THE NATIONAL CONVENTION.
It is so rare for the daily press to discuss anything fire-related with even ordinary intelligence that the following article in The Commercial Bulletin, suggested by the forthcoming convention of chiefs, deserves pride of place in fire literature . The author makes a serious mistake in assuming that firefighters are generously paid for their services. He probably had in mind a few big cities that have fully paid departments not realizing the fact that for every paid department in the country, there are a hundred or more that are purely voluntary, taxpayers not contributing a dollar to compensate the men for their work. services. The author views the situation regarding fire losses from an insurance point of view, and what he says regarding the interest of insurance companies in fire protection expresses the sentiments of the average insurer. Attached to the article:
“An important convention is to be held in Chicago on September 9, in the deliberations, discussions and decisions of which all owners and policyholders must necessarily take an interest. This gathering will be the twelfth annual convention of firefighters and fire department chiefs in the various cities of the United States. It will be their fault if each local department of the country is not represented at this meeting, since the invitations have been very widely and generously distributed, with a view to universal representation by delegates. There is no doubt that there will be a large participation of representative firefighters. And that the twelfth convention of this particular kind should be bigger and more enthusiastic than any of its predecessors is also to be safely assumed. Considering the overstatement that these firefighters themselves may cherish regarding the community’s obligation to them for the service they render (and, in most cases, are generously paid to perform), the fact remains that in every locality there is an implied obligation, if not assumed, to protect property against destruction by fire, merely by reason of the tax assessment from which the cost of such protection must arise, when such cost has been formally included. So that wherever the expense of the fire service forms part of the tax levy, it is the responsibility of the community to provide a fire service commensurate with the risks and exposures of that locality. It is notorious that the majority of small towns and villages in the United States are absolutely devoid of any adequate fire department protection. And, just as notoriously, those same towns in peril are always ready to vote down proposals for firefighters or waterworks, trusting as they do (and have too much reason to) in thoughtless insurance managers or friendly people who are dumb enough to insure communities so blind and reckless they don’t deserve to be insured.
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