Public Baths as A.R.P. Services Depot

Baths and Bath Engineering The Official journal of the National Association of Baths Superintendents No.51 May 1938 Vol.5 p.106 to 107

Public Baths as A.R.P. Service Depot

By C.A.G.S. First Class Instructor

IT will be found that in many districts provision will have been made for decontamination of the general public to be carried out when and where necessary at the first-aid posts organised for A.R.P., thus allowing the public baths to be allocated for service as a depot for such A.R.P. workers as road repair parties, rescue and building demolition squads, decontamination squads, and vehicle decontam squads.

The whole of these workers constitute a real responsibility, and their efficiency under active service conditions will largely depend upon the amount of thought given to the organisation and equipment of the depot from which they roust work to maintain the essential services immediately after air raids.

A public baths establishment may well be described as an ideal service depot far A.R.P. workers, owing to the fact that it possesses most. if not all, the essential requirements during its peaceful operations, and can be adapted to function for A.R.P. work in a very short time.

As in the foregoing article, the adaptation of the selected baths establishment will take place in three phases, the details of which are slightly different, but the principle remains the same. (1) Co-operation with Local A.R.P.. Organisation-.

(2) ” State of Emergency.” (3) ” Action Stations.”

Phase (1) again being the immediate problem, due regard will have to be made to present state of local A.R.P. organisation.

Whatever state this may now be in, the ultimate position as regards its requirements for housing and servicing its road repair parties. rescue squads, decontam and vehicle decontam squads, will be that a total of 150 men may have to be accommodated at the service depot.

Immediately the preliminary survey of the building to be adapted is commenced, due regard must be given to the need for the efficient protec­tion of the personnel of the ” specialist squads ” during air raids, and the provision of adequate shelter becomes a necessity of first importance.

Underground passages, common to bath buildings, and emptied filter shells will undoubtedly provide the answer to this problem.

The ” depot ” will be required also to house the. ” squads ” when off duty, sleeping quarters, recreation rooms, canteens and cooking arrangements must therefore be envisaged.

Provision will have to be made to store under gasproof conditions the whole anti-gas garments

and respirators required by all the squads and depot staff, and the choice of this ready use store will be governed in the main by two conditions, viz. :­

(a) Ample space to accommodate, say, 201)

suits of oilskins, rubber boots, respirators, gloves, hoods and other personal equipment, so stored as to allow sufficient room being avail­able to enable at least one-third of the total personnel to dress rapidly at the one time.

(b) Ability to maintain the store temperature at a low even mark. When considering (a) visualise the hanging of this equipment on numbered receptacles, thus allowing each man’s outfit to be complete and readily put on.

These outfits can be hung in rows, with gang­ways between the rows some 4 ft. wide, in the centre of which can be placed forms for use as seats when dressing is taking place.

The service depot will require to be gasproofed and splinter-protected, also fully equipped to deal with incendiary bombs, the entrance for workers returning from spells of duty fitted out as in the foregoing article with verandah, bleach trays. and air locks.

The reception room will need to be of sufficient size to accommodate two squads at the one time, its floors lead carpeted, undressing forms covered with oil sheets, and airtight bins for the reception of contaminated or suspect clothing, boots and respirators provided, completes the reception lay-out.

An air lock between the reception room and the washroom effectively seals this section and allows the now undressed workers to proceed to the showers, eye irrigators. bleach ointment con­tainers, soap, flesh find nail brushes provided in the washroom for personal decontamination purposes.

When this washroom is being laid out care must be taken to provide ample drainage under each shower to allow of the rapid get away of soiled water, and the provision of airtight bins in this room is also necessary for the deposit of used towels.

A first aid room should adjoin the washroom, where treatment may be had for cuts, bruises and burns.

Finally a clean clothing store opening from the washroom will complete the return to depot operation, the squads having now passed into their rest quarters.

Having outlined the routine use of a bath establishment when functioning as an A.R.P. services depot, it will bee possible for the baths officer to visualise on situ the adaptability of his building for this purpose, being guided in the main principles by the requirements of his locality and the Home Office A.R.P. publications applicable to this service.

When the selection of a bath establishment has been made for service as a central depot for A.R.P. services, it is generally considered desirable that the personnel comprising the various squads should be trained in the use of this depot, thus allowing them to become familiar with it during the period of training under peaceful conditions, with con­siderable advantage being conferred, if ever the depot has to function on active service to combat the dangers of poison gas, used by enemy raiders.

Even for training purposes it will be found that a public bath has many advantages over most other types of buildings, owing to the peculiar requirements anti-gas training has, and to the consideration of these we will now proceed.

The poison gas decontamination squads will carry out much of their training work in full kit, comprising anti-gas garments and general service respirators and rubber boots.

They will bee trained in the manner of dressing and undressing, cleaning and storage of equip­ment, personal decontamination and the decon­tamination of materials generally.

After men have worn the full equipment during practical training, it is deemed advisable that they immediately bath themselves : in fact. this cleansing procedure is an important section of the training (and often the most pleasant one). enabling, as it does, the 4‘personal ” decontam­ination to be adopted as a squad’s routine procedure after a spell of hard work.

The whole equipment worn by the men under practical training must be thoroughly cleansed after use, owing to its having become fouled with chloride of lime (bleach), paraffin (solvent) and evil smelling gas substitutes used in training work. The rubber boots having been hermetically sealed during use will be found in an undesirable state, too, these will require rinsing out and drying, as will respirators require disinfection for similar reasons.

The care and efficient maintenance alone of this equipment is no small responsibility, and invari­ably falls upon the baths officers and his staff throughout the period of training.

The staffing of an A.R.P. service depot can usually be done by organising and training the male bath employees supplemented by local volunteers.

This procedure has already been adopted, and when tried out recently during a “mock raid,” worked quite satisfactorily.

A specimen organisation is given as a guide, set out on a three eight-hour “watch” basis:­

  Red. White. Blue.
O/C            Asst. Supt. … Supt. …Head Attd.
Clerk          One One One
Undressers           Three Three Three
Mustard laundry Two Two Two
Stokers      One One One
Messengers           Two Two Two

In addition to the above the female staff are organised into two shifts and staff the canteens, clean clothing stores, and respirator maintenance bench.

It is essential that the whole personnel of the service depot receive full anti-gas training, and where possible first aid knowledge in addition.

When trained, the whole organisation can be tried out with a full dress rehearsal. and from time to time be given a ” refresher drill,”. with an opportunity to adapt themselves to any new development and to reiterate the fervent hope that their qualifications for this work will never be put to the test.

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