Paul Fourchy, Esq., Chairman, and Members Board of Control, Fire Department:
Gentlemen.—The fire committee of the New Orleans Fire Underwriters Association beg to call your attention to the various articles in public print in the fire and insurance journals of New York and Chicago, also reports in our city, regarding the general ineffiency of our fire department, and especially the management of the late fires on Magazine and Chartres streets, and would request that an immediate investigation be made by your honorable board as to the facts.
This committee is willing to co-operate with you in whatever step you may deem advisable. Very respectfully,
ERNEST JOHN R. FELL,
W. E. DODSWORTH.
NEW ORLEANS, January 14, 1889. Paul Fourchy, Esq., Chairman Board of Control, City :
DEAR Sir.—The undersigned representatives of several large fire insurance companies doing business in this city, beg to call your attention to the fact that there have been complaints of the management of the extinguishing of fires and salving of property at several of the late fires, for example, those on Camp and Chartres streets. These complaints are made mostly by correspondents of insurance journals, and they have been read and commented upon severely by some of our companies. If these statements are true the wrongs stated should at once be corrected ; if untrue the parties blamed should have an opportunity of vindicating themselves. We beg, therefore, that you will use your efforts to have these charges investigated, and if you have the authority, let the blame fall where it belongs. If you have no power in the case, we may ask that you kindly bring the matter to the notice of the city council. Thanking you in advance, we are yours truly,
MARSHALL J. SMITH & Co., PETER F. PESCUD,
HENRY V. OGDF.N,
In reply to these, the Board of Control adopted unanimously a resolution as follows :
Resolved, That upon consideration of two communications received, and in answer to both, the Board of Control respectfully suggest that if the fire committee or Messrs. Smith, Pescud and Ogden, or any other persons, have any specific charges to make against tb r officers or men of the fire department for mismanagement of fires or any other violation of duty (except absence of the officers or men from the city without leave of this board), then the Board of Fire Commissioners is the tribunal specially designated by section 28 of the fire contract as vested with exclusive power to try, remove or suspend any of the officers or men. This board must therefore refer all complaints to them for redress, by removal or suspension of offenders, be they of high or low degree. If they should refuse to act when specific charges are presented to them, this board may then, but not till then, be called upon to exercise its power of removal of the commissioners themselves under section 29 of the fire contract.
This board is now and has always been ready to perform its whole duty whenever a foundation is laid for its interference. So far as the defective character of the apparatus and paraphernalia of the department is concerned, this board has long since, without external prompting, and on more than one occasion made the shortcomings of the contractors a matter of record at the city hall. The Board of Control cherishes the hope that the fire committee and other complainants, if not more zealous, diligent or pressing than this board has been, may at least be more successful in impressing upon the city council the necessity of a fearless, unremitting enforcement of the clauses and conditions of the fire contract. Let the complainants, one and all, go before the fire commissioners with distinct charges and report to us the result of their efforts to bring offenders to trial before that tribunal. We all know and feel that the volunteer system is a relic of the past, which must inevitably be swept away by the march of progress. In the meantime we shall, within the limits of our jurisdiction, endeavor to make it as efficient as possible.