THE REORGANISED FIRE DEPARTMENT OF SCHENECTADY.
(Specially written for FIRE AND WATER.)
In January, 1899, a bill was passed by the New York legislature for the purpose of reorganising the Schenectady fire department. Before that time the department was equipped with nothing but handcarts and hand apparatus, and entirely composed of volunteers. In 1899 the headquarters were built, size fifty-five feet by 136 feet, and three stories in height, a view of which appears elsewhere. The headquarters are equipped with one double thirty-five-gallon cylinder tank combination wagon, one Hayes type aerial truck, one Clapp & Jones third-class steam fire engine, and one chief engineer’s runabout. Seven horses are used at this station. In the extra building in the rear of this house are located the department’s supply room, repair shop, hospital for sick horses, and hose tower for drying hose. The second floor of the building is used for the chief engineer’s office, commissioners office, bunker room, with fourteen fully equipped’ beds, also bathroom and locker room. The third floor is wholly for use of the combination and truck companies as private parlors. At the same time headquarters were built a new house was put up on upper Albany street, size thirty-five feet by sixty-eight feet, and thoroughly equipped with hose wagon carrying 800 feet of hose and one team of horses. The second floor is used for bunker room parlors and bath. At this time No. Three’s house on Fonda street and No. Two’s on Church street were remodeled and equipped in the same manner.
The Schenectady department is what would be called a partially paid department,consisting of twenty four permanent men and 219 volunteers. Twelve paid men are stationed at headquarters, and three at each of the other houses.
When the department was reorganised, a board of fire commissioners was appointed, which continued in office until the first of this year, at which time the present mayor, Horace S. Van Voast, became its president. His appointments were as follows : Commissioners, Theodore R. Barringer.Amandus Metzger. Peter B. Harbison, and James Devine. This board at its last meeting appointed as its clerk. Ira Brownell, who has been a member of the volunteer department for the past ten years, and the general opinion is that his services will be most valuable to the commissioners and the department. The old board has always shown good judgment in its business dealings, and it is safe to say that the present board will equal that of the past, as the men who have been appointed are all highly respected by the citizens of Schenectady, and their business abilities are of the best. Schenectady’s new mayor and president of the board is a young man whose business ability as an insurance agent has been of the highest, and any wants of the chief engineer, or the department will be given his immediate attention. A bill is now before the city council for the building, maintenance, and equipment of two new houses, to be used for combination wagon and truck, and it will l>e given consideration in the near future.
There is probably’ no city in the State that has advanced as fast as Schenectady has in fire matters. It has the only, thoroughly drilled, pompier corps between New York and Utica. A group of the corps appears in our illustration elsewhere. The increase of business at the General Electric company and American Locomotive company works has increased the population about sixty per cent, during the past five years. The General Electric company is now employing about 9.000 anti the Locomotive company 4.cco men.
Chief Yates,with his usual energy has succeded in establishing a well drilled life-saving corps on the pompier system, while Dr. A. G. icks gives gratuitously practical “first aid’’ lectures to the ambulance corps whose members have become proficient in their wu, k. Through the fire marshal’s careful and thorough work, there is no doubt that many disastrous fires have been prevented, and in cases where they have occurred have been reduced to a minimum. Chief Yates is deserving of all the credit that can be bestowed upon him for the efficiency of the department, for his devotion to duty, and for his ability in carrying out details. To his assistant chiefs, Walter Barnett and Thomas Barker, also, is paid great credit for the aid they have afforded their chief. To these officers it is due that the discipline of the department is all that can be asked, both volunteers and paid men responding promptly and cheerfully to all summons, and showing a willingness to obey all orders from their superiors, James F. Burns, superintendent of fire alarm telegraph, likewise deserves especial mention for his skill in keeping that most important branch of the service in firstclass working order. Six gold medals were awarded to those volunteers whose standing was the highest in attending fires during 1900, and the same incentives were held out for 1901. The recommendations the chief makes are: The purchase of seven additional alarm boxes; new indicators in all side houses; at least 2,000 feet of fire hose; and an all round clerk to be appointed, part of whose duties shall be to assist Chief Yates in his duties as fire marshal. The apparatus consists of one steam fire engine, one hook and ladder truck, one supply wagon, one chief engineer’s wagon, and two hose reels.