FALSE ECONOMY AT CHICAGO.
Chicago’s finances being at a low ebb, cuts in salaries and appropriations, and reductions in the personnel of the various departments are now in order. Among those threatened is the fire department, 130 or more of whose members are to be suspended for a year—a drastic arrangement against which the heads of the department protest most loudly as one which will simply demoralise the force and put it back ten years. At the present time Chief Musham has all lie can do, and more, to meet the emergencies which are constantly arising, and is hampered enough bv lack of men and sufficient ap paratus. His last state, however, will he worse than his first, if he is to be robbed of so many of his trained firefighters—men who rank among the flower of the world’s firemen. It is true their services are to he dispensed with only temporarily. Rut meantime they must live, and to live they must follow other occupations, with the almost certainty staring the city in the face that, if they once leave the department under such conditions, the majority of them will drift away into other occupations which promise fixity of tenure, probably better remuneration, certainly more opportunities for leisure, and the minimum of risk. Then, if at the expiration of a year the city authorities find themselves in a position to fill the ranks of the department up again to their normal complement, they may too late make the discovery that the work of training firemen must be begun afresh, and that, instead of having some 130 or more efficient men to fall back upon, they will have only so many raw recruits to do poorly what had hitherto been done in firstclass shape by a superbly drilled force. Nor must it he forgotten that, if once the firemen of Chicago see that, to make up for the shortcomings of taxdodgers and incompetent tax officials—to say nothing of the evil deeds of those who. perhaps, have been guilty of worse than mere ordinary malfeasance in office—they are liable at any moment to be relieved front duty and deprived of their pay for a longer or a shorter period, they will become totally demoralised and utterly careless as to whether they do their duty or not. In such a case, the conseouences to the city would be in everv way most disastrous; fires would he badly handled; alarms would remain unanswered, or would lie answered after more or less delay; the men would show no heart in their work; and their officers little, if anv more. And one day Chicago might wake tin again to find herself threatened with extinction by fire, with none to heln efficiently and no insurance to be collected—for. of course, no insurance offices will issue policies where such risks rule, or. if they do. will issue them only at such rates as will prove prohibitory to all but the very wealthy.