When Firemen Go to School

When Firemen Go to School

Fire Commissioner Edward F. McLaughlin Delivering Address at the Opening of the Boston Fire College

THE Boston Fire College, terms of which were suspended for the past several years, has now been re-established by Fire Commissioner Edward F. McLaughlin and Chief Henry A. Fox on a much broader and more comprehensive scope than heretofore.

The department drill school and company evolutions were continued during the time that the college was discontinued.

With a view to improving the morale and increasing the efficiency of the department, and in order that the officers and men might be taught a systematic and uniform method of operation at fires and be provided with the technical knowledge necessary to their work, it was suggested by the Fire Commissioner at the monthly meetings of the Deputy Chiefs that a Fire College be re-established in the department. This subject met with the approval of the chief officers and on May 21, 1931, a committee was appointed by the Commissioner to draw plans and to arrange schedules for a Fire College for the Boston hire Department.

Fire College Committee Appointed by Commissioner

The committee appointed by the Commissioner comprised the following members of his command:

Assistant Chief of Department Henry J. Power, Chairman

Henry A. Fox, Chief of Department

Albert J. Caulfield, Deputy Chief, Fire Prevention Bureau

John J. Kelley, Deputy Chief, Division 1

Charles A. Donohoe, District Chief, District 13

Samuel J. Pope, District Chief, District 7

George L. Pickett, Superintendent, Fire Alarm Division

Edward E. Williamson, Superintendent, Maintenance Division

Walter J. Burke, Superintendent, Wire Division

John J. Creehan, Lieutenant, Drill Master

On June 1, 1931, the committee convened at the Fire Commissioner’s office in the Fire Alarm Headquarters in The Fenway, and, after organizing, proceeded as follows:

The committee was addressed by the hire Commissioner who informed them of the purpose and object of the college, and outlined in a general way his desire, as a result of previous discussions at the monthly meetings (tf the chief officers, to re-establish the college for a twofold purpose: First to give the officers and men the benefit of practical instructions in their various duties as members of the department by lectures given by experienced officers possessing that knowledge, and second, te increase the efficiency of the department by securing the assistance of experts to lecture on all matters incidental to, or pertaining to F’ire Department affairs. The ultimate result will be to give the officers and privates of the department an educational course, the like of which has never been attempted in any city in the country.

Plan and Method of Operation Adopted

The following plan and method of operation were adopted: The attendance at the first term of the college shall comprise all chief officers, captains, and lieutenants in the department and this term shall continue until all officers have completed the course. A subsequent term is to include all the privates in the department. The quarters of Engine Companies 26 and 36, being centrally situated with spacious hall and splendid accommodations for showing pictures as part of the curriculum, were selected as the place for holding the classes. The hours for holding the classes were set at 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Demonstration of the Model Water Tower and Model Building Used in College Instructions

There are 256 eligible officers divided into classes of approximately 40 men as a working hasis for each class. The men were apportioned as follows: two officers from each district, one on and one off. constituting 30 men; two District Chiefs from each division, one on and one off. or 6 men, and 1 Deputy Chief, making a total in all of 37 men. Three additional officers (one from each division) constitute a complement of 40 men. The selection of members attending the classes was left to the discretion of the Deputy Chiefs in their respective divisions.

College Opens Its Sessions

The college opened November 30, 1931, and will continue until June 1, 1932.

The dates of the lectures are subject to change to meet conditions and emergencies. After completing the course, members attending will be examined, and those receiving a passable mark of 70 per cent will receive a fire college diploma. All officers and privates of the department must attend the college when, and as directed, whether on or off duty. Smoking during classes is absolutely prohibited and all the dignity of the class room is preserved.

Fire Commissioner Addresses Opening Session

At the opening session of the college Fire Commissioner Edward F. McLaughlin made the following address:

“The purpose for which the Boston Fire Department was organized is the primary purpose for which the office of Fire Commissioner was established, namely, for the extinguishment of fire in the city of Boston.

“Since the position was originally established by law the requirements and responsibilities pertaining to it have increased a hundredfold. Where originally the principal duties of the Fire Commissioner consisted in the administration of discipline, the purchase of equipment, and the determination of a few policies necessary for the proper management of the affairs of the department, the force was smaller, the equipment was less expensive, and the method of fighting fires was entirely different.

“Time and modern science have wrought many changes. America and American cities have grown rapidly. Fire Departments have been obliged to keep pace with this tremendous growth. Today a Fire Commissioner of a Metropolitan Fire Department has many duties to perform. His daily program is so varied, and he is required to keep in touch with so many matters of interest to the department that it takes practically all the time one person can give to look after the administrative details.

“You officers have seen the Boston Fire Department grow and expand in the last 20 years—yes, in the last 10, and as the responsibilities of the Commissioner have increased, so have the responsibilities of the rank and file under him increased. The whole method of fire fighting has changed in 20 years—motor fire apparatus has come in; motor pumoing engines have been developed; high pressure systems have been installed; standpipes, sprinklers, and many other forms of auxiliary fire protection now make up part of our great fire-fighting system. The maintenance of all this equipment and our fire alarm system has had to he kept un to the minute. One of the most important responsibilities which has been placed on the head of a Fire Department in recent vears is the matter of fire prevention.

“For years the fire loss of the country has been mounting constantly; hazardous occupancies have been crowding into our cities, and these occupancies have to be regulated and controlled in the interest of the greatest number.

“Only a few years ago, following the introduction of the automobile into popular use, garages were one of our greatest hazards and gravest concerns. Today, because of regulation and constant supervision, a public or private garage is one of our safest buildings. To the same end, we have to keep watcli on all businesses which use materials of a highly infiantaldc nature.

“This is also true of electrical materials and in Ibid the Wire Division was added to the Fire Department in order that the Fire Commissioner might regulate insofar as possible, the hazards connected with electrical installations and interior appliances. All these things have brought about greater resjionsibilities for the head of a Fire Department and these responsibilities must be shared by those, under him if he is to have an effective organization.

“We have closely followed a policy of standardizing our equipment to avoid confusion. Likewise we should standardize our methods. Where we have many men we have many minds and a multiplicity of ideas. To bring all these ideas together, to establish, insofar as it is humanly possible to do so, a standard method of using our already standardized equipment it was my opinion that a Fire College was the proper idea.

“1 do not believe that the Legislature ever intended that the Fire Commissioner was to be a fire fighter and take care of the fire fighting force at large fires, for it expressly states that the Fire Commissioner shall appoint a Chief of Department. I believe I know equally as much about fire fighting as any of my predecessors, with the possible exception of one who came up from the ranks; but 1 do believe that the Legislature intended that the Fire Commissioner should he the guiding and administrative head of the Fire Department, advancing those things which are for its best interest and establishing policies which will bring about the best results.

“In order that the college should include in its curiculum the matters of most importance, and that its organization should be of the highest type, I discussed the matter at great length with the Deputy Chiefs and the heads of the various divisions of the department. It was the unanimous opinion of these officers that a committee should be appointed to formulate plans for a college. Such a committee was selected from the various ranks of the officers of the department. 1 had several conferences with this committee and we freely and frankly discussed the problems that might confront us. I wish at this time to express my personal sincere appreciation and thanks for the wonderful work and untiring efforts of this committee and for the assistance it has been to me.

“I want the committee to continue to function; to meet occasionally; and to submit any recommendations it might have to add to the value of the college. Any officer in the department has the privilege of submitting directly to me, at any time, any suggestion he might have which he believes would raise the standard of the college.

“Remember, men, that you are officers of a great Metropolitan Fire Department; you hold responsible positions in an organization that spends approximately $5,000,000 a year: you are members of an organization that typifies the greatest of human ideals—a service that saves; this college has been established for no other purpose than to make you better equipped for that service, and I know that you will gain all you can from it.

“We have many visitors here today from Fire Departments in our state. To them I extend a hearty welcome and hope that they will take back to their native cities and towns some profit from their attendance here.”

The Faculty of the College

The faculty of the Boston Fire College consists of Chief Henry A. Fox, Assistant Chief Henry J. Power. Deputy Chief Albert J. Caulfield, of the Fire Prevention Division; Deputy Chief John J. Kelley, District Chief Charles A. Donohoe, District Chief Samuel J. Pope, Supt. George L. Fickett, of the Fire Alarm Division; Edward E. Williamson, Superintendent of Maintenance; Walter T. Burke, Superintendent of the Wire Division; and Lieut. John J. Crcehan, Drill Master.

The Opening Session

The opening session was held on November 30 in the headquarters of Engine Companies 26 and 35 on Broadwav, the large smoking room on the top floor being fitted up as a class room and equipped with blackboards. model buildings, etc. There were addresses by Tire Commissioner Edward E. McLaughlin, Chief Henry A. Fox, and Assistant Chief Henry J. Power, Chairman of the Board of Control of the college. The lirst lecture was on “Morale, Discipline, and Military Tactics” by District Chief Charles A. Donohoe.

Chief Fox, in his talk, impressed on the class that the Boston Fire Department today wants men of knowledge in its ranks and, unlike the days when he was in the ranks, the chief officers are now ready and willing to give this knowledge to the men with lesser experience. In the old days, he said, the chief officers, if they had any knowledge, kept it to themselves and made no effort to assist the men under them, leaving their subordinates to grasp what they could from actual experiences at fires. He said that today every officer and man in the Boston Fire Department must be a part of a single machine with every unit of this machine working together. He stressed the value of fire prevention and said that every officer and man doing inspection work must have a knowledge of what constitutes a hazard and the proper method of removing it. He pointed out that the inspector who is able to explain the reasons for his orders will create a better feeling for the department with the general public.

The forty officers of the Boston Fire Department detailed for the first class in the college ranked from Lieutenant to Deputy Chief.

The Model Building (Left) and Smoke House (Right) Used in Demonstrations in the Boston Fire College.A Blackboard Demonstration by Chief Williamson, at the College

Out of Town Officers Attending College

The officers in attendance from other cities were Deputy Chief Frank L. Taylor and Deputy Chief John Murphy, of Brockton; Captain John A. Connor of Weymouth; Lieutenant James J. McCarthy, of Weymouth; Lieutenant John J. Lunney and Lieutenant Lewis J. Larkin, of Somerville; Captain George A. Campbell, of Lowell; Captain Humphrey H. Sheehan, of Everett; Lieutenant James R. Conners, of Everett; Captain George J. Porter and Lieutenant Harold S. Jackson, of Revere; and Captain Herman E. Gutheim and Lieutenant Edward J. Griffin, of Cambridge.

The college year will be divided into two terms. I he first class will comprise all chief officers, captains, and lieutenants in the department and will continue until all the officers have attended the course. The second class will include all the privates in the department. The classes will be in session from 9:30 a.m. until 12 noon. Large fires or emergencies may cause the session to be suspended.

Lectures of fhe Course

The course will consist of 27 lectures to be given by the Chiefs and other officials of the department on subjects dealing with modern methods of fire fighting. Lectures will also be given on building inspection and construction, proper handling of department records and economy of upkeep of company quarters. The passing grade will be 70 per cent and a Fire College diploma will be awarded to all who attain this mark.

There will be lecturers from the public utility companies, the electric light company, the gas company, insurance companies, the National Board of Fire Underwriters, the National Fire Protection Association, the Water Department, the Building Department, and the Law Department of the city. There will be lectures on the fire alarm system and on the high pressure pumping stations. Another lecture will take up fire boats and waterfront hazards.

Models of skyscrapers and other buildings built to scale are used to illustrate points in the lectures. There is also a miniature water tower with deck guns which actually operate to show stream penetration.

List of Subjects and Lectures

The following is the complete list of subjects and lecturers:

Lecture No. 1

Administration, by Fire Commissioner Edward F. McLaughlin.

Object of the Fire College, by Chief Henry A. Fox.

Morale. Discipline, and Military Tactics, by District Chief C. A. Donohoe.

Lecture No. 2

Apparatus, Tools, and Appliances—Supt. of Maintenance Edward E. Williamson, Deputy Chief Thomas H. Downey, Captain John Sheehan. Lieutenant John J. Creehan. Department Drill Master, W. C. Bailey, Supt. of High Pressure System.

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When Firemen Go to School

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Instruction in the operation and use of apparatus, tools and appliances, standardization and names of implements, etc.: demonstration to include various kinds of apparatus, tools, and appliances used throughout the department, operation under actual working conditions. Rescue and first aid demonstrations.

Lecture No. 3

Practical Fire Department Hydraulics, by District Chief John F. Good.

Demonstrations under actual working conditions of fire streams, towers, deck, and portable guns, various size nozzles, stream reaction, friction loss. etc.

Lecture No. 4

Motor Apparatus, by Edward E. Williamson, Supt. of Maintenance.

Instruction in the care and operation of motor apparatus, knowledge of parts, lubrication and operation, responding to. at, and from fires.

Lecture No. 5

Fire Alarm System, by George L. Fickett, Supt. of hire Alarms.

Instruction and demonstration in the technique of the r ire Alarm System. To be given at the Fire Alarm Office.

Lecture No. 6

High Pressure System, by W. C. Bailey, Supt. of High Pressure.

Inspection and demonstration of the High Pressure System: its purpose, operation, and care of hydrants.

Lecture No. 7

Water Supply for Fire Purposes, by Engineer Daniel M. Sullivan, of the Department of Public Works, Boston. Instructions and demonstrations. Water system, source of supply, mains, hydrants, gates, etc. Pressure at different elevations, reservoirs, storage, etc.

Lecture No. 8

Fire Prevention, by Deputy Chief Albert J. Caulfield.

Instructions in the more modern methods of inspection for the purpose of fire prevention; laws and ordinances, rules and regulations governing same.

Lecture No. 9

Official Papers, by District Chief John J. Kenney.

Instructions in the proper method of communicating and handling of departmental papers.

Lecture No. 10

Economy of Upkeep—Care of Hose. District Chief Daniel J. Martell.

Instructions in economy of upkeep of company quarters, apparatus, appliances, etc. Instructions in the care of hose, hose couplings in quarters and at fires. Purpose of testing hose, etc. Lost equipment.

Lecture No. 11

Common and Special Hazards—N. J. Thompson, Research Engineer. Deputy Chief Louis C. I. Stickel. Instructions in the methods of detecting common and special hazards, methods of hazardous manufacture, pyroxyline plastics, celluloid products, motion picture films. Conipocompound,” etc. Also includes airports and hangars.

Part l—Detecting the causes of fire along with the detection of special hazards. Methods of hazardous manufacture, pyroxlin plastics, celluloid articles, motion picture films, also to include airports and hangars. This lecture to be given on the premises of the Associated Factory Mutual Fire Insurance Companies, 184 High Street, Boston, Mass.

Lecture No. 12

Private Fire Protection—C. W. Mowry, Manager, Factory Mutual Laboratories. Deputy Chief William F. Quigley, H. P. Stewart, Engineer.

Instruction and demonstrations in the operation of sprinklers check valves, dry pipe valves, standpipes, safety devices, and private fire protection in general. This also to include knowledge obtained with reference to apparatus and operations at fires in industrial, mercantile, and manufacturing buildings. This lecture to lie held at the premises of the Associated Factory Mutual Fire Insurance Companies. 184 High Street. Boston. Lecture period 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a question period from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Demonstrations 10:30 a.m. until 12 noon.

Part II—Laws and regulations governing private fire protection devices. Operation of the department on response to buildings equipped with private fire protection equipment: methods to be employed to gain an entrance to buildings, etc. This also to include private lire brigades, and fire drills, but not alarm systems.

Lecture No. 13

Responding to Alarms and Returning from Fires, by Deputy Chief Kelley.

Instructions with reference to routes to fires, traffic eongeslion. driving of apparatus, accidents, etc. Methods of operation at pier fires.

Lecture No. 14

Laws and Ordinances—II. Murray Pakulski, Asst. Corporation Counsel.

Instructions in laws and ordinances relating to fires and fire matters. Rules and regulations relative to garages and other hazardous occupancies, volatile liquids, highly infiamable solids, etc. Chapter 14S of the General Laws of the (‘nmmonwfalth of Massat’hustUs.

Lecture No. 15

Electrical fire and Life Hazards. Robert E. Dillon, thief Engineer. Edison Electrical Illuminating Co.; Thomas H. Havncs, Superintendent of Maintenance of Lines; and Walter E. Burke, Superintendent of Wire Division, Boston Fire Department.

Instructions in the proper method of handling electrical fire hazards, life hazards, electrical appliances, causes of electrical fires and the method of operation on such files. Lecture In Two Parts. Part 1 to he given at the Kdlson Ktectric Illuminating Plant in Roslindale.

Lecture No. 16

Incendiarism, Arson, Etc. Deputy Chief Albert J. Caulfield. Instructions in the various causes of fires. Incendiarism and how it may be detected, arson, etc. Instructions in th« method of detecting causes of fire, preserving of evidence, etc., including moral hazards.

Lecture No. 17

Building Inspection, by District Chief Dennis J. Coughlin. Instructions in building inspection, laws, ordinances, rules and regulations as they affect the City of Boston. Iliis also includes operations at fires in office buildings.

Lecture No. 18

Building Construction, by Edward W. Roomer, Building Commissioner.

Instructions in the various methods used in building construction relative to tire retarding qualities, slow burning, etc. Zoning laws, heights, etc. Notes on materials of construction with reference to fire.

Lecture No. 19

Oil Fires. A. L. Brown, Director of Laboratories, Associated Factory Mutual Fire Insurance Companies. District Chief Edward G. Chamberlain.

Instructions in the method used in building oil burning equipments, laws, ordinances, rules and regulations Kuveining Installation of same, methods of fighting Ares where found. Methods and proper operation at all oil fires, Incuud Ing transportation of oil and oil on water, lu.it 1 of • lecture will he held at. the Factory Mutual Laboratories.

Lecture No. 20

Operation At Fires, by Deputy Chief Thomas H. Downey. Cellar fires, one story fires, taxpayers, warehouse fires, chimney fires.

Lecture No. 21

Subway and Tunnel Fires. E. I. Lockman, Assistant Superintendent of Maintenance, Boston F-levated Railway. Walter E. Burke, Superintendent, Wire Division, B. F. D.. District Chief John P. McDonough.

Instructions in the methods of combating fires in subways and tunnels. This also includes fires in elevated stiuctuies and bridges, also lumber yards.

Lecture No. 22

The Chemistry of Fire. George F. McNeil, Chemist, Boston Hac Cnmnanv. C. Rav Lowe, Engineer of Educational and Technical Department, F’rigidaire Company.

Result of a Combined Effort to Help the Needy For seven or eight weeks prior to Christmas, about 1,200 toys were repaired by members of the Fire Department, Wenatchee, Wash., to be distributed to the poor children of the city. A Santa Claus, with the aid of a small truck used By the department, distributed the toys The photograph shows ten of the thirteen men of the force and a portion of the toys that were repaired. H. W. Bryson is thief.

Instructions In the chemistry of fire, explosives, infiatnabie and explosive gases, gases under pressure, inert gases, acids, mechanical refrigeration, etc.

Lecture No. 23

Elementary Fire Fighting, by District Chief Edward J. Locke.

Dangers to be avoided at tires, ladder duty, ventilation duly and overhauling at fires.

Lecture No. 24

Fire Fighting. District Chief Samuel J. Pope. Deputy Chief Walter McLean.

Instructions in the proper method of operation in the handling of fires involving life and property in hotels, apartment houses, theatres, hospitals, public buildings, tenements, and dwellings.

Lecture No. 25

Fire Fighting. Assistant Chief Henry J. Power.

Instructions in the proper and efficient use of apparatus and operations at fires in Industrial, mercantile, and manufacturing buildings. Fire fighting in the high value district. Preliminary operations at fires.

Lecture No. 26

Marine Fires. Captain John W. Williams, Engine 44 (F’ire Boat).

Instructions with reference to the use of fire boats, method of operation at ship and dock fires. Coal pockets on waterfront and island fires.

Lecture No. 27

Conflagrations, Emergencies, Etc. District Chief Charles A. Donohoe, Captain Thomas D. Brown.

Instructions relative to resources available for conflagrations. earthquakes, or any extraordinary condition. Freight and passenger elevator accidents.

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