NEW YORK: Smoke & Mire

In his 13 years in the New York fire department, Gerard W. Purcell spent as little time as possible climbing ladders and sliding down brass poles. By becoming financial secretary of the Uniformed Firemen's Association—the A.F.L. union which represents smoke eaters below the rank of lieutenant—he avoided duty, drew an extra $100 a month, and got the use of a shiny red automobile and a chauffeur. He also assumed the job of promoting the annual Firemen's Ball.

This was a heady experience; he found himself commanding the services of a special unit known as the Major...

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