FACTS REGARDING FIRE LOSSES.
FOR a number of years The Chronicle has been doing most excellent service in compiling and publishing statistics of fire losses. This year it has surpassed all previous reports in this direction, and has presented a mass of valuable information regarding fires and their causes in handsome book form called The Chronicle Fire Tables that is simply invaluable to all persons interested in the matter of fire prevention and extinction.
The principal feature of the work lies in the very elaborate tables enumerating the losses by fire in 1885 by classes of risks, and also giving the causes of fires. These are followed by tables of a similar character, giving the losses by States and Territories in like classification. The editor gives a careful analysis of these tables, accompanied by several diagrams, while the causes of fires in dwelling houses are treated in a graphical illustration that places the defective flue and incendiarism in positions of great prominence. As a whole, the work is admirably conceived and carefully executed. Managers of insurance companies have long sought to learn the experience of other underwriters regarding the various classes of risks (without giving away their own), but such information hxs generally been carefully guarded, each company looking upon its experience as something it had paid dearly for, and hence was too valuable to be made public property. These tables virtually combine the experience of all companies, and present it to the profession without placing anyone under obligation to his neighbor. By permission we present a table of aggregates, showing the losses in the United States by fire in 1885 and the causes; in the book these are also given in detail, each fire being accounted for.
Some very peculiar things are shown. For instance, incendiarism plays a more important part than is generally supposed, the number of fires and the amount of losses attributed to this cause largely exceeding those charged against the aggregates of any other cause. Gasoline has been accused of being an especially dangerous illuminant, and a vigorous war has been prosecuted against it, yet the figures show that the supposedly innocent and odorous candle has been the cause of three times the number of fires that gasoline has, while the explosions of gas have been nearly double those of gasoline. Explosions of lamps and lanterns, presumably kerosene, occupy a prominent position in the list, while cigar stubs and tobacco pipes cost the country $118,922 in property destroyed. It has been denied that steam-pipes were capable of communicating fire, yet here are three fires attributed to this cause, involving losses amounting to $5635. Spontaneous combustion maintains its reputation as being one of the most prolific causes of fires, and is chargeable with over $1,000,000 of the aggregate losses. Lightning is chargeable with 286 fires and losses amounting to over $1,000,000, seeming to be almost the only fires that could not have been provided against by the exercise of proper precaution and the adoption of such safeguards as prudence would dictate. In the whole list of causes there is scarcely one named that is not the outgrowth of carelessness, recklessness or maliee.
The editor of The Fire Tables also gives a record of fires in the United States by causes during the past eleven years, which is full of suggestiveness. We append a short table of aggregates, showing the losses each year for these eleven years:
SUMMARY OF LOSSES BY FIRE IN THE UNITED STATES DURING 1885, BY CAUSES.
AGGREGATE ANNUAL LOSSES IN THE UNITED STATES FOR ELEVEN • YEARS, 1875-1885.
Here is a record of over $900,000,000 worth of property destroyed in eleven years by fire from causes that were mostly preventable. Of this vast sum only about one-half was covered by insurance, the remainder falling upon the individual propertyowners.
We close our extracts from these tables by giving one relative to incendiarism, showing the percentage of incendiary fires to the total number and the ratio by States:
TADLE SHOWING INCENDIARISM BY STATES.
Average (for the United States) for 1885, twenty-six per cent.
—The Olean (N. Y.) Fire Department have decided to have a big firemen’s parade and celebration on Monday, July 5. Several companies from out of town will be in attendance. It is proposed to have an industrial and trades procession, if business men will take an interest in it and make a sufficient display. It will be the first fire parade there since 1882.