THE WATCH DESK

THE WATCH DESK

overhauling the firemanic news of the day

Philadelphia Firemen Star on TV

Television viewers were thrilled by a dramatic news picture in which Philadelphia fire fighters played stellar roles late in April. A 70-year-old widow protested the parking of funeral cars in front of her house. She raised such a ruckus that police were called. The woman then locked herself in her home and armed with a shotgun, threatened to shoot anyone who tried to remove her. After she

turned a deaf ear to please of the clergy, the police and her son, plans for a teargas attack were made.

Firemen were called and gas masks issued. Gas cartridges were fired into the third floor and the unfortunate woman hurled most of them back into the street.

Policemen guarding the interior were forced out even though they were protected with masks. One collapsed and he with two companions were rushed to the hospital. Fire fighters donned demandtype equipment and stood fast.

At 6:15 p.m., the woman came running to a front window and collapsed over the sill, her arms outstretched. Firemen quickly laddered the building and Lieutenant Victor Mitura and members of Engine 26 went after the victim by way of the ladder and the interior stairs. . . Firemen and policemen seized her and the gun, and attempted to pull her back into the room. But in spite of the foul air she had inhaled, the crazed woman fought all hands. It was then decided to lower her by rope down the ladder.

Firemen tied a life rope around her, passed her through the window to the lieutenant and his helpers, and she was brought to bay after three hours of turmoil. Treated at the scene with oxygen, and later at the hospital for gas inhalation, the woman was put in a psychiatric ward and charged with a long list of crimes.

Hot Off the Tape

Governor Brown of California has signed a bill which makes possible the prosecution of a person for misrepresenting himself as a fire department official while selling fire fighting equipment. . . . In Stillwater, Okla., police found three cylinder containers and took them to an oil well servicing company to see if they were explosive. They were. The windows of the company were blown out during the test. . . . A homemade rocket roared out of a field in northeast Des Moines and cut partly through the top of an unoccupied station wagon parked in a heavily populated area quarter of a mile away. The 30-inch rocket had a wooden nose fashioned from a broomstick and an aluminum tube. A big bunch of boys were seen going into the field before the blast; police couldn’t find them afterwards. . . . A Los Angeles woman was reported injured seriously in San Diego when her car slammed into the side of Engine 4’s pumper responding on an alarm which later proved to be false. None of the four fire fighters was injured. . . . When a derailed propane gas tank car sprung a leak June 5 at Iowa Falls, Iowa, the entire east half of the city, including the municipal hospital was evacuated in fear of an explosion. . . . The San Francisco Fire Department estimates that 17 false alarms of fire in a three-hour period to which some 500 men and scores of units of apparatus were dispatched cost the city a total of $8,500.

. . . Because her mother wouldn’t let her go on a picnic, a 15-year-old girl touched off a vandalism spree at a Denver high school. Aided by two 17-year-old boys she did $8,000 damage, including starting a $5,000 fire. . . . A suitcase full of dynamite—capped and fused by an expert, according to authorities—was placed on the Rock Island Railroad tracks in Des Moines, June 5, shortly before a Rocket passenger train carrying 200 persons was due over the spot. But the charge failed to explode, apparently because the train cut the fuse. . . . The entire complement of Engine Co. 22 of the San Diego Fire Department, including Lieutenant HarI vey Harmelink were poisoned by food eaten at the station and hospitalized. Seems they ate Chinese food leftovers from a picnic of the previous day, which were brought in by one of the victims. Deputy Fire Chief A1 Penrose said all men would recover. . . . New York City has statutes which prohibit sale and use of fireworks. But a Brooklyn svoodshed loaded with the explosives blew up Ae night of May 31, damaging some 14 surrounding homes. Police say shed contained a $1,000 cache of illegal fireworks intended for July 4 bootleg trade. . . . A miniature cannon made by two Chico, Calif., high school boys, exploded while they were loading it in the kitchen of Carl Geear, Jr., one of them. Geear’s hand was shattered; the other boy was peppered by flying pellets and bits of metal.

Fire Chief Buys Jail for $5

It takes Fire Chief Charles I. Clark to put anyone in fail in the Village of Woodstock, Champaign County, Ohio.

The chief bought the Champaign County hoosegow for $5. Not just for the fun of locking up false alarmers (a rare species in this village), but rather to get rid of it! Seems the jail is in a corner of the village fire station, where it’s in the way of firemen and fire apparatus. Chief Clark, who has been a local fireman for 40 years and head of the department for a dozen years, says he doesn’t know fust what to do with his private jail. “I may board it up and use it to store coal in,” he said.

Enough Is Enough

San Angelo, Tex., City Commissioner G. T. Trusler acquired a very active jinx last spring which burned him out of two homes and got a good start on the third in a space of 10 days.

Arson investigators didn’t believe that one man could be that unlucky, and searched for a “jinx” that had a grudge against the commissioner.

On March 9 the Trusler family first discovered a fire in a bedroom of Aeir new home. Firemen did a fine job and kept the damage minor, as they did later the same afternoon, when a blaze was discovered in another bedroom while the Truslers were out visiting.

Three days later the family was not as fortunate. A fire broke out in the living room, seriously damaging the house and destroying the furniture. Trusler rented their old home, bought new furniture and moved Ae family back into it. While the decorators were redoing the new house on the 17th, fire broke out in the old house, destroyed the new furniture once again, and made the house uninhabitable. Trusler put his wife and family up with friends and took a room with his uncle. When he returned to the room on the 19th, a window curtain, window frame and empty baby bed were blazing away. Ten days, five fires.

The Watch Desk

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The Watch Desk

A Weighty Problem

One day last summer the Baltimore Fire Department was called for an unusual rescue operation. A 50-year-old woman weighing more than 400 pounds suffered a stroke in her third-floor apartment and the attending doctor wished to have her taken to the hospital. It required five fire fighters to lift the woman from the sofa, strap her in a basket-type litter and lower her to the ground via an ex- tended aerial ladder. She was then placed in a fire department ambulance for the trip to Provident Hospital.

Eugene Short

Not So Amusing

Dashields Locks on the Ohio River in Western Pennsylvania touch Moon Township but are located closer to the fire station of Crescent Township. Recently the diesel tow-boat “Freedom” caught fire while in the locks. The boat is owned by a company which has its headquarters on Neville Island about 7 miles up the river. An alarm was sent to the fire department of both townships. Somehow the directions were garbled and resulted in the apparatus passing each other on the highway. Turned out the Moon Fire Department was responding to Freedom “Township,” some 9 miles down the river, while the Crescent Fire Department was headed for Neville Island. By the time the strays were rounded up and headed in the right direction, the boat’s crew and lock operators had the fire under control. Damage was estimated at $250,000.

B. H. Morrison

Off the Tape

A passer-by noted flames in the Cottage Hose Co. station, Carbondale, Pa., Fire Department on November 21 and sounded the alarm. Local volunteers rushed to the scene and rescued the company’s brand new engine but efforts to save the building were in vain. Cause of the blaze is undetermined. . . . Recently the Glendale, R. I., Fire Department responded to the first call sounded on its brand new public alarm siren. The fire was in the Harry Wolstenholm residence where the button for activating the siren is located. Mr. Wolstenholm not only was the first to push the button, he was very grateful for having it. . . . In Pulaski, Va., a store owner complained to police that four cases of roman candles had been stolen from his store. He was promptly arrested on a charge of violating the anti-fireworks ordinance . . . Officials of Fort Plain, N. Y., recently invested a $20,000 bequest to the fire department in government bonds. The vamps will have the use of the interest on the investment. … In Manville, R. I., the taxpayers were treated to an unusual spectacle on December 15. The local fire fighters argued against a proposal to increase their salaries by 50 per cent! . . . The volunteers presently receive $50 a year and feared the increase to $75 might result in tax increase. The pay raise was passed by one vote and the tax rate remained unchanged. . . . Last October Carl Dachton of Miami, Fla. decided to build a better burglar trap. Dachton dialed his home telephone number up to the last digit. Instead of completing the call he inserted a cork behind the dial finger stop and attached a wire to it. His theory was that a thief would trip and complete the call causing the alarm. The trap worked very well and he caught the burglar, a 15-year-old intruder. The only hitch was that during the period he had tied up 99 other telephones by dialing the digits in advance. The telephone company warned that anyone emulating Dachton would lose his phone. . . . Three curious youngsters in Cincinnati lost their Christmas toys because they couldn’t wait to see them. The youngsters, aged 3, 5 and 6, dropped a match while snooping in a closet of their grandparents. The resulting fire destroyed the toys, family clothing and damaged furniture in two apartments before fire fighters extinguished them with a $3,000 loss. Said Grandma Harris, “Now they won’t get any presents—not unless there really is a Santa Claus!” . . . Mrs. Loree (Dolly) Mariwurm, described as a blue-eyed, 5-foot 10-inch blonde, was named public service commissioner of the Livonia, Mich., Fire Department on October 24. Mayor William W. Brashear picked her to boss the city’s 47 policemen and 55 firemen when the job fell vacant. The mayor justified his appointment because “we found she had all the qualifications of our male candidates.” The city council expressed its confidence in the selection at the next meeting—they voted to cut the pay of the office. (Norris T. Morton) … A San Jose, Calif., fire captain was accused last September of bilking six persons out of $20,000 with a unique automobile steering wheel. The captain was accused of six counts of grand theft after advertising that he planned to manufacture a springequipped steering wheel to reduce accidents. Five investors put $2,000 each for a 50-per-cent interest in the business and a sixth invested more than $9,000 for his share.

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Fires Back

Last September Mrs. Rose Parsley set fire to some trash in the backyard of her Columbus, Ohio, home. A .22-caliber cartridge in tbe trash exploded and the bullet struck the lady in the right hip. She was treated at a hospital and released.