The French Firemen at the Tournament.
In his official report to the Federation des officiers et sonsofficiers de France et d’ Algerrie, M. Mignot, vice-president of the federation, gives the French opinion of the London tournament held at the Agricultural Hall in June last. This is published in the August number of the official journal of the federation.
After describing the reception of the delegates and the opening ceremony, says our London namesake, M. Mignot devotes attention to the manoeuvres of the various teams. The Americans, he says, opened the tournament with a scaling ladder and life saving display. Having explained the construction of the ladders used and the method of descending by means of the life line, he adds: “ These exercises are marvelous, but they show more acrobatic skill than the regular instruction for firemen. To give an idea of this, a fireman descended by means of the lifeline from the third floor of a building, headforemost, and without stopping stretched out his arm, and as he passed rescued a person from the second floor and brought him safely to the ground ; then, disengaging himself from the life line, he made three or four somersaults a /’I/ippodrome on the ground. This is all we have learned from the Americans. These pompier men are besides recruited from old members of acrobatic troupes.”
The Portuguese exercises and appliances are then described, but the manoeuvres, although interesting, do not strike M. Mignot very favorably, as he prefers the ordinary telescopic escapes and fire ladders.
“ Then,” continues the report, “the section from Boulogne performed their fire drill, extinguishing an imaginary fire on the third floor with manual engine, hose reel and life-saving appliances. This drill, conformed to our competition regulations, was very successful and very correct, but little to the taste of the English and Belgian officers who, perhaps rightly, considered that drills should exhibit such rapid action as would be desirous when attacking a fire. The Boulonge officers were made aware of this, and in the subsequent exhibitions, both in the evening of the same day and on the next day, the firemen greatly pleased the English by (he rapidity of their drills when freed from the many commands which encumber our competitions, thus gaining hearty applause, which was well deserved and freely given.
“ Lastly, the English Brigade with manual engines went through their drills. The rapidity of their manoeuvres was startling. On the signal being given the engine was unhorsed, the suction pipe and a long line of hose fitted, then returned to their places and the engine rehorsed, in times varying from two to three and a half minutes, according to the number of men employed.”
The great attraction of the tournament was, in the opinion of M, Mignot, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade display. “One could in that,” he says, “admire the escape drills, the part played by the electric alarm belli, and the arrival and getting to work of steam fire engines in a manner worthy of remark.” Particular interest was, it seems, centred upon the illustration of a breakdown, and also upon the display of Mr. Simonds’ water tower, commenting upon which, the report says, “the Metropolitan Brigade water tower, whilst costing only onefortieth of the amount demanded for the American tower, effects the same purpose readily.” Other drills and exercises by the London firemen are explained at length, special reference being made to the physical exercises, which provoked much admiration amongst our French visitors. Summing up the advantages of the English methods, M. Mignot says, “All that the French have been able to see of the tournament impresses them seriously with the necessity of attaining, if possible, the same rapidity of action by modifying the equipment and fittings of the engines, and the manner of giving commands. The English firemen know ail they have to do when the point of attack is indicated by the chief officer. A signal to commence work, and another to cease—that is all; not the shadow of a command. It has been said that the English make no attempt to search out the fire, but this is an error. When the fire is on the outside they attack it from the front, but when it is inside the building they carry a line of hose into the Interior, just as the French do. They always have at their command a large number of engines which facilitates the extinguishment of the fires. In every part of England the fire service receives a great amount of attention, much more so than in France.”