With the editor
A well-deserved honor
It was a very gracious act on the part of the New England Association of Fire Chiefs at its last convention in voting Chief John W. O’Hearn, of Watertown, Mass., Secretary-Treasurer for Life.
While this was a distinguished honor bestowed on the faithful secretary of the Association, it was also a well-deserved honor. Not only has Chief O’Hearn served as Secretary-Treasurer since the founding of the Association in 1923, but it is to him, more than to any other individual, that the success story can be attributed. that the organization can boast of. Chief O’Hearn has worked in and out of season for the good of his association, and the fact that his duties have been carried out conscientiously and wisely, the association’s current enviable position among fire chief organizations certainly attests to this. .
The secretary of an association maintains a special relationship with its proper functioning. It generally acts as a link between the various administrations, whose staff move from year to year. In this particular case, Chief O’Hearn, as Secretary-Treasurer, remained the only element among the shifting officers, and thus preserved the continuity of the organization, where others provided variety. That he did it with discernment and tact, the harmony that has existed at all times in the organization has proven it. The efficiency of the administration of his office is well proven by the excellence of the arrangements of the various congresses of the Association.
The NEAFC was certainly not mistaken in appointing Chief O’Hearn to this permanent post.
Overcome a natural gas danger
The modern firefighter faces an almost endless list of unusual dangers. He hardly familiarizes himself with a new development in current life when another one comes up to upset him.
One of the latest, happening in some communities, is the increasing use of natural gas for fuel and lighting. In many parts of the country, it is true, natural gas is an old story and the firefighters in those places know the peculiarities of this substance which has proven to be so beneficial to mankind when available.
But few unknown to its properties know that it is practically odorless, and therefore that the usual method of detecting manufactured gas leaks by odor cannot be used with the natural product.
As the use of natural gas is increasing dramatically and the prospects of piping the substance over long distances for commercial purposes are certain, it is of the utmost importance that this odorless characteristic be fully understood by firefighters in the area. any region where its use is likely to become general.
However, science has discovered a cure for this danger which may soon be put into practice. It is no less a plan than to produce an artificial smell in natural gas. Through studies and experiments conducted by the United States Bureau of Mines, it has been discovered that a substance chemically known as ethyl mercaptan, when introduced into natural gas pipes, will produce an odor. very distinctive, thus warning of any dangerous leaks that may occur. Ethylmercaptan is an organic sulfur compound, containing 51.6 percent sulfur. Mercaptans are somewhat similar to alcohol and are sometimes referred to as âthio-alcoholsâ. Ethyl has a very intense and unpleasant odor, comparable to garlic, onions, rotten cabbage, sewage gas, etc. It therefore quickly draws attention to any gas leaks. The importance of this to firefighters entering a building in which such a leak is present is obvious, as without the sensing substance they could be overcome before they were aware of the presence of the gas, or could carry a light into it. such a building, causing an explosion and loss of life.
An incident with a double lesson
A recent incident in an eastern town contained a double lesson, one on the usefulness of fire drill lessons and the other highlighting the benefits of the fireproof booth for cinema projection instruments. .
The auditorium of a large public school was packed with a gathering of students from several classrooms to witness an educational picture, when the film burst into flames and burst into flames.
Immediately, the fire drill signal sounded and the several thousand children came out in order in the street. The fire was confined to the film and little damage was done.
If these students had not been thoroughly trained in what to do in such an emergency situation, it is almost certain that it would have resulted in extreme panic and confusion, as the large room quickly filled up. of acrid smoke from the burning film. This could easily have resulted in a mad rush for exits, with some of the weaker students being trampled on and badly injured or killed. But with the regularity of the fire drill like
second nature, nothing like that happened, and calm and order were the result. This is what the fire drill has done for thousands of students and workers across the country.
As for the other lesson, if this flammable film had been projected in a non-fireproof projection booth, the intense heat of the film would soon have ignited all objects around it, and a rapid and hot fire would have been the result, spreading probably before all the students could get out, injuring them, not to mention heavy property damage.
This underlines the wisdom of the provision which insists that all such projection booths must be of a strictly fire retardant nature, so that in the event of such an outbreak the fire will be confined to the booth and no longer spread. . The regulation that requires it is not only in the interest of public safety, but also provides protection for the owner of the theater.