WINTER WORK FOR FIREMEN
The excitement attending the life of a Fireman on ordinary occasions, throws a charm around it that tempts many to join companies “just for the fun of the thing.” The universal desire that animates the human breast to fight something tends to make Firemen, as it did to make soldiers during the war. But, as the three-months soldiers, who thought they were going on a pleasant picnic to have a good time, got sick of it when they found out the hardships that actual campaigning entailed, so the amateur Fireman, who joins for fun, is pretty apt to turn his back on the business after undergoing the hard work necessary to the subjugation of a few lively fires. Especially is this so it their initiation in the service happens to come in the winter. The cold weather ab ut Christmas time was exceedingly hard upon Fitcmen. There were numerous large fires in different sections of the country, and the reports of them represent that the Firemen were great sufferers from the intense cold, At Newark, N, J., one Fireman who was stationed on a roof adjoining a fire to keep watch for sparks, became benumbed with the cold, and 1 sing his foothold upon the icy roof, slipped to the ground anti was killed. At Trenton, N. J., several Firemen were badly frozen while handling pipe and hose, and all were covered with ice formed by the spray from the streams thrown upon the fire. Here a lady gained the high esteem of the suffering men by supplying them with hot C ffep, and with long woolen stockings to pull over their hands while holding the pip. It was a new style of hose for fire service but proved quite acceptable. In New York, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other cities, there werc serious fires during the cold snap, and the Firemen were called upon to perform their perilous du’ies amid snow and ice, when the temperature was such that eve;y drop of water that fell upon them was instantly turned to ice. Those who watched them faithfully performing their duty under these circumstances must have been convinced that there are some drawbacks to the pleasures of a Fireman’s life.
The cold weather served to make the work of the Firemen more laborious as well as unpleasant, for, owing to the ice and snow in some places, they could not work to so good advantage as usually, and consequently their labors were prolonged in subduing the flames. When this was done, then came the tedi us work of “ taking up,” going home, and ridding all apparatus and appliances from snow and ice, and putting everything in readiness for the next fire.
Citizens are not apt to give Firemen proper credit for the work they do at any time, and certainly do not appreciate the hardships they encounter when working at fires in cold weather. The average citizen stands calmly by when a fire is raging, a disinterested spectator, and is apt to make bets on the result—whether the Firemen or the flames will prove victorious. They see the Firemen rushing in’o all sorts of danger, and working with the greatest zeal to put out the. fire, but instead of commending them as they should do, remark, “ Oh ! he’s a Fireman ; he likes it, and its his business.” They forget that the Fireman is a wholly disinterested person ; pecuniarily it makes no difference to him whether one building or a whole block burns; but he has assumed to do certain things in the interest of the public, and he has ambition, energy and pluck enough to do it with zeal and enthusiasm. Under all circumstances they are entitled to tbs greatest consideration, but when they have to fight ice, and snow and a frigid temperature as well as flames, they are entitled to all honor, and to the sympathy and commendation of every one.