EDUCATION BY FIRE

EDUCATION BY FIRE

Commissioner De Forrest, of the tenement house department of New York city, in commenting on the terrible loss of life at the recent fire in the tenement house fire, which in a few minutes caused the death of twenty-five persons by suffocation, without greatly injuring the building, points out that such a disaster, repeated often enough, will eventually cause people to realise the absolute danger of living in these old buildings. Here was a five-story structure, with four apartments on a floor, into which were crowded 150 persons. The fire, it is said, started in a woodshed in the cellar under the stairs. The absence of a door on these stairs gave me flames easy access into the hall, and a pertect fire leading to the roof was furnished. In a tenement built under the new law such a catastrophe would have been impossible. Even in the buildings 01 less ban seven stories the halls and stairways are 01 fireproof construction. If this Eleventh avenue tenement had even been furnished with an iron door a the foot of the cellar stairs, as the new law requires, there would probably have been no fatalities. In a lew-style building the fire would never have gone oeyond the closet where it begun. It would have net above it the stone, iron, and plaster of the staircase. Beyond the woodwork of the closet itself concrete and stonework would have been all it could have attacked in the cellar. It is doubtful that an alarm would have had to be turned in. It has been said that the restrictions which the new law enforces were complied with by many builders even before the passage of the law. Does it require an extra amount of intelligence to see why this should have been so. Allowing that the tenement house dwellers were willing to accept conditions as they found them, is it to be assumed that such a lesson as last Sundays would not have opened their eyes? 1 oday a man can house his family in a building where the fundamental requirements of safety have been considered and complied with. The rents of such buildings are but a trifle in excess of those in the deathtraps. Is confiscation of the older buildings necessary? Will it take many more such lessons to cause them to be vacated entirely? The answer to these questions is found in the statistics for the first six months of this year, when the number of plans filed exceeded the number for the whole year of 1902. Twenty-five lives is a costly price for education, but it seems to he the only kind that will teach people what they ought to have realised long ago.”

No posts to display