fire engines stations city force
ORGANIZATION. - The organizations of Paris and Berlin are similar, and are based upon the idea of small detachments of men, lighter machines, and a large number of stations, and on the presumption that no fire will have got beyond the control of the small detachment before it is discovered and made known. The results have been generally satisfactory under the conditions existing in those cities. In London larger detachments and fewer stations have given good results. In the principal cities of the United States different conditions have necessitated a proportionately larger force of men and more effective appliances.
London. - The metropolitan fire brigade is a force of about 400 men under the control of the Board of Works, but under the immediate command of the "chief officer." The city is divided into a number of districts, each under a" superintendent." Within each district are fire-engine stations properly equipped, each under an "engineer." The force at these stations is the unit of organization. Each engineer has independent telegraphic communication with his superintendent, and he in turn with the chief officer. 26 steam fire-engines and 86 hand-worked engines are in use. Floating steam fire-engines protect the river front. The chief officer has absolute command at fires.
Paris. - The firemen are a corps, "sapeurs-pompiers," attached to the War Department, but at fires the corps acts under orders from the prefect of police. It is under the immediate command of a colonel, and is divided into 12 companies, the company being the unit of organization. Fire stations, manned by three men and provided with hand-pumps and fire-escapes, are distributed throughout the city. If the three men of a station, with bystanders impressed into the service by the police, are unable to extinguish the fire, men from other stations of the same company are summoned. Additional companies are called out by orders from headquarters of the corps. Hand-engines are the main reliance, but in 1876 five steam fire-engines were in use.
Berlin. - The department is subject to military discipline, and is under the command of a " fire-director" with subordinate officers. The city is divided into four inspection districts, with an officer in charge of each. Each district has numerous fire &pits, according to its needs, and each depot is in charge of a fireman and four men, and is furnished with a small hand-engine, a hook and ladder, and a fire-escape. The principal stations are connected by telegraph.
Yorle. - The fire department of New York may be taken as the type of the best system now employed in the United States. It is on a military basis, under the control of a board of commissioners appointed by the mayor. The active force is under the immediate command of the "chief of department," and consists of 10 battalions, each of 6 companies, in all about 750 men. Each company, whether engine or ladder company, has its own house, where the men live and the apparatus is kept. The whole force is at all times on duty and in the houses, except such small detachments as are on street patrol or at their meals. The horses stand harnessed in their stalls, which arc placed immediately in the rear of the engine, and are loosened by a simple mechanical appliance which, simultaneously with the striking of the alarm, opens the front of the stall ; the horses, trained to move at the sound of the gong, advance rapidly each to his own place at the pole. They are instantly hitched in, the men spring to their seats, and the carriage is driven at high speed to the "alarm box" from which the alarm was given. To make sure that there will be a working pressure of steam on reaching the fire, the water in the engines, as they stand in the houses, is kept always at boiling point by the circulation of hot water from small stationary boilers, and fire is lighted in the engine the instant it leaves the house. Every effort is made to save even a few seconds of time, so that the interval between sounding the alarm and pumping water on the fire will average three minutes, and rarely exceeds five minutes. The city is divided into 10 battalion districts. The smallest of these represent each an area of about 5000 by 2000 feet, and comprise the most exposed parts of the city; but most of the districts are from two to three times as large. The signal boxes of the electric fire-alarm telegraph are placed conspicuously in the streets about 400 feet apart in the snore crowded portion of the city, and from 1000 to 1200 feet in other portions. There are 540 in all. Alarms given from these boxes are instantly telegraphed from the headquarters of the department to each company house in the city. The first alarm calls out two or more companies previously designated; a second and third call out additional force. There are in use 57 steam fire-engines (5 of which are self-propellers), 1 steam fireboat, 10 chemical engines, and 18 ladder carriages, including 5 " aerial ladders." The men are well-disciplined and skilful firemen.1 (A. P. n.)