BRITISH FIRE SERVICE.
THE improvement made by the chief officer of of the London fire department is commendable. The old fogeyism that has existed in that department for nearly a quarter of a century made the fire service of the greatest city of the world almost a laughing stock for all other large cities, especially those of America. Here seconds are counted as very material in reaching a fire. In London minutes are almost figured in the same way. As to the changes made by Commanded Wells, they do not seem to be very material. The fact of simply sending a call in, direct by telephone, instead of the roundabout method formerly used to summon help by way of Southwark and the telephone is only trifling. Dividing the risks under the head of three classes is also simply routine. What London requires,and what we have frequently pointed out, is: First, the best electric telegraph system, where a touch of the button sets the men traveling down the slidepoles and into the street in ninn or ten seconds; secondly, horses hitched in convenient stalls and as near the apparatus as possible—these horses to be so thoroughly trained that they are ready for the men as soon as the men are ready for them; thirdly, more powerful engines equipped with gongs, whose sound will keep the roads clear to the scene of the conflagration. When there is a big fire, there must be big fire streams to cope with it. Never use an inch-stream where one of one inch and one-half will be more effective. The unlined hose andcanvas reservoirs for feeding suction pipes used in English cities are childish ;and to the practical American fireman, such a system simply means playing with fire. The most effective and the only known correct method of extinguishing fires is to get the stream on as quickly as possible, and trust to the fire engine for direct pressure to get it there. The American fire engines arrive at fires with steam up and ready for work in as few seconds as possible after they reach their destination. Where horses have to be procured from livery stables and hitched up in the old-fashioned manner, a bucket brigade would render alinostas serviceable duty. This is an age of progress,and it will not be any reflection upon the merits of the British fireman or equipment of its fire service to say that the new chief of London’s brigade is only working out some minor details that cannot stop serious conflagrations, while its principal defects remain unimproved. Good fire alarm telegraph, no telephone, two and one-half-inch cotton-lined or rubber hose; quick hitching, and steam always in the engines ready for the strike of the gong are the first and most essential elements for good fire service, and must be adopted before departments can be ranked as first-class.