Campaign Against Arson

Campaign Against Arson

The executive committee of the National Board of Fire Underwriters recently held an important meeting from the standpoint of its action upon means for combating arson. The plan involves abandoning the system of “rewards.” For this is to be substituted a method for bringing about nationwide co-operation between state, city and township authorities— including fire marshals, district attorneys, sheriffs, chiefs of fire departments and police superintendents in an effort to exterminate arson. The Committee on Incendiarism and Arson, as now constituted, will begin an active campaign. The committee in its report said in part: “The present committee has viewed with interest and considerate satisfaction the plan of operation in effect on the Pacific Coast, and through our associate, Mr. A. W. Thornton, chairman of the Pacific Coast Committee, have been informed of the methods emplovcd and the success obtained. It is our belief that a large number, if not all, of the subscribers to the fund and the members of the board, consider the offering and posting of rewards not only of no value, but frequently harmful to the intended purposes for which they are made and published. Our Pacific Coast friends have discontinued the offering and posting of rewards.” An examination of the record of forty-three years’ operation of the arson fund prompted the committee to recommend the resolutions, the purpose of which in effect is to discontinue operation under the present plan and dispose of any moneys to the credit of the fund, and the committee presented a substitute plan or method, it being the opinion that the most satisfactory plan will be the formation of a bureau controlled and directed somewhat simBar to the work of the committee on laws and offered the following:

  1. That the Committee on Incendiarism and Arson, as now or hereafter composed, be continued as a standing committee of the board and under its direction subject to the supervision of the executive committee, there be put into effect at once, a plan whereby fires of supposed incendiary origin shall be investigated and an effort made to lessen them.
General View of Ruins of Theater Building Fire in Ottawa, Canada.
  1. That the committee co-operate with state and municipal authorities and other agencies having for their purposes the lessening of the fire waste and the repression of incendiarism and arson, to the end that the enormous loss of life and property by fire may be reduced.
  2. That the headquarters for this activity of the board shall be located in the offices of the National Board of Fire Underwriters in the City of New York.
  3. That the committee be given power, subject to the approval of the executive committee, to employ such help as may be necessary to further its work.
  4. That the work of the committee be supported by an assessment upon the companies, members of the National Board, and such other companies as may become affiliated with the board in this work, and be based upon the net fire premiums in the United States; the assessment for the calendar year 191? to be at the rate of l/75th of 1 per cent.
  5. That all stock or mutual companies not now members of the National Board of Fire Underwriters be invited to co-operate and contribute to this expense.

The arson commitee at its meeting on November 2nd last, following the adoption of the above recommendations, discussed in general terms some details for inaugurating this undertaking, and the committee’s report said: “We believe this work should be handled through the office of the general manager, the same as other activities of the board, and that he be the directing head or executive for this committee, as he is for others. We consider it inadvisable to organize a separate bureau, with a separate executive; first, because of.the cost; second, confusion would follow such an arrangement; and, third, this work should be directed and supervised by the National Board of Fire Underwriters as an organization, if it is to be effective and efficient. We believe it should not be expected that our activities will at once be placed in effect throughout the entire country, but that the committee should confine its efforts to a limited territory at first, say the New England and Middle States, and such special emergencies as may be brought to its attention elsewhere. As the organization becomes perfected. the scope of the work should be extended to other sections of the country, including eventually all of the states.”

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