Editor FIRE AND WATER.
A few observations of a heretical tendency may create more discussion and therefore be of more lasting benefit, than a long discourse of orthodox doctrine.
The relation of the engineer to the contractor is one often misunderstood; first, by the engineer in writing his specifications; secondly, by the authorities or powers that be in the cities, towns or villages where public work is being prosecuted.
Many specifications are so worded that the contractor can with truth exclaim “and where do we come in?” To bring out the force of this point I quote from a specification upon which bids were recently invited. The specification in question contained many clauses of similar import to the contractor.
“Whenever water or gas pipes are encountered either at right angles or obliquely to the line of the 9ewer so ns to interfere with the laying thereof they shall be raise or lowered as directed by the engineer, and no compensation beyond the regular price per lineal foot will be paid for the work.”
Does not the insertion of such clauses tend to transform the contractor into a gambler? Would not the abolition of such clauses reduce the price per foot sufficiently to pay for such contingencies as “extras” over and over again? It is the desire to avoid extras that prompts the insertion of such clauses.
Again, the writer claims that the engineer bears the same relation to the contractor as to the city aut hories from whom he receives his monthly increments. Ilisduty is not to see how much he can make the work cost the contractor, but how little the contractor must needs expend to comply,not with the letter, but absolutely with the spirit of the specifications.
In small cities and villages, should the engineer be at all friendly to the contractor, collusion is at once hinted at, or openly charged, whereas the highest and best results are obtained when the contractor is assured of the good will of and strict, impartiality from the engineer.
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Coffeyville, Kan., has voted $50,000 for a system of water works.