VOLUNTEER FIREMEN AND THEIR APPARATUS.

VOLUNTEER FIREMEN AND THEIR APPARATUS.

CHIEF G. O. WILMARTH, TOPEKA, KAN.

At the recent meeting of the Kansas Fire Prevention association Chief Wilmarth, of the Topeka fire department, read a paper on the topic, “What can reasonably be asked of volunteer fire department towns, with or without a system of waterworks, in the way of fire apparatus, the proper care it should have and the necessary drill and training of volunteer firemen?” Chief Wilmarth considered fire protection for every sort of property among the “most important and very first duties” of municipal officers, and, wherever possible, some intelligent and faithful officers should be charged with seeing that the local laws, passed or to be passed, defining and regulating the proper construction of buildings, the storage, handling and due care of explosives, the construction and care of chimneys, heating appliances, electrical wiring and installations and the like, are duly enforced, that work to be intrusted to the chief of the fire department where many full paid firemen are employed. Where a town has no system of waterworks or any effective fire apparatus of any kind, as a first instalment a light hook and ladder truck and a chemical engine should be provided. The truck should have six or eight ladders of different lengths, including one or two for roof use, four pick-head fire axes, two or four portable chemical extinguishers of three or six gallons each, according to the size of the truck, twelve or fifteen buckets, a crowbar, a plaster hook, two heavy, pull-down hooks, with pole, chain and rope, the requisite number of pike poles for raising long ladders, such three-quarter-inch rope as may be needed, six extra charges for chemical extin guishers, two scoop shovels, two hayforks, four hand hooks for handling baled hay, one door-opener, one roof-cutter, four lanterns and a small box contain ing five or six pounds of common salt for extinguishing chimney fires, etc. Chemical engines have over and over again proved their value for con troling and extinguishing fires in their early stage. If possible, they should be horsed and manned by two or three paid men. If there is no immediate prospect of a waterworks system being installed, fire cisterns should be built in the town and kept filled, with means of filling them, if necessary, at hand. In that case, a light, small-sized steamer might be substituted for the chemical engine—both would be better, as, with the hook and ladder truck, which is of obligation, a fairly adequate amount of fire protection would then be on hand. Where waterworks are installed, if the plant is in good condition and adequate to the needs of the town, one or more combination chemical and hose wagons or hose carts, the number and the amount of standard hose to he governed by the size of the town, should be on hand the combination apparatus being preferable when horses are used. A fully equipped hook and ladder truck is. of course, to be included. Instead of a livery stable, some old shanty or an open shed joined on to a barn or henhouse, the apparatus should be kept properly housed in a building kept in proper repair and duly clean. Within it should be a comfortable and pleasant sittingroom, a suitable dormitory, with beds for such members of the volunteer department as sleep there in their turns. As a matter of course, none of the ladders, tools or other appliances should ever be borrowed by outsiders—even by the volunteer fire men—for their own uses. One good alarm bell should be hung in some easily accessible place, and a means devised of notifying the firemen as soon as a fire breaks out and of conveying the apparatus to the spot as quickly as possible. Immediately after use the hose should be dried and cleansed; cotton hose should be thoroughly dried. Where possible, an extra supply of hose should be kept ready to place in the wagon or cart, while the wet hose is being dried. All hose should be taken from the wagon or cart and thoroughly dried at least once every thirty days. In all volunteer and paid fire departments the chief should be a good executive officer and business man, a thorough disciplinarian, but at the same time considerate of and kind to his men. Every active member should also be taught to understand his business thoroughly, and regular drills of both officers and men should be held regularly at least once a month—oftener, if necessary. “As early as possible every department should have at least three or four thoroughly efficient paid firemen regularly employed.”

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