When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois



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"It's About Time. . . "
An Editorial by Daily News Publisher, John Rardin


As stated in a an earlier piece on "Fire Insurance Rates to Increase in Charleston" provided the warning for Charlestonians. The fire department needed to enlarge and add new men and equipment. It seems to this writer that Charleston constantly drug its feet on the issue of fire protection, even from the beginning m the 1870's. John Rardin was the outspoken editorialist of Charleston. The Charleston Courier would refrain from political or heated editorials. John Rardin was publisher and editor of the Charleston Daily News. I would like to reprint his editorial of May 8, 1952:



This & That-------      By John B. Rardin

Many comments could be heard on Wednesday night during the disastrous Alexander store building fire : : : one of the oft-heard remarks was that Charleston is badly in need o extra fire fighting equipment__not just enough to get by on the average fire but enough so that such emergencies as the one Wednesday night can be met favorable : : : Our firemen must be credited with doing a splendid job in holding the fire loss to the large Alexander building : : : as those present will testify, it looked for a time like hope for saving the entire east side of the square was useless, but no other building were damaged by fire except for a few sparks : : : water did some other damage, but not a great lot::: You can mark down the fact that we have business buildings along the east side only because Mattoon and Paris firemen were kind enough to lend a hand with men and equipment:: : our equipment is good, but there just isn't enough of it for combating a disastrous fire ::: and we have only six firemen on payroll__four less than the minimum required for a city the size of Charleston : : ; without additional help and equipment from the surrounding cities, it would have been next to impossible for any amount of effort on the part of local firemen to have saved the section of business buildings : : : It's nice that the neighboring cities lend a hand, but what if they, too, were equipped on the theory that only enough equipment was necessary to get by? : : : then how would they be able to spare equipment to help us in an emergency? : : : and also, with no surplus equipment, how can we properly assist them in times of emergency without leaving Charleston open for a disastrous conflagration? ::: Charleston now has a large supply of water : : :




that former worry is whipped and there will be plenty of water for nearly any emergency here : : : A bond issue has been voted to lay an auxiliary water main to the plant as a safety measure and to increase pressure and capacity, and a half million gallon storage tank is to be erected to hold an emergency supply of water near the business district : : : a new, eight-inch main will feed fire plugs on the square directly from the tank : : : These steps are in the right direction and will solve a part of our needs, although they should have been completed many years ago : :: BUT now that we have gone a part of the distance toward sufficient fire protection, there is no reason for not completing the picture : : : Charleston is in need of another fire station at a separate location where is of no consequence and it is in need of additional equipment and men to assure proper use of the proposed equipment : : : Our two booster pump trucks are dandies, there can be no argument against that fact::: they labored long and fathfully on the job Wednesday night to prove the fact beyond doubt : : : quality does not make up for quantity, though, and there should be more equipment added : : : The call to the second fire at Snyder furniture displays that there must be more than enough equipment on the job : : : the men and equipment engaged at Alexander's could not be spared to combat the Snyder fire, and fortunately it was held behind sealed doors until Paris could arrive :: : : what if the fire had fanned, and equipment had to be used anyway? : : : the possible disaster resultant is hard to visualize : : : Fire fighting equipment must be on hand for more than the average need, so that emergencies may be met : : : you wouldn't think of buying a car without some extra horsepower above the ordinary need : : : now what are you going to do about the fire department?