The Duties of a Fireman


This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1940

 

The Duties of a Fireman

 

by C. J. MURPHY

 

Chief Clerk, Division of Fire

 

     ON MAY 1, 1940, three additional fire companies were organized and put in service, with the appointment of 19 new men. The present personnel of the Division of Fire is 230. This information is given so it may be better understood why this sizable body of individuals, through proper training, must be systematically united into one group.

     The Chief of the Fire Division, as Executive Officer, is in full command. Locally, the city is divided into two districts. A District Chief is assigned to each district. Company officers are in command of the various engine and ladder companies and other equipment assigned within their respective district. The Division operates under the two-platoon system, 24 hours on duty and 24 hours off duty.

     The functions of the local fire service are: Fire service, training college, fire prevention, motor vehicle maintenance and fire hydrant maintenance. The fire signaling systems operate as a separate division.

     The duties of a fireman are various. Company roll call is conducted at 7:00 a. m. daily, with both platoons, incoming and outgoing, standing attention. Special and general orders are read; streets blocked or conditions affecting the running order of the company are reported. The station and equipment are put in order. All members must appear in full uniform after 10:00 a. m., unless special work is in progress. Friday and Saturday of each week are window washing and polishing days, repectively. Apparatus and equipment are inspected and cleaned after each alarm response. General house cleaning is conducted twice yearly.

     No meal hours are allowed, but each member bears his share of expense in the station mess fund. Two meals, noon and evening, are prepared by the men in quarters.

     The company officer generally is in full command and supervises detail and routine matters. He also is in command at a fire until relieved by an officer of a higher rank. He prepares the company reports and communications. The District Chief visits the station each morning and such reports are taken by him to the Chief of the Division. [p. 68]

     Continuous watch is maintained, and the member on watch keeps a log of all unusual happenings. The night watchman is in charge and responsible for the quarters from 8:00 P. M. to 7:00 A. M.

     At 8:00 P. M. members may retire for the night, and they usually are all in bed before 10:00 P. M. Each member provides himself with a night uniform and rubber boots. The trousers are kept over the boot legs and dropped to the floor; and alarm sounds; the member steps into his boots, pulls the trousers to position, and then is hurriedly on his way. Fire helmets, rubber coats or other garments are kept in position on the apparatus.

     The Signaling System must be considered a very important function of the fire service. It is its first source of action. Delays or inefficient service at this point might result in a conflagration. Alarms of fire are broadcast simultaneously to all fire stations over a public address system and the fire companies to respond are designated. Such alarms are then confirmed over primary and secondary alarm circuits. Routine matters are also reported over the public address system. Each station is provided with a button to confirm such calls. Response to alarms are arranged according to the nature of the fire reported or district to be served. High-value and congested districts require a larger response of apparatus.

     A fireman to be efficient must be properly and uniformly trained in fire fighting methods. This knowledge must be acquired through field work, drills at the fire college and training school, and daily school in his respective quarters.

     At the fire college and training school there has been established uniform drill standards, including evolution and procedure, covering all the vital phases of departmental functions assigned to the unit or individual under instruction. The fireman is taught correct methods as to the carrying and handling of hose lines, the placing of ladders, and the use of fire appliance used principally at large fires. Simple hydraulics to determine water pressures required are also studied, as care must be taken to prevent unnecessary property destruction. Ventilation of buildings is studied and practiced, as well as how to free buildings from water and debris. The fireman must also be informed as to the hundreds of chemicals in use in modern industry, many of which supply potential fire hazards and may jeopardize life.

     Gas masks and oxygen helmets are provided and men trained in their use. Inhalators are on hand, and first aid and resuscitation methods are practiced. Rescue work is taught as well as how to [p. 69] operate the life boats and their equipment of ropes, grappling hooks, etc. Also, many other instructions of vital importance are given.

     In daily school in his respective quarters, the fireman receives information as to the general conditions within his respective district, particularly its special hazards. He must also know the location of fire alarm boxes, the position of his company at each box, the location of fire hydrants and fire cisterns, and the proper route to be taken by his company in response to an alarm, so as not to conflict with another company going into action as the same fire. Drill practices are also engaged in about the premises.

     Orders must be cheerfully and promptly obeyed. A fireman must be loyal to his superiors and obey all the laws of his city, state and nation. He should be at all times cheerful and courteous to citizens, and while off duty be governed by all the ordinary rules of good behavior so as not to bring reproach or reflection upon the Division. [p. 70]