This year marks a real milestone for the magazine. Some 75 years ago, in 1935, Fuel Oil News first rolled off the presses. It was an appropriate time for the magazine to be launched because it marked a period in which fuel oil moved from being a novelty heating fuel into the mainstream. Coal was still dominant and would remain viable for decades to come. However, oil brought with it many advantages that were hard to ignore and many of our earliest readers made the logical transition from coal to oil sales.
Oil was cleaner and did not have the mess associated with both coal dust and ash removal. While automated systems were developed to keep coal-burning heating appliances operating with less homeowner attention, oil-fired appliances were practically maintenance-free by comparison. Oil was also safer. The quaint military practice of “fireguard” (where soldiers would pull one hour’s worth of duty during the night) had its origins in both making sure coal burning heaters were fed and also that fires did not break out killing all those in the barracks. Oddly, of course, the practice did not end once safer sources of heating were established — time was just spent doing other productive tasks like buffing the floors in common areas. However, this editor actually had the opportunity to perform traditional coal heating fire guard duty during time spent in the old World War II barracks at Fort McCoy Wis. While it was eminently preferable to being cold in the middle of winter, it was certainly an irritation dealing with that heating process.
The industry has undergone a great deal of change since 1935. The technology has certainly advanced since that time, becoming more efficient and effective. New challenges have arisen in the form of propane and natural gas heating. In the case of propane, many dealers now offer both fuels to their customers and advances in oil heating keep it more than competitive in all major areas of comparison. Where natural gas is a concern, a serious threat to be sure, oil heating goes where the gas lines do not; it’s cost-effective; efficiency has become comparable and it still allows the homeowner a far greater degree of control over his or her eating destiny compared to a gas utility.
The staff at Fuel Oil News are excited to be leading the magazine into a new decade and its 75th year of operation. For all of the challenges the industry faces it remains vibrant and important and will be so for many years to come. We look forward to sharing those years with our readers.
As an aside, we would like to hear your stories if your company has been around for that 75 years. Let us know how you were founded, if you were a coal dealer that made the move to oil or if you got started in oil, and how you have moved with the changes the industry has faced during those years. We would be happy to share your stories.