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Stokers and firemen

Discussion in 'Life for the Crew and the Band' started by Peyton Jenkins, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. This could be in the wrong folder... but could anybody tell me if a "stoker" and a "fireman" on a ship is the same thing? Researching the crew lists here on ET, I find a lot of "firemen" but no "stokers".

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Dave Gittins

    Dave Gittins Member

    According to Frederick Barrett, who should know, a stoker was a leading hand fireman. They were paid an extra 10 shillings per month.

    I'm not going to argue with Fred. Those blokes were tough customers!
  3. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey Member

    I was always puzzled by that distinction. Fred makes it in the British Inquiry:

    Does a stoker and a fireman mean the same thing? - No.
    What is the difference? - One is a little higher than the other.
    I beg your pardon, are you a leading stoker? - Yes.

    But in the American Inquiry, when asked if he is a fireman he answers "A leading fireman".

    The Oxford dictionary gives the same definition for both words (one who tends the furnace of a steam engine fire) but with the added comment for a stoker: 'especially on a ship'.
  4. Hmmm... interesting. Thanks for the help!
  5. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey Member

    It may be that Fred was trying to establish that his work deserved a little more status than that of men who shovelled coal in the basement of a factory. It's notable that in his evidence to the British Commission he referred to himself consistently as a stoker or leading stoker, but at least once he described the men under his command also as "stokers".
  6. The boiler room's workers never interested me too much but I have a few questions about this group:

    1) Does anyone know the schedule followed by this men? How many hours did they work per day?

    2) When they finished their work, did they pass their free time resting or sleeping, or did they have any activity or other kind of entertainment? I suppose they had no contact with the higher crew members because they did the dirtiest and severe work on board and there wouldn't certainly be many free hours for having fun.

    3) What did they eat? When searching in the Victualling Crew list I found nothing regarding cooks for the crew, but I've always got the idea that this men were that type of people who can do everything, since cooking to reparations. I might be wrong, but can anyone confirm this?

    4)How was the environment between the firemen? During the sinking most of them stayed in their posts, so I think this open a window which represents their personality. In my opinion, they were, at least, brave men!

  7. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey Member

    The firemen had their own mess, with two mess stewards. The food served there came from the crew's galley, which had two cooks. I imagine that the meals available were similar to those served to 3rd Class passengers, but available at any time of day to fit in with the system of Watches.

    For answers to your other questions, see this thread:

  8. Thanks very much, Bob. Sorry, I should do my own research before I throw my questions.

    Bet regards, João
  9. João: There were three watch sections of firemen and trimmers with 54 firemen, 24 trimmers, and 5 leading firemen in each watch section. They worked 4 hours on and 8 hours off. A fireman was expected to work one end of a boiler consisting of 3 furnaces. Only one furnace would be opened at any given time. In boiler rooms 2 through 4, with 5 double ended boilers each, there would be 10 firemen, in BR No. 6, with only 4 double-ended boilers, there were 8 firemen. There were at least 4 trimmers for each boiler room, or two per stokehold. Each double-ended boiler room (No. 2 through 6) had a leading firemen assigned to it. If not all boilers were lit, those extra firemen and trimmers would be assigned to do other work down below such as clean machinery spaces, etc. There were also 30 greasers on board with 4 leading greasers who worked to maintain the various steam engines and electric motors.

    The engineers were also divided into 3 watches, each watch section working 4 hours on and 8 hours off. There were a total of 7 engineers to each watch section at sea. Chief Engineer Bell, like Captain Smith, would not have kept a watch, but the majority of the other engineers would. There were three 2nd Engineers and three Assistant 2nd Engineers on board. This allowed for one 2nd Engineer and one Assistant 2nd Engineer in each watch, one in charge of the engines and the other responsible for the boilers. The 2nd Engineers’ watch assignments were: Senior 2nd Engineer William Farquharson along with Senior Assistant 2nd Engineer Bertie Wilson having the 00:00-04:00 and 12:00-16:00; Junior 2nd Engineer Norman Harrison along with Junior Assistant 2nd Engineer Herbert Harvey having the 04:00-08:00 and 16:00-20:00; and Junior 2nd Engineer John Hesketh along with Junior Assistant 2nd Engineer Jonathan Shepherd having the 08:00-12:00 and 20:00-00:00.
  10. Thanks Samuel! You really helped me with this. I was getting a bit confused concerning the schedule even when I read the thread Bob Godfrey give me. Well, I think I haven't posted to you yet but you were already on my list of ET "experts", along with Bob, Michael Standart and so on...

    Cheers, João
  11. Sorry, I forgot to question another thing that's been intriguing me. Did the firemen had any room for socialize with the other workers and relax, by playing cards and table games, or did they do this in the bedrooms?

    Thanks, João
  12. João: The only large room other than their quarters where they bunked was the firemen's mess on C deck starboard side in the forecastle.
  13. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey Member

    Aside from the mess room, their sleeping quarters were quite roomy and were equipped with long tables with bench seating where no doubt many a hand of cards was played. They wouldn't normally have had much contact with other crew members. The greasers and seamen, for instance, had their own quarters and mess rooms.
  14. Thanks, once again. I promise to ask everything at the same time in the future!

  15. Glad to be of help João when I can. It's good to have someone with your enthusiasm. There is a good set of plans from Bruce Beveridge that can be viewed on-line at: http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/titanic/explorer/explorer.html. If you look at decks C through G under the forecastle you can see the living quarters of these people and how they are laid out. As Bob had said, there was lots of space including benches and long tables.