THE VOLUNTEER FIREMAN
He Comes from All Walks of Life—Fire Fighting Now a Science, and Volunteers Must Study to Keep Abreast of Times—Necessity of Fire Schools— Members fiager to Learn
THE volunteer fire department, as typified by that of the city of Coatesville, Pa., is one that any municipality should be proud of. The personnel of this department is made up of citizens representing all classes of life and includes clerks, millionaires, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, storekeepers and mill men of all classes, whose characters have been carefully examined into by a competent and unbiased investigating committee before they were accepted into membership in any of the fire companies comprising the fire department. The time is not so far past when to be a member of a volunteer fire department stamped you as a “rough-neck” or a “booze-hitter”; not so now, however, for the game of firefighting and extinguishment has become a science and is recognized as such all over the country and to be a success in this profession means study and constant reading to keep up to date in all the very best methods of extinguishing fires and the knowing how to use, efficiently, the new tools and equipment that are being placed on the market for the purpose of helping to defeat one of the worst enemies this country has to fight, namely the Fire Scourge. To be a successful volunteer fireman trikes a man without fear but not reckless, one who is interested in the work without the hope of any monetary recompense and one who is willing to obey orders from the officers above him promptly and without question.
Officers Must Command Respect and Confidence
The officers must be men who have the respect and confidence of the firemen, and the citizens of the town as well, men who have level heads, can map out their battle against the flames immediately upon their arrival on the fire grounds and give orders accordingly and see that they are obeyed promptly.
There is no reason whatever why a volunteer fire department should not be a successful and efficient organization and one that the citizens of the town should look up to with confidence and respect and not down on with fear.
Importance of the Volunteer Department
There is no more important branch of municipal government than the volunteer fire department, as they safeguard the citizens of the town against financial loss, personal injury and possible loss of life at all hours of the day and night, and this notwithstanding the fact that they get no financial return for their services. The men must be ready at all times, either day or night, no matter what the weather, to respond to the alarm of fire, must respond promptly and without thought of the possible danger to themselves when the alarm sounds. They have no way of telling what they are going to meet in the way of danger, it might be an accident to the fire apparatus while responding to alarm, a fall from a ladder, struck by a falling wall or trapped in an upper story of a burning building while working at the fire. The volunteer fireman never thinks of these things when the alarm sounds, but, instead, has his mind fixed on extinguishing the fire as expeditiously as possible and with the least amount of loss from fire and water. The modern motor apparatus has been a great help to the volunteers, having ladders, chemicals, hose and pumpers on the ground promptly, it gives them a better chance to catch the fire in its infancy and to extinguish the same with comparatively little loss.
Every Department Should Establish a Fire School
Every volunteer fire department should establish a fire school, at which should be taught the proper and efficient use of tools, the handling of ladders, hose, etc., first aid, rescue work and safety first. It is surprising what a great amount of interest a school of this kind creates in a volunteer fire department; it has a tendency to key the men up to a higher standard of efficiency, breaks up jealousies between the various companies making up the department and teaches the men to work at a fire as a unit, with the sole purpose in view to extinguish the fire promptly and with little loss, also to rescue persons in danger and to give first aid promptly and properly on the fire ground and other places in an emergency as well.
Without the volunteer firemen the smaller towns and boroughs could not get along, as they could not afford to employ paid men, therefore the volunteer has been their salvation by saving untold millions of dollars’ worth of property and thousands of lives.
Hail to the faithful volunteer fireman, long may he live and prosper, and when the time comes for him to do so, may he retire with perfect content, knowing that he has been a faithful servant, with his work well done