TWO-PLATOON ARGUMENTS.

TWO-PLATOON ARGUMENTS.

In a circular issued. Charles E. Mitchell, who is president of the Fire Commission of Fast Orange, N. J., contends that a fire department is of a semi-military character and asserts, in opposition to two platoons, that it could work no more successfully than an army whose soldiers would quit at eight o’clock in the morning, to be released by others who would quit at six o’clock in the evening. The fireman’s day, he continues in the circular, according to press reports, is not a new thing, and the men knew what the hours were when they entered the department, and that to allow for the nature of their employment, provision has been made for maintaining a pension fund, by giving certain fees and an amount equalling one per cent, of the men’s wages for the purpose. Also, that now the men want these allowances and the hours of these less favorably placed as well. Further than this, it is no reflection, the statement holds, to say that the work of the firemen is not hard. While the question of two platoons appears to be one of those which each community must decide for itself, because of different local conditions which make for or against the successful operation of such a plan, the system has been inaugurated in a number of cities, and told in this journal, and has been operated with successful results. Different views on this question are held by many of these interested and versed in fire department administration, and much of this divergence of opinion is to be accounted for by the different conditions confronting those in the various communities. Mr. Mitchell’s circular, therefore, is perhaps of general interest to fire department officials the country over because of his opposition to the twoplatoon plant, than because of the various arguments he presents in it relative to the duties of firemen and the returns received by them. The likening of the fire departent to an army does not seem to apply in this instance, because an army may be far away, while the work of the fireman is done close to home. He is correct in saying that the firemen’s day is not a new thing, but this goes to prove that they have been long suffering. That the fireman knew the hours when he joined the department does not appear a conclusive argument against seeking improvement, for the same is done with approval in other lines. The pension provision, of which Mr. Mitchell speaks, is another argument that does not seem conclusive for, with his regular pay and pension system plus easier hours, the returns received by the fireman for the perils he encounters, and is sometimes overcome by, is small at that. Indeed, the salary of a fireman may be said to be less actual pay for the service he renders than simply a means of living while he gives these services for which no money can repay him. Further than this, it is safe to assume that firemen throughout the country will agree that the work of a fireman is hard, and any others who are familiar with a fireman’s work will agree with them. A fireman’s work does not consist of hard work continuously, but there can be no gainsaying that at imes it is hard and, moreover, that, as a whole, the life is a hard one; and all for a stipend that in many instances is all too small. This question of pay was presented very clearly and cogently in a letter in last week’s issue of this journal by Chief Henry R. Yates, of Schenectady, who urges increases of salaries in every walk of life connected with the fire bureau. The fireman, as a rule, is worthy of far better treatment at the hands of municipalities than he has received, and with national progress he may naturally expect some improvement.

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