Des Moines Fire Department.
The area of the city of Des Moines, la., is 54 sq. miles, over which are dispersed fifteen enginehouses, all substantial, modern, brick buildings. The city business blocks are of brick and stone, and range from two to fourteen stories in height. Most of the private residences are of wood; but wooden roofs are not permitted The fire department of the city is full paid and well disciplined and trained by Chief William Burnett. The actual cost of the property in use by the department is as follows: Buildings and real estate, $203,833.19; equipment, $105,622.33—total, $309,455.51. The uniformed force of the department is as under: chief engineer: first assistant: second assistant; all other grades and classes, 98—total, 101. The non-uniformed force comprises a secretary and storekeeper; superin tendent of fire alarm; electrical inspector; telephone operators, 3—total, 6. The equipment is the following: Three-horse hitch aerial truck; 2-horse city service hook and ladder trucks, 4; 2-horse combination hose and chemical wagons. 5; 2-horse hosewagons, 8; 3-horse, double-tank, chemical engines, 3; chief’s wagons, 3; 2-horse hosewagons (in reserve). 2. Two-thirds of the apparatus has roller-bearings and rubber tires. There are 52 horses in service; 21,400 ft. of 219in. hose. For alarm purposes the Gamewell fire-alarm telegraph system is installed, and there is also an independent telephone exchange. The department has no fire engines, as the city has an excellent waterworks system, with pumping direct. The pressure in the business district is 150 lb., running down as low as 60 in the outlying residence districts. On account of the wide extension of the mains, however, rendered necessary by the rapid growth of the city, it is thought that it is now time to recommend and urge the purchase of two steam fire engines. The city has just received bids, and, no doubt, will soon contract for a new and modern 85-ft. aerial truck to replace the old, and now almost unserviceable 65-ft. aerial truck at present in service. The total appropriation for all purposes for the fiscal year ending March 31. 1909, is $130,185. During the year there were answered 655 alarms (44 false), of which 587 were by telephone; 57 from the Gamewell telegraph; 8 from the A. D. T., and 3 from private systems. The number of feet of hose laid was 103,900; gallons of chemical used, 5,228; fires extinguished with chemicals, 86; with part chemicals, 58; fires extending to adjoining buildings, 1. The loss on buildings (insured) was $21,206: on contents (insured), $17,846; on buildings uninsured, $1,163; on contents uninsured, $650—total loss, $40,865. Insurance on buildings, $807,600; insurance on contents, $82,700—total insurance directly involved, $890,31X1: estimated value of property directly involved, $4,250,000. Of the actual lircs 156 were of unknown origin; 42 were due to spontaneous combustion; 8 to supposed incendiary ; lamp, chemical, celluloid and gasoline explosions caused 34; careless use of fire, 53; sparks, 91 ; stoves, stove pipes, furnaces, defective and burning-out fines and ovens, 148; candles, thawing out pipes, gas pipes and meters, bonfires, fumigating, hot ashes, 46; pipes and tobacco, 12; mice and matches (but no children attachments), 2; lightning, 4; electric wires and motors, 7. From the above it will be seen that, with the exception of fires caused by lightning and the possible exception of losses by electric fires and motors, there was hardly one fire that could not have been avoided by the exercise of due care. That Des Moines is well served by its lire department is shown by the fact that the annual loss, insured and uninsured, for the last twenty years was $139,133 insured and uninsured out of a total average insurance of $697,515.