COAL OIL FIRES.
Chief Engineer Sexton, of the St. Louis Fire Department, was recently asked by a newspaper reporter of that city. “What do you regard as the chief causes of fire—incendiarism, defective flues, coal or other oils, gas, hot ashes, or the many other agencies causing destruction by flame?” To which he replied:
“As for the fellows who set their places on fire to get the insurance, we can’t prevent it; all we can do is to squelch the blaze when it is lighted; but I’m paralyzed on coal-oil. I am more afraid of it than powder; it is more dangerous to life and property. No kind of inflammable oil is safe. Places have caught on fire by gas, but it has been through intention or carelessness. I would go back to star candles before I would use any of the oils, I don’t care what name they call ’em. They are the Firemen’s fear. If people had seen the suffering of dead women and children, victims of coal oil, that I’ve seen, they’d drop it. It’s a misfortune that it was ever discovered or brought into use for illuminating or heating purposes.”
The Chief, moreover, sta’ed that the records of the fires in St. Louis show that in thatsingle city, some 32 fires have been caused by coal or other oils during the present year.
This oil subject is a matter in which underwriters cannot too industriously interest themselves, it is evident that the existing legal requirements in regard to tests and inspection, while they may be theoretically ample for the intended purpose, fail to fulfil in actual practice all that is needed for the protection of life and property in respect of this important subject.