The London (Eng.) Life-Saving Service.
The annexed cut represents members of the London Fire Brigade in the act of raising a section of the scaling-ladders in use in that Department.
One section being raised to the height of a man’s upstretched arms, another section is slipped under and into the iron sockets shown, and this operation is repeated until a continuous ladder of the required length is obtained. These ladders are used mainly for life-saving purposes, and are elevated to the height of several stories in a very brief space of time.
They are also available for fire purposes, affording a ready means for carrying a line of hose to the upper stories of a building. London pays far more attention to the life-saving service than is done in this country. In his annual report for 1877, Chief Shaw reports 108 fire-escape stations, and 141 fire-escapes and long scaling ladders. The fire-escapes are ladders mounted on wheels, and have a canvas chute attached to their under side, by means of which persons in peril are slid to the ground. The ladder service of London, both in the Fire Service proper and in the fire-escape branch of it, is a far more important factor in fighting fire and saving life than it is in this country. At every alarm of fire, the men in charge of the fire-escapes respond with the same alacrity that the Firemen do, often reaching the fire in advance of the engines. Last year the Department saved 136 persons from the flames, and 29 who were beyond the reach of the Firemen, lost their lives. Eight Firemen receive honorable mention in Chief Shaw’s report for special daring in saving life. The ladders shown in the cut are made in sections seven feet long, the upper rung, upon which the iron sockets rest, having an iron rod through it. The section is easily held up by one man. It is taken down by removing a section at a time from the bottom. The men are regularly drilled in handling the ladders, and the operation of putting them together appears to be executed with military precision, by *’ times and motions” to secure the several positions. The ladder, by individual sections, seems clumsily made as compared with our ladders, but they unquestionably possess the requisite degree of strength.
The nearest approach in this country to the London lifesaving service is to be found in St. Louis. Immediately following the burning of the Southern Hotel in that city, whereby several lives were lost and many more were jeopardized, a Pompier Corps was organized from among the members of the Hook and Ladder Companies. This Corps, equipped with light scalingladders—by means of which they mount from the windows of one story to those of another—a coil of rope, hatchet, etc., is designed especially for the saving of life, or as a means of conveying to persons in peril implements for their own use. At the exhibitions which they have given, a man has ascended from the street to the roof, by means of the scaling-ladders, in a marvelously short space of time—a few seconds only. Something of the kind should be attached to the Fire Department of every large city. While our Hook and Ladder Companies have done splendid service in saving lives in times past, it is no doubt true that a corps of men equipped with the necessary implements for the purpose, and specially trained in its use, would be of inestimable value, American Fire Departments are lamentably weak in the point of ladders, both long ones for arduous fire service, and short ones for scaling pur poses. The Pompier Corps seems designed to supply the latter requirement. VVe trust that Chief Sexton will send his Pompier Corps to the Chicago Tournament and that Marshal Benner will make such arrangements as will enable them to give a satisfactory exhibition of their skill to the thousands of Firemen who will be present of that occasion.