With Our Readers
About Fire Prevention
To the Editor:
Upon reading about the fire prevention efforts among school population of Colorado Springs, Col., it occurred to me other readers might be interested in the method we invoke here to get our message across to the lower grades.
During Fire Prevention Week, at our request students of the 5th and 6th grades of all schools are urged by their teachers to write “slogans” teaching some fire prevention lesson.
Returns are most gratifying . . . the number entering the contest is considerable. Some of the original “jingles” are clever, but above all, even though most of them are remote from rhyme, we note that they are getting the idea. They have learned what fire prevention is, and why it is. They know many things that cause fires, and nearly all of them stress carelessness.
We give cash prizes of $3.00 to the best, $2.00 to the next best, and $1.00 to the next three, making it interesting for enough of them to enter. It may be of interest to note that this activity is not conducted exclusively by the fire department (we embrace two adjoining F.D.’s because they are in our school district), but the chiefs and others together with school officials and business men form the committee. Our funds are provided from various sources, some official. Of course, we have speakers and movies for schools and service clubs. We feel we are making progress.
PAUL BABCOCK, Nyack, N. Y.
“The Play’s the Thing”
To the Editor:
We have found that working with our Superintendent of Schools on our fire prevention program has proven very effective.
Our department believes that when a youngster takes a part in a playlet or helps in the making of a large fire prevention poster, he or she will always have fire prevention embedded in his or her mind. This is the first attempt of our schools in this phase of fire prevention and the youngsters and teachers alike are showing a desire to continue along these lines. Of the playlet, our local paper had the following to say:
Woodland Class Shows Fire Skit
The program for the October assembly at Woodland School presented recently by Robert J. Kiely’s sixth grade class. Red is its theme “Beware of Fire.” It graphically told the story of prevention of fire through an understanding and control of fire hazards. The class did so well that it was invited to present the program at the Sunset Ridge School, and town fire authorities praised it as one of the finest examples of such work ever staged here.
East Hartford, Conn.
Novel Fire Protection Essay
To the Editor:
During Fire Prevention Week each year, our Department sponsors an essay contest in the junior high schools of our city. Last year we had one submitted which I thought was quite outstanding and treated the problem from an altogether different view.
This essay was written by Stephanie Blackburn and we have permission of her parents and the school to use it in any way we see fit. I send it along with the thought you might like to use it.
The Autobiography of a Flame
Whether you know it or not, each family and household has a flame of its own. We may seem like servants, always willing to help. Actually we are malicious and ever wanting to do something destructive.
From my very start I have always wanted to do something really big. I thought I would have my chance the other day when the lady of the house left the iron on when the phone rang. Well, the iron fell over, and did I have fun! First I scorched the dress, then the ironing board, and soon the whole thing was engulfed in crackling flames. My one objection to living hore is that whenever there is a fire, they call the Fire Department right away, and my fun sizzles out.
Oh dear, I’m so bored. I do wish that little boy would get some matches to play with. Then maybe I could fulfill my ambition. I have been furious since the nosey little flame next door sneaked out of her incinerator and got into my garage. It was full of oily rags and junk I’d been saving for months, and she burned it to the ground. I wish she’d mind her own business!
Even at that I’m better off than my cousin down the street. He has a terrible time. He has had to stay in a furnace to even keep alive. His family is exceedingly careful. They never leave loose cords lying around; they always repair loose connections; they never smoke in bed; the children are well trained; and they are all-’round cautious.
Before I came here I lived in an oil field, but I had to move because industrial fire prevention has improved so much that it is no fun to live there any more.
My grandfather has often told me of his youth. He and some of his friends once burned a whole forest. What great fun it must have been, leaping from limb to limb with whole mountains on fire. Those were the good old days!
Things are so different now. Each time Fire Prevention Week comes around we grow more and more afraid. Afraid that people will follow the simple rules of fire prevention, and we will become nothing but slaves.
CHIEF W. J. TAYLOR,
No Weakening in This “F.P. Week”
To the Editor:
Several years ago Assistant Chief Rutz Anderson of the Mt. Vernon, Wash., fire department thought a oneweek program during fire prevention week ought to be tried out in Mt. Vernon. As said above, that was several years ago. The last time I talked to Rutz he said he hadn’t completed Monday morning yet and Friday’s work will never come around. He found out a good fire prevention program, properly carried out, can never stop, or even slow down.
The department’s number of runs has increased, but their total loss has dropped. No more of this delayed alarm nonsense. And they don’t get angry with people over the “unnecessary alarms” that are now phoned in with good intent.
When Rutz started his program there was a large percentage of skeptics among not only the 40 volunteers, but among the 7 paid men too. At the beginning, Rutz thought he would be glad when the “Week” was over and the work done. That was several years and several “F. P. Weeks” ago. The work is just started. Today it is safe to say there are no skeptics among the volunteers, the paid men or the people they serve.
There is a lesson to learn from Assistant Chief Rutz Anderson—and it isn’t limited to the City of Mt. Vernon, Wash., and Skagit County Rural Fire District No. 1, which they protect from fire mainly by preventing fires.
A. R. ALAWAY (USN)
U.K. Fire Services Divided on Telephone Alarms
To the Editor:
I refer to your leader in the December issue about the fire alarms and telephone cotroversy. May I say that your statement about the Fire Services in the U.K. being greatly in favor of street fire alarms is, in my opinion, not quite correct.
It would, I think, be fairer to say that British Service opinion on the respective merits and demerits of the fire alarm and telephone systems for calling Fire Brigades is about equally divided.
In some cities here the alarms are being retained because they serve a useful purpose, in other they are being dismantled because they do not. Personally, I regard the matter as being one that will always remain controversial.
The answer appears to be that what suits one area does not necessarily suit another, and I think the same applies to your country. If fire alarms are serving their purpose retain them until a better, more efficient and cheaper means of calling the Fire Brigade. Fire Protection Review takes the attitude that so far as the U.K. is concerned there is no useful purpose served in claiming for any one system a hundred per cent efficiency. It is a matter that individual Brigades can best settle in accordance with their knowledge of the needs of their areas.
GEOFFREY F. D. PRATT
Fire Protection Review
154 Fleet Street
London, E. C. 4, England
Jan. 15, 1953
To the Editor:
Your article appearing under the column headed “The Watch Desk” on page 1126 of the December issue of FIRE ENGINEERING is far from correct.
The building wasn’t about to be razed; it was in the process of being torn down. The roof was entirely removed, windows on upper floors removed and a portion of one external wall knocked out.
This fire wasn’t set to try out new ideas. It enabled our city to have a real honest-to-goodness fire picture that could be used to further Fire Prevention workin our city and in many other communities far afield.
There weren’t barrels of inflammable material;,there was a small amount of combustible material. Any refrigerant pipes remaining in the building were only small sections. The interior contents and appurtenant parts of the building (anything of value) had been removed by the building wreckers several days before the incident.
If this simulated fire gave the boys more trouble than the usual “nonstreamlined run-of-the-mill fires.” as you quote them as saying, then all I can say is “we aren’t getting the men today.”
For the records; One man suffered lacerations from flying glass from one broken window pane.
JOHN F. HOWARD
Deputy Chief. Division One
Boston Fire Department
Editor’s Note: As anyone reading the item in question must know, our story never directly or by inference, discredited the Boston Fire Department. We may sometimes get facts twisted— particularly when the public press which it quoted in this instance is off the beam, as it evidently was in this case. The editors cannot always take time to verify the accuracy of every newspaper story which comes over their desks, particularly those press stories which are slanted in a humorous vein, as this yarn obviously was.
It is a pleasure to know that Boston fire fighters read right down into the fine print of this Journal, just as we are glad to publish the Chief’s letter, and our regret that the source of our information for the story in question was in error.
To the Editor:
I have been reading your editorials in FIRE ENGINEERING and have gotten a great deal of good from them.
After reading this month’s magazine (November, 1953) I am writing to tell you you are exactly right about ventilation, and the use of masks and smoke ejectors.
We have been working very hard witli our men to get to the seat of a fire quickly, and to prevent water damage, as occurs when you throw water into the smoke. This job of fire fighting and fire prevention isn’t just a “job” any more, like it was thirty years ago. Men should get all the training and all the books they can to study for their work. They should know that politics will not fit them for their tasks as fire fighters.
As you have said in some of your editorials, it is when we run into politics that we run into trouble. It has always been my thought that when a man joins the fire department he should devote his time to learning the business of firemanship instead of seeing who can be elected.
In some of the fire schools I have attended I have heard teachers sound off on the subject of “politics and fire fighting”: there seems to be the thought in the minds of many that you’ve got to have politics, and there isn’t anything can be done about it. I wonder.
Maybe there will have to be politics, but politics will never ventilate a smoky fire, or put it out!
F. L. CROUSE Chief
Huntington, W. Va.
Ownership at Alarm Systems
To the Editor:
I have heard and read many arguments recently in regard to the telephone company taking over the municipal fire alarm system but I wish to congratulate you and your magazine for the fine article in the December issue.
Municipal fire alarm systems belong to the city and they should be kept that way. Unless the fire alarm system is being run in a haphazard manner, it is almost impossible for anyone to come along and offer better service for less money.
Your article covered the subject in a thorough manner and an impartial manner.
H. C. OEFINGKR
Supt. Fire Alarm
Thinks We Are Honest!
To the Editor:
For the first time, gentlemen . . . in many years of reading (and writing) letters to the editor, I have come across a printed answer which says, “the fault lies not with the printer, but with the editor.” Taken verbatim from your December, 1953, issue.
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That, as far as I am concerned, is THE “man bites dog story” of the year, for in 99 publications out of 100, it seems to be standard operating procedure to blame the hapless printer for all the mistakes. What an honest editorial policy you must have!
LUCIEN R. GREIF
Thornwood, N. Y.