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The Fire Commissioners met at noon yesterday [April 29, 1906] with Mayor Schmitz and all the battalion chiefs, and for the first time since the double disaster of the 18th endeavored to effect a reorganization of the department. Since the fire ended its work of destruction on the morning of the 21st, the Commission has been almost constantly in session, doing all in its power to return the affairs of the department to conditions as nearly normal as possible, and at yesterday's meeting the results of their labors were made evident.

The first announcement made at the meeting was that all men suspended since the fire for infractions of rules have been reinstated and that all men who performed their duty faithfully during the days and nights of the fire have had all black marks that were against their records absolutely wiped out. In the first class covered by this announcement were men who fought without sleep or food for upward of seventy hours but who, once the fire was out, rushed off to look after their loved ones. Other offenses were committed that would have been grave in ordinary times, but the Commission did not find it difficult to forgive and forget under the existing circumstances.

Within the department are many men who rendered very exceptional service, risking their own lives and by their cool discretion safeguarding the lives of others. Those thus especially distinguished will be listed, and as soon as may be promotion will be their recompense. Those men, if any there were, who shirked their duties and showed themselves cowards, will be dealt with just as summarily as the law permits and will be expelled from the department in disgrace. The firemen are proud of the fact, however, that the shirkers were very few. Citizens who gave themselves and their efforts to helping out the department where its own men were lacking or exhausted, will also be listed and they will find that their heroism was not in vain.

But the best news that was forthcoming for the men of the department was that they will receive their pay tomorrow at 2 o'clock. This will be a great aid to those who have lost their homes and who, because of their work, are able even now to give but little time or thought to the affairs of their own families.

The losses to the department though earthquake and fire include six fire engines, one truck equipment and about one-half the entire supply of hose that was available, in addition to the score or more fire houses that were within the burned district. Contracts exist in every case for supplies and word has been received from every contractor concerned that the apparatus necessary to re-equip the department will be furnished at the earliest possible moment.

Meantime, every effort will be made to temporarily house the apparatus and members of the department, that the unburned section of the city may be fully guarded and protected. It has been decided definitely that the department should not be reduced in size. If this were done there would be room for a fear that sufficient protection was not left the city, and to prevent any such fear and to inspire all possible confidence in the people during the period of rebuilding, the department will be kept intact.

Acting Chief Dougherty and all battalion chiefs and company commanders were notified to do all in their power to give their men opportunities to look after individual interests. "The men worked like heroes," said Commissioner Parry yesterday, "and we are very proud of them. We want to do all in our power to aid them now and we want each member of the Fire Department who did his duty to know that the Commission appreciates what was done and that the Commission is standing behind each one of them at this time. After the 1st of the month the men will again get their regular days off, and the vacation period, which was to have begun on the 1st of May, will begin on the 15th instead and the men will get all their vacations as usual. We are entirely convinced that they are entitled to them."

It was decided at the meeting that every possible courtesy and consideration should be shown the widow of the late Chief Sullivan. To this end an application for pension was ordered made out for her and it was directed that an assistant county clerk and notary visit her at her home, that she may be spared appearing before the Commission.

Alexander George, the water expert of the department, after forty-eight hours of travel throughout the city, submitted a report showing just where water is available, just where it will be available and when in the and pointing out the places where water is not available for some time to come. Mr. Herrin of the Southern Pacific pledged his best efforts toward locating chemicals shipped from Los Angeles a week ago, and the chemical engines which are in good shape will be so placed as to guard those sections that are without water. By this arrangement every block of the unburned district will be well guarded and the commissioners do not expect to have any difficulty in overcoming any fires that may break out, providing the regulations made for citizens are respected and obeyed. There need be no fear entertained of further conflagrations.

San Francisco Chronicle
April 30, 1906

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