A Private Fire Alarm.
Messrs. Rowan & Co., Glasgow, Scotland, have exhibited a new system of telegraphy for fire alarm and other purposes, called the “autokinetic telegraph.” The invention is that of a Spanish gentleman, and consists of a plan by which any number of shops, offices, etc., can communicate with the police, the fire offices, etc., without obstruction or confusion, The sole requisites of the system are a box containing the apparatus for transmission, and another for the reception of messages at
the central station to which they are wanted to be sent, with two wires—a starting and sending one. One of these wires is a preparing wire, which puts each instrument in contact with the main line. This starting wire, which is the peculiarity of the system, passes through the whole circuit, the sending wire passing
alongside of it, and each instrument is simply connected to it by a branch wire. the receiving instrument, which prints off the despatch, is connected with two insulated branch wires’ which are joined to the main wire. From the main wire, branches can be made and affixed to instruments fitted into pillar-boxes in places of business, etc. The apparatus is automatic, and any number of messages can be despatched to any of the receiving stations without the risk of confusing them. When the operator winds up the instrument, he breaks the contact on the starting wire with every oii beyond him until his messige has gone. The other messages which may have been d~~ patched at the same time lie in the instrument ill the connection with the starting wire is again established, and to’ printed off in their regular order, according to their proximity to le receiving machine. The newly invented apparatus could also be affixed to the lock ui a safe, SO that, should a thief attempt to operate upon one so connected, he would ielt graph to the police what he is doing.
No M~RI: (`HA A(;N}.•—The Philadelphia Ledger has this feeling obituary notice touch ing the death of the champagne supper kate of the city’s Fire Department: “It is not likely that Mr. Councilman Schafer will have an opportunity to attend any more champagne suppers given by the Fire Commissioners, i~r his presence at two of them have enabled him to enlighten the Finance Committee as to the way in which some of tie money asked by the I Fire Board for ` incidentals ” is spent ; and has resulted in reducing that particular item for “incidentals” from $2,00o to $~oo. Thus the margin for champagne out of incidentalfor 1878 is rather slender. Mr. Schafer has done a very good piece of duty in this matter for the city. His share of the champagne at two Fire Commissioners’ suppers he attended probably did not cost the city ten dollars, all told ; l)ut it put him in the way of saving the city Sr,~oo, which leaves a net balance to the ri~hmt side of profit and loss of $i,~i,co.
GREAT FIRES.-ThC great fire of London, in i666. burnt for three days, destroying 13.200 houses, including many fine public buildings, The loss by this fire, if computed by present values, would amount to at least $100,000,000. The City of New York has suffered by at leas three great fires. One, in 1835, destroyed ôoo warehouses, which, together with contents, were worth $2o,00o,ooo. Another, in 1839, de stroyed property to the amount of $10,000,000; and a third, in I84~, destroyed 300 stores and dwellings, valued at $6,ooo.ooo. Charleston. in 1838, suffered by a fire which destroyed i,i~S building, covering i4~ acres. Pittsburgh, in 184c, lost by fire r,000 buildings, valued a $6,ooo,c oo. Albany, N. Y., some years since, lost, in steamboats and buildings, $3,000,000. St. Louis, in 1S49, lost $3,000,000 in steamboats and buildings. Philadelphia, in 1858, lost 300 houses. In 1845, two-thirds of the City of Quebec, comprising 2,800 houses, were swept away by fire. The City of St. John’s, Newfoundland, repeatedly damaged by fire was nearly all destroyed in 1846, when nearly 6,000 people wereTendered homeless. They suffered in 1862. Portland, in 1866, lost $9,000,000, ineluding the loss of 1,600 buildings. Chicago, in 1871, and Boston, 1S72, were devastated to the extent of more than $200,000,000; and quite recently a devastating fire has almost entirely destroyed the City of St. John, N. B. But these marked fires do not alone measure the work of destruction ; much is due to the smaller fires, which make up by their frequency what they lack in proportion,
TUE FIRST FIRE EN;INE.-Tn Europe, dur lug thc Middle Agcs, th~ chief means us~d ts a protection against tire was preventIon. Curfew hell was th signal given in the even ing for cxt~nguislting all the firrs used for do mestic purposes. The first m;i:hines intended to put out hi s, of which we have ;Inv are U rate record, were in use in ` ugsburg in 151 , and
were . called “ instruments for fires.” In 1684 Perault describes engines in use in Paris. One of these he describes as being in the King’s library, and threw a continuous stream of water, though it had but one chamber, and this is supposed to have been done by the use of an air-chamber. This account is said to be the first mentioned of the use of this device in fire engines. During the eighteenth century, and till the commencement of this, the fire engine remained the same in general character. During the early part of this century, engines in use consisted of two vertical double-acting force pumps. The pumps, worked by breaks, consisted of long handles, worked parallel with the engine. These styles of machines are still in use in many of our smaller towns at the present time. The first attempt to produce a steam fire engine was made tn London in 1830. It weighed over five thousand pounds, and had not quite six horsepower. From these old lumbering machines to the assortment of elegant forms and astonishing combinations of strength and lightness and mechanical skill which are to be found in every metropolitan city to-day, is a very long step. In Paris, the service of fires is performed by a regularly constituted body of men, under the control of the government. They are trained systematically in all kinds of gymastics, so as to be able to afford assistance in case of difficulty. In London, the fire service is in the pay of the insurance companies.
A UNIQUE Incendiary.—In the year 1783 there died in prison, in Flanders, a man who really seems to have been even worse than De Tourville. This was Peter Defaile. His father w’as a solicitor in the west of England, who left a very large estate, of which Peter, through his second son, obtained nearly the whole by a will which he successfully forged. He then repaired to London, and did not leave it until he had spent over $225,000. After this he married abroad—he could no longer remain in England—a girl with a great deal of money. This he spent, and the lady soon afterward died. Within the next twelve years he married five more wives. Seen by the light of subsequent events, nobody doubted that all these : poor women had met their fate by poison. | When he had spent all they had, he started a gambling-house, insured it heavilj’, and soon after burned it. This he did by the following ingenious device: He suspended a powerful burning-glass in such a manner as to cause thd lens’ rays to light on inflammable matter, and then left town. No suspicion fell on him until long afterward. After this he committed divers other villainies too numerous to mention. At length gout and stone put a finish to his exploits. He had to go into a debtors’ prison, and very appropriately died there.
CHICAGO’S FIRE Patrol.—The new quarters of the Fire Insurance Patrol, at No. 176 East Monroe street, are rapidly approaching a state j of completion, and will be ready for occupancy j about the 1st of January, 1878. It is a handsome five-story-and-basement building, having a base of 25 feet by 100. The front is of pressed brick, and brown-stone trimmings. The patrol will occupy the first three stories and basement of this building, the latter of which will be used as a work shop for repairing wagons, shoeing horses, repairing harness, and for carpenter work. There will also be a battery room for the telegraphic instruments in use by the patrol. The first tloor at the right of the entrance will be the room containing all the telegraphic instruments, and on the left will be placed the roster, a handsome contrivance, showing at all times where any member of the patrol maybe found. Under the alarm instruments, in a recess let into the wall, will be arranged the captain’s dormitory. In the rear of j the large wagon, which will occupy a place in j the centre of the room, will be constructed sleeping berths for four patrolmen, whose duty i it will be to effect preparations for a speedy j departure. Two flights of stairs ascend to the J second floor, where are the general dormitories and the captain’s amply furnished rooms. The third story will be used for the storage of hay and feed, and for a work-room in which to manufacture new covers. Also for drying them in the event of large fires. Altogether the new quarters will be in accordance with i the latest improvements, and in many instances may be noticed decided originality, for convej nience and dispatch, in case of emergency.— j Inter-Ocean.
A MISERLY Council.—Economy is a strange thing sometimes. The Oakland, Cal., Fire Department has one hook and ladder truck, i and the longest ladder would hardly reach above an awning. If a fire should occur in the ; upper portions of any of the large stores (and it is not by any means an improbable thing), there is not a single way of escaping by the use of any of the present equipments in the Fire Department. A Hayes truck was ordered several weeks ago, and after wrangling over the cost, the Council, on the ground of economy, refused to receive any of the bids offered. The city of Oakland has outgrown the Fire Department, and it is about time that the Council did something to help it out of its present dilemma.