Richard G. Houren

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Richard G. Houren - Established January 15,1836. Vol. CXXVt, No....
Established January 15,1836. Vol. CXXVt, No. 284 ALTON, ILL., Councilman Pledge Support I For Next Appointment of Fire Chief by City Manager Statement Issued By Mayor Support for a future fire chief appointment by City Manager Graham W. Watt, "regardless of that individual's residence," was unanimously voiced by the City Council at the conclusion of a special special meeting in the office of Mayor P. W. Day Friday evening. After a two-hour closed session following an open special meeting meeting of the Council to hear a report report by former Fire Chief Richard Richard G. Houren. on conditions within within the Alton Fire Department, Mayor P. W. Day issued the following following statement in behalf of the Council. The mayor said all members members of .the Council agreed to issue the statement. The statement: "The Council feels that it is regrettable regrettable that we could not: avail ourselves of the service and ability ability of Mr. Houren for Improving the effectiveness of the Fire Department Department of the City of Alton. "The Council agreed to brin in a completely independent con sultant to make a study of exis ing conditions in the Fire Depar ment and make recommendation for improvement where neede and also to make recomnienda tions for a completely objectiv method of qualifying a new fire chief. "The Council concurred that n member of the Fire Department regardless of rank, will serve as agentJtor. the ,sale, or .service o fire extinguishers or fire protec HEAR FIRE DEPARTMENT STORY tion equipment. "They further agreed that they would support the city manager' choice of fire chief regardless of that individual's residence. "Grievances of members of the department will be heard and considered considered only if they follow established established grievance proceedure." Watt has indicated to the Telegraph Telegraph that he has no definite plans for appointment of a sue cessor to Houren. The closed session was suggest ed by a radio newsman, ant agreed to by councilmen. 1,850 Car Stickers Purchased With 1,850 advance sales already made of 1962 city automobile licenses, licenses, City Treasurer M. 0. Elliott Elliott said today he still has a goal of Issuing 3,000 license stickers before Jan. 1. The licenses become due at the start of the new calendar year but are being issued this month In ad vance of the due date to accommodate accommodate public demand. The sale opened Nov. 30. Sales this week have been fair, Elliott reported, with 102 licenses issued yesterday and 118 on Thursday. Thursday. Surprise of the week at the treasurer's office, however, was that 94 of the $5 licenses were sold last Monday, me day of the sleet and ice blizzard that inhibit ed driving. Revenue from auto licenses goes to street maintenance including snow and ice control activities. Standing, retired Fire Chief Richard Richard G. Houren. Seated from left, Mayor Mayor P. W. Day, Councilmen Paul Kussell, Jerome Springman, James L. Allen; and City Manager Graham W. Watt.—Staff Photo Fire Department Efficiency, Quality Criticized by Houren "Inferior quality and effici ency" of the Alton Fire Depart ment could/easily result in a rise in fire insurance rates in the city after the National Fire Underwriters Board conducts its TODAY'S CHUCKLE A not* to dads: What many youngsters, would Uke a Christ' BBS is something to separate fee men from the toys. <$ 1MJ. General Fe«tur«» Corp') ne>tt Inspection, former Fire Chief Richard G. Houren told members of the City Council at a special meeting in the office of Mayor" P. W. Day Friday evening. The inspections are conducted at irregular intervals. Fire insurance insurance rates are largely based upon results of the Underwrjt- eers Board inspections. An insurance man said today that Alton is in class 5, for insurance insurance rates, with a considerable considerable number of other cities, and that class has the second owest rate in Illinois. The first •our classes—Including larger cities—have a lower rate. The' next underwriters' examination examination could result in an ln- rease .or decrease depending on indings, he added. Councilman James L. Allen, who is president of Alton Assn. >f Independent Insurance Agents, Agents, and who attended the Friday Friday meetings, couldn't be reached reached for a statement this morning about fire insurance rates. Helping Factors Quoting from the underwriters' 958 report, Houren said the aoard determined the department department itself to be class 6, the department's department's alarm system class and its fire prevention program, program, class 7. He said only fac- ors which have helped main- aln low rates are the class 3 vater system and building laws nd class 4 structural conditions vithin the city. Houren said continuance of iresent insurance rates in the ity is largely contingent upon mprovement of shortcomings ited in the underwriters' re- ort, many of which have remained remained unchanged since the report report was submitted to the city n!958. A recorded play-back of the ntire meeting and report will e presented on Radio Stations VOKZ and WOKZ-FM at 2 p.m. unday. Many Volunteers Better The former chief, who resigned 'riday after 10 days as head of he department, told the Coun- 11 there are many volunteer fire epartmente in the country 'hich are just as good as the >lton department. Houren was asked to report to he Council at the meeting, called by Mayor Day at the suggestion suggestion of City Manager Graham W, Watt. Houren further told the Council Council that, in his opinion, there is not a man on the department capable of serving as fire inspector. inspector. He said grades on Civil Service examinations given for promotions indicated a strong lack of knowledge of basic principles principles and information. He said in the case of an examination for promotion to the rank of; en gineer, the average score on section .of th^. test .dealing witl reading gauges in. the fire trucks was 33—indicating that the men didn't even know now to read the gauges properly. He said the average score on a section of the test on hydraulics, operation o: fire engine pumping apparatus was 36, and the average score on fire combat was only 33 These scores are out of a possible possible 100 points in each section. Worse Than Anticipated Houren declared in a discouraged discouraged tone, "Maybe I had a dream and the dream was too far gone." He said he came to Alton "with the desire and ambition ambition to develop the fire department." department." He said he had studied the underwriters report before accepting the appointment as fire chief, and had spent some time drafting preliminary plans for improvement. But, when he arrived, in Alton, he found the situation worse than he had anticipated. anticipated. He said the Alton fire houses are the first in the world he has Deen in that were "overrun by cockroaches." This, he charged, s a clear indication that the firemen don't even have enough nitiative to keep their living quarters clean and livable. The former chief also attacked a complete lack of records in the department. He said firemen didn't even know of the existance of three sets of maps in the department department which show fire-hazard conditions and critical zones. Hoses Short Further, he said, while invento- •ylng fire equipment, he found hat only one of 80 lengths of fire lose at one house was full sped- ied length of 50 feet. He said vhen purchased by the city, the lose sections were supposed to have been 50 feet, that the city >ald for 50 feet in each section, but that they ranged from 44 feet up, with only a single section meeting specifications. Much of the department's mechanical mechanical equipment was found to be in deplorable condition, Houren asserted. He said the city's only urret gun, a device for throwing concentrated streams of water in- o large fires, was missing a number number of ball-bearings and ils gaskets gaskets were defective. Further, he said, the heads on many of the ire axes were loose, and the heads had been painted so the iremen wouldn't have to keep hem clean and polished. In response to a question, Hourn Hourn said lie found the equipment at Engine House No. 5 "in very good ing building should suffer from smoke inhalation, it would be nee essary to return to the fire hous and bring back the inhalator to treat the person — wasting precious precious minutes. In Ms short tenure as chiel Houren said he learned that the city "is being shortchanged by the men." He said it was com mon practice, by "juggling" days off, overtime, sick leave and com pensatory days off, to stretch one week of vacation over a much longer period. He said the men have been "pampered," with the Alton department department being the only depart ment he has ever seen where men on different shifts don't share beds. He said other departments "are operated much like hotels with men on three shifts sharing Deds. Here, each man has his own bed—then they can't keep the jlaces clean enough to keep the cockroaches out." Received Complaints Several Councilmen commentec hey had received complaints rom firemen about the way in vhich Houren was trying to run the department. Houron said one fireman had old him, "You're going to demand demand too much of us and we're going to have to work too hard and study too hard. Houren said it is necessary, if the members members of the fire department are to 'unction efficiently and as a team n time of emergency, to set up rules and procedures, along with drills and advance planning for specific situations. He cited a 'luck of initiative" on the part of all grades of firemen, as a deterrent to efficient department iperations. Replying to a report by Couu ilman James L. Allen, that a ireman had told him that "There s no one In this world who could work for you (Houren)", the ormer chief said he has been in targe of as many as.2,400 clvll- an firemen at one time. They were civilian employes of ire protection services as a num jer of naval installations which vere under his supervision. He showed the Council a letter of .ommendation from the late Sec. f the Navy James Forrestal, for the work Houren had done in fire irotectlon and prevention for the s'avy- hope compared to the others." Jntil recently, the equipment at Mo. 5 has been owned and main- ained by the Milton Volunteer ?ire Department. Inhalator on Floor Houren also attacked the pre- Ipus practice of leaving the city's only inhalator lying on the floor of the No. 1 Fire Station. He said if a fireman or person in a burn- itu*k in Madrid To Brief Franco MADRID (AP)-U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk flew into Ma- 'Irid today to brief Generalissimo l r rani'isco Franco on the latest In'(.'(•national In'(.'(•national developments. Rusk is expected to give Franco Franco Washington's assurances that it appreciates the Spanish ruler's cooperation with the West. 11LOODMOBILE Monday, 1-6 p,«, Trinity LutUerau Blair & Maple j | ! ' to ae Pubic are y ug I ut, er .

Clipped from
  1. Alton Evening Telegraph,
  2. 16 Dec 1961, Sat,
  3. Page 1

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