THE VIENNA FIRE SERVICE.
It is now nearly thirteen years since the fire service of Vienna, Austria, was so reorganised as to be adequate to protect the extended area of the municipality. Today it may be said to be made up of two brigades, the professional and the suburban. The former, as its name shows, is, of course, made up of paid firemen who do nothing else, while the latter is volunteer. The professional brigade, with Chief Officer Muller at its head, consists of eight officers, five officials and 475 men who are housed in the headquarters, a district station, four branch stations with steam fire engines, nine small branch stations, besides two “watches” in public buildings. The superior officers are the commandant, chief inspector and six inspectors, all Stationed at headquarters and four on duty daily. The rank and file is made up of eight drill-sergeants (military drill is practised), forty telegraph clerks, first, second and third-class, fifty-three firemen, first and second-class, twenty-two engineers and stokers, 248 firemen, first, second and third-class, seventy-eight drivers. Of the telegraph clerks and engineers, twenty-four do duty with the suburban volunteer brigades. The apparatus is as follows: Service carriages at headquarters, four—two open and two for Officers; wagons for first “turn-out,” six—five at headquarters and one at the district fire station, and each manned by an officer in charge and nine men equipped with three “hook-ladders,” a portable extension ladder and jumping sheet, a life-saving chute, an ambulance chest, three tool-boxes, a jack, tools, torches, two smoke helmets, with hand-pump and hose reel attached; special gear carts, five —four at headquarters and one at the district station, each manned by seven firemen and equipped like the wagons, except that, instead of the life-saving chute, these carts carry a sliding-sheet, two petroleum torches apiece, an extension ladder fifteen metres (practically fifty feet) long, and some spare coal for the steamers; four pneumatic extension ladders and three extension turntable ladders—ladders and turnables each twenty-five metres (practically sixty-six feet) long—at headquarters and at two of the substations, each ladder having three men, and each turntable, five; chemical engines (three at headquarters and one each in the other stations), eighteen—each with five men, three hook-ladders, a jointed ladder in four sections, hose reel, hand-engine, smoke helmet, jumping sheet, ambulance chest, tool box, torches, etc.; steamers, eight—three at headquarters, one each in the district fire station and the four steamer stations, each with engineer and stoker. In reserve are the following: Maud engines, twelve; large chemical engines, fifteen; water carts, with 1,000-litre reservoirs (a litre equals 2.113 United States pints). Of oxygen smoke helmets there are sixty-eight; of ordinary smoke helmets with hand pumps, fifteen; horses, 132. In addition, experiments are being made with an electrically-driven wagon and two electrically-driven chemical engines. The fire telegraphic and telephonic installation, including the lines in the volunteer brigade district kept up by the professional brigade, comprises forty-seven telegraph stations, 240 telephone stations, 161 Morse instruments and 536 semi-public firecall-points. The appliances of the brigade are thoroughly good. The horsed chemical engines are very compact; the pneumatic and mechanically worked eighty-foot long ladders are most efficient; the horsed wagons are built very low, travel quickly and smoothly, and are well equipped with hook-ladders, smoke helmets, etc. On the special gear carts is carried “dangerous structure,” first-aid gear, such as crabs, picks, crowbars, etc. The net-jumping sheets are round, and, when used, are held shoulder-high, the men facing outwards. Sheets of various types are used where large numbers have to be dealt with. The turn-outs are made smartly and quietly. For a first alarm at headquarters there turn out four pieces of apparatus—a wagon, chemical engine, large wagon and an eighty-foot ladder. These are kept ready horsed, the horses standing in turns for about twelve hours at a stretch. They do not suffer from this, but are in good condition and travel well. The men arc well-disciplined, wellset-up, quick, and hearty. They wear white canvas uniforms with belts, from which hang loose pear-shaped hooks for ladder work, but some are apparently overweighted with rope and other gear. The headquarters, though interesting from an archaeological standpoint, are altogether out-of-date and unfit for their purpose, as, also, are the majority of the fire stations. The suburban volunteer fire brigades are thirty-four in number and have a membership of 1,200 of all rank. So far as concerns the election of their officers and administration, they are practically independent; but their equipment and uniforms and fire stations are supplied by the municipality, which, also, furnishes professional firemen for drill and telegraph purposes. They are most perfectly equipped with appliances, as a rule, the same as those of the professional brigade. Some of their chemical engines are of the combination type, and are equipped with fifteen-metre ladders. They have smoke helmets in abundance, and, being volunteers in the strictest sense of the word, take no pay for attendance or refreshments at fires. They turn out to fires in their own districts, and, when so ordered by headquarters, to those in other districts—forming thereby a strong reserve for great fires. Headquarters, of course, sends assistance to big suburban fires. Many miscellaneous duties are required of the professional and suburban brigades. Of these ambulance work is one. It is most perfectly performed, the station being excellently situated,. well planned and built and most elaborately equipped. Its staff does not perform fire duty, but the firemen are trained to first-aid work. The Vienna Volunteer Ambulance society was formed by Baron Mttrtdi in 1871, on the day after the disastrous Rink theatre fire. It has three departments: Fire service; flood service; and first-aid service. Theatre watches are provided for the theatres, except the Imperial theatres, which have private fire brigades. Three municipal chimneysweeps are stationed at headquarters to attend chimney fires. Certain firemen are still stationed on the tower of one of the churches to look out for “light showing.” They communicate by telephone with headquarters. All telegraphic fire-callpoints can be used as telephones. The oldfashioned notion of the police and “respectable citizens” being alone intrusted with keys to unlock the fire-call-points is altogether out of date. It may be noticed that the pompier ladder drill, with ladders of the round-hook type up to the third floor on actual buildings is exceedingly smart and good. The sliding sheets, also for life-saving in the case of large numbers arc thirty metres long and three metres wide, and are held at the bottom by six men, the rescued come down feet first. The work is done very rapidly. The water pressure is so good that steamers are rarely used. There are over 3,620 hydrants set, a few off standards, the majority underground, with an average pressure in all parts of the city of from five to six atmospheres (an atmosphere is 14.7 pounds to the square inch). More standard hydrants are needed.
The New Jersey Firemen’s home at Boonton has now twenty-six inmates. Its receipts last year were $14,971.97; its expenditures, $11,598.38.