Specially written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.

The fire department of Boston continues to maintain the high reputation it has always borne. This is due in great measure to the executive ability displayed by Fire Commissioner H. S. Russell, who spares no pains to keep up a fire department that shall be in every respect worthy of the great New England metropolis. In awarding such praise to the tire commissioner, however, it must not he forgotten that the effects of his good offices would be neutralised. were they not so conscientiously and ably seconded by Chief W. T. Cheswell. the worthy successor of the late Chief Webber. The chief is a splendid administrative officer, an expert fireman, a man of intelligence and progressive ideas, and one who has made the subject of tire protection a study from every point of view. While a thorough disciplinarian, he is eminently just and considerate in the treatment of his men, and so utterly fearless when on duty as to inspire them with the highest confidence in him as a leader. The same spirit animates his district chiefs, the subordinate officers, and the firemen of every grade, and it is no exaggeration to say that the Boston fire department is second to none in the United States. It comprises over 800 men, of whom between eighty and ninety only are part paid. Its fire equipment is valued at $667,000, and its buildings at $1,800,000. The apparatus is as follows: Steamers, fifty-four; combination chemical and hose wagon; combination chemical and hook and ladder trucks, eleven; chemical engines, thirteen; hook and ladder trucks, seventeen; aerial trucks, five; water towers, two; fireboats, two; hose wagons, fortythree ; hose, good, cotton, rubber-lined, 105,560 feet, rubber, good, 7,400 feet. The Gamewell fire alarm telegraph is installed, with 647 boxes. The number of horses in service is 382. The Metropolitan water supply is adequate; there are set some 500 fire hydrants, at which the pressure is thirty-five pounds. It may be noticed that a former officer of the London Metropolitan fire brigade recently observed that for purposes of local fire protection that liody of men was fully as efficient as any fire department in the world, and that, if it did not employ some of the improved apparatus in use in American cities, it was either because such apparatus was unnecessary, or the conditions of its employment were such as to make its use in London impossible. He asserted that the American aerial ladders could not be employed in London because the streets were so narrow that these ladder trucks could not turn round the corners. That is true of some parts of London, especially of the City proper; but the same can he said of many of the streets of Boston which are as narrow and tortuous as those of London, vet in these the long hook and ladder truck, the piece of apparatus to which he particularly refers, can be manipulated successfully by means of its steering gear, and this fact the Londoner seems to have overlooked, probably through ignorance. Generally speaking, it is useless to make invidious comparisons between British and American fire departments, but, in that respect, at least, those on this side of the Atlantic are ahead of those on the other. And that of Boston is certainly no exception to the rule.


The Imperial, Cal., Water Users’ association has concluded a deal with the California Development company for the purchase of the Imperial canal system. The price agreed upon for the entire water system is $3,000,000, of which $250,000 are to lie placed in escrow to settle damage claims against the company for non-fulfillment of certain water contracts. 1 hese claims will be assessed by an arbitration board.

WILLIAM T. CHESWELL, Chief Fire Dept., Boston, Mass.

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