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“ [475] returning the same to the house, and taking the necessary care of said apparatus after its return.”

The wisdom of Medford in this twenty-first section is most apparent, and has doubtless prevented the intemperance and moral ruin which have elsewhere been deplored. Some towns have provided their engine-men with a furnished hall, lighted and warmed every evening. This plan, which was designed for good, has, in some cases, produced the most fatal results. It has brought together numbers of young men, who have not had a proper early education, and whose passions naturally lead them to excess. Some of these towns have allowed these engine-men a supper, at the town's expense, whenever they have been on duty at a fire. It has been said that some thoughtless young engine-men have rejoiced at the occurrence of a fire, because it secured to them this public supper; and newspapers have gone so far as to affirm that fires have been actually kindled by unprincipled firemen, for the purpose of having a supper afterwards! Common humanity leads us to hope that such statements are not true. Can it be that any human mind is so sunk to the level of a brute, so polluted in moral debasement, and so lost to all feeling and all justice, as to be guilty of one of the most atrocious crimes, merely to get a supper? If there be one such member of any fire-company in this Commonwealth, the sooner he is transferred to the State Prison, the better for him and for the community. It would be compassion to stop him in his road to ruin, and to put him where his passions can be quieted, and where he could have leisure to see himself as God sees him.

The existence of fire-departments in our wooden cities and towns is indispensable; but we think they have not been wisely organized or properly sustained. They should be considered as insurance-offices, and supported by a premium-tax on all property. All the officers, without exception, should be chosen by the selectmen, and be paid proportionably, as are officers of fire-insurance companies; and, like such officers, should be laid under bonds. Each fireman should be appointed by the selectmen, and so paid as to secure the strongest and best principled men. Their connection with the fire-department should be a mark of respectability, and a proof of good character. Their prompt attendance on the alarm of fire should be rewarded by distinction, and their unnecessary absence be punished by the heaviest fines.

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