ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE NEW ORLEANS DEPARTMENT.
The New Orleans delegates from the various companies to the Firemen’s Charitable Association met a fortnight since at the hall of the Louisiana Hose Company in annual meeting. President I. N, Marks was in the chair, and Mr. Leon Bertoli, as secretary, was in his place.
President Marks submitted the following:
To the Board of Delegates Firemen’s Charitable Association:
Gents—The several business operations of the year, I am happy to say, have been favorable and satisfactory to our association.
The contract appropriations for eleven months have been paid. The month of December, I think, will be paid in January or February.
The suit of Columbia Fire Company No. 5 was decided against the association, and under (he instructions of the board an appeal to the Supreme Court has been taken.
Our attorney, Judge Rogers, has informed me that a motion has been made by the counsel of Company No. 5 to have the appeal dismissed on the ground that no account of damages are incident. If this should prevail, the whole question will remain unsettled. 1 should suppose that all parties in interest would prefer to have a final decision upon this important matter.
The suit against the Boston Baling Company has not been tried. An effort is now being made to arbitrate and compromise it. As soon as it reaches a settlement I will report to the board.
The semi-centennial committee has done nothing for want of a quorum. When the new board of delegates is organized, the committee will be reconstructed, and its labors commenced.
I call the attention of the board to the increase in expenditure for the general rqjicf systems, and the widows and orphans. This important matter should receive the serious consideration of the budget committee of the new board.
The reports of the treasurer, committees and chief engineer will set forth in detail all the business transactions of the year.
In submitting my thirteenth annual communication, I again return thanks for the confidence so long reposed in me, and to all of the officers of the association and department for their thorough co-operation with me in my labors. I. N. MARKS, President.
New Orleans, Jan. 3, 1885.
With the president’s communication was the following exhibit for the year :
Chief of rire Department lhos. O’Connor submitted his report as follows:
OFFICE CHIEF ENGINEER FIRE DEPARTMENT, NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 2, 1885.
To the Board of Delegates Firemen s Charitable Association :
Gentlemen—I have the honor to present herewith my annual report, comprising statements of the number of fires, amount of losses and insurance on same for the year ending December 31, 1884; also statement giving full description of the apparatus and paraphernalia in the service of the department, with such suggestions and recommendations as I deem necessary for the advancement and efficiency of the department.
Organization.—At present the department has in service: steam engines, 19; hose carriages, 19; hook and ladder trucks. 4; and 1 hand-engine company, located as follows: First district, 10 steam engines and 1 hook and ladder truck. Second district, 4 steam engines and 1 hook and ladder truck. Third district, 3 steam engines and one hook and ladder truck. Fourth district, 3 steam engines and 1 hook and ladder truck; 1 hand engine company, provided with 2 hand engines ; 1 steam engine, 500 feet good hose, ladders, hooks, etc., located at Milneburg.
One chief engineer, centrally located, and two assistant engineers, one centrally located in the upper district and one centrally located in the lower district. The greater part of the apparatus in service is new and of improved pattern. During the past year several new steam engines and hose carriages and one hook and ladder truck have been provided; also 10,000 feet of new 2)^-inch rubber hose. The introduction of a four-wheel hose carriage by Mississippi Company No. 2 is an initiative step to improvement, as better service can be rendered with it in carrying a larger quantity of hose with greater ease than by the two-wheel carriage formerly used. The improved facilities adopted by all the companies, enabling them to leave their quarters in a few seconds upon an alarm of fire, is commendable and adds much to the efficiency of the department. In addition to the above, the underwriters, be it said to their credit, operate and support at their own expense two four wheel double tank chemical engines and two four-wheel wagons equipped with oiled covers for protecting goods and merchandise; also portable extinguishers and other appliances for extinguishing fire. Valuable service has, and continues to be rendered by these auxiliaries, under their able and efficient management.
NUMBER OF FIRES AND Alarms.—During the year there have been 1C4 actual fires, and 76false and unnecessary alarms.
AMOUNT OF LOSSES AND INSURANCE ON SAME.
THE FIRE. ALARM Telegraph.—The report of the superintender of this department sets forth in detail the operations of the syi tern, the number of alarm stations, character of machinery, ii condition, etc. The apparatus under his charge has worked a well as its impaired condition would permit. The labors of himself and his able assistants and operators have been constant and unremitting to keep up the present worn-out machinery, and at times much vexation and trouble has been experienced to enable the fire departments to obtain alarms promptly. This is an important matter and should receive the most earnest attention of the city council. The present system has been in service since 1859, and has been very little improved or extended since that time. The number of alarm boxes in use are inadequate to the requirements of this city, which covers thirty-seven square miles to be protected.
New wires should be extended and an increase of boxes furnished, at least seventy-five in number. With a defective fire alarm system and an inadequate supply of water, the city is liable to calamity, and no fire department, no matter how well organized or equipped, could master the situation. Therefore, in view of the protection of life and property, and being actuated by a sense of duty to my fellow-citizens, and my long experience, I beg you will heed my importunities and place the fire alarm telegraph system beyond any doubt in a condition to more promptly perform its important duties.
Improvements.—While this department is well equipped with new and modern improved apparatus which is competent for demands which have heretofore presented themselves, we cannot be too watchful or efficient, nor can there be too much zeal on our part to protect life and property. The fact of the city extending in all directions in no inconsiderable degree and the erection of lofty buildings make it imperative to adopt the more modern ladder escapes and water-towers, and to change the location of some of our companies. The Hays hook and ladder truck and fire escape combined and the water-towers have become important factors in fire departments elsewhere, and are greatly needed in this city. I beg leave to respectfully urge your attention to this important matter.
BUILDING Laws.—I desire to respectfully call your attention to the necessity of rigidly enforcing the building laws in relation to storehouses, hotels, places of amusement, schoolhouses and asylums. While our city has escaped, we are admonished by frequent occurrences of calamities in other large cities that every safeguard against accident and the insecurity of life contained in these laws should be rigidly and diligently enforced.
I beg to suggest that these laws be so amended as to make it the special duty of some intelligent and competent official to visit and make inspections of all such buildings at short intervals ; that he have power to hold investigations, to issue summons and cause attendance of persons and send for papers. That he report to the Mayor of the city all delinquents, as well as any infraction of said laws, with such recommendations as may be necessary for the better protection of life and property. I would also call your attention to the storing of oils, gunpowder, fireworks and other inflammable materials. There are parts of the city in which these dangerous and destructive articles are stored and kept, and the ordinances regulating the same are contravened. The importance of the danger requires more than passing notice by the city council.
WATER Supply.—This important matter of water supply, I beg to suggest, should be made a matter of special legislation by the council. With the city extending continually in all directions, and as inadequate water supply, considering the immense number of frame buildings located closely together, and the high winds which prevail at times, we are liable at any moment to a disastrous conflagration, and it has been a subject of comment by experienced persons that the city has of late escaped such a calamity.
I desire to urge the importance of changing the valve connecting the wells at present in use, and have them placed on the sidewalks, encased in an ordinary fire plug—this would obviate trouble and delay.
I would recommend that water-mains of adequate capacity be extended to the upper and lower portions of the city, and that outlets with eightinch valves be placed at the right angle of intersecting streets, and connecting with plugs of six-inch openings, so that the water can be taken direct or flow through the gutters ; also that wells be placed at’points in more remote parts of the city where it is found impracticable to conduct the water mains.
HARBOR Protection.—Since the tugboat Protector was withdrawn from active duty as a fire-boat, its former good services have been sadly missed, and I may say great risks have been and will be incurred by our shipping and other property on the river front. While in service this boat rendered valuable assistance, both in supplying water to the fire department for extinguishing fires on either side of the river front and among the shipping and steamboats of this harbor. At present the only protection afforded this harbor, with its immense commerce stretching miles in length, are the fire engines, and at times the low stage of the river, and the levees crowded with freight, is the cause of great delay and may result at some time in an enormous loss. The erection of large elevators, warehouses and sheds to accommodate the freight of an increasing commerce makes it more important that such a boat as the Protector should be in the service of the fire department. The cost of maintaining such a fire-boat would, in my opinion, be trifling compared with the amount of service to be rendered. The question of harbor protection is engrossing my mind continually, and I take leave to direct your attention to the great importance of this subject, and recommend that some provision be made for such protection ; the details of operation and manner thereof I will furnish when required.
FALSE Alarms.—I have repeatedly referred to the evil practice of sounding false alarms, and I regret being compelled to report that the malicious practice not only still prevails but is on the increase, notwithstanding my unremitting endeavors by all conceivable means to prevent it.
Seventy-six malicious false alarms have been sounded during the past year,and six of the alarm boxes have been demolished,causing great expense to the department and city. On two occasions, while the apparatus of the district was on its distant mission to please the idle caprice of some demon, actual fires occurred, and through delay loss of property was the sad result. The false alarms are not only an evil, on account of the great annoyance incident to it, but serious accidents have occurred to employees of the department as well as horses and apparatus. The record’of the past year shows that in almost every instance accidents have occurred of more or less importance. The attention of his honor the Mayor is specially called to this growing evil, that the efforts of the police department may to some extent be exerted for the arrest and conviction of the offenders. It is to be regretted that justice cannot overtake the miscreants and they be meted the punishment they so richly deserve. Society would certainly be benefited were they confined within the prison walls.
ENGINE Houses.—With the extension of our street railroads and the many new business enterprises which have been introduced, the city has and will continue to extend in all directions ; hence the necessity arises for a change in the location of some of our engine-houses. Many of the houses at present in use are very old and sadly in need of extensive repairs, which will require large outlays of money. As I have carefully prepared estimates of such repairs needed, I would recommend that provision be made for new houses for Companies Nos. 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 21, 24 and Hook and Ladder No. 1. The buildings now occupied by these companies can be disposed of to good advantage, and the cost of furnishing new houses will not, to a great extent, exceed that of suitably remodeling the old ones, and considering the necessity fora change in their location, you will readily perceive the justness of my recommendation.
EXTRA Apparatus.—The necessity exists for large quantities of hose in the upper and lower portions of the city, owing to the scarcity of water and the bad condition of our streets, “ especially in inclement weather at times lines of 1500 or 2000 feet have to be formed, and this by the exertions of our men, who are compelled to carry the hose themselves. The delays incident to those labors can be obviated by the introduction of extra hose carriages. Therefore I am induced to recommend that two large four-wheel hose carriages, of capacity of 1200 feet each, be located, one in the house of Jefferson No. 22 in the upper, and one in the house of Phoenix No. 8 in the lower part of the city ; these carriages each to be drawn by two horses, and to be operated for the purpose hereinbefore described. This, in my opinion, would prevent delays, lessen the labors on our men, prevent confusion and add greatly to the efficiency of the department. Another and important matter is the necessity of heaters on all our steam engines. Another important matter to which I invite your attention is the necessity of fuel wagons for general use of the department. There should be at least three of these in the service—one located in the centre and one each in the upper and lower portions of the city, to supply the engines with a sufficiency of fuel while working at fires. The practice generally prevalent of having to procure fuel, while in service at fires, from various sources, and our inability to obtain it readily at times, has had its bad effects, and the better and more judicious system which I here recommend should be adopted.
In conclusion, I begjeave to convey sentiments of esteem to the Hoard of Fire Commissioners and finance committee, who, by their hearty cooperation of my recommendations, and their judicious conduct of affairs, have placed the department apparatus in excellent condition. To the officers and members of the department my thanks are due and are hereby tendered for their courtesy, support and faithful discharge of their duties.
With assurances of my personal regard and esteem, I beg to subscribe myself your obedient servant, TIIOS. O’CONNOR, Chief Engineer.
Reports of the Board of Fire Commissioners and finance committee in joint session, treasurer’s report and other reports were then submitted, but the substance of all is contained in the two above.
The following is the annual report of Chief Engineer H. P. Phillips of the Sixth District of the New Orleans Department:
NEW ORLEANS, December 27, 1884.
To the President and Delegates of the Firemen’s Charitable Association, Sixth District;
Gentlemen—I have the honor to herewith submit my “ annual report ” as chief engineer for the year ending at date.
The year now drawing to a close has not been characterized by any serious conflagration ; the fire losses have been small ; service in our peculiar line has been efficiently and faithfully performed ; harmony’ has prevailed throughout the department ; the efforts of its executive officers have been seconded and carried out by every member, and our record as a fire department still stands second to none. The new year finds it complete in every detail, and ready at a moment’s notice to respond to the call of duty.
During the year there were thirty alarms; in twenty-two cases for actual service, eight were unnecessary, or our services were not required. There were no false alarms.
In this connection let me remark that, while we enjoy comparative immunity from this class of alarms, we have not entirely escaped. Since 1879 three false alarms have been given ; in two cases the perpetrators were discovered and punished. In both instances the active co-operation of the entire department was cheerfully given, and undoubtedly contributed much to the detection and punishment of the guilty parties.
WATER Facilities.—As may be seen, the water supply is totally inade- quate to the demands which maybe made for fire extinguishing purposes.
The marked increase in buildings, especially in the upper portion of the district, a section entirely unprovided with either wells or fire-plugs, requires that immediate attention be given to this most important matter ; for, while this department is ready and willing to perform every required duty, it cannot be expected to render satisfactory service unless its water supply be reliable.
FIRE Contract.—A new fire contract was recently awarded this association. Our thanks are eminently due to Hon. J. V. Guilliotte, Mayor, and to the city council for an increased appropriation.
THE FIRE ALARM TELEGRAPH, which has now been in operation for four years, continues its sufficient services under the capable management of Operator J. S. Alfred.
Two strikers with necessary apparatus have been added, one being placed in the tower of engine-house of Phillips Fire Company No. 4, the other in the McDonogh schoolhouse on Peters avenue.
Two fire alarm boxes, Nos. 43 and 45, have also been placed in the main building of the Exposition, so that the department may have timely notice should its services be required. Our public-spirited citizen, J. A. Blatter, has also ordered a fire alarm box, No. 52, which will be placed in his extensive lumber yard, and, while serving to protect his property, will also protect that portion of the district, the entire expense of this addition being assumed by Mr. Blaffer.
THE Exposition.—The great World’s Fair, located in this district, has and will add much to its prosperity. Many of the improvements in its vicinity will be permanent, and thus add to the general wealth.
This great enterprise, for the success of which its able director-general, Hon. E. A. Burke, has labored incessantly for months, and to whom the greatest meed of praise must be awarded, has given an impetus to this district which must result in making it an important section of our city, and one whose claims cannot hereafter be disregarded.
To that efficient and zealous officer, Sergeant J. Blouin, commanding Seventh police precinct, and to the officers and members of his force, I am indebted for valuable assistance upon many occasions. He nor they have never been found wanting in the performance of their duties.
The valuable assistance rendered me by the officers and members of the various companies composing this department is also recognized and appreciated. To the gentlemen composing this association my thanks are particularly due for the honor conferred in re-electing me chief engineer.
During the years I have served in that capacity, the performance of mv duties have been rendered pleasant by your cordial support and the invaluable assistance of my brother firemen. Upon this I rely in the future as in the past.
Trusting the new year will be one of prosperity to our people, our district and our department, 1 remain, very respectfully yours,
H. P. PHILLIPS, Chief Engineer.
A vote of thanks was passed to the president, chief and other officers for the faithful performance of their duties during the year.
The meeting adjourned without transacting further business than the reception of the reports.