System Provides a Community, Having Limited Equipment, the Benefits of a Multiple Fire Alarm Response at no Added Cost

WITH modern motorized high speed fire apparatus, and the continuous improvement in road building, the distance between cities, towns, and villages has been shortened by many minutes.

It is common practice in many large outlying territories for fire apparatus to respond to fires up to twenty or thirty miles from home. It is a fine spirit and a much appreciated help which no one questions. But the dangerous part of the situation is the fact that in many towns and villages only a single piece of apparatus is all that that town or village has to work with. When such long runs are made, it leaves the town unprotected.

Let us assume a large group of farm buildings, one of them on fire. The one apparatus responds, making a run of ten or fifteen miles.

If there is water available, within reach, the pumper is put to work and a stream used to hold exposures. Picture further this department using a lay of a thousand feet of hose, the pumper down in some field drafting from a pond, the boys doing a good job.

Fire Starts in Village, With Apparatus Absent

A message comes through saying a fire has started in Morgan’s hardware and paint store, in the main business block of the town back home.

Well, the Fire Department is fifteen miles from home, all their hose out, and fighting to keep things under control.

What is the answer? Should the department stop everything, pick up and start for home, leaving Smith’s buildings to finally burn? He is a tax-payer, is within the fire district and is entitled to fire protection. Or should the department stay, and the Chief start to worry what fire company he can call to handle the situation back home?

In either case much valuable time is going to be lost, and also much valuable property. It takes time to drain and pick up a thousand feet of hose, especially in freezing weather, and make the run back home.

There are two things to help just such a situation:

First, more apparatus. This is a slow, hard business. Town boards and taxpayers are not usually fire minded, until a bad fire wipes out a large section of their town.

Second, establish a mutual aid and cover-up plan.

This is not an easy job either, and requires much work and thought, plus a lot of co-operation. Such systems are being used in many rural communities with excellent results.

How a Mutual Aid Plan Functions

Talking from experience, the mutual aid plan used throughout Dutchess and part of Putnam Counties in New York State has been very successful.

A Fire Chiefs Association was formed as a first move, some forty Fire Departments being represented. Then the plan was worked out by a committee of the members.

An idea of how this plan works is as follows: Poughkeepsie maintains operators on duty at their fire alarm station twenty-four hours a day, so this station was selected as the nerve center of the plan. A private telephone line was installed. with an unlisted number known to every Fire Department in the plan.

At the station a set of running cards are kept with the names of each town or village Fire Department. At least four or five phone numbers are listed on each card, so when the operator at the alarm station wants a department, he can get in direct communication with the Chief or an officer of that department.

The names of the various departments who are scheduled to respond to aid or cover for any given town, is also printed on these cards.

If town A has a large fire and needs help, the Chief or officer in charge calls alarm headquarters and states his name and town or company asking for help. In other words he is turning in a second alarm.

Systematic Aid and Cover Up Plan

The operator immediately runs through the cards, picking out the card for town A. He sees town B listed as scheduled to go to the aid of town A on the first call. He so notifies them and they go. He then picks out B’s card and finds department C covers for B, when B needs help. So he notifies C to stand by to run into town B, if B has a fire. Should it so happen that B town has a fire and C has to go, town D would move in to town C and town E would be notified to stand by.

This whole schedule is so worked out that a second call for help is taken care of, yet every town has protection. Many of our towns have two or more pieces of apparatus, which enables us to make this schedule possible.

We feel that with this plan, every town has protection, since a department on stand-by call can get to a neighboring town and go to work much fastei than it would be possible to pick up, drain and lay in the apparatus a long lay of hose to get back home.

It also relieves the Chief of any worry while out of town at a fire, as it is his duty to call the alarm station to let them know he needs to be covered.

There is no limit to the area of such a plan. It can take in one or several counties. Co-operation is the key note. Every member of the plan must be willing to give help when needed, if he expects to receive help when he wants it.

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