Volunteers Provide Salvage and Rescue Service to Community
HUNDREDS OF TIMES each year the 160 members of the seven fire police patrols of Greenwich, Conn., are called upon to operate at a fire or to carry out a phase of police work. Their duties vary with situations. When the fire bell sounds, the fire policemen immediately respond with patrol vehicles and equipment. Once at the scene, they may establish and maintain fire lines so that firemen may operate unhampered by onlookers.
The fire policemen must also control vehicular traffic so that firemen and their equipment will not be endangered by an onrushing vehicle. In addition, they salvage as much as possible from the fire and assist in rescue.
Each fire police unit answers accident calls with its ambulance and a fire company ambulance. The fire policemen give first aid to the injured; keep the accident scene clear so the injured can be attended to and that rescue work, when necessary, can be carried out swiftly. They also assist the police at the emergency in any way possible. In fact, the police department can call on the members for any type of emergency duty, other than fires.
Extensive area covered
The fire police patrols presently in operation in Greenwich cover a total of 43 square miles of the town (population 51,000). The Greenwich Fire Police has 30 active members; Sound Beach Fire Patrol, Inc., in Old Greenwich, 25 active men and four associate members; Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol, Inc., 28 active, 26 associate; East Port Chester Volunteer Fire Patrol, 30 active and eight associate members. This last unit covers Byram. The Round Hill Volunteer Fire Police Patrol has eight active members; Banksville Fire Police, 24 active, and the recently organized Glenville Fire Police, 15 active. All members are resident volunteers over 21 years of age.
Each company elects its line officers —a captain and two lieutenants—who direct the activities of the unit independently of the volunteer fire company to which it is attached. At fires, however, the town fire chief or the chief of the fire company responding is in charge. Similarly, at an emergency under police jurisdiction, which is also answered by fire police patrols, the police are in charge.
To promote the efficiency of the patrols, the members are constantly given instruction in the three major fields of their responsibility—salvage, rescue and traffic.
Monthly meetings of the units feature a speaker who discusses one of these subjects with the members and demonstrates new and more efficient techniques and the latest equipment. Local, state
and national law enforcement officers have appeared before the groups and explained various methods for handling vehicular and pedestrian traffic at emergencies.
Since water damage can increase fire losses considerably, salvage work is stressed. The men are trained to use chutes to channel water out of buildings and the proper methods of covering furniture especially in rooms below the fire.
Greenwich units have attended the New York Fire Patrol’s salvage school and the New Haven, Conn., fire training school. Recently after attending a salvage course at the New Haven Training Center, the members arrived home in time to operate at an attic fire where they spread tarpaulins over furniture and other effects on the lower floors. Chief Thomas Dewey of the Cos Cob Fire Department, praising the members for their timely arrival, said water damage was kept to a minimum by the efforts of the fire police contingent.
The units have also held training sessions at Westchester County Airport, N. Y. This is another program which enables the men to obtain experience under analogous conditions. At a simulated plane crash, the men use their knowledge to first rescue a person and then to perform whatever salvage is possible. All these training sessions under the watchful eyes of experts have paid off many times. A number of letters on file at each unit’s office attest to the cutting of losses through quick, efficient salvage, which is constantly stressed to the volunteers.
The units obtain needed equipment, fire patrol trucks, ambulances and latest tools of the trade through their own efforts. While the town supplies funds for these purchases, the men sometimes find that to have the latest, more than the town allocation is necessary.
Since their inception, the Greenwich units have been united in one cause— increasing the safety of the town. Cooperative efforts, well-planned programs and devotion to duty have made the units indispensable. 00