Toronto Fire Department Troubles
The Toronto fire service is being investigated. An alderman, after the recent severe fires in that city, made several charges against the department, including a lack of system, negligence in turning in general alarms when necessary, no keys for fire alarm boxes, lack of hose, fire boat not in service or not stationed at proper place during a large fire, captain of fire boat physically unfit for position (he has since resigned), chief too easygoing and good natured in administering department affairs, inadequate water mains at the Island, lack of hydrants, lack of water pressure, failure of water pressure pumps, etc.
Chief Thompson, in reply, admits the water conditions to be as charged, for which he is not to blame. He says: “I don’t know that I had the right to allow the boat to stay at Princess street, but I thought it better to allow it, as the captain said that if he was forced to go to the Island he would resign, as his life was worth more to him than anything else. I had no idea no water was on, and I was not notified in any way. Perhaps the system between the two departments is not so co-operative as it might be, or as it will be in the future.”
Chief Thompson also pointed out that tlje department is working out a new fire alarm telegraph system which would do away with the practise of telephoning for more apparatus. The difficulty, the chief explained, was that when an alarm was rung in sometimes too much apparatus responded, considering the size of the fire, and thus left other sections of the city practically unprotected. This new system cannot, however, be put into operation until North, East and West Toronto are linked up with the system in the central section of the city. Chief Thompson claimed that manyfalse alarms would be sent in if the box keys were sent to the Island and were left there all the time.
W. N. Ferguson, counsel for the complainant, in summing up, emphasized several points. The first was the absence of record of the daily fires. This, he thought, should be turned in to the chief for inspection each morning and the report should contain news of the fire, number of men engaged, and the apparatus. Another report which should be obtained is from the switchboard as to the times of calls and the apparatus sent. A book of instructions would also be of great benefit to the firemen. This should contain general information regarding fire fighting, location of boxes, mains and hydrants. A map should be in each fire station showing the size of the water mains throughout the city. Other points brought out were the importance of records of places where explosives are stored; practical drill with apparatus and instruction to the men; every six months a report on the men’s physical condition; no fireman should hold office in any political organization; records of notices sent to fire tug captain should be kept. In respect to the age at which firemen ought to retire, Mr. Ferguson said : “I think there should be a limit beyond which no man shall be allowed to serve in active service as a fireman.”
Ashland, Ohio, is considering tentative plans for the extension of its water system. Conduits will be enlarged and other improvements made.