For some time back there has been an awkwardness existing between the Wellington Fire Brigades and the bodies to whom they looked for their support—viz, the City Council and the Insurance Companies. The fire brigades alleged that the funds supplied to them for their support in efficiency by the Council and the Companies were not enough for the purpose, and failing to come to any satisfactory arrangement, they did what seems to us a very sensible thing—they laid up their engines, locked their sheds, and disbanded. The Council did not relish the prospect of seeing a large city like Wellington left entirely without means of fire exti notion,and they appointed a Committee to consider the matter. The report of that Committee was submitted, and it contained a suggestion to organise a fire brigade, the officers and men of which should he paid salaries for their services. This suggestion was adopted, and will probably bo acted upon. In most of the Now Zealand towns the services of the fire brigade members arc rendered voluntarily, and it is a well known fact that these volunteer firemen show' a remarkable degree of efficiency', and a keen enthusiasm. Their discipline is about perfect, and as their officers are elected by the members, and usually have to stand a stiff contest for their positions, they command the respect of those whose votes placed them in command. In most cases, too, the gene • ral public contribute largely to the expenses of the brigades, while subsidies are paid by the various local bodies. Though the colony has thus enjoyed the services of a very large number of volunteer firemen, wc regret to say that their value lias not-always been appreciated to the full, and not seldom the brigades have found themselves crippled for funds. The action of the Wellington City Council seem to us to be a very proper one to follow, and puts in practice a principle which has long seemed to us to bo the one upon which brigades ought to exist—viz., on the support of the Corporation of the township in which they work. In this young colony hitherto, if we were to have fire brigades at all, it was almost a matter of necessity that they should be volunteers ; but it stands to reason if they are to be retained in efficiency, their expenses must be borne by some one, and their services are too valuable to risk the loss of from want of support. Whenever difficult times come, and money becomes scarce, public contributions fall away 7, and we find the brigades poking up the Insurance Companies .and the public bodies for more money 7. If the brigades are a valuable institution, and ‘here is no one will deny their value, then xve can see no reason why they should be allowed to get into a crippled state for want of funds. It is no use depending on the Insurance Companies—they command the situation and will give no more than they' have a mind to ; and wo think the duty of the brigades’ support clearly lies with the public bodies, and provision Ought to be made accordingly'. At Home the Corporations of the various towns support the Fire Brigades, and every' member is a paid servant, so that his attendance at a fire is compulsory, and he is specially remunerated for it. We de not suppose our Volunteer Brigades desire to he remunerated for their work like ordinary day laborers, but most of them do take a pride in the efficiency of their corps, and would like to bo supplied with the best appliances. The difficulty in Wellington will have the effect of virtually' eliminating the voluntary element from the brigade, and this wc think will be a loss ; but if a means of support could be devised that would retain the volunteer character of the brigades while it maintained them in efficiency and relieved the members of all cost, a long step would be taken in removing the discontent that at present exists amongst the members of very many good corps, and at the same time towards ensuring their permanency.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 93, 29 April 1880
FIRE BRIGADES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 93, 29 April 1880
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