The Philadelphia Muddle.
The muddle in the Philadelphia Fire Department gets worse and worse every day. When a body becomes thoroughly diseased it requires a violent effort of nature to slough off the poison that is destroying the vital energies of the system. The Philadel phia Fire I)epartment has reeked with polit ical corruption for years, and the efforts ol honest men to rid it of this destroying ele ment seems like a life or death struggle. Re cent exposures have aroused those who have the interests of the Department at heart to an earnest effort to purify the Service, but the fight between honesty and corruption is at present about an even thing. Politics con trols everything pertaining to the govern ment of that City-politics of the Tweed stripe, that sees a job” in everything and eagerly grasps at it. It will be a hard, if not impossible matter to purify the Fire Depart ment without simultaneously deodorizing the other City Departments. They are all governed by the same corrupt political ring, all the members of which are on the make.” Their “pickings and stealings” are un blushingly exacted, .and whoever wants to sell anything to the City must expect to be blackmailed by the ring. As instances of how the Fire Department is swindled, we may cite the fact that $1.15 a foot was re ently paid for hose without couplings, when the same article can b bought of the same parties for eighty cents a foot. In the mat ter of couplings, Philadelphia pays $10 a set, while New Vork and other cities have better couplings for which they pay at the outside $4 a set. It manufacturers were asked to compete for the orders for coup lings, Philadelphia could get all she wants of the best quality for $3 a set. So with everything else in the way of either appa ratus or supplies which the Department re quires-an exorbitant price is paid, and the ring gets its “div’y, The manufacturers get no share of these exorbitant rates; on the contrary, they are so beaten down as to prices that those who make the best articles are driven out of the market, and the De partment filled up with cheap apparatus and supplies. The quality of hose thus obtained from one manufacturer, who was only paid 5 cents a foot, was shown at the last big tire, when 3,000 feet of it burst, and twice that number of feet was found to be worth ksc.
The only way to purify the Philadelphia Department is to wipe out all in authority over the uniformed force. This embraces seven Commissioners and twenty-four meni bers of the Council. These are aH politi cians, and if not individuaUv ro1)brs of the taxpayers, are so mixed UI) in politics, that
they have been obliged to close their eyes to the corruption existing on all sides. Philadelphia wants a new deal all around. Three Commissioners, responsible to the Council in the matter of expenditures, but independent as regards their tenure of office, would, if efficient and honest men, soon reorganize the Fire Department, and make it the equal of any in the country. The uniformed force, from the Chief down, is, as a rule, efficient and trustworthy. The demoralization among their superiors, however, is naturally subversive of all discipline, and the force needs a firm hand to govern it. Chief Johnson would soon enforce discipline, weed out the worthless men and secure the highest degree of efficiency if he were properly supported by his superiors. But, while these have been squabbling for political supremacy and depleting the treasury, the Department has run down to an extent which insurance men regard with consternation. Philadelphia has had some severe experience in fires iately, and she is not likely to secure adequate fire protection till the whole Department is reorganized, and “aP’TSST $100,000 spent for new apparatus, hose, and other necessary equipment.