AMONG THE FIRE ENGINEERS
Specially reported for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.
The Old Year died hard and kept up its reputation for big fires especially at
where on the night of December 30 and on New Year’s Eve there were two destructive fires entailing death on two officers of the fire department, and more or less serious injury on three, also members of the department. The first fire, that at which the fatal accidents occurred, was in the repair barns of the Chicago Union Traction company at Fortieth and Western avenues. The men were caught by a falling wall. The dead are Captain Paul Dick an’d Lieutenant John Pyne; th’e injured: Captain John Miller; Charles Anderson ; August Kraut. The loss, which was $160,000, is the third which this company has sustained during the year. The second fire and the most disastrous from an insurance man and property owner’s standpoint was that which destroyed three buildings running from 154 to 164 West Van Buren street. They were of mill construction, with sound fire walls and no openings. The flames started on the second floor of the sevenstory brick building occupied by the Cash Buyers’ Union. The building was entirely destroyed. Spreading rapidly, the fire soon assumed large proportions. Fearing that the whole district was in danger, a second alarm was sent in, closely followed by a series of extra calls for additional men and apparatus. When the fire penetrated to the adjoining building, occupied by the Zeno Manufacturing company, a four-story structure, the firemen were ordered to the roofs of adjacent buildings to fight the flames. Within a few minutes the flames had gutted the structure and had spread to the Boston Rubber Paint company. Then the flames, burning the brick party-walls of the building, spread to 160-162 West Van Buren street, causing heavy damage to the Peninsular Stove company, which firm occupied the seven floors. So fierce did the blaze become that burning sparks carried by a high gale were driven far over the district, and buildings blocks away caught fire. With a denotation that was heard for squares, an explosion in the basement of the Cash Buyers’ Union building tore up the street and sidewalks, throwing firemen into the air and tearing live wires of the Van Buren street electric car line down. Crushing down through the frail walls of the structure adjoining, the towering walls of the Peninsular Stove company and those of the Cash Buyers’ Union tottered and collapsed. A series of small explosions followed the fall of the walls. A two-story frame dwelling at 166-8 West Van Buren street, occupied as a rooming house, was crushed by the falling walls. The inmates escaped to the streets, but were unable to save any of their clothing. The stahles occupied by Fortune Bros.’ Brewing company were gutted. The horses were saved. When the explosion occurred the windows in the residences across the street were shattered and chimneys were thrown down. The fire is pronounced by Chief Campion to have made a more rapid headway than any in his experience since the great fire of 1871.
A correspondent who is a constant reader and a great admirer of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING writes that on January 1, 1905, the paid fire department of
completed the sixth month of its existence, having been organised on July 1, 1904. That the paid department has proved far superior to the old volunteer service is shown by the fact that there have been no large fire losses since it was organised. Jackson’s present population is about 23,000, and is rapidly growing—making a paid department necessary. Under an experienced and competent head it has more than fulfilled the expectations of its organisers. Chief J. C. Watters, of Atlanta, Ga., was for nearly twenty years connected with the fire department of that city. He was sent by Chief Joyner to instruct the Jackson department, and so favorably impressed the fir -commissioners that he was induced to accept the position of chief. His long experience and thorough knowledge of firefighting are valuable assets to him in directing the work of the firemen, and the appointment has proved a wise one. ‘Hie methods of firefighting pursued by Chief Watters have been a revelation to the citizens, and now that the paid department is an assured success under his direction, business men, insurance men and property owners alike have been convinced that such a department properly conducted is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity. There are at present twenty-four men employed, besides the chief. These are distributed in three well located houses: The central station, equipped with hook and ladder truck, chemical and hose wagons; No. 2, West Jackson house, where a steamer and new hose wagon arc maintained; and No. 3, where a new American steamer is stationed. A new central station located in close touch with the business sections of the city is in course of construction, work having started on December 1. The new building will be ready for occupancy in ninety days, and its estimated cost is $15,000.
From an insurance standpoint Chief Terry F. Owens seems to be in every respect as satisfactory to the underwriters as he is to his fellow citizens at
lit Colorado generally, the insurance people seem to be altogether satisfied, and all that they can say against Denver is that some serious losses were sustained in 1904. These included two second-grade brick theatres and a partial loss on the Western Packing company’s plant. But the work of the fire department is not blamed for these, only the management of the theatres aforesaid— second-grade establishments, and. therefore, averse to spending money on making them up-to-date in a fire-resistant sense. For a city of the size of Denver, that there should have been only three serious fires—two of them of theatres—certainly speaks well for the work of the fire department. The greatest improvement in the fire protection of the city has been the tearing out of old electric wires and the replacing of them in accordance with the electrical ordinance of Denver—which ordinance, by the wav, is the best in the country. Defective, careless electric wiring has been the cause of many unknown and unaccountable fires. The business men of the city are alive to this fact. Denver is a clean city, cleaner than any other city in the country. An effiicient streetcleaning department keeps the streets free from paper and litter, but improvement could be made in cleaning the alleys. Business men have learned the importance of keeping cellars, elevator shafts and dark comers free from paper and rubbish.
For a wonder the fire insurance men have found a city where “in general, the results [of the year 1904] may be considered satisfactory.” The fortunate city is
SYRACUSE, N. Y„
where during the past year the tire losses were approximately $190,000. But nothing else could have been expected from a go-ahead city like Syracuse. With the excellently disciplined and equipped fire department, under Chief John F. Quigley, that has been increased with the growth of the city, and the abundant supply of water with ample pressure, it would seem probable that the loss would not materially advance in the future. As to scientific work in reducing fire hazards, as far as improvements of risks are involved, there has been an advance by reason of the assured accepting the requirements of the underwriters, and there has been considerable improvements in the electrical conditions. Further, the property owners that have been erecting new buildings have shown considerable interest in making inquiry of the inspection bureau as to the manner in which they could adopt fire-preventive devices or methods of construction in these new buildings. As a result, a much better class of buildings are being constructed. Much of the safety of Syracuse from a fire-protection point of view is due to the fact that the streets are intmenseley wide, and that numerous small squares or parks intervene between buildings in he business portion of the city.