Extinguisher Gas Not Harmful in Subway Fire
A fire, which, while it caused little property damage, resulted in the injury of a great number of passengers from panic and asphyxiation, occurred in the New York subway at a point near the 59th Street Station of the Lexington Avenue branch of the Interborough Railroad. The trouble was caused by the short circuiting of the fuse in a controller box, and the burning rubber insulation resulted in the generation of a pungent smoke and asphyxiating gases that filled the tube and the eight-car express which was in the lower level in which these trains run, the subway being double decked at this point. Owing to the confined space and lack of oxygen these fumes caused great distress to the passengers and many of them were overcome and rendered unconscious. Those that were able to do so struggled along the tracks to the emergency exits and to the station, and the unconscious passengers were carried to the open air by firemen and policemen. At the early stages of the fire a policeman had emptied the contents of a Pyrene extinguisher on the blaze, and Mayor Hylan and others charged that those overcome were poisoned by gases generated by the extinguisher. In reply to this charge Walter Bauer, president of the Pyrene Manufacturing Company, has issued a statement. On July 25 Lincoln C. Andrews, chief executive officer of the transit commission, exonerated Pyrene completely in a report, saying that the extinguisher had nothing to do with the trouble. Mr. Bauer in his statement said:
“The Pyrene Manufacturing Company, up to the present time, had intended to make no public statement relative to the recent subway accident, but to await the reports of the various commissions whose duty it is to investigate the matter. In view, however, of the numerous false reports and misstatements of fact which have appeared in the press during the last few days, the company has decided that a statement of its position, with the correct facts, is necessary. Many of the published statements are reported as emanating from Mayor Hylan and from public officials relative to the alleged effect of the use of Pyrene fire extinguishers on the “victims of the recent Lexington Avenue subway fire.
“Pyrene extinguishers had nothing to do with the suffering and asphyxiation that were caused by fumes from burning insulation. but. on the other hand, Pyrene extinguishers brought the fire under control, and their prompt use prevented what might have been a large casualty list. The leading fire protaction engineers of the country have approved Pyrene extinguishers, which have the endorsement of the Underwriters’ Laboratories, maintained by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Pyrene is the standard equipment recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters for electrical fires. The Bureau of Mines in a recent bulletin approved of this extinguisher and recommended its use in mine locomotives. These facts are all a matter of public record.
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Extinguisher Gas Not Harmful in Subway Fire
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“There are more than 3,000,000 Pyrene extinguishers in use. and, while in putting out thousands of fires each year, they have saved millions of dollars of property and hundreds of lives, there has never been a single death traceable to Pyrene. The Pyrene extinguisher is standard equipment in the United States Army and Navy, as well as in the British Army and Navy During the war the French Government used this extinguisher extensively, and every airplane, submarine, battleship, destroyer and army transport on the side of the Allies was supplied with this product. Ammunition dumps throughout France and England, as well as ammunition factories here and abroad, were plentifully protected by this extinguisher. Many of the leading railroad systems in the United States, both steam and electric, have adopted Pyrene as standard equipment.
“The mayor has talked a great deal about the ‘criminality’ of keeping Pyrene extinguishers in the subway, but has said nothing about the ‘criminality’ of taking away the only means of putting out a fire in the subway quickly. Pyrene extinguishers have put out hundreds of fires in the subways during the past ten years. If the mayor attempts to remove Pyrene extinguishers from the subway he alone will be responsible for jeopardizing the lives of 2,000,000 people, who daily use these lines. All experienced fire engineers know there is no substitute for Pyrene on electrical fire risks. The reckless statements of Mayor Hylan. issued for purely political reasons, are contrary to the opinions of experienced fire prevention experts and the record of the Pyrene extinguisher over a period of twelve years.”