Short Cuts and Gadgets – Fire Engineering Leave a comment

Short Cuts and Gadgets


The Sound Beach, Conn., Fire Department is a unit of the Town of Greenwich Fire Department, of which Stewart Potter is Chief. Not many years ago the Sound Beach Organization was 100 per cent volunteer and known as one of the wealthiest, most progressive departments in the State of Connecticut. Although today it, and other units of the Greenwich Fire Department have a neucleus of paid firemen, the volunteers are still much in evidence.

All hands at Sound Beach are pretty proud of their equipment and their white frame fire station and meeting hall, bought by the organization’s own efforts in years past, and one of the special show features is the transmitter-room at headquarters, shown in the accompanying illustration.

Prominent in this communication center is the “Panel Board,” which is a sort of a “tell-tale” to keep members of the department posted on what’s going on.

According to the creator of this Board, Fireman Frank L. Clark, who incidentally is one of the paid men of the organization, he got the idea of the device to provide the department better coverage in the fire station.

The Board tells what appparatus unit is out, and on what sort of a call. It calls attention to any special notices that may be posted on the blackboard (bulletin board) located in the transmitter room. All units of the department may be out of the station, but volunteers who report in can quickly learn what’s going on—and where.

Thus, according to designer Clark, if there is an engine out on call, the driver switches on the light on the hoard to the number of the engine that is out and at the same time the signal “FIRE” on the Board switches on and lights up. The different department apparatus are all indicated by red lights. If, on the other hand, the ambulance, let’s say, is out on an emergency call, the word “EMERGENCY” lights up in green. Notices such as “First Driver Cover,” “Second Alarm,” “Grass or Brush,” etc., flash up in red lights. If it is necessary to call attention to special communications or information on the black board, the Panel says “NOTICE ON BOARD” in letters of fire.

The signals on the Panel Board are switched on by the officer in charge, or the company driver on watch, as the case may be. Radio is included on the Panel Board because the department has a short-wave radio hookup between the transmitter room receiver (shown in the photograph) and the company’s new Cadillac ambulance as well as between it and Chief Potter’s car. Radio is controlled through the Greenwich Police.

The Panel Board has been a big help to the department, it is claimed. It is a simple device, built entirely by Brother Clark on his spare time at a reported cost of $35. It is made out of a piece of aluminum, 13 in. x 18 in., anodized dipped, with black krinkle finish. It is wired for 110 volts and is connected on the alarm circuit in case city current should break down. The department has its own Gamewell battery set. The 110 volts are cut down by two small transformers to 6 volts. Half-inch holes are provided for single pole switches and dial lights wired on the back of the board. The Board was hand engraved to suit the number and kind of department units and coverage that was deemed necessary.

(Courtesy CLARENCE E. MEEK, Mack-International Motor Truck Corp.) * * *


Hydrant wrenches are more or less orthodox and have shown little noticeable change down the years. Now comes an idea from Captain Leo McCarthy of Orange, N. J., that should give new value to this necessary tool.

The Captain’s idea is to fit the wrench shaft with a rubber casing or tubing, and the gripping end of the wrench itself, with a rubber hand-grip, about as shown in the accompanying illustration. In this picture, the Ludlow-Roper type wrench is shown, but the idea is applicable to all types.

The application permits of a better grip on the wrench and better insulation against cold and protection against any static condition in the area which might hinder a man while operating a hydrant. By reducing slippage, and resultant skinned knuckles, or worse injuries, this “short cut” should save on medical bills, and working hours lost to the department.

The cost is cheap, says the captain: bicycle band grips can be secured for the grip-end of the wrench, and rubber tubing to fit over the wrench shaft is procurable at little or no cost. Glue, which is applied to make both covering and grip secure, is a negligible factor.


There is seldom a working fire (or pumper evolution) at which some pump operator doesn’t find need for a chafing block to safeguard suction or other hose

Over the years, many ideas and products have been introduced to meet this need. Now comes a suggestion from Captain Leo J. McCarthy, Orange, N. J., for a chafing block which has the virtue of being easy and inexpensive to construct.

Captain McCarthy says all you need is a piece of tire cut twelve (12”) inches long, and a piece of wood 3” x 3″ by 10” long.

You simply place the block of wood on the inside of the tire and nail the latter to the wood. The part of the block that shows can he marked in prominent letters: “FIRE DEPT.”

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How long has it been since your men had first aid course? basic? advanced? refresher? Men come an’ go along with ideas and methods of doin’ things; it’s a good plan to think of first aid not merely for the citizen an’ the public—but the fireman—and yourself.

Transmitter Room of Sound Beach, Conn., Fire Department The dock, upper center, automatically controls a test on the fire whistle at 8:00 AM. and 8 00 P.M. daily; the gauge on the right gives the water pressure in the city mains: the gauge at the left indicat. the air pressure in the tank that supplies the whistle; to the far left in the Gamewell time registe: dock and ticker-tape; at left, under the gauge is shown the Panel Board described herein; below th clock is the Gamewell transmitter and to its right, the General Electric radio receiver; at the far right the bulletin or blackboard, and telephone for receiving alarms.

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