Fire Alarm Central Station in Parks
Considerable of a tempest in a teapot has been aroused by a proposition to place a central fire alarm station in the Borough of Queens, New York City. The opposition, which is being fostered by several civic organizations, is based on the fact that it is proposed to erect the station in Forest Park. The ground for opposition is that the erection of the fire alarm station, will be an encroachment on park space for non-park purposes.
Of course the object of the opposition, in so far as it tends to keep the public parks inviolate and free from encroachment, is a laudable one. But, like all such movements, it is apt to be carried to extremes, and in the present case, comes perilously near to being an absurdity. The space that such a building would occupy in the park is so small a matter, that it could in no way interfere with the utility of the people’s playground. On the other hand, a public park is an especially adaptable site for a fire alarm station, enabling it to be placed with plenty of ground around it and in proximity to no other structure. Here there enters in the important consideration of public necessity. The fire alarm station should in all cases be isolated, so that there can be no danger of outside exposure to fire. The danger of putting the fire alarm system of a community out of commission is one that must be guarded against at all hazards, and the only way to accomplish this is to remove the central station from all risk from fire, through ignition from inflammable structure in its immediate vicinity.
If the public park is the only available space that can he secured to accomplish this purpose, then there should he no hesitation in commandeering the park space for the station, as the public safety demands it. It is probable if the objectors in the present instance can be brought to see the prime necessity for the erection of the fire alarm station in their .park, and can be shown that the safety of themselves and their homes demands this action, that the opposition to the station upon the proposed site will disappear.
There are many precedents established for the installation of the central fire alarm station of a city in a public park. For instance, one of the largest and most imposing of such structures—that of Boston, Mass.— is located in the Fenway, part of the Hub’s .parking system; the Fall River, Mass., station is situated in the corner of a park; Richmond, Va., and Providence, R. I., have both located their stations in public parks, and so on. There is no comparison between the location in the parks of a necessity such as a central fire alarm station and that of a museum or place of public amusement or recreation, which can just as well be placed upon private ground or in some other location. The station must have plenty of surrounding space and ofttimes the park is the only spot which affords this necessity.