Toronto Chiefs’ Conference Breaks Attendance Record
WITH WELL OVER 3,000 in attendance, including 2,000 active fire chiefs, most of whom were from Canada and the United States, but some of whom came from Latin America and such faraway places as Japan, the 89th Annual Conference of the International Association of Fire Chiefs was held in Toronto during the six days beginning September 22. This biggest convention ever held saw the Queen Elizabeth exhibition hall crowded with men of the fire service seeking information from the manufacturers at their well-appointed booths and from the meetings and panels that were conducted by experts in their various fields. These meetings and panels covered the full scope of fire department activities ranging from the sponsoring of Boy Scout troops to the salaries of chiefs of department.
Probably the most outstanding feature of the conference was the International Institute in Fire Department Administration. This was the first institute ever conducted at an annual conference and proved to be a most successful activity. About 140 attended the institute which was conducted on the two days prior to the opening of the conference and divided into two courses. One dealt with fire department management and the other with respiratory protection. The institutes were directed by John A. Granito, Associate Director of Freshmen Studies, State College, Albany, N. Y. This attention to high-level training was further accented when Chief Edward F. Deignan, president, IAFC, announced the receipt of five scholarship grants to be given annually to fire officers to further their education at college level in the field of fire fighting.
The report of the executive director, B. Richter Townsend, featured the need for more research in the field of fire fighting and pointed out the lack of information received in the fire field from research already conducted by the Federal government. Chief Townsend also pointed out trends in military fire protection, dwelling on the hazards involved when military personnel take over fire prevention, often using men who lack training and background in this field. He did, however, give praise to the Department of Defense and the Department of Civil Defense in promoting staff and command schools at Battle Creek, Mich.
Election of officers
Elected president for the forthcoming year was Chief Lewis A. Marshall of Providence, R. I. Selected to serve with him are Chief Raul Gandara of Puerto Rico, first vice president, and Chief R. F. Swanborough of Hamilton, Ont., second vice president. Re-elected treasurer was Chief G. A. Mitchell of Opelika, Ala., B. Richter Townsend, Hartsdale, N. Y., executive director of the IAFC, was reappointed by the board of directors.
It was the second time a fire department executive from Providence was elected president of the IAFC. The other was Chief George A. Steere, who was elected 75 years ago at the 14th Annual Conference held in Providence in 1886.
Some of the more important highlights of the conference follow:
According to the fire chiefs, there has been a definite increase in fraud fires and special agents of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, for instance, have centered their investigations on three areas of activity. These, according to John E. Stuerwald, assistant manager of NBFU’s arson department, are as follows: Individual fraud fires; operations of professional arson rings; and anticipated fires.
In more than 3,500 completed fire investigations during the past 12 months, NBFU records disclose that about one in every five were fraudulently motivated. As in the past several years, Mr. Stuerwald said, the occupancies most frequently involved in the probable fraud category were owner-occupied private dwellings. These represented more than 50 per cent of all fires in the probable fraud category. Next in frequency came restaurants, taverns and cafes (as a group), with retail stores a close third.
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In addition, there appears to be an upsurge in the number of fraud fires involving bowling alleys, retail discount outlets, retail furniture stores, and small grocery outlets.
Following up on Mr. Stuerwald’s remarks, The 1AFC Arson Committee urged fire chiefs all over the world to step up follow-up investigations of suspicious fires. According to the committee, no standard exists as a guide to provide fire department personnel for follow-up investigation. The committee believes it is incongruous that the crime of arson, which accounts conservatively for 10 per cent of all fire losses, does not have a set of standards as to its approach.
Fire chiefs’ salaries
Chief Dan Vogel of the Cincinnati Fire Department, chairman of the IAFC’s Committee on Salaries, asked members to consider a salary formula ranging up to 240 per cent above that of the base pay of a fireman. In presenting the formula, Chief Vogel said that it was necessary new to focus public attention on the importance of the fire chiefs position, explaining that in recent years their salaries have not kept pace with those of subordinate officers and fire fighters.
Recommendation was that for cities up to 25,000 population, the fire chief’s salary shall be 50 per cent more than a full-paid fire fighter, and in cities between 25,000 and 50,000, the salary shall be 100 per cent more than a full-paid fire fighter. In cities with more than 50,000 and upward population, the formula works in the following manner:
A fire chief shall receive 140 per cent more than a full-paid fire fighter. It further provides that for each 50,000 additional population in a city, an increase of 5 per cent of the fire fighter’s base pay be added until a population figure of 1,000,000 is reached. From there on, a chief would receive 95 per cent of a fireman’s salary added to his base pay, in addition to the 5 per cent population increases. Additional pay for greater population areas is justified by the fact that a chief’s duties and responsibilities increase commensurately in proportion to population increase.
Chief Edward F. Deignan, IAFC’s president, received a check in the sum of $1,000 from James Weintraub, vice president in charge, Uniform Fabric Division, Raeford Worsted Co., a division of Burlington Industries. The grant provides four $250 scholarships in professional fire fighting training at a recognized institution of higher education. Mr. Weintraub said the grant is being made annually and is in acknowledgement of the constant need to upgrade the professional standards of the fire service. Winners of these awards are: Deputy Chief Stephen Lendl, Clifton, N. J.; Battalion Chief John F. Nare, Burbank, Calif.; Captain H. E. Blackmon, Charlotte, N. C.; Captain Charles A. Salvail, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Alfred J. Houghton, publisher of FIRE ENGINEERING, presented Chief Deignan with a $500 scholarship to a recognized institution of higher learning. Any officer in the fire service is eligible to apply. The scholarship becomes effective in 1963 and Mr. Houghton said he anticipates the grant will be made annually.
Standardization of hose threads
Roi B. Woolley reported for the committee that for nearly a century the fire service in the United States had been advocating the need for standardization of fire hose threads. In the report it said that the United States Forest Service has converted their 1 ½-inch hose couplings in Southern California to the National Standard thread and that they are now in the process of converting their equipment in northern California. The report criticized the Emergency Community Services, Department of Defense, for its alleged failure to effect standardization in all communities throughout the nation. The report made it plain that the fire service cannot be held responsible for the loss of life and property by fire, when nonstandard fire hose threads are a contributing factor.
Fire Chief Albert W. Kimball, Hingham, Mass., reported that the IAFC, representing fire service leadership in the United States, Canada, and 28 countries abroad, sponsors 2,109 Boy Scout units, an increase of 129 over the previous year. He pointed out that there had been a rapid growth in the number of units sponsored since the program was initiated in 1948 with 170 units, and this growth today represents a 1,000 per cent increase. A total of 62,000 boys are now under direct fire service leadership.
Chief David B. Gratz, Silver Spring, Md., in his capacity as a chairman of IAFC’s Committee on Volunteers, reported volunteer fire departments are often lacking in the latest information on methods of fire prevention and extinguishment. His committee urged that the IAFC become the clearing house for this type of information. According to Chief Gratz, a recent poll of volunteer fire chiefs showed that the volunteer service covers large areas far removed from fire department headquarters. Also, the growth of the suburbs in metropolitan areas now means that many volunteer departments provide more than routine service. Volunteers in these growing communities are faced with the same fire protection problems found in large cities. In addition, more attention shoidd be given to the need for mutual aid and the related problems which it creates.
A recommendation for fire chiefs to seek legislative permission for the employment of 18-year-olds, rather than at 21, was approved by the chiefs in session at the IAFC. Chief Irving Merrick of IAFC’s Committee on Civil Service Classification said the argument in favor of it is that the armed forces find this age suitable for recruits. “Because our educational system makes little or no provision for fire training in junior and community college,” Chief Merrick reported, “a number of otherwise interested young men are lost to the fire service. Also, where persons drop out of formal schooling at the close of their high school careers to seek and find other jobs, they are reluctant to quit those jobs when they are 21 to join the fire department.”
The 1962 conference offered two panel-workshops as a result of the interest raised by this popular feature of last year’s Las Vegas conference. Donald M. O’Brien, editor, FIHE ENGINEERING, moderated “Techniques of Successful Public Relations Programs,” assisted by Chief Kenneth Putnam, Kitchener, Ont., and Chief Keith E. Klinger, Los Angeles County, Calif. It resulted in a lively discussion from the floor as a cross section of opinion was developed.
Chief Bernard Padgett, Alexandria, Va., moderated “Transition from Volunteer to Paid Department” with Fire Marshal Elliot Jayne, Williamsburg, Va., Fire Department, and Chief Joseph Giammetteo, Glen Echo, Md., assisting. It was pointed out that this problem is widespread and not limited to any specific area in the United States or Canada.
Plans for the 90th Annual Conference to be held in Memphis, Tenn., October 25-31, 1963 were finned up prior to adjournment.