association. Thank you. [Applause.]
Chairman Fleming. Thank you, Mr. Delaney. That was an excellent speech, but I think perhaps you let us off a little too easily. Maybe the next speaker will be less polite.
Mr. George J. Richardson has been secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Fire Fighters, an organization of more than 60,000 members in 800 cities, since 1920. He was born in Winchester, Mass., but removed in 1911 to Vancouver, British Columbia. The following year he entered the Vancouver Fire Department. He was a member of the first firemen’s organization of the American Federation of Labor founded in Canada and has served as vice president of the international organization. He has been active for many years in the work of the National Fire Protection Association, the National Fire Waste Council, and in various fire schools. He was a member of the Advisory Committee of the United States Office of Civil Defense and later was sent as an observer for the Army and Navy to the Pacific combat area. He is a member of our Conference Coordinating Committee. Mr. Richardson. [Applause.]
Mr. George J. Richardson. General Fleming, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, let me express my appreciation to the Conference officials for the opportunity to speak today. I am going to speak on the subject, The Firefighter of Today.
History has many heroes whose martial renown has freed the world, whose daring and wonderful exploits have been responsible for changing the boundaries of nations and, in fact, have changed the very face of the earth.
We have heroes in the fire service, heroes who have given their lives that others may live. Our heroes die with their hearts aglow, with the passion for saving men, women and children; they die because of the carelessness or the criminal greed of others who are willing to make death traps in order that they might reap the harvest of ill-gotten gain. Firefighters who are killed in the performance of their duties have no redress – they are gone. No citizen would knowingly contribute to causing the death of a firefighter, yet many do so unknowingly by their carelessness. With the increase in the number of fire alarms and fires, the number of firefighters killed has also increased. Any action that would prevent the loss of one firefighter’s life would justify this conference.
Patriotism and love of liberty and service, the most noble motives that can fire the heart of man, are the ingredients that make up the firefighter of our American fire service. He represents no interest that is private, no privilege that is narrow; he represents no sect, no ism, or no clique. His service is available to the entire community; he responds to a fire in the humblest cottage just as quickly as to one in a palatial home. To us of the fire service he is a firefighter – in other words, a fighter of fire. Yet, strange as it may seem, fire is the friend of mankind and during the progress of the world, fire has been the most important ally in our modern and scientific developments. Fire is that which drives the wheels of commerce; fire is that which lights the highways of civilization; fire is one of the most useful forces in our country today – our very existence depends on the controlled use of fire.