Charges Answered by Commissioner Johnson.
Fire Commissioner Johnson has answered a statement in The Evening Post that there had been a delay of twenty-one minutes between the turning in of the lirst and second alarms at the Equitable fire. The Post also declared that Chief Kenlon had neglected to follow the precedent established by former Chiefs Croker and Bonner in responding to every first alarm in the financial district. Charges of delay were based on the following table of tac official times at which all the successive Equitable Building fire alarms came into fire headquarters:
“An afternoon paper criticised the handling of the Equitable fire. I note hut two points worth considering, the first being that Chief Kenlon violated the rules set by Bonner and Croker that the Chief of the department should respond to every first alarm in the financial district. They never did this, because it was physically impossible to respond to those first alarms and alarms further uptown. Chief Kenlon responds to all first alarms possible between Chambers street and Thirty-fourth street, where at night the hazard to human life is much greater than in the deserted financial district. The proper man to respond to first alarms in the financial district is the deputy chief in control of that district. That district is practically deserted at night, except for watchmen and police, and it is absurd to think that a deputy chief of the New York fire department is not able to handle a first alarm there. Every deputy chief is able in his turn to conduct the whole New York fire department. He would reach the first alarm station in the financial district far ahead of the chief of the department, whose headquarters are in Great Jones street. Acting Deputy Chief Devanney, one of the best officers in the department, was the first on the scene, with four companies, the first of which Engine Company 6. reached the hydrant in two and a half minutes. The others were placed as they came up and he turned in the second alarm twenty minutes later, which was so soon as he could discover the inadequacy of that equipment. As a matter of fact, the number of high pressure hydrants which Chief Devanney used on the first alarm was equal to the number of engines which prior to the high-pressure period responded on the second. This answers the second point, namely, that of the alleged delay between the first and second alarms. If the employes of the Equitable building thought so little of the fire during twenty minutes that they refused to call out the department Chief Devanney s action in combating the fire for twenty minutes more with four companies and the high-pressure streams showed that he turned in a second alarm with reasonable promptness. Perhaps thopublic does not know that many of the offices on the Pine street side and the middle and back of the building are still intact, and that the fire was held within remarkably close bounds, considering the terrific conditions under which the firemen worked. It is my opinion that the firemen’s work on the Equitable fire was one of the best performances in the history of the department, and I hardly think that the after-wisdom of this critic can be seriously taken. Certainly no such criticism has come from the Equitable people or the adjacent property owners. Chief Kenlon’s tactics in flooding the building from the Nassau and Cedar street sides is likely what saved the fire from sweeping across Nassau street and on to the East River.”
Volunteer and regular firemen fought a successful battle against great odds to save the village of Three Rivers. Mass., from destruction last week. They were not successful, however, until one side of Main street had been swept clean by flames, and the buildings on the other side had been badly damaged. The total loss is about $75,000. The cause of the fire is unknown.