Company Stops to Untangle Traffic
Traffic congestion in New York city has become so acute that firemen had to halt their apparatus at Forty-eighth street and Broadway recently and help the policeman untangle the maze of traffic before they could proceed. At the same time. Engine 65 coming up Fifth avenue was slowed up by similar traffic congestion.
The fire was in the basement of a five-story brownstone dwelling. Attracted by the fire apparatus and the smoke, a crowd of shoppers soon gathered to add to the difficulties of the police and firemen, and the mounted police and reserves had to be called. Burning wall paper in the basement, which was occupied by an upholsterer and furniture dealer, caused a great amount of smoke.
Engine Company 65 was the first to arrive at the fire. When Company 54, after breaking through the traffic, and Engine Company 8. arrived, Battalion Chief George O’Hanlon ordered the men to work in relays.
Firemen in Company 54, in their station house at Forty-eighth Street and Eighth Avenue, said later that the congestion they encountered at Broadway was getting to be common of late.
“In the first place the parked cars tie up the moving traffic,” one driver said. “The average crosstown street is 25 feet wide and you are pretty sure of finding parked cars at both curbs, which leaves about 12 feet clearance. Trying to get a fire engine through that space with cars coming and going is some job. Early in the afternoon the theatre crowd is sure to tie up Times Square, and late in the afternoon when they get out it is worse. It is pretty bad during the evening, too.”
The same fireman said that the lighting system, which is in many ways a boon to the firemen, is also in many wavs a hindrance. If the lights are set against crosstown traffic to give the fire companies coming up Fifth Avenue the right of way, he said, it means that the cross-town traffic stops and holds up fire engines going crosstown.
Fire Chief John Kenlon said that the conditions that confronted the fire companies were nothing new to the Fire Department.
There are too many automobiles and too many taxicabs on the streets in the midtown district,” he said. “The Fire Department does the best it can. But I do think the situation can be improved, and should lie improved, and I submitted a paper giving my views on it at the convention in Canada, last year.”