A Danger to the Brooklyn Bridge.
IT is well to guard against danger before disaster occurs. It is no credit to those in authority that the necessity for guarding against a disaster in the future was brought about by one taking place; that might have been avoided simply by refusing to take a risk which produced the disaster. If one will take pains to examine the surroundings of the stone pier located on the New York side, he will find that it is flanked on the three water sides by a wooden wharf, on which are erected wood sheds, and from the land side of the stone pier runs a wood structure (a part of the distance directly under the bridge) to its point of beginning on South street. The bridge trustees should immediately examine the character of these structures. They ought not to be used for the storage of any kind of merchandise. Independent of the character of any merchandise, the sheds are likely to take fire. It is not possible to estimate the damage that would ensue if a fire should even be beyond control for fifteen minutes to the stone, iron and steel construction of the bridge. These materials as constructed and now adjusted are adapted to the ordinary changes of temperature affecting the bridge structure. It was never designed or dreamed of by Roebling that the conception of his brain, and the work of years, costing millions of dollars, should be for one moment subjected to the influence of a conflagration.
The enormous risk taken for the purpose of obtaining a few thousand dollars rental is the very acme of foolhardiness. This state of things should exist no longer than it takes time to notify the occupants of these bridge-menacing structures to vacate them without delay. Tear them down at once. Another risk quite as great is also suffered to exist, that of permitting vessels to anchor close to the bridge structure. If they should take fire it might be difficult to haul them into the stream out of the way of doing harm to the bridge structure, particularly if the vessel be loaded and is grounded, as they sometimes are at low tide.
NEWARK, N. J., has departed from the usual custom of raising money for refunding purposes by issuing to its citizens who have money to loan in sums of one hundred, five hundred and one thousand dollars, its bonds, bearing interest at the rate of four per cent per annum, payable semi-annually. These bonds are issued under the authority of an act of the legislature of the State of New Jersey, to refund a part of the funded debt of the city, created for the purpose of furnishing its water supply. They are secured by a special pledge of the net receipts from water rents, and also by a sinking fund, to be provided by taxation, to be placed in the hands of the sinking fund commissioners for their redemption. The bonds will run for a period of thirty years from the first day of February, 1892. The sale of these bonds began under the direction of the comptroller on Monday. Hundreds of merchants, clerks and women were present and exchanged their money for the city’s bonds. The banks wanted more than four per cent, but the people are satisfied with that amount and the officials are very well pleased with the venture.
A CORRESPONDENT of The London Fireman who signs himself “H. E.,” vouchsafes this: “I know as a fact that if any American fire journal were to tell the truth about English fire brigades, especially the London department, they would lose an appreciable number of their subscribers.” There may be some way of solving this idea, and we would be glad to be made clear regarding it. Pending its solution, if “ H. E.” will send us any items of truth, regarding the English Fire Brigade, he will have the pleasure of seeing the matter in print.
DESPITE the ease with which the facts could have been obtained, the new United States census announces the total cost of running the Baltimore Fire Department as $150,000 per annum. It has been so long ago since it cost only $150,000 to run the Baltimore Fire Department that few men are now alive who can remember the time. Brother Potter did not take his figures from the columns of FIRE AND WATER, or he would have learned that it takes very near $400,000 to keep the Baltimore department in line. And every dollar is judiciously and intelligently spent.
So important a matter as the appointment of a chief officer of the London Fire Brigade does not appear to concern our English contemporaries, since no editorial reference is made to Captain Sir E. M. Shaw’s successor. The new chief is just plain Mister J. S. Simonds, is not particular about his clothes while at fires, does not hob-nob with the Prince of Wales, is not the choice of Captain Sir E. M. Shaw and ts not a writer of subjects unfamiliar to him. lacking in these particulars, the General Purposes Committee, by a vote of forty-five to eleven, made him chief officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. We congratulate Mr. J. S. Simonds and the General Purposes Committee.
THE last remnant of the New Orleans volunteer brigade has finally been merged into the paid department. This was the last city of any size in America to cling to the volunteer department, and to the day of dissolution the old men walked in the parade, the boys ran with the machine, and the pretty women flocked to the balconies to wave handkerchiefs and scatter flowers in the wake of the boys in red, with fancy drag ropes and silver trumpets. The New Orleans department was an army of sentiment. The practical necessity of a paid department had long been apparent in New Orleans, but the people clung to the old department and rushed out when the bell rang and tugged for prizes on gala days. There was another thing about the old New Orleans Fire Department. It was a vast political cohort. It made mayors and elected governors—it worked in the caucus and prevailed at the polls. Mayor Shakespeare was a gallant captain, and Governor Nichols, with his one arm, walked in parade and ran with the machine. As one of the local papers says, its history was an epic of civic, devotion ; its virtues were inherent in the manhood of its successors. To the last moment of its career every ‘man of that department stood ready to protect the people and property of New Orleans from the ravages of flame at the peril of his life, and it was its sad fortune to add one more to the list of its heroes who died in the service of humanity at the very last scene of its usefulness.
PRECAUTION is the watchword of the hour. Every energy, every intelligent thought should be devoted to the establishment of the greatest security to life and ■ property. Improvements and methods are not lacking, but the tardiness of their adoption is the bane, and it is not confined alone to fire departments. A few days ago twelve persons lost their lives and many were maimed at an accident on the New York Central Railroad, near Yonkers. The direful tragedy which led the way for these poor souls to death and suffering is of a kind which has been horribly frequent of late, so frequent and so palpably demonstrative of the lack of ordinary precautionary measures that it demands a remedy. It happened within eighteen miles of New York, on one of the greatest highways of travel in the world. It happened where three glittering lines of tracks run parallel, side by side, and where many modern inventions save the most important -the block signal—arc used to make travel safe. The cause of it was plain as plain could be. The rear trainman, sent back to protect the rear of the standing train with lights and torpedoes, left it absolutely unprotected, and not till the red rear lights of the doomed sleeper Gibralter loomed up through the mist of rain did the engineer of the rear train know that death held the track before his speeding messenger. Then it was too late, indeed, and through the black night went the death cry of those poor souls.