CHIEF CRONIN REPLIES TO SUPERINTENDENT TOZER.
Mr. Alfred Tozer, superintendent of the Manchester (England) Fire Brigade, attacks science over my shoulders in a letter republished in THE JOURNAL in May last. I pass over his slurs, about experiments in the laboratory over a tea cup and my thermometors and other instruments to work out what science teaches, with the simple and natural deduction therefrom that he considers his twenty-three years of practical guesswork superior to the teaching and equally practical knowledge of the illustrious Joule of his own city and the truly great men of England and other countries, who have done so much in various ways to make nature’s laws understood by all who possess average capacity, together with the necessary incentive to the acquisition of knowledge. If Mr. Tozer has followers in his belief in the superiority of practical guessing over the years of scientific labor performed by the giant minds I have referred to, I must express my sincere pity for their willfully benighted condition While Mr. Tozer “ works out his practice, founded on experience and what he hopes is good judgment at a fire, with a short branch pipe projecting an adequate supply of water,” I would venture the suggestion that he has made a most wonderful discovery which places all others, not excepting Newton’s, in the shade, and words are inadequate to express in fitting terms its importance. It renders Mr. Tozer independent of the usual means used for projecting an adequate supply of water, as he appears to be of the temperature of a fire and the amount of heat a given quantity of water absorbs, etc., commonly accepted as important factors in fire-fighting, whether conducted on scientific principles or by practical guessing.
The fire service in America, both volunteer and paid, as a rule, has kept pace with the times, and in all that goes to make up an efficient fire department they have adopted and put into use improvements in apparatus and other necessary appendages (including variable sprays and shut-off nozzles), so that to-day their equipments are not equaled by any on earth. This has been done by intelligence, born of the knowledge that the understanding of nature’s laws brings into existence, and which the master minds have formulated to be the true guide in all the work
that man can accomplish. This all firemen in America, with perhaps some exceptions, believe to be superior to hap-hazard guessing with the branch pipe. I am aware American firemen do not “ pin their faith to me or any other man,” but I can truly say I pin my faith to the American fire service and science as being superior to any in England or elsewhere. Mr. Tozer invites a comparison of losses for a series of five years without giving the dimensions, and how and of what materials the buildings in his city were constructed, or the conditions of the atmosphere and other data which are absolutely necessary if anything like a fair comparison is to be made. He surely, after twenty-three years’ guessing, ought to be able to guess and tell us of what material a building is constructed, as well as its dimensions. As it is, only by comparison that excellence can be measured. I will most gladly make one with him, where anything like fair conditions are the standard.
Before, however, comparing with his city, until this standard has been adopted (which I hope will be) let us each compare our own record, and see if we have improved on the past, and instead of taking five years let us take twenty. By this comparison we find that during the five years— 1864 to 1869-the number of fires were 345, while the total losses amounted to $772,500. During the following five years, ending 1874, the number of fires were 567, with a loss of $719,500, showing an increase of the number of fires of 61 per cent and a decrease in the losses of per cent. During the next five years, ending in 1879, we had 573 fires, with a total loss of $515,780, again showing an increase in the number of fires of ten per cent, and a decrease in the amount of losses of over 28 per cent. In the next half decade ending with 1884, there were 613 fires, entailing a loss of $414,096, demonstrating again an increase in the number ol fires of 7 per cent, and a decrease of the losses of fully 11 per cent. A recapitulation of the above figures shows that although the number of fires during the last five years have increased not less than 78 per cent over those of the first mentioned five years, yet the loss has decreased 46 per cent during the latter period. This has been accomplished, notwithstanding the fact that the ratio of increase in population and the conse. quent number of buildings erected has been over 30 per cent each, during the last two decades, while the water supply has only been fair.
I am loth to believe that there are no progressive firemen in England, the home of Joule, Tyndall, Young, Maxwell, Davy, Faraday, Bourne, Thompson, Rankin, Black, Hodgkin, Lardner and others. There must be some such, some who do not depend upon guessing, and who do not consider themselves superior to the above-named eminent men. In the meantime, I shall be most happy to make a further comparison with my guessing friend when he furnishes the data, even if it be founded onguessing.
The Boston Globe gives these personals : “ No ex chief takes more interest in the fire serv.ee than H. P. Mackintosh of Newhuryport. who answers every alarm as of old. He is the first man to connect a private tapper to the new fire alarm telegraph in that city. George A. Davis, formerly of Steamer Company No. 1 of Waltham, who recently removed to Brooklyn, has permanently returned to Waltham, and was cordially welcomed hy his many friends.