The New Orleans Fire Department Controversy.
The following interview with a prominent and influential member of the New Orleans city government, about fire department matters, appeared in The Times-Democrat of April 11. The article has received approval because of the conservative views expressed:
A Times-Democrat reporter yesterday learned from a reliable source that the city government would receive with pleasure from the present volunteer fire association a proposition to organize a pay department out of the material now constituting the present department.
The gentleman said: “If the department should make such a proposition, which 1 am convinced the council would accept, there would be no trouble in settling the present grave differences which have arisen between the finance committee and the Firemen’s Charitable Association, and which are about to be brought fully and clearly before the public for litigation.
“To accomplish the work of elaborating a paid department 1 am sure that the members of the finance committee would be only too willing to settle all misunderstandings between the association and the committee, and that such a compromise as the committee saw fit to make would be accepted by the council.
“ I’hc present determined tight made by the finance committee, 1 am convinced, was not brought about to antagonize the association, or for the sole purpose of forcing them to refund the amount of money obtained fioin the city for services which were never performed, as shown by recent investigations of the finance committee.
** But that committee, realizing from the facts in their possession that the present department had failed to comply with their contract in the past and would be unable to stand up to it in the future, and that the interest of the city would be lcst subserved and life and property better protected by a well equipped and drilled
concluded to force the department to pay back money, which, in their opinion, had been wrongfully obtained by the association, and to force a full compliance with the contract in the future.
” By the surrender of their contract the association does not collapse; in fact, many think that they would be better off. They would receive a handsome sum for their engines and other property, and the association could be kept up by the menders, as are the valuable fire organizations of New York and Philadelphia,
“If the department refuses to make any concessions and should lose their case in the courts, they would be confronted by a liability far in exet-s of $100,000, and as their sureties aie only bound for $25,JO for the faithful fulfillment of the contract, the association’s property would be liable to seizure to make up the deficit.
“ Then, again, should the department run until the expiration of its contract, it has not sufficient means to run the department according to the specifications, ami the council would most certainly demand and insist upon it being carried out to the letter. The consequence would be that in two years the department would have run down to such an extent that the engines would bring
ONLY A NOMINAL PRICE,
and the animals and other property would be comparatively worthless.
“ l here is at present not a single first-class engine in the city. Those that are running are cither second, third or fourth class engines, and forty jer cent of their cost, as the council has been informer!, is in the brass and nickel plate work, and this ornamentation was ordered put on and was pair! for, that the engine might make a handsome show on parade days, such as March 4.”
To accomplish the desired change, the gentleman said three members of the council, three members of the fire department and three from the board of underwriters could arrange and formulate a plan for the transfer of the property of the present department to the city, and when this was done a basis could be arrived at upon which the present differences between the association and the finance committee could le arranged. He was satisfied the council would lie most liberal in dealing with the association. ‘The men for tl e paid department, he said, should be picked out of the present department, but should undergo a physical examination. Those who were capable and competent should be selected. T here should be a board composed of citizens to control the workings of the department, just as the police is managed by the present board.