Talk on Grading Cities Extended Due to Popular Demand—Many Papers Presented of Interest to Paid and Volunteer Firemen

FIREMEN from more than 75 Wisconsin cities and villages assembled at the University of Wisconsin, at Madison, June 21 to 24, for the fourth annual firemanship course. The firemen’s school was sponsored, as in other years, by the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, the Wisconsin State Firemen’s Association, the Wisconsin Paid Firemen’s Association, the Wisconsin Association of Fire Chiefs, and the University of Wisconsin Extension Division.

The afternoons on each day were devoted to drills and standard evolutions under the direction of Assistant Chief W. N. Lippold, Milwaukee.

The firemen’s “school” opened at Music Hall with Chairman H. E. Pulver, of the University Extension Division, presiding.

The first speaker, C. W. Smith, Director of the Standard Oil Company’s safety department, Chicago, extolled Wisconsin’s new code for the handling and storage of inflammable liquids as a model for the entire country. The code was worked out by a committee appointed by the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, headed by Judge J. E. Florin, Superintendent of Fire Prevention. Mr. Smith described it as “one of the most complete and satisfactory codes of the kind that has ever been written.”

He challenged a common belief that gasoline explodes. If it did, be said, the product could not be used for cleaning or as a fuel. If it could be compared with dynamite, it could not be put safely into the tanks of automobiles. It is the vapors from gasoline, he explained, which when mixed with the right percentage of air, are highly explosive.

City Manager William O’Brien. Kenosha, spoke on “Cooperation between the Fire Department and Other City Departments and Officials.”

More property can he saved by proper inspection work than can ever be salvaged during the progress of a fire, or after water and fire have taken their toll of damage, the annual firentanship school was told Wednesday morning by Inspector Richard Widmann, of the Madison department. Mr, Widmann is president of the Wisconsin Paid Firemen’s Association.

Chief Otto Hackharth, Marinette, told the group that about 60 per cent of all fires occur in homes. He said:

“A residence fire is not like many others with which firemen are familiar through frequent visits and inspections, since firemen must practically enter a strange building each time one occurs. The first thing to do at arrival is to think fast and frame your method of attack, locate the seat of the fire and go to work with whatever approach may best suit the nature of the fire and kind of equipment you have. To my way of thinking, there is no one set of rules governing the extinguishment of a residence fire, except that of putting the fire out with the least amount of damage.”

He advised that firemen get together after a fire and discuss their mistakes looking to better preparedness for the next fire.

The same subject was discussed by Judge J. E. Florin. Superintendent of Fire Prevention, Wisconsin Industrial Commission.

Chief J. J. Kuplic, Manitowoc, spoke on curbing garage fires. He said it is the policy in his department for the men to get together after a fire and ascertain what mistakes were made and how to correct them in the future.

Chief James C. Lefeber, Wauwatosa, pictured the organization, discipline, and maintenance of Wauwatosa’s volunteer Fire Department as an example of economical yet highly effective fire fighting by part-time men, and a highly organized and well equipped department. At first the men were paid $5 per quarter; today they receive $62.50 per month. “There is no reason,” he concluded, “why the Fire Department should not be made more of a profession and an institution to be pointed to with pride by the citizens.”

V. G. Rutter, engineer for the Fire Insurance Rating bureau, Milwaukee, insisted that absolute discipline should rule in a volunteer Fire Department. Mr. Rutter said:

“Men should not be permitted to choose their own job. The Chief knows what each man is best fitted for. The volunteer Fire Chief has a far greater responsibility than does a paid Chief, since he has no Assistant Chiefs upon whom to rely.”

Reduction of public costs came in review when the program of grading cities to determine their insurance class was discussed on the platform and from the floor. The topic was considered of so much importance that when the speaker, Frank R. Daniel, Chief Engineer for the Wisconsin Fire Insurance Rating Bureau, Milwaukee, concluded an hour’s discussion there were repeated demands that he continue another 30 minutes.

Mr. Daniel characterized fire insurance as in effect a public tax, with the losses determining the cost. Mr. Daniel continued:

“The classification of a community is an expression of the relative ability to extinguish a fire which has extended beyond the incipient stage. A rating bureau comes to your community and after exhaustive surveys points out the weak spots in your water supply system and in your fire-fighting facilities.”

Chief Ben E. Bangerter, Mankato, Minn., talked on the minor fire department equipment needed by departments. He considered in detail a department’s accessory equipment, extinguishers, hose and handling devices, protective equipment, entry and access devices, rescue equipment, illuminating devices, salvaging and overhauling equipment, and miscellaneous equipment. He said in part:

“No other trade or profession requires familiarity with a more varied and unrelated assortment of appliances, than those at the disposal of the well equipped fireman. In his kit are to be found the pick and shovel of the laborer alongside first aid mechanisms and materials of the surgeon: implements of the steel worker keeping company with chemically reactive agents of the laboratory; tools of the lineman close to the jimmy of the burglar. No other artisan performing his duties is so often obliged to do the hardest sort of labor under most disagreeable circumstances, and, as such laborer, possess the knowledge necessary to operate certain highly developed devices.”

Assistant Chief Tremain, Milwaukee, led a symposium on best methods of cutting and opening doors, windows, partitions, etc.

Clarence Goldsmith, chairman of the Fire Service Extension Committee, Chicago, addressed the meeting on modern methods of fire extinguishment.

Since the major portion of firemen’s activities are social, he advocated making the living quarters in the station attractive and convenient as an aid to morale.

Fighting a mercantile fire was discussed by Chief R. H. Drum, Green Bay, with the aid of stereopticon pictures. Chief Drum illustrated the layout, the methods of attack employed, and mistakes made in attacking a serious fire in Green Bay occurring on July 28, 1931. The subject was also discussed by J. E. Florin, Superintendent of Fire Prevention. Industrial Commission.

W. A. Haig. Chief Electrical Inspector, Milwaukee Fire Department, addressed the group on common electrical, fire and life hazards.

Prof. H. E. Pulver. Chairman of the course, reviewed the week’s work and outlined what is in mind for the course next year.

A salvage demonstration was directed by Chief Frank Lachenschmidt, of the Milwaukee Fire Insurance Patrol, and the first aid demonstration was in charge of Assistant Chief W. N. Lippold, Milwaukee.

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