FINANCIAL CREDIT AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS.
There is nothing more sensitive than the financial credit of a business man. It may be destroyed by the breath of suspicion, and the business which it has taken years to build up be wiped out by an unfounded rumor or a discreditable story. We know of a case in this city where a respectable and wealthy jewelry firm was brought into discredit because rooms in the same building were occupied by some saw-dust” swindlers who were under police surveillance. There is a semi-weekly paper published in this city called Bradstreet, which is the organ of Bradstreet’s Commercial Agency. In this paper are noted the changes in the financial standing of merchants and other business men throughout the country. Recently a disastrous fire occurred in Lake City, Minn., and in Bradstreet therej immediately appeared a list of the firms that sustained losses, together with the amount of losses and insurance. Out of eleven persons mentioned, only three were insured, and these for less than half the amount of their losses. All the persons named suffer in their financial credit because of their misfortune in being burnt out. They not only lose their property by fire, but that misfortune serves, also, to prevent their obtaining goods on credit with which to commence business anew. That is to say, such is the tendency of the publication referred to. Business circles are notified that these persons have lost part, if not all, of their capital, and are not, consequently, so well prepared to meet their obligations. The paper is not to be blamed for publishing these facts, for the commercial world is entitled to know them, lest they give credit where it is undeserved, and so add another calamity to that already occasioned by the fire.
These facts furnish another illustration of the importance of having an adequate Fire Department for the protection of every community. Not only is the property of citizens exposed to destruction through the lack of such protection, but the financial credit of business men is affected by it. One of the first questions asked a merchant seeking credit is, “ Do you keep insured?” When he applies for insurance he is asked, “ What means of fire protection are provided in your city ?” If the Fire Department is weak and inefficient, the merchant must pay a higher rate of insurance, and then if, after all, he is burnt out, that fact is circulated to the injury of his credit and business standing.
The best investment any community can make is to provide adequate protection for the property of its citizens. Such protection includes an abundant water supply, an adequate amount of fire extinguishing machinery of the most approved styles, and a competent corps of men to handle it. Fire protection should go further than this, and include, also, fire prevention. The construction of buildings should be looked after, and the erection of dangerous ones prohibited in localities where their destruction by fire would involve other property. Proper officers should have power to make house-to-house visitations to see that heating appliances do not jeopardize buildings, and that due care is exercised to avoid fires. There is scarcely a community in the country that does not suffer enough loss each year from fires, that could be prevented by the exercise of ordinary precaution, to equip and maintain a suitable Fire Department. The property so destroyed can never be replaced. There may be a substitute for it in the shape of a building, but property burned is wiped out past all redemption, and no substitute can be obtained for it except by the expenditure of more money. The best fire protection is the cheapest, and that community acts wisely that judiciously expends its money in securing the best and plenty of it. It is not only a protection to existing property, but is one of the factors going to maintain the individual credit of the citizen.