Cables Burned Out in Basement Fire in Structure—City Protected by Patrol Plan While the Fire Alarm Is Out of Commission

THE entire fire alarm system of Newark, N. J., was put out of commission by a fire in the basement of the city hall on March 10, when the cables which were routed through the section in which the blaze occurred were consumed.

Three telephone operators, at fire headquarters, which is in the city hall building, stuck to their switchboards on the fourth floor of the building, through the entire time of the fire, thus keeping in touch with the firehouses throughout the city. The fire was confined to the basement and offices on the upper floors of the building were only slightly damaged by smoke, and the city records stored in the building were not disturbed. The illustration shows the wreck which the flames made of the basement portion of the building. There were quite a number of wooden election booths stored in the section where the fire originated which added fuel to the flames.

Basement of Newark City Hall Where Fire Started. It Was Here That Fire Alarm Cables Were Damaged

Courtesy Newark Evening News.

When the fire alarm system of Newark was installed some eighteen years ago, the fire commissioners found that the only available place for it was in the new city hall, a fireproof building which had just been completed at that time. Financial and other reasons made it a case of the city hall or nothing. Under the circumstances, they were glad enough to take advantage of the opportunity and the alarm system was installed in that building. The system itself is a model of its kind, and is up-to-date in every particular. It is said that representatives, not only from many American cities, but also from Brazil, Japan and European countries, have visited the system to study its workings.

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As soon as it was found that the fire had put the tire alarm system out of commission through the destruction of the cables, Chief Paul J. Moore immediately put into practice a plan which he had inaugurated to meet just such emergencies as this. There are 648 street boxes. The firemen on the off-shift of the twoplatoon system, who are subject to recall to active service and are always prepared to respond in case of emergency, were at once summoned. Patrols were thrown out in all parts of the city and every section covered, the plan being that, in the event of a fire, the man on patrol will immediately communicate by telephone or otherwise to the nearest firehouse, giving the location of the fire and the nearest box. Other companies will then be notified as quickly as possible, in order that the consecutiveness of the system can be maintained.

At the same time, the newspapers and other methods of conveying information were immediately informed of the danger, through Chief Moore’s orders, and warnings of conditions to the people at large were given, asking for their co-operation during the period that the alarm system was not working. Instructions were also given through these sources to the citizens as to the proper course to pursue should a fire be discovered. In this case the plan proved its efficiency as, during the short time that the fire alarm system was out of commission, the city was well protected in case of fire. Chief Moore’s plan had already been tested in one or two big snowstorms which rendered the fire alarm service helpless.

One result of the fire in the city hall is that plans are being perfected for reinforced brick and concrete compartments to encase and better protect the cable base in the basement, so that in case of a repetition of the fire the system would be protected.

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