Dangerous Freight Car Heaters
In a recent general order, Chief Daniel F. Sennott of the Boston Fire Department called attention to a dangerous form of heater now being used in potato cars on the railroads.
The order states: “The attention of the department is called to a new process which is being used for heating potato cars. Recently there was a fire in a potato car in the Rutherford Avenue Yard of the Boston and Maine Railroad in which one of these heaters was involved. The cars have sections on each end, usually used for ice. In the car which was burned in the sections commonly used for ice a new machine or burner was found using for fuel a very deadly gas given off from a form of coal called charkets. These charkets evidently consist of sawdust and charcoal with some form of chemical which gives off a vapor deadly to inhale. It is customary to tag the cars with small signs stating that poisonous fumes are inside. Members of the department will exercise every precaution in fighting fires in cars of this type.”