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The Professional Firefighter

Dallas Firefighters Museum

Sound | c. 1960s

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Transcript
  •  NARRATOR: You and your family are suddenly awakened by fire in your home. If the fire has just started, you and your family may be able to get out safely. However, if the fire has blocked off the escape route, what—actually, there is little you can do but to pray as the firemen rush into the flaming house with their water hose lines and rescue equipment. A question arises from this dramatic example, what qualities do you want the fireman in your neighborhood to possess? You expect him to risk his life without hesitation in an attempt to rescue you or your family? He does. To accomplish dangerous missions, he needs courage, physical stamina, good equipment and training, and above all, a deep concern for humanity.  
  •  What does the average citizen expect from a fireman? What does the fire department expect of a fireman? This film attempts to portray the model fireman by determining those qualities that citizens expect and the fire department requires. We feel definition of an ideal fireman must consider both the citizen's and the fire department’s viewpoint.  
  •  The fire department is extremely selective in hiring a new man to train as a firefighter. A good man is sought, then trained. The qualifications are high. Civil service and fire department records show that from 100 applicants only three or four will become a fireman. The reason for such a low percentage is the rigid physical, mental, and moral requirements.  
  •  The initial steps in becoming a fireman are for the prospect to apply then take a civil service examination. This examination is designed to measure the mechanical aptitude, general aptitude, and the IQ of the prospective fireman. From 50 to 60 percent of the applicants who take this written civil service examination will fail. The first step is already eliminated over half of the original one hundred hopefuls. Those who pass the written examination are given a very rigid physical examination by the City Health Department. Some of the physical requirements are; 18 through 21 years old, five-feet, eight-inches tall, and weighing at least 150 pounds, good hearing, and in good general health. 
  •  The candidates who pass the physical examination are then turned over to the fire department for further testing—20/20 eyesight and at least normal peripheral vision is required, dexterity and hand steadiness is tested, physical aptitude test is given to determine the degree of physical conditioning and stamina. This covers the ability to climb a rope hand over hand 25 feet, dead lift 300 pounds of weight, run 440 yards under 90 seconds, and other activities to check strength and coordination.  
  •  The fire department conducts a thorough investigation into the background of the remaining applicants. The areas that the investigator is most interested in are family history for things such as felony convictions, credit rating, police record, driving offences, high school attitude, and satisfactorily performance during past employment. 
  •  For those who pass the personal history investigation, an interview with the chief of operations is next on the agenda. The potential rookie then has a back x-ray, and, if results are acceptable, he is hired.  
  •  It takes about three months from the first step of application to the decision on whether the applicant will be hired. If hired, the recruit begins a four-month, full-time training program in the Fire Academy. At each phase of testing, about 50 percent of the applicants fail and are eliminated—strong evidence why only three or four out of each 100 applicants will become firemen.  
  •  This highly selective system of choosing only the best qualified men has helped to give you the type man you need as your neighborhood fireman.  
  •  In the Fire Academy, selected men from many walks of life are united in a training program which molds them into efficient fire fighters and public servants. The four months of training consists primarily of classroom lectures and practical applications of lessons in the field—certainly a fire fighter must be well trained.  
  •  Subjects studied in Fire School are; fire department organization, public relations, first aid, chemistry of fire, ventilation theory and practice, forcible entry, rescue and salvage, building code, radiology, tools and equipment, and other technical subjects. Each student makes a notebook which he keeps as reference and study aid. In addition to classroom studies, ladder and hose drills, and rescue procedures, the rookie is involved in a physical conditioning program. The very nature of the fire fighters work demands that he be in good physical shape. Techniques of emergency removal of trapped victims or firemen from tall buildings are demonstrated at the state fair. 
  •  After completion of the four months Fire Academy School, a banquet is held to honor the graduating rookies. By procuring men that are physically, mentally, and morally fit then training them as professionals, the fire department can provide the high-quality firemen that the community needs. 
  •  After receiving a diploma and congratulations from the chief, each man takes the department oath on which he solemnly swears to protect the lives and properties of citizens even at the risk of losing his own life. 
  •  After being assigned to a station, the apprentice fireman answers many different type emergency calls. The ideal fireman has adequate knowledge of how to handle any exigency in this field. 
  •  When an automobile accident occurs, the victims are sometimes pinned in the wreckage. It takes special knowledge and skill to free him without causing further injury. During this emergency and many other types of emergencies, the lives of victims are literally in the firemen’s hands—just another justification for the high standard set by the fire department in selecting men. 
  •  Most firemen are generous and have a deep concern for their fellow man, many firemen volunteer off-duty time to help those who are less fortunate such as the physically handicapped, those with mental deficiencies, and the poverty stricken. Many firemen work part time in order to supplement their income on jobs such painting, carpentry, hauling, and a variety of others. When an agency for children needed an addition to their building, a group of off-duty firemen donated their time and used their own tools, painting equipment, and trucks so the needed addition could be built. The firemen are not required to donate their off-duty time in labor, they do it because of the personal satisfaction derived from helping people.  
  •  In addition to being a qualified fire fighter, the firemen are prepared to handle other emergencies such as water rescue and recovery operations. The scuba divers are a group of firemen who have volunteered for extensive training in underwater diving operations. The scuba divers are primarily concerned with rescuing people from emergencies involving water, such as overturned boats, automobiles that have run into lakes or creeks, and recovery of bodies of drowning victims.  
  •  These firemen cooperate with and assist other tax supported agencies, such as police and sheriff departments, in underwater recovery. Items such as murder weapons are sometimes thrown into a lake and the police request recovery of the weapon to be used as evidence. Stolen cars that are rolled into creeks and lakes are often recovered by firemen. 
  •  We are pleased to see the spring rains come giving life to vegetation and filling the lakes. However, when the welcome showers turn into heavy downpours, they cease to be beneficial, cause extensive property damage and sometimes the loss of lives. Many residents are forced to evacuate their homes because of high water, on-duty firemen assist in evacuations by helping the people from their homes and removing furniture and other household goods. Boats are strategically located throughout the city to be used in flood evacuations, drowning, rescues, and other emergencies involving waters.  
  •  The helping hand of the fireman is within easy reach of those needing help. Flooding water often fills the basements of homes and commercial buildings. Firemen use high-volume pumps to remove water from the basements and lower floors.  
  •  Off duty-firemen volunteer their labor to groups such as Goodwill Industries. The fireman is concerned with good relations when dealing with people whether casually or in a trying emergency. The news media visits stations to get information for feature stories or for special news releases. The Dallas Fire Department hosts Miss Flame contest winners from other cities. A variety of school groups tour the fire stations. Citizens stop by to ask directions. 
  •  Each person will form his image of the fire department by his personal experience with individual firemen. A fireman may rescue a construction worker from a cave-in and within the same hour show a group of children a fire engine. A fireman must be prepared for the job whether it be an emergency or a public relations activity. 
  •  Each year, firemen volunteer to assist in voter registration by issuing registration certificates, and fire stations are used as voting locations during elections. Dedication is a trait that is particularly necessary in the fire service because firemen deal with the safety of lives and the protection of property.  
  •  Each year just before Christmas, when fire hazards are most numerous the firemen begins a campaign to make people more fire conscious. Many hours of work by devoted fire service personnel have eliminated thousands of fire hazards. It would be impossible to know the numbers of fires prevented, how many lives and how much property was saved by eliminating this hazards. However, the following facts related to fire prevention can be verified by fire department and city records. First, although the population has increased at the rate of about 2,000 people monthly for the last ten years, the number of deaths caused by fire remains the same this year as it was ten years ago. The yearly fire deaths average 34.  
  •  Second, even though there are more structures now than they were ten years ago, the fire loss has not increased and is still about $4 million yearly. If the members of the fire service had not been dedicated to their profession, the fire loss and number of fire deaths may have increased instead of showing a relative decrease.  
  •  A number of firemen repair Christmas toys during spare time throughout the year and give them to underprivileged children. This project relies on volunteer labor. Bicycles by the dozen and a large assortment of other toys are collected, put into new conditions, and given to needy children. Many children in orphan homes receive bicycles each year through the labors of some kind-hearted fireman. A sincere concern for the less fortunate, it is a desirable trait for any public servant.  
  •  Another Christmas-related activity by firemen is to help decorate hard to reach Christmas trees for some children’s hospitals. Although the snorkel is usually seen at tragic events, this mission is a happy one as evidenced by those faces of those young patients. These children will remember the snorkel and firemen not as a fire rescue vehicle and crew, but as the friends who helped their nurse decorate their tree. 
  •  Numerous desirable traits of a good fireman are demonstrated at the Texas State Fair. In the fall of each year, as the landscape bursts into vivid color, the gates open and thousands pour in to enjoy the beautiful scenes and exciting activity of the fair. The million-dollar Midway offers thrilling rides to the young and the not so young. Fabulous living water displays during the day and at night attract acres of onlookers. Thousands stroll through the exhibits which display everything from high-roller pigeons to blue-ribbon jellies. Nearly all are physically able to walk around the fair grounds and take in the sights. Busy crowds pause to watch the marching bands and the colorful floats.  
  •  These tumblers are certainly in prime physical conditions and could walk from the one end of the fairground to the other and still have plenty of energy left for another performance. But what about the children who want to see the fair as badly as anyone, but can’t because of physical or mental handicaps? Sad as it is, some will miss the entertainment, but many will be able to see the exhibits and ride some of the rides because of an understanding and unselfish group of men in firemen uniforms. 
  •  But after those firefighting clothes are turned in for the last time, what happens to this man who has devoted a lifetime of service with the fire department. Some take life easy and enjoy their deserved leisure time doing what they never had time to do before. Many take part-time jobs to supplement their pensions.  
  •  Most retirees keep in contact by attending the monthly meetings of the Retired Police and Firemen Association. The retired fireman continues to get a deep personal satisfaction from helping others. There are many needs for the type of man who wants to help others, and if health permits, the retired fireman will respond. 
  •  During this film, qualities have been illustrated that would be desirable for an ideal fireman. The idealistic qualities are: ability to get along with others, high intelligence, mechanical aptitude, above average physical strength, courage, high morals, courteous nature, initiative, thorough job knowledge, devotion, and a cooperative and helpful spirit.  
  •  To expect each fireman to possess all of these noble qualities would be unrealistic, and by no stretch of imagination do we want to imply that each fireman has all these traits and abilities. However, each one does possess some of them. The more of these qualities the fireman has, the safer your city will be. It is the goal of your fire department to continue to develop men of quality—the best fire men possible. 
  •  Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc. 
 
TAMI Tags
  •  What makes an ideal firefighter? 
  •  Application process 
  •  Training program 
  •  Graduation banquet 
  •  Community involvement 
  •  Underwater operations 
  •  Water evacuation 
  •  Public relations 
  •  Safety campaign 
  •  Christmas activities 
  •  Texas State Fair 
  •  Retirement 
 
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What makes an ideal firefighter? This film, produced by the Dallas Fire Department, seeks to answer that question. The film defines the ideal candidate, and outlines the process used to create a department comprised of men who fulfill the criteria. Detailed are the extremely selective application process, rigorous training, and demanding job and community responsibilities of a firefighter. Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc.

The Dallas Firefighter's Museum's film collection captures a variety of activities performed by the Dallas Firefighters. While a few films focus on fire fighting and training, most feature community events such as the fair, toy repair, pump races, and even a Miss Flame pageant. The Dallas Firefighter's Museum is housed in one of the city's oldest fire stations; the building served as a working fire station from the time it was built in 1907 until 1975, when the museum took over. The museum aims to preserve the rich history of the Dallas Fire Department through exhibits and educational experiences. Visit their Website at http://www.dallasfiremuseum.com.