The Problem of Educating the Foreigner in Fire Prevention

The Problem of Educating the Foreigner in Fire Prevention

How One Chief Took Advantage of a Fire to Instruct the Japanese Citizens—Aid of Foreign Language Press Enlisted

Chief M. J. Dunphy, Fire Department, Sacramento, Cal.

IN cities with mixed populations the Fire Prevention problem is greatly aggravated by the difficulty of reaching the foreign language speaking portion of the people. Proclamations and addresses in English mean nothing to these individuals and still further to complicate matters their standards of living are more careless than the English speaking members of the community from a Fire Prevention standpoint.

One of the biggest of these foreign population problems occurs in the cities of the Far Western States. Here the Japanese and Chinese nationals are very largely in evidence. The stoical attitude which is characteristic of the oriental is hard to break through and it requires the severe shock of a catastrophe or something of a similar nature to bring these people to the realization of the peril by fire.

Fatal Fire Arouses the Japanese

In the case of Sacramento this shock was furnished when a Japanese school, in which many were locked, caught fire with the result that many Japanese children were burned to death, unable to escape the flames, perishing miserably like rats in a trap. As might have been expected this catastrophe jarred the Japanese of the city out of their indifference toward matters of Fire Prevention and aroused their interest in all matters pertaining to the prevention of such an occurrence happening again.

The Chief Takes Advantage of Opportunity

That Chief M. J. Dunphy saw this opportunity and quickly grasped it is greatly to his credit. He lost no time in plowing the fallow field which the death of the Japanese children had prepared for him. The result was a series of meetings on Fire Prevention among the Japanese; at which the chief addressed the assemblages, arousing the indifferent to the necessity of taking proper precautions against fire, illustrating the various methods of Fire Prevention, showing how to pull a fire alarm box, emphasizing the importance of clearing up rubbish accumulated, and so on.

Ruins of Japanese School in Which Pupils Perished. Note Flimsy Construction

Aid of Japanese Press Enlisted

The aid of the Japanese language press was also enlisted by the chief and every courtesy was shown him by these journals. The consequence of this was a series of editorials which no doubt exercised much influence with the oriental population in inducing them to observe proper fire precautions. One of these articles is reproduced herewith in the original Japanese and a translation by a member of the Japanese paper’s staff is also given, worded in the quaint English of the oriental. It is significant that the article, as translated, shows a large amount of appreciation by the Japanese of the efforts by Chief Dunphy in instructing the Japanese population in Fire Prevention and in urging them to be more careful.

Editorial on Fire Prevention Published in Japanese Paper of Sacramento, Cal.

The literal translation of the article by a member of the staff of the Japanese paper is as follows:


Explained How to Handle the Alarmer. Gasoline More Dangerous than Powder.

Mr. M. J. Dunphy, the Fire Chief of this City, held a speech before us, at the Sakura Gaknen last evening.

He appeared with a lire alarmer with him and explained to us how to handle it in every particular, through Mr. Y. Anutsus’s interpretation.

The Chief said:

“Everyone should know the location of the nearest fire alarmer, for tear of the worst.

“It is more desirable to report the outbreak of fire by the alarmer than by any other means, as to avoid any possible mistake or delay.

“Fire cost a total of 25,000 human beings, killed and injured in the United States alone per year.

“I want to call your special attention to the fact that gasoline is far more dangerous than the terrible powder; the former has ten times, as much explosion power as the latter.”

He spoke for about half an hour, explaining the activity of the device. The alarmer has been left at the same institute for the convenience of those who could not be there last night.

The Sacramento Daily News (Japanese),

Editor G. Nan ini.

per M. Ono.


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