With the Editor
Fire Alarm Improvements
There has been little opportunity to make fire alarm improvements during the past year, for munitions manufacture has required every pound of critical metals available, and war industries have kept wire and cable manufacturers operating at peak capacity to supply military and naval needs alone.
Since the first of this year a gradual improvement in the situation has been taking place. Today manufacturers of fire alarm equipment report no serious difficulty in obtaining all the materials they need for building fire alarm boxes and other items of equipment.
While there is still a serious shortage of wire and cable, the War Production Board has agreed to approve requests for priorities for cable and wire to make extensions of existing systems, especially in critical areas.
Priority approval can be secured today for fire alarm boxes needed to replace unserviceable ones, or for additional boxes, when there is real need for them and where but little fire alarm cable would be required for their installation. Priorities for replacement of central station equipment parts which have become inoperative can also be secured.
Thus needed improvements, though not including major changes, are now possible in fire alarm signalling systems.
Because of the growin g fire losses throughout the nation, and particularly in vital defense industries, and the pressing need for dependable emergency signalling systems, fire departments are urged to make such improvements to their fire alarm systems as are permitted.
The WPB has relaxed its former stringent restrictions on fire alarm equipment manufacture sufficiently to enable a fire department to recondition its system and to make urgent extension and add needed boxes.
Some More Junk for The Fire Service?
On February 18, 1944, the Office of Civilian Defense issued a notice to Regional Directors of that organization pointing out that the War Department was turning over to the Treasury Procurement Office a large number of used cargo vehicles (Army trucks) of Model 1939 and before. These trucks are classed as “uneconomical for repair,” and are to be sold “as is.”
The OCD states that these vehicles may be purchased for civil defense organizations, and proceeds to tell them how to go about procuring the units.
As the subject of the notice referred to above is “Additional Information Regarding Surplus Army Trucks for Mounting Office of Civilian Defense Auxiliary Fire Equipment,” it is apparently intended that these used vehicles be employed for carryingfront mounted and skid pumps.
Our first impulse is to ask if the fire service has not already enough junk on its hands without accepting more. Our second is to inquire what bright young man, or men. in the OCD conceived the idea of making fire apparatus out of used Army trucks that are “uneconomical for repair.”
Before the advent of the OCD, it was generally believed that the fire service deserved nothing but the best in the way of fire fighting equipment. But the OCD seems to be working under the illusion that the fire service can get along with any old junk that’s available.
We wonder if the OCD has anyone among its policy makers who has stood by and watched a fire engine pump continuously under full load at a large fire for days at a stretch; who has seen an engine labor without interruption under a staggering load of large flow at high pressure; who has noted the unfaltering service it must give.
We do not believe it has such a person, for none but those entirely ignorant of the fire service would suggest the use of discarded Army trucks for carrying and operating fire pumps.
Front mounted pumps as built today are dependable and efficient, but they need dependable motors to drive them. And we do not believe the motors on wornout Army trucks can be classed as dependable.
It would seem far better to put these used and abused units to work in other fields, such as garbage collection, park department maintenance and street maintenance, where occasional breakdown would not endanger lives nor property exposed to fire.
Either there is woeful ignorance of the needs of the fire service at Washington, or else fire fighting as a public service is held in mighty low esteem among civilian defense officials in the nation’s capital.
Mayor F. H. LaGuardia of New York City recently ordered the members of the Fire Department to work three additional eight-hour shifts every twenty days, and he offered them a rate of pay for the overtime that was eleven cents an hour less than their regular scale. The firemen refused to accept this chiseled pay rate.
I he Mayor then declared that an “emergency’ existed and ordered the firemen to serve the additional time without any increase in pay whatsoever. The “emergency” was the shortage of firemen, due to retirements, enlistment and other causes.
The firemen then took the matter to court. And now the selective service draft officials, apparently at the request of the Mayor, have cancelled a previous recommendation that all firemen with more than two years of service be deferred.
The police force, given the same increase for the same number of additional hours duty, accepted the proposition. They still receive deferment from military draft.
It seems to us the action of Mayor LaGuardia with regard to the firemen shows more than a little vindictiveness. It smacks of the old “rule or ruin” philosophy.