TO EDUCATE FIREMEN.
For many years, up to a comparatively recent period, indeed, the firemen’s calling was regarded with a kind of contempt, so far, at least, as concerned looking upon it as having any connection with scientific skill, it was considered as unskilled labor, on a par with that of the ordinary policeman, the hodcarrier or ditch-digger—a calling in which all that was required of those who followed it was pluck and the ability to scale uizzy heights, to run up and down ladders and to be strong enough to handle hose heavily charged with water. As to there being any science in the art of firefighting, such a thing was never thought of, and the idea would have been poohpoohed if it had even been mooted. That brains and skilled labor were needed in the manufacture of fire apparatus was acknowledged on all sides, and that the chemicals required for the various sorts of fire-extinguishers called for brains for their selection and mixing was admitted. But, when the various pieces of apparatus and the different kinds of lire extinguishers had been put into the hands of the firemen, whatever knowledge of science and its application might have been shown by the inventors and manufacturers remained with them, and the firemen were merely instruments for putting fire out somehow or another. The late Supt. Braidwood, of the London firq brigade, was probably the first to recognise the fact that fire-extinguishment needed brains; but lie received little or no encouragement even from the insurance companies, his employers. Captain Eyre Massey Shaw, his successor, who was afterwards knighted for his services as superintendent of the reorganised Metropolitan fire brigade, entertained a still higher opinion of the necessity for firemen receiving better instruction, not so much in the mere technique of their calling (in that the London men were versed), but in the technical knowledge that should prevent fires. It was he who tried to institute better methods of training, looking towards the inspection of buildings, their construction, the materials employed, their capabilities in resisting fire, the facilities for getting out the flames and for supplying easy means for the occupants to escape from them, and the like. His theory was that firemen should receive a special training, just as soldiers, sailors or mechanics are trained for the work they have to do. and his ideas, after a hard light on his part, were partially adopted by the authorities. Under his successors’ administration and those of the superintendents of fire brigades outside of London, including the British colonies; with their endeavors sedulously fostered by the B. F. C. and its red books—a most educative series issued by a society that spares no expense in its presentment of both the scientific and the practical side of firefighting—-the firemen of the United Kingdom, paid as well as volunteer, are subjected more or less to a course of scientific training that embraces the best of what can IK* gleaned from the highest authorities at home or abroad—and. not least, in the United States. The movement in the same direction has for some years taken root in this country, the trouble here, however, being that there is no society such as exists in Great Britain, that is willing to expend money in spreading broadcast the necessary literature for the instruction of firemen. The difficulty is being gradually and every year more rapidly overcome by the various fire chiefs and State firemen’s associations, and principally by the International Association of Fire Engineers, at whose conventions and gatherings papers are read and discussed and questions asked and answered, which serve as educators all around, and are not only only imbuing the firemen themselves with a sense of the necessity for a proper education in tneir calling, but, also, the public with a proper idea of the dignity of the profession and the right of firemen to occupy the position that is their due. T hey are already popular favorites as the protectors of life and property. When once they are educated scientifically—and their pluck and technique will not suffer from the process— they will then come to the front, like the scientific corps of the army and navy, as men versed in that higher knowledge which fits them for any sphere in life. The achievement of this desirable end will be helped on by the establishment of firemen’s colleges, such as that contemplated for some years by New’ York city, and, if Fire Commissioner O’Brien can accomplish this object, if politics can be kept out of it and competent scientists and practical firefighters can be appointed as instructors as well, a great forward step will have been achieved.