Death of Chief Smith, of Dover, N. H.
In the last issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING in the account of the explosion of gas which caused the death of Chief James Smith, the city was mentioned as Dover, Mass., instead of New Hampshire.
In this account it was stated that the explosion was caused by the lighting of a match by Chief Smith, in searching for the leak of gas. but this, it has since been learned, was merely rumor and nothing has been definitely determined as to the origin of the explosion. Janitor Thompson, of the Strafford bank building, in which the accident occurred, was the only one who witnessed the sad occurrence, and be, though uninjured, was too excited to be able to decide upon the exact cause of the blast.
The explosion blew a plug from a telephone wire conduit and this struck Chief Smith in the head with such force that he was thrown down and instantly killed. The explosion blew out the manhole of the conduit at the street end, and the heavy piece of metal was thrown high into the air. The detonation also caused the fire alarm wires to strike together, thus creating a short circuit and the result, by a peculiar coincidence, was a single stroke on the fire-gong at the moment of Chief Smith’s passing.
Chief Smith was born in Ireland and was 53 years of age. He had been connected with the Dover fire department for over a quarter of a century and served as assistant chief from 1901 to 1910. He became chief in 1911 and served continuously until the time of his death with the exception of one year during which he was supplanted as the result of a political upheaval.
The chief’s funeral took place on February 11, from the First Congregational Church in Dover, and was largely attended by city officials, fire department members, and prominent citizens. Several out-of-town fire officials were present.