With the Editor
The Havana Convention
While the convention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs was a success in all respects except numbers, it brought prominently to the fore the lesson that it is a mistake to hold the yearly gatherings of the association at such remote points. The attendance at the Havana convention was a little over three hundred Chiefs, and there is no doubt that if it had been held at some city in the United States more readily accessible, there would have been a far greater number present.
This matter brings up the equally important question of the association’s finances. A reduction of some two hundred or more in attendance at an annual convention is a most serious matter in lessening the income of the body through the loss of the registration fees involved. The work of the association and the prosecution of its verv important program of education—important not only to the actual members but also to the fire-fighting profession at large—-must depend for its funds to some extent upon the proceeds of the registration fees taken in at the conventions. If, then, the attendance is reduced so largely as at the Havana gathering, there must, of necessity, be a lessening of the revenue received by the association and the program must inevitably suffer.
The work is too vital to allow of any letting up in its prosecution. This fact must be taken into consideration in the choosing of the convention city by the association. All things being equal a city should be chosen that will ensure a full attendance of Chiefs.
Observance Of Fire Prevention Week
Fire Prevention Week has come to be considered as a permanent institution. The observance this year, judging from innumerable accounts received at the offices of FIRE ENGINEERING, was more general and more earnest than ever before. A large number of the Governors of states issued special proclamations urging the people to observe the week by examining their homes and places of business for spots that were dangerous and apt to be fire breeders, and eliminating all such hazards. Fire Departments large and small in the length and breadth of the land devoted much time during the week to bringing home to the people the dangers of fire and the need for fire prevention. Civic and other associations, Chambers of Commerce, and the like lent their aid and cooperation in this object, and pupils of the schools were active in work for the cause.
In every way, marked enthusiasm was evident and if the public of the several cities and villages in which the observances were held were not reminded of their duty in the matter of fire safety, it certainly was no fault of those having the observances in charge.
The very extensive part which the Chiefs and their departments have taken in these exercises and in the spread of the doctrine of fire prevention is of course to be expected, but is nevertheless very gratifying. It also proves that the American Fire Departments are alive to their responsibilities and to the need to stem the very heavy losses by fire which are so severe a drain upon the resources of the country. It must not be forgotten, however, that the work should be continued with unahted zeal, and that every week should to the Fire Department he Fire Prevention Week!
Chasing the Fire Apparatus
A very troublesome problem that the Chief must deal with is that of the motorist who follows the Fire Department to fires and quite often tries to get to the blaze before the apparatus. Not only is this practice productive of accidents through collisions with the fire engines, but also, when a large number of automobiles join in the “procession’’ when the alarm sounds, the work of the firemen is badly hampered and the apparatus prevented from getting to work quickly. In one large fire in Westchester County, New York—a spectacular one, in which the smoke and flames could be seen for many miles—the roads approaching the scene of the fire were so badly conjested with cars that the later arriving companies could not get their apparatus through to assist.
In one mid-Western city the Mayor has issued this order to his Police Department:
“Arrest every autoist who follows within 300 feet of the fire apparatus on the way to the fire; every autoist who fails to obey the law which requires autoists to pull to the right side near the curb when the fire apparatus is approaching, and arrest every autoist who parks his car within the block while the fire is in progress.”
The mayor, in commenting on this order, said that the Fire Chief of his city had informed him that the apparatus answering an alarm of fire traveled at a speed of forty miles an hour. Therefore, the Mayor remarked, “Anyone beating or even maintaining a position behind the apparatus is violating the speed limit,” and is liable to punishment.
The Fire and Police Department of cities and towns should be prepared to enforce the rules forbidding the following of fire apparatus without fear or favor. If it is once understood that this offense is one that in which the offender cannot be excused, no matter who he is or how prominent his position, and that no amount of influence will count in remitting the punishment for the violation, it will be much easier to put a stop to the practice. A few severe punishments for the offence will quickly put an end to the problem.