British Fires, Losses and Their Causes
A London fire paper has published the fire statistics of fifty of the leading cities and towns of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during 1912. In one respect these figures show a wonderful sameness, so far at least as concerns their causes. Space will not admit of the reproduction of all the whole, and the first eleven are selected according to their population, as follows: London—Population included within its fire limits, 4,522,961; actual tires, exclusive of alarms, 3,354; property loss. $2,109,515; lives lost, 95; principal cause, lights thrown down; cause unknown, 267. Glasgow—Population, including added areas. 1,010,805; actual fires. 626; property loss, $770,000; life lost. 1; principal cause, defective construction, 202; cause unknown, 73, Birmingham—Population, 840,202; actual fires. 814; property loss. $410,565; lives lost, 16; principal cause, defective construction, 128; cause not known, 70. Liverpool—Population, 746.421; actual fires, 699; propertyloss, not ascertained; lives lost (excluding those lost in a mill explosion), 4; principal cause, lights thrown down, 209; cause not known, 180. Manchester— Population. 711,127; actual fires, 496; property loss, $394,880; lives lost, 2; principal cause, lights thrown down, 330; cause unknown, 13. Sheffield —Population, 454,043; actual fires. 261; property loss, $53,075; lives lost, 10; principal causes, hot ashes and sparks, 47; cause unknown, 16. Leeds —Population. 445,568: actual fires, 299; property loss, $563,365; lives lost, none; principal causes, sparks, candles, matches, 150; cause not known, 65. Belfast—Population, 385,492; actual fires, 153; property loss. $32,850; lives lost, none; principal cause, lights thrown down, 35; cause not known, 62. Bristol—Population, 357,059; actual fires. 222; property loss, $55,895; lives lost. 2; principal cause, lights thrown down, 28; cause not known. 26. Edinburgh—Population. 320,315; actual fires. 313; property loss. $70,720; lives lost, 3; principal cause, defective construction, 105; cause not known, 2. Dublin—Population. 309,272; actual fires. 146; property loss, $130,415; principal cause, defective construction, 29; cause not known, 37. A glance at these figures will show that the common factor in the hres that took place in these eleven cities and towns was carelessness over the lights or lighting or heating material in some form or another. “Lights thrown down” or carelessness with lights, hot ashes, sparks, matches and the like loom up large in the list for 1912. “Lights thrown down” was the one cause in five of the towns, and if hot ashes and sparks heedlessly disposed of should be placed under the heading of “lights not properly extinguished,” then such cases numbered seven out of eleven, leaving three to be classed under the head of “defective construction.” Or, if the dominant factor is to count in the case of the outbreaks of fires in the whole of the fifty cities and towns that figure in the list, it will be seen that twenty-four are credited to “lights thrown down.” four to “lights in contact.” four to “sparks and hot ashes,” and three to the “careless use of matches and candles.” That is to say: Thirty-one out of every fifty principal causes of fires in as many of the leading cities and towns in England, Ireland and Scotland, were due to carelessness in the use of actual lighting and heating materials. Next to that cause comes “defective construction,” which figures in four of the eleven cities and towns enumerated in the beginning of this article and seven times out of the total of fifty. That fact points its own moral, so far as this country is concerned. If all the fires in the United States and Canada that were due in 1912 to defective construction were set down in order, the total would be as formidable as that of the British is practically negligible—and this for the one reason that the building laws of Great Britain and Ireland are drawn up with a view to fire prevention, and their observance is rigidly enforced. It may be added, also, that in the numberless cases where the construction was not defective and the British buildings were erected years before such laws were enacted—a fact which only goes to prove that in these earlier days men “budded better than they knew.” That feature is not one of the majority of the made-to-sell structures that are run up every day on this side of the Atlantic, in spite of past experience and the laws that profess to be drawn up to prevent loss of life and property by fire.