Washington Buffs Assign Crews for Canteen Duty

Washington Buffs Assign Crews for Canteen Duty

Bells, Buffs and BLAZES

The Friendship Fire Association of Washington, D. C., is one of the nation’s most energetic and active buffing outfits and has a long record of service to the District of Columbia Fire Department.

The organization has, for many years, operated a canteen service. I can testify to its efficiency from memories of attending extra-alarm fires in sub-zero temperatures while the FAA buffs went about their work. Because their alerting system and method of operation is at once unique and somewhat typical of other clubs which help their local fire departments, it is informative to see how they operate.

“Our active running membership,” says the club’s newspaper, The Wagon Pipe, “is divided into five crews of two or three men each. Each crew serves a two-week tour of duty during which it is responsible for responding with Car 5 (the canteen) 24 hours a day, or to arrange for someone else to take a crew member’s place.

“Because relatively few serious fires occur on weekdays during normal daytime working hours, our members are not often called upon to leave their offices and places of business to go to a fire.

“Most of the time, at least one of our members is monitoring the radio. This is not by design, but has happened on a voluntary basis. However, when a multiple alarm is sounded, or even eight engine companies are dispatched, Headquarters calls our calling service, a commercial telephone service used by many doctors. The calling service calls our membership.

“To speed the process tip a bit, from midnight to 8 a.m., the calling service first calls a key man in our organization who in turn calls each crew captain, who in turn calls his crew.

“Upon receiving the word, whether by radio or phone, the on-duty crew first calls for coffee. At present our supply source is a drug store which is open 24 hours a day and is one of the few such places that has coffee urns of sufficient capacity to serve our needs.

“After ordering coffee, the crew proceeds to Engine 1, where Car 5 is housed. This trip takes from 20 minutes to half an hour for most of us. Car 5 then proceeds to the fire. The average time from the alarm to arrival on the fireground is one hour.

“After arriving on the fireground, our members are instructed to seek out the officer in charge and ask permission to take the coffee out of Car 5. This requirement is not just a local rule, but is the practice in all major cities where buff organizations operate canteen service.”

The FFA, as its name implies, is a most hospitable organization and maintains a museum second to none I’ve ever seen. Editor of The Wagon Pipe is Curt Elie, 12015 Berry Street, Wheaton, Md. 20902.

For the many who wrote regarding the appearance of the article on the New York Super Pumper System, Feature Editor W. Stevenson Bacon of “Popular Science,” now reports that the piece will definitely run in the October issue of the magazine.

Buffs around the nation may wish to follow the action of the Third Alarm Association of New York City, which made a substantial donation to the fund established in memory of Michael F. Moran, the Newark Fire Department captain who was killed by a sniper during that city’s riot. Checks should be made payable to Michael F. Moran Fund, c/o Chief Joseph Redden, Fire Headquarters, City Hall, Newark, N. J. 07102. Captain Moran, 41, left a wife and six children. Mrs. Moran was expecting her seventh child when her husband was killed.

The TAA recently presented its annual Medal of Valor, together with a $100 U. S. Savings Bond, to Lieutenant Rudolph W. Alberda of Ladder Company 24, for his heroism at the 23rd Street fire which killed 12 firemen.

Because of the many acts of heroism that night, the TAA choice must have been difficult. Lieutenant Alberda, together with Fireman Lambert, rescued Donovan, who had fallen into a hole in the floor caused by the building collapse.

“In falling, Fireman Donovan clung to the controlling handle of the nozzle and hung there yelling for help. The line was all that was holding him from falling into the cellar and the fire. In falling, he inadvertently shut down the line . . . This permitted the heat to build up in the immediate vicinity. . .

“Lieutenant Alberda also fell when Donovan did, but not into the hole. He lost his helmet, however. Crawling to the very edge of the hole through which Donovan had fallen . . . Lieutenant Alberda . . . grabbed a firm hold on him and pulled Donovan from the hole,” reads the citation. The TAA, incidentally, has endowed this medal since 1950.

The indefatigable traveler, A1 Redles of Philadelphia, postcards from Hawaii that Chief Dick Young of the Honolulu Fire Department is justifiably proud of his crackerjack department, which includes 32 stations, Seagrave or Crown 1250-gpm pumpers, 100-foot aerials, an 85-foot elevating platform, a fireboat, and two rescue units.

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