A Schoolboy’s Fire Prevention Essay
Fire Chief John W. O’Hearn, of Watertown, Mass., and secretary of the New England Association of Fire Chiefs, has done much splendid work in fostering the spirit of fire prevention in the public and parochial schools of his city. He and the men of his fire department have visited the schools and given the pupils talks on the subject. The following essay, taken at random from a number written by the scholars of St. Patrick’s Commercial High School, following a talk on fire prevention, shows how great an impression these addresses have made on the young minds. It was written by James Purcell, a grade 1 pupil of the school:
The week of October 5, 1924, was Fire Prevention week and Chief O’Hearn of the Watertown fire department called at our school and gave us some very interesting facts on how to prevent fires.
Fire Prevention means to prevent fires. But how, some people ask? Now There are many ways of doing this, for instance, do not allow
rubbish to accumulate in cellars, closets or attics. One of the worst things that can he found in a cellar is an old mattress. If a mattress is of any value it would not he kept in a cellar, and if it is not of any value, why keep it there? The town supplies a means of disposing of such things.
We first heard of a billion of dollars during the war when people started drives to help the soldiers in France. Now we hear of a billion of dollars from the enormous amount of damage caused by fire.
During 1923 there were four factory fires in Watertown. Four years previous. 1919, there was but one factory fire in our town.
In 1923 the fire loss was equal to that of the three previous years. In the State of Massachusetts in the year 1923, the damage caused by fire was estimated at nineteen million dollars, seventeen million dollars of this was preventable. So you can see the enormous amount of carelessness and negligence in this state.
The damage caused by fire in the United States of America in 1923 was about one billion dollars. Taking this money and building a road at the cost of twenty-five thousand dollar* per mile the road mould be four hundred miles long. We could also build houses on each side of the street allowing fifty square feet for each: and giving two thousand five hundred dollars for furniture: build a garage at five hundred dollars, and a new car at one thousand dollars, and we mould still have a balance of eighteen thousand five hundred dollars.
The firemen throughout the country are going around every year inspecting every house and taking particular notice of the cellars to see if there is any rubbish there that may easily cause a fire. If they find anything of that kind they tell the occupants of the house that it should be removed, but sometimes the firemen find the same rubbish on their inspection the next year.
It often happens that a person mho has finished smoking a cigarette usually throws it in any direction that occurs to his mind, regardless of where it might land. It is a matter of indifference with him, but the result might be very serious if it falls in a crack in the floor or in some rubbish.
Smoking in bed is dangerous, yet it is a habit with some men. Suppose a man should come home from work at night all tired out. He gets into bed and thinking that he would like to have a smoke, reaches for his cigarettes, takes one. lights it. and falls asleep before it is consumed.
What is the result? The cigarette falls from his hand upon the woolen blankets, starts a fire and catches to the nice soft mattress and goes up in a blaze with the result that the person is burned to death or severely injured.
In the year 1923 there mere about fifteen thousand people burned to death. People may not think much about this, but if it mas a small town with fifteen thousand inhabitants that was entirely wiped out by fire and all the people were burned to death, this news would be recieved like a shock and mould cover the front page of the papers.
Therefore, we should try to live up to this Fire Prevention Week and prevent fires.