ABOUT FIRE ESCAPES.
THERE are at present on the market almost as many nostrums in the shape of fire escapes as there are patented household medicinal remedies. However, the latter are not hurtful; while, with respect to the former, they are not by any means harmless, although they are most decided useless. They are conceived in every possible shape—from a plain rope to a fancy ladder incased in an attractively painted tin box, fastened near the window. Each inventor, of course, exploits his own as the greatest fire escape of the age, and not unfrequently makes a great display at the start; opens grand show rooms; and invites the world to witness the outcome of his marvelous genius. In all good faith, probably with unlimited belief in the possibilities of his invention, he receives his capital from a class of stockholders who are in general extremely credulous and always investors on the lookout for some way of making big money quickly. The result is that in a few months nothing more is heard of the wonderful fire escape or the man who boomed it. But the poor stockholder still lives on to contemplate his useless scrip and to mourn over his vanished dollars. The difficulty in selling portable fire escapes consists in being able to convince the public of their usefulness. What frightened woman, with a blazing furnace at her heels, would ever take time to think of opening a tin box to get a ladder out of a window and then make the effort to descend ? There may be a few such persons, but they are very few indeed, and would hardly be found in a lifetime, did not a fire obligingly manifest them to the world. Yet such is one of the latest inventions for life-saving which has come to our notice. Other so-called fire escapes consist of a rope, which is to be fastened round the waist, and a slipknot, which is supposed to let you down gently from your sixteen-story window to the sidewalk or your backyard. Such a style of escape lies coiled under the window or hangs on the walls,and,as soon as an alarm of fire is given, it has to be opened out by the occupant of the room, who is supposed to have mastered the instructions for harnessing it shipshape round the body. The individual is then asked to trust his mortal frame, and, like Mohammed’s coffin, to dangle between heaven and earth, with every chance of the rope burning or his suspense being ended by his coming into abrupt and violent contact with the sidewalk, through the slipknot failing to act as in duty bound, if the directions which have been followed out are to be relied upon as worthy of credence. But, while the experienced manipulator of these appliances may succeed in operating them successfully, it must be borne in mind that people do not always have time to study, much less to sol ve intricate problems w’hen they are encircled by fire, for which reason the simplest and apparently the safest means of escape will always carry the day. In the matter of portable escapes the rope, with wooden knobs at twelve-inch intervals, is about the best. In this case the rope can be cast out of a window without any delay, and those escaping can lower themselves without injury—always provided they have the nerve to descend the rope hand-over hand. If the necessity arises, the knobs can, of course be used for supports for the feet of those who are making the descent. Such a style of fire escape is easily manipulated, and,in these days of practicability, the simpler the invention, the more demand will there be for it. This is also an automatic metal fire escape that has several very good featurts but is little in demand. Experience has proved that the knobbed rope is the easiest fire escape which up to the present has been offered to the people.