The WATCH DESK

The WATCH DESK

Overhauling the firemanic news of the day

Who Says Philadelphia’s Slow?

This delayed item, from contrib’ Bob Leavitt in the Quaker City, should disprove the old gags about the slow motion in that municipality. Although the police bore the brunt of the excitement, the firemen were in the kaleidoscopic picture.

It started with Mary Pierson, 31, who was expecting a baby. A neighbor’s persistent phoning prompted a message to radio car 222 to hurry to Mrs. Pierson’s home. But car 222 developed a flat tire. So car 297 was dispatched to the scene—but never made it, —motor trouble! Then—out went car 169—and made it, in time to assist Mrs. Pierson in the birth of a daughter.

By this time the flat of car 222 had been fixed and it came sireening up at Mrs. Pierson’s home just in time to hear a neighbor scream “Fire!”

The crew of No. 222 raced inside after turning in an alarm, and battled a mattress blaze until firemen arrived and did their stuff!

Considerable “Unassisted” Stretch

We publish a belated communique from Kay Moses, Baltimore, Md., concerning a lot of labor for a single company unit—Engine 55 of the Baltimore Fire Department—all for a fire that possibly never warranted it. Says Contrib’ Moses:

“I don’t know if it’s a record or not, but it was the longest stretch around these parts in the memory of some of the old-timers.

Responding on a “silent” alarm August 20 (1945), Engine Co. 55, Baltimore, made a stretch of 105 sections of hose, unassisted. This line, for a dump fire, consisted mostly of 2 1/2 in. and 3 in. “dump” hose (condemned fire hose) according to my informant. A large quantity of this hose is stored at No. 55’s quarters, for use on the several dumps in the district.”

Deponent sayeth not what sort of a stream trickled out of that 5,250 ft. layout or how many lengths went “gebust” in the action!

House Burns as Bridge Balks Truck

A vehicle bridge marked “Capacity 6 Tons” caused members of the Clinton Township, N. J., Fire Department to detour in their response to a call for a fire, with the result that the new cottage home of Milton Stricker, secretary of the New Jersey Beemasters Association, was destroyed. The detour took the volunteers nearly five miles out of their way.

The Clinton Township pumper weighs seven tons, and the firemen, faced with the notice that the bridge which spans the Jersey Central Railroad Tracks would not safely support their truck, decided to take the seven mile route to the fire, instead of the two-and-a-half mile road and run the risk of disaster should the bridge collapse.

Firemen reported they had heard that the railroad recently strengthened the bridge to accommodate a greater tonnage, but the township had not been officially informed, and the sign had not been removed or amended.

Hot Off the Tape

Peg-leg Pete is striding through life in Moline, I11., thanks to the city’s firemen. Peg-leg is a duck. A turtle chewed off his right leg. The Brothers, who act as protectors for the ducks in the park pond, fashioned Pete a wooden leg to replace his lost limb. It’s all duckey by Pete… In New Haven, Conn. according to contrib’ Bob Meickle, five fire companies with the late Deputy Chief Killoy, and Battalion Chief Lynch, responded on a box alarm one night from Court and Artizan streets only to find no fire—and no box. It was just a new version of the hit-and-run driver who took the pedestal ’n’ all with him! . .

In one night Boston taxpayers were “soaked” about $1,200, between 6:00 and 11:30 P.M., when 16 false alarms were turned in at a cost estimated by the fire department at about $75 per response … (thanks Irving Johnson)…. In Ottumwa, Ia., the local press (and the fire department too, no doubt), were rejoicing that 1944’s fire losses were much less than the year before when on New Year’s Eve a single fire caused over $75,000 loss! . . . This believe-it-or-not is from Camden, N. J. It’s about John Peas, 57-year old courthouse fireman. He chased two cats from the courthouse basement: got badly scratched and had his wounds treated and bandaged. Then he lit a cigarette and suffered burns of both hands when his bandages caught fire. Well, the Greeks have a word for it.. Then there was that one about Lou Nova’s horse, which aped Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. It kicked over a butane tank and started a fire that burned up Lou’s house—and his horse…. In Pownal, Me., police had no trouble in running down and capturing Jean F. Gamache, 18-year-old convicted firebug, after he escaped from Pownai State School for the third time. They caught up with him after putting out three barn fires he had set en route to his home in Brunswick (thanks Johnny Weisberger). . . . According to the Avoca, Ia., press, a new fire siren was purchased locally to be “sounded for fires in the daytime, but not after 10:30 P.M. unless there would be a bad fire in the business district.” Nice going! . . . Dryden, N. Y., volunteers still talk about the time they were battling the fire in the Village Hall when their stream petered out to a trickle, and investigation disclosed that the intake pipe was clogged with frogs…. In Williamson. W. Va.. Mrs. Nancy Horton, 43, died from loss of blood an hour after she jumped through a window, thinking that her home was burning when actually the house next door had caught fire. . . . After receiving a $10 chemical set as a Christmas gift, Marvin Galman, 16, Chicago. I11., “experimented” with it so successfully the set blew up, set fire to the house and landed him in the hospital. . . . We like that one sent by the Concord, N. H., Fire Department. It was in the form of an “oddi-torial” and read: A Concord citizen just brought in a postcard, mailed from Deerfield. Mass., which reads as follows: “Dear Bill, Will you run over and tell Chief Tuttle I forgot to tell him a lady called up the morning I left and said her house was all afire but, as I was busy getting away, it slipped my mind.” ’ (Signed) Bew Dang (whose real name, says our informants, should be Bew Baney. . . . Speaking of the wayward press, the Dumont. Ia., Journal in an exalted effort to induce the local folks to buy some fire apparatus, talks about the swell “shiny new red truck” of neighboring Ryan, Ia., which has—and we quote: “a capacity of 5,000 gallons of water per minute, space for 1,800 feet of hose, a 300 gallon booster tank and ladders.” Well, nobody can stop the vols from dreaming! . . . Henry J. Bronson, 20, a Negro, caused consternation among police and firemen when he stood up, shook himself and started to walk away after leaping from a fifth story window when a slight fire broke out in an apartment which he was visiting. He was treated for internal injuries.

Too Long—and Too Little

The good folk of Berea, Ohio, suburb of Cleveland, voted Fire Chief George Smith a nice knotty problem. They elected to give him $25,000 for a new streamlined pumper, but they turned down another bond issue that would have provided suitable quarters for it in a new fire station.

As a result, although the Chief had measured everything around the old fire station at Seminary and E. Bridge Sts., including the width of same, he is pretty sure he’s gonna be later than he should to fires which occur to the left of the station. The truck is so long that only by pulling it out diagonally from the station into Seminary St., and then diagonally right across the intersection of Bridge and left, down Bridge, can it answer an alarm. It’s too long to come out of the station and turn left on Seminary “even for a four-alarm,” says the press, and too long to double back with a right turn on Bridge. So-o-o-o, any fire to the left of the station, or back of it, will be reached only by a roundthe-block route. This, says the Chief, is serious because “a fire doubles itself every 14 seconds.”

The new problem-pumper will be delivered in July and the Chief is asking all persons to the left and in back of the station to “hold their fires previous to that date for quickest service.”

Look!—No License!

Your remember the old wheeze about what fire engine can’t run on the streets. Well, here’s a companion gag. It comes from Chief Ollie Sanborn, of Portland, Me.

Seems that there was quite a to-do in the City Hall when a voice full of feminine pulchritude telephoned Chief Sanborn one day and asked him for the license number of Engine 7 of his Fire Department.

“It hasn’t any,” said the chief.

“Then you are running it on the streets illegally aren’t you,” asked the questioner.

Chief Sanborn replied, “I don’t let it run on the streets—” and finally convinced the charming clerk that no laws ’n’ ordinances were being broken because. in sooth, Engine 7 is the Portland fireboat.

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