THE WALLA WALLA FIRE DEPARTMENT
Walla Walla, Wash., is proud of her efficient fire department. Its equipment is one combination chemical and hose wagon, one hose wagon, one first size Metropolitan steamer. one second size Metropolitan steamer, one ladder truck, one chemical wagon, chief’s horse and buggy, a,500 feet of hose, and the last addition to the equipment is an eighty-horse Seagrave automobile combination hose and chemical truck, and the members of the department number 18 men. There are two lire stations, one known as Central or No. 1, located at the corner of Rose and Third streets, near the city hall, only one block from the business centre of the town, and Station 2, at the corner of Park and East Alder streets.
Station I is a handsome and roomy brick structure modern in every detail wlich has been occupied since December 24. 1907. The apparatus and horses are housed on the ground floor, while the second floor is occupied by the assembly room, dormitories and chief’s office, as well as the electrical fire alarm equipment, which connects with the gong in both Station I anil Station 2, the chief’s residence and the city water department. The apparatus housed at Station 1 includes one hose wagon, ladder truck, chemical, one first site Metropolitan steam engine, and the 80-horse Seagrave combination chemical and hose automobile truck. One team is now kept at this station in addition to Chief Metz’s horse and buggy. During the season when much water is used in the city for lawn irrigation or whenever the pressure on the. plugs seems inadequate to meet demands for fire-fighting another team is kept at the station to haul the steamer, which is then put into active service.
Station 2 is a wooden building which was completed in April, 1904. Nine men make their homes liere, and while the rooms are not so large as those at Central Station they are very comfortably and attractively arranged. The apparatus at this station includes the second size Metropolitan engine and the combination chemical and hose wagon. Born stations respond to all alarms. During the cooler months when the gravity water supply through the city mains is amply sufficient for all ordinary purposes, the steam engines are not during the summer, when a great deal of water is being used for lawn irrigation, both engines are on the active list. Throughout the city there are 209 plugs, fed by 6, 8 and 10-inch mains, giving a pressure per square inch of from 125 pounds in the lower portions of the city to 60 pounds in the higher districts. A complete Gamewell fire-alarm system was installed in 1904. There are 52 alarm boxes belonging to the city, and two private boxes. Added to this is the constant night and day telephone service which covers the city very thoroughly and affords means for instant communication from every quarter. One man is constantly on duty at the phone at Central station.
The full pay department was organized in January, 1903, at which time nine men were in service. Previous to that time fires were combatted by a volunteer department. In 1889 one driver and two engineers were under pay. In April, 1891, the first horse and a hose cart were introduced, this being increased to two horses and a hose wagon in 1894. In 1896 a chemical was added. In February, 1904, Chief William Metz was induced by the city to come from Sioux City. Iowa, where he had gained an enviable reputation as a fire fighter, to take full charge of the local department, and the remarkable efficiency that has developed since he took command is ample evidence that no mistake was made in his selection. Although not an old man in years Walla Walla’s chief is a veteran in years of service who knows every detail of his business and devotes his undivided attention to it. In years of actual service Assistant Chief Robert Wolf heads the Walla Walla fireman, having put in 19 years of his life on duty. This service too has been continuous except for one and one-half years which he spent in Alaska. Next conies Captain George J. Guthridge with If years of duty well performed. Engineer J. M. Thornton is another of the old-timers, although in number of years of actual service his record is slightly below that of Wolf and Guthridge. These three men have e been connected with the Walla Walla fire department practically ever since it was first in existence, and through their valuable experience in contending with local conditions many of the difficulties which arise are avoided In 1963 when the department was reorganized into a pay service, the records show that the firemen responded to an average of two fire alarms each week. During the present year no fire causing a damage in excess of $3,000 has occurred. On the 18th of November, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was set on fire by some unknown person and damaged to the extent of $2,929.95 according to the records of the department. Next to this comes the fire in the “Togs” clothing store a few weeks ago, when the damage was less than $2,500. One hundred and twenty-two alarms were turned in during 1910 to date, 12 of which were false, and the record for the year speaks volumes for the efficiency of the department, emphasizing the fact that there is no delay in responding and putting out the blazes before they get beyond control.
Walla Walla obtains its water supply from springs nearly two miles from the business center, the system being gravity and pump to standpipe, which has a capacity of 15,000 gallons. There is a reservoir with a capacity of 2,750,000 gallons, according to the latest handbook on waterworks. At the time this was published there were 88 fire hydrants, 91 meters, 1,950 services and 30 miles of mains from 8 to 20 inches in diameter. The domestic pressure was 25 pounds, and fire pressure 30 pounds. There are two pumping engines of 1,000,000 gallons per day capacity.