When the housekeeper of the Hotel Burlington, at Burlington, Vt., opened the door of a room, on the third floor of that establishment one afternoon last week, she was confronted by a flash of smoke and flame. Closing the door, she ran for the manager, who, upon his arrival, found that the fire had made its way into an adjoining apartment and was rapidly spreading. An alarm was telephoned to the fire department, bringing Chief C. A. Niles, who, on his arrival, found the fire coming through the roof. With a temperature of 10 above zero and a strong wind, conditions for firefighting were not of the most agreeable, but the firemen got quickly to work, and made connections with the available hydrants—six two-way 4-inch and one four-way 6-inch, set about 400 feet apart. From these good streams were obtained, under 80 pounds pressure. There were two lines of mains, 16-inch and 12-inch diameter, to draw from: 7,000 feet of cotton rubber-lined hose were stretched and thirteen streams from 44-inch to 1 1/4-inch Callahan nozzles were used. These streams had a good effect; some of them being operated from the roof of the adjoining Walker building, which was separated from the hotel by a supposedly fireproof wall. All these efforts were, however, fruitless, as not only was the complete destruction of the hotel early recognized as inevitable, but the fireproof wall failed to afford the protection expected of it and the Walker building was involved. The fire at this point became so hot that the men handling the hose on its roof had to make a hasty and perilous descent to save their lives. To fight the rapid spread of the fire, which burned fiercely for six hours and was with great difficulty kept from getting away from the men, Chief Niles had at his disposal only 3 hose wagons, of Gleason & Bailey make; 1 combination wagon, of the Combination Ladder Company, and _____ Seagrave hook and ladder truck, with 315 feet of ladders, the longest being 65 feet. It was the most disastrcus fire in the recent history of the city as far as damage was concerned, the total loss being estimated at $175,000 Ex-Chief John Henderson, of the Andover, Mass., fire department. who was present with members of the Winooski department, who turned in with them to help fight the fire, fell 25 feet to the ground from an icy ladder and badly hurt his head and chest. This was the worst fire in Burlington’s history, as Chief C. A. Niles reports that has occurred in the past six years. During last year the fire loss only amounted to $130,000. The city has 55 miles of streets and 22,500 inhabitants, and its equipment includes 270 hydrants, 51 street boxes and 21 miles of wire in its fire alarm system.


Fire in Lewistown.

For a graphic account of a recent fire in the plant of the Mann Edge Tool Company, Lewistown, Pa., which, threatening for a time to involve the entire factory, was ultimately confined almost wholly to two buildings, this journal is indebted to W. F. Eckbert, Jr., chief director of the Henderson fire company, of that city. The plant, which is located on Kishacoquillas creek, consists of a number of brick buildings, mainly roofed with slate, and a few smaller wooden structures, with galvanized iron covering, the area occupied being about 150 x 500 feet. Of unknown origin, the fire was discovered in the paint shop of the finishing department, at 5.50 p. m., by the night watchman, who sounded the factory whistle as an alarm and notified the firemen. The building in which the fire started was 60 x 120 feet and 2 1/2 stories high, of brick construction, with slate roof, and was built about seventeen years ago. In quick response to the alarm the firemen arrived and found the entire interior of the paint shop portion on fire and the flames spreading to the grinding shop and finishing departments. With the exception of water barrels and garden hose, there was no private fire protection, although the buildings were provided with brick partition walls. The firemen, disregarding the fierce heat created by the blazing oil and turpentine and the dense pall of thick, black smoke that overhung the works, got quickly to work and fought the fire from all sides, with a view to confining it to its place of origin. In spite of their efforts, however, it spread to the finishing department. the grinding and polishing, the tempering and inspecting shops occupying a building of the same character and dimensions as that in which the fire started. As the accompanying illustration shows, the upper portions of these buildings were quite badly burned, the building in which the polishing, painting and carpenter shops were located being completely gutted, only the heavy grinding machinery in the basement being intact. A wing, 30×40 reet, used as a packing room, was also destroyed, over a thousand axes being so badly damaged as to require refinishing. Within a radius of about 500 feet there were four 4-inch double hydrants, about 500 feet apart, from which a supply of water was obtainable, but the pressure, that should have been 90 pounds, gave out when an attempt was made to use plug streams, and engine streams were substituted. Two steamers were in service—a No. 2 size Silsby and a No. 3 size La France. The number of hydrant streams used at the start was five, but for three of these engine streams were substituted. The nozzles used were 3/4, 1 and 1 1/4 inches in diameter. About 2,800 feet of cotton, rubber-lined hose was laid, three lengths of which burst during the fire. The men fought the fire for two hours before it was under control, and then smaller blazes kept them busy for another hour. The fire department is entirely volunteer and includes in its equipment, in addition to the two steamers mentioned, two additional hose companies, one having an antiquated hook and ladder truck and the other a few light ladders, all of which were pressed into service at the fire. That with this limited equipment and an inadequate water supply they were enabled to keep the damage down to the $150,000 plant at an estimated loss of $15,000 shows that the men worked well and that their efforts were well directed.


The Witch Stick or Divining Rod.

I am half ashamed to confess that I do not know whether the “witch stick” used by the New England countryman to locate water for digging a well is a superstition, or whether it has actual value in divining water under ground.

In New England they call this curious thing a “witch stick”; among the Catskills they simply call it the “willow stick”; countrymen in other parts call it the. “divining rod.” I have actually seen a grave countryman cut one of these sticks, twist it in a curious fashion in his two hands, and walk about holding it close to the ground until suddenly some unseen power twisted the stick almost out of his grasp. Then he stopped and announced that there was a spring underneath that spot, at such and such a depth. Digging there revealed the spring at the depth at which he stated water would be found. This was in Massachusetts. I have seen exactly the same performance in the Catskills. A number of intelligent persons whcm I have met say that they have witnessed this thing, but none of them seems to be able to explain why a twisted stick can locate a subterranean stream or spring. They all speak about it pretty much as I do—as if they had been to a seance. One or two have spoken about the law of attraction, but have merely referred to it academically, without explaining the thing. I’ll wager that there are thousands of people who are uneasy over this business and would like to know something about it.— New York Sun.

Advantages of Using Large Tires.

“To have large enough tires on his car means more to the motorist than he may at first realize,” said H. S. Firestone in a recent interview.

“Automobile manufacturers are fortunately coming to appreciate the true merit of large fires more this year than ever before, as will be seen by the increases that many have made over last year’s equipment on cars that are being exhibited at the auto shows. A tire of large diameter rides over road obstructions with less jar and less interruption to the momentum of the car. hence is more comfortable to the occupant. More important still is the fact that the larger tire presents a greater portion of its circumference to the road, thus dividing the shock over a greater surface area and conserving the strength of the tire. Again, the larger the tire the greater the air cushion back of the blow. An adequate sized tire will always stand several times as much had usage as a smaller one on the same car.

“Automobile buyers and manufacturers are both to be congratulated on this growing tendency to use larger tires.”

An ordinance has been drawn in St. Augustine, Fla., regulating the erection of buildings and establishing a fire limit.

Incendiaries at Evansville.

A regular correspondent of this journal at Evansville, Ind., sends the following account of incendiarism in that city: “During the last eight months this city has suffered from the acts of two fiends who delighted in setting fire to buildings to see the fire aparatus respond and work on the flames. Last autumn over thirty stables were destroyed, started by a half-witted individual known as “Groundhog” Klein. His last fire was a serious one, causing a loss of over $100,000. He set fire to the large stable of the Iglehart Milling Company, which spread and destroyed the mill, elevators, warehouses and office of the company, resulting in the above loss. The plant will be rebuilt this spring, but in the meantime employees of the concern are without work, causing an additional loss of time and money to both employed and employer. The incendiary was arrested and is now confined in an insane asylum. The other fiend is a young man 20 years of age, sane otherwise, but without doubt crazy on the subject of firing buildings and enjoying the work of the department. His plan was to telephone people living near a fire alarm box, telling them to send in an alarm as a certain building was on fire. The person answering the telephone usually asked no questions but pulled the box, and the firemen were, of course, fooled. In one case the person ’phoned was told to pull the box located in front of his own factory, as the Carpenter school, located three blocks away, was on fire. This man was suspicious, as there were other boxes located nearer the school than the one he was asked to turn in. He notified the firemen of the nearest house, and they, knowing that there were over five hundred children in the school building, decided not to pull the box, but despatched a chemical engine and hose wagon to the scene without ringing gongs. At the school building the men investigated and found no fire and this most likely prevented a panic among the children. All efforts of the police and firemen to locate this fire-bug were fruitless at that time. On the night of January 25th a large four-story building in the heart of the city, occupied by several business firms, lodges and the Journal-News paper was discovered on fire from top to bottom, being mostly gutted and entailing a loss of $100,000. It was at first supposed that the fire had started in the stereotyping deparment of the newspaper and was an accident. The day after this fire more fake telephone alarms were received and on Wednesday, Feb. 2, a fire was discovered in the basement of the Boston Store, in a stock room, which was quickly extinguished by the ‘Ones’ and ‘Twos’ of the department.

The Boston Store is located one block away from the Journal-News building. That evening fire was discovered in a boarding house, also located one block away from the newspaper building. In a room a bed was found burning and was extinguished by a chemical engine company, but a few minutes afterward another room was found burning. The police were notified, and while they were talking with the landlord another fire in a room occupied by a young man named John Byers, was discovered. The occupant was arrested and he proved to be the firebug. Like all of his stripe, he claimed not to know what caused him to send in the false alarms, what made him set fire to the Journal-News building, the Boston Store, his hotel, where firemen, school children, employes, shoppers or others might have lost their lives. He said he did not care so much for the fires as seeing the fire apparatus approach and get in action. He stated that he waited on the curbstone across the street from the Journal-News building three-quarters of an hour seeing flames bursting from the windows before turning in an alarm; then enjoyed watching the work of the firemen for a half hour, after which he went home and slept, while the fire raged for hours only a block away. I will state that he was employed at the Boston Store, that he was often sent out on errands, when he would gain access to telephone booths and send in fake alarms. He pleaded guilty to all charges against him and he was bound over to the grand jury. What his fate will be I don’t know; but public sentiment is that he be put back of the bars for the rest of his life, for without doubt he is too dangerous a fiend to be at large. We had a fire here in the early part of January in a clothing store causing a loss of $100,000 to it and its neighbors through fire smoke and water. It occurred through an unaccounted for explosion. which the adjusters tried to find out but failed. The fire was remarkable for its spread through the building and the admirable way in which it was controlled by the department, under command of Chief Grant. In my next letter I will write about the department and Chief Grant, who, though being the new chief, is by no means a new fireman, having been in the department for over twenty-two years, as captain and four years as assistant chief.


Evansville, Ind., Feb. 6, 1901.

New York Fire Department Report.

During the three months ending September 10, 1909, the New York fire department received 2,271 alarms of fire, of which 2,083 were for fires, 7 for indications of fire, 101 unnecessary and 80 false. Of the fires in buildings, 1,088 were confined to the point of starting, and 98 to the building: only 39 extended to other buildings. There were 19 fires to be fought on vessels, and 239 in places other than buildings and vessels. Of the alarms received 1,566 came in from street boxes, 657 were communicated verbally and 28 by automatic apparatus. Of all the fires, 1,688 were extinguished without engine streams, of which 106 were extinguished by high-pressure streams. The total consumption of water was 14,872,830 gallons, of which 3,761,370 gallons was river water. The extent of the damage done in the case of 121 buildings built mainly of brick and iron is classed as slight, in 23 cases as considerable, in 1 case the destruction was total; of buildings erected mainly of wood, 17 were slightly and 16 considerably damaged and 18 totally destroyed. On September 30, 1909, the active personnel of the department numbered 3,052, of which 2,644 comprised the fire-fighting force, assigned, with the exception of 42 chief officers, to the 142 companies of the 22 battalions, classified as follows: engine companies, 89; hook and ladder companies, 44; hose company, 1; fire boats, 8. Of the above companies six are known as combination companies, each being equipped with an engine and a hook and ladder truck; fourteen of the engine and nine of the hook and ladder companies are known as double companies, equipped with two sets of apparatus, one of which remains in quarters to cover unprotected territory, while the other is absent in response to an alarm for fire. Three engine companies are known as high-pressure hose companies, two of which are equipped with two high-pressure hose wagons (one an automobile hose wagon) and one with two high-pressure hose wagons and one engine and hose wagon. One of the engine companies and one of the hook and ladder companies are equipped with searchlight engines. Of the total number of fires, eight were distinguished as notable fires, for which three or four alarms were sent out and of which the report gives brief particulars.

Boston Firemen’s Ball.

About 15,000 persons crowded Mechanics’ hall at the thirty-first annual ball of the Boston fire and protective departments. A musical program was given. District Chief John T. Byron, the floor marshal, and his sister, Miss Louise Byron, led in the grand march. Back of the platform hung three pictures, those of Mayor Fitzgerald, in the centre, Fire Commissiosner Parker and Chief Mullen. Other pictures showed the department in action at a fire and also a typical fireman. Among the guests on the platform were Commissioner Lord of Everett and the following chiefs: Frank Tracy, Woburn; James Hamilton, Lawrence: George Johnson, Waltham; J. C. McDougal, Hyde Park; George Cushing, Hingham; Thomas Harris, Lynn; Warren Blood, Pepperill; William Cade, Wakefield; George Calhoun, Swampscott; William Arnold, Salem; Jesse Barrett. Peabody, E. T. Jewett, Waltham,

Rushville Needs Better Service.

A correspondent writes that fire conditions in Rushville, Ind., are not satisfactory. He says that the present equipment is inadequate and that in case of a serious fire in the business district the department would be unable to do effective work. He also says there are only 1,500 feet of good hose now in the equipment, while there could at least be 1,000 feet more. He mentions the improvements made in other departments of the city government while the fire department has been practically neglected, as for instance, the horses are too old and new ones should be bought. All his argument is based on the theory that it is not the fires the department has had to fight, but the future possibilities that the city should prepare for. Attention is also called to the fact that firemen are underpaid and he quotes from this journal an article which outlines the life of the fireman and insists that firemen should be paid a regular salary just the same as a policeman is for being ready to make arrests even though he may not make an arrest in a year.


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