The Small Department and the Pumper
A local paper, commenting on the proposed purchase of a triple combination chemical and hose pumping fire engine by the small town in which it is published, takes the stand that it would be wiser to spend the money wanted for this apparatus in improvements to the water works instead, looking toward its increase in fire fighting facilities.
Of course, the improvement of the water department to a point of efficiency in the matter of control of fires is a very important and necessary matter and should be pushed to completion, but in this instance it would seem that the choice lay between the increase of the water works’ fire fighting ability—that is to say, added pumping pressure, enlargement of mains, etc.—or the purchase of an efficient fire fighting machine, lack of public funds preventing the consummation of both improvements.
In this case there can be little doubt as to the course the town authorities should pursue. An efficient pumper is indispensable to the control of a fire which has gotten beyond the bounds of a chemical engine. No doubt the tendency of modern fire fighting is to discourage the use of water indiscriminately and to control the fire by the use of chemicals wherever possible, thus avoiding unnecessary damage to surrounding property. But ofttimes a fire has attained such headway before the alarm has been received by the fire department that nothing short of a deluge of water can drown it out.
It is at this time that the pumper becomes indispensable to the chief. Nothing can equal efficient engine streams to handle a serious blaze of this nature, besides which there is the added fact that in case of failure of the water supply the pumper can procure water by drafting it from any available stream or pond.
We have in mind a certain town, the chief of whose fire department urgently requested the commissioners to supply him with a pumper, pointing out to them the unprotected condition of the village from a fire fighting standpoint. But the price of the apparatus loomed large to the town fathers and they decided that the municipality could not afford the outlay necessary for the apparatus. A short time after the inevitable happened. Some gasoline which a local tailor was using in cleaning his suits ignited from a nearby light and owing to the quick blaze which resulted and a high wind the entire business block was going strong before the department arrived with its hose and chemical and only hydrant streams to fall back upon to stay the flames. Before outside assistance, promptly telephoned for, could arrive, not only the business but also a large section of the residential portion of the town lay in ashes, and many times the amount necessary to purchase the pumper had gone up in smoke. The moral seems obvious.