A WEEK OF DESTRUCTIVE FIRES.
A glance at the long list of the principal fires for the week, which will be found elsewhere, will show that April will contribute its share towards making larger the dimensions of the national ash heap for 1902. Taken altogether, the fire loss since the list published last week runs high up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—a sum far exceeding the average, and not including the amounts lost by forest fires and fires not recorded. In some cases, whole villages have been swept away by the flames; in others, both business and residential portions have suffered severely. In nearly every instance where the fire has not taken place in a large city or town, it will be found that the villages which have suffered are utterly without any fire protection, without any water supply, and dependent solely upon a hastily formed, unorganized bucket brigade, with no head to direct its operations and not even an approach to method in its mode of working. The natural result follows—a large, but perfectly avoidable loss of property, sometimes of life, with a consequent amount of misery and suffering. The recent fire at South Beach, in the borough of Richmond, New York, is a case in point. Like nearly all summer resorts of that class, it was a jumbled up pile of cheap and nasty wooden buildings, some more ambitious than others, the regular occupants of which, as well as the transient guests, were not of a class that takes any heed to its ways either morallv or socially— one to which the immediate possession of a few dollars quickly won, whether bv equivocal deeds, by robbery, or by incendiarism, is sufficient inducement to crime. Of fire protection it boasted none; it was solely dependent upon the distant volunteer fire companies scattered widely over Staten Island, whose coming, even if they started out immediately on being summoned, must necessarily be more or less tardy, while the march of the flames would be going steadily on. Hence, such popular places of resort should be compelled by law to install and maintain properly an efficient system of fire protection, and to provide an adequate water supply, each to be approved by the State or municipal authorities, and to be passed upon as sufficient by the fire insurance inspectors. They should also be obliged by law to arrange for help to be sent them from other points, and to this end should be further obliged to have drawn up and prepared beforehand a well understood system, by telegraph, telephone, or electric fire alarm, of notifying the nearest fire departments and of providing for the prompt transportation of the apparatus and crews.