City Club of New York Discusses Fire Prevention

City Club of New York Discusses Fire Prevention

The work of the Fire Prevention Bureau in New York City was discussed at length at a Saturday luncheon of the City Club, at which the topic was “Could the Triangle Fire Occur Today?” The secretary of the club’s Committee on Safety reviewed the work done since the fire three years ago. The speakers included Fire Commissioner Robert Adamson, Joseph O. Hammitt, chief of the Fire Prevention Bureau, and Robert D. Kohn, president of the National Fire Protection Association. The commissioner said:

“We have accomplished so much in creating new agencies and new laws to deal with these matters and in arousing the public conscience to deal with them properly that it is not surprising there is a very general impression that the problem of fire prevention has been quite solved. But the mere passing of laws does not remedy a great evil. Though the Fire Prevention Bureau has been in existence for more than two years, not more than one year of that time has it been actually organized and equipped for work. This is due to the time lost in temporary organization and in training two sets of inspectors which the bureau has had since its creation. I say this in no spirit of criticism of my predecessor.

“Now few persons will dispute the statement that had the Triangle building been equipped with automatic sprinklers no loss of life would have occurred. That is the opinion of Chief Kenlon and Battalion Chief Worth. The records of the fire department show that no loss of jife has occurred at a fire in a building equipped with sprinklers.

“In issuing orders for the installation of

sprinklers the Fire Prevention Bureau has met the most resistance. I have been advised that the Fire Commissioner can sue me owner of a factory who violates fire prevention orders to recover the expense of the fire department and also bring suit for damages for the injuries of firemen. I am seriously considering the advisability of testing that right.”

Mr. Hammitt said:

“If we are to congratulate ourselves on the establishment of such a bureau, let us see what provisions we have made for the prevention of fires. We are forced to work with a series of makeshifts. The bureau is housed in a building upon which we could place so many orders for violations that perhaps the chief of the bureau could be indicted. It must be remembered that there are two functions of the fire department—fire extinguishing and fire prevention. It is the dream of the latter to put the extinguishing force out of a job.”

Mr. Kohn said that fire prevention was a science and that it was not something for amateurs to dabble with. He asserted that he must give credit to the insurance companies for the scientific work they have done, and that in certain parts of Europe an owner is held responsible for damage done by a fire originating on his premises to a neighbor’s property, and said: “Had we laws of that character established here we would be more careful.”

No posts to display