Chief Wilmarth contributed the following paper on his fire department to the Topeka Daily Capital, of Friday, March 16, 1900—”Sheldon edition.”
In every municipality the department of public service to which is intrusted the protection of the lives, the homes, and the property-interests of its citizens against fire and the disastrous results that are continually occurring therefrom is one of the most important branches of the public service. To this department belongs as well the removal and control, as far as is possible, of tho fire hazards as they exist in every city.
The fire service is a hazardous and exacting public service. The officers and men in a city department are practically on duty the entire twenty-four hours of each day, and are giving the best yeurs of their life to the protection and safety of others. They are deprived of many of the comforts of home. They are exposed in the discharge of duty to all weather; they must be always on the alert, and ready to respond quickly to every call when others are in danger, at all hours of the night or day. And the very nature of the service and of the element they must confront, with its attendant dangers, places the fireman liable to injury at almost any moment, and not infrequently, to loss of life In the fire service of this city we find from the department records that during one year, as many os twenty-two members of the fire department were injured at fires. And not a year passes that some of these men do not meet with injuries of a greater or less serious nature. In 1892 an officer of the department died from injuries received in the discharge of his duties, and two other members have become permanently injured for life Examples of manly heroism are frequent in the fire service. The nature of the service requires cool-headed, determined, and skilled officers and men. The discipline of the service requires and stimulates prompt and unselfish devotion to the discharge of duty—the duty of watching over, and protecting the safety of the lives of others and the property-values of a community; it inculcates a disregard of personal comfort in the discharge of duty to others. The discipline and training school the fireman to thorough self-control; to manliness of action under all circumstances; to coolness and self possession in every emergency that may confront him, and in the exercise of quick and correct judgment in the discharge of duty.
The department numbers thirty men and I have had the honor to be in charge of the department twenty-eight, years. There have been many instances in the history of the fire department of this city where the saving the city from a serious conflagration was due to the skill and labors of this body of hardy and thoroughly disciplined men.
The following extracts are taken from the printed book of rules and regulations of the fire department of this city;
Every man appointed to the service is required first to pass a thorough physical and practical examination, to determine as to his general fitness for the service He must be of good moral character, sober and industrious in habits, and in every respect reliable and trustworthy, courteous and manly in bearing and address, and physically strong and robust in body and health.
Intoxication is not permitted upon the part of any member or employe of the department, and no intoxicating liquor of any kind is allowed within, or about any of the fire stations Profane, abusive, or improper language is never used by members of the department. Neither is it permitted by the rules to be used by any person within, or about a firestation. Officers and members are required to treat and address one another in a courteous and respectful manner at all times, and in all relations to be firm and exact in the discharge of every duty, but kind and strictly just always. Truthfulness and honesty are a part of tho discipline of the service.
Maliciously or carelessly to make a false report concerning, or to the discredit or injury of another, Is not tolerated On the Sabbath and at night the fire stations are kept quiet; and on that day no mechanical work is permitted to be done within or about quarters except such as the emergencies of the fire service might, absolutely require for public snfety. The rules provide that visitors are to be always rereived courteously and all proper attention shown them. But habitual loafing within, or about any fire station is positively prohibited. The depart mentis organized and maintained upon a strictly non-partisan basis, and no officer or member is allowed to take any part in politics, except to vote. And all appointments and promotions in the service are made solely upon fitness and merits Members are required to exercise the greatest care possible to prevent all unnecessary damage to all property exposed or endangered at fires, and it is made their duty to protect from waste or needless injury, all property placed in their charge.