FIRE AND WATER ENIGNEERING.
At the recent charter election in Los Angeles, Cal., the people voted three to one in favor of an amendment providing a municipal pension for firemen. In spite of this public expression, the city council prepared its fiscal budget for the ensuing year without making provision for carrying out the people’s will. Something must be wrong in Los Angeles. Instead of its officials being public servants, it looks as though they were public dictators. Why not follow the example oi New York, which guarantees the fireman’s family against financial misfortune resulting directly from his service for the community, and also against need after years of faithful service? The property which he risks his life to protect should be responsible for such a fund, and when the voters of Los Angeles expressed this wish, they did not expect the mandate would be ignored. The wonder that a city will tolerate such dictation from its servants is exceeded only by the wonder that it is able to get desirable firemen.
It is gratifying to observe that the recent conference called by Fire Commissioner Joseph Johnson to consider the appropriation for carrying forward the new Bureau of Fire Prevention was in a great measure successful. In refusing to grant the full amount of money asked for by the Commissioner, no doubt the Budget Committee of the Board of Estimate acted judiciously. It was the abrupt turn-down the Commissioner received at the outset, when he was told that about twenty thousand dollars and a handful of men would be all that he could have at present, that disheartened not only the fire department executive but all others who are hoping that the new Bureau will prove the life conserver which it is designed to be. But as the Budget Committee has decided to include four hundred thousand dollars in next year’s municipal appropriation for this particular purpose, all imped ment to the inauguration of the F’ire Prevention Bureau has been removed, and the public will eagerly watch the execution of the new ordinance. To get an idea of what may actually be expected, let us call attention to the workings of the Ohio State Fire Marshal, whose functions are no broader than those vested in Chief William Guerin, the head of New York City’s Fire Prevention Bureau. Although less than one-third of the cities in Ohio have as yet been inspected, nearly seven thousand buildings have been ordered by the State Marshal to be demolished forthwith. With more factory buildings in New York City than in the entire State of Ohio, the metropolis may resemble a cyclone-swept territory before the Fire Prevention Bureau gets through. A superficial inspection has resulted in finding more than two thousand fire law violations in Manhattan alone. But the newly-created Fire Prevent on Bureau will only be a farce and a mockery unless it enforces the new law more rigorously than the State Labor Commission has enforced the old law. To the new Bureau we can only say: You have the weapon and the authority to use it. Go ahead.
That the time has come when fire drills are necessary among the adults at home was demonstrated by an incident which happened last week in this city. Four thousand eight hundred boys and girls of nearly all school-going ages were marched without contusion from sixty nine classrooms in Public School No. 168 in One Hunddred and Fifth street, between First and Second avenues. The tire drill worked so well that within two minutes and fifteen seconds following the sounding of the fire gong all the children were out of the building, standing in line and awaiting the further orders of their teachers. Panicstricken parents almost spoiled it all, however, and would have done so had not the police interfered. Those who witnessed the working of the drill said it was a wonderful demonstration of what can be done by children who have been trained, and that the disorder caused by the wild rushing and screaming of their parents was a demonstration of the effect of lack of training. The fact the classrooms were filled with dense smoke from burning tar and the children made their exit under the impression the building was really on fire only served to add to the praise they and their teachers received. The children were far more composed than were their relatives and friends, who congregated in front of the school building and became so frantic that it was necessary to summon a priest and also the entire reserve force from the East One Hundred and Fourth street police station to hold the grown-ups in check, while the childdren stood in line as calmly as if it merely were a test drill. However, there is no room for harsh criticism. There has never been, and there never will be a time when parental affection will remain dormant under similar conditions. When their offsprings are in danger filial love of parents will assert itself in no mild form, and refuse to be calmed until assured beyond a peradventure that all danger is past. At the same time there is such a thing as hampering the rescue work by being too demonstrative, as doubtless would have been in this case had the building been on fire and had not the police arrived as promptly as they did.
A citizen of Norwalk, O., who signs himself “C. J. B.” in a communication to the Reflector of that city, strenuously opposes the purchase of an automobile fire apparatus. In support of his objections the writer says that he “knows a man of discernment and good judgment who has seen several of these machines in use, and that they were far from being an entire success.” How glad the world will be to receive this startling information! Perhaps this gentleman from Ohio owns a dog churn. If he does, and it is an improvement over the old-fashioned up-and-down dash apparatus, it is a safe guess that he thinks it can’t be beaten, and he wouldn’t swap it for the latest model of electric butter-maker. No doubt he has discarded the old fireplace and andirons in his kitchen and has a stove. To him each of these is an “entire success,” merely because, in a measure, each serves his purpose. What’s the need of electricity, or coal, or gas, so long as the old dog and the woodpile hold out? If this broad-minded individual is going to wait until every utility is an “entire success” before they receive his indorsement, he has a long wait coming to him. When anything has become an “entire success it has reached a degree of perfection that cannot lie improved upon. And what has the world to-day that it does not expect to see improved? No manufacturer of motor fire apparatus claims that his product is an “entire” success, but he does claim, and has demonstrated the fact a thousand times, that the automobile fire engine is a great improvement over the horse-drawn machine in every respect. And every new one built is a little better than the previous one. Who is most competent to judge as to the merits of a fire apparatus-—the chief of a fire department, or the wise (?) man of Norwalk, and the “man of discernment and good judgment” whose opinion he relies on? He advises the city of Norwalk to invest its money in a municipal electric lighting plant. Well, that would be a very enterprising thing to do, and yet can electric lighting plants be considered an “entire” success merely because they have come into general use? Every such utility that is installed is an improvement upon some other one. Is “C. J. B.” interested in electric lighting plants? Perhaps; and that is the reason for trying to dissuade the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce from ordering motor fire apparatus.
It is estimated that at the time of American occupation the death rate in the Philippines was so high that the population had been practically at a standstill for many years. At least forty thousand persons per annum died of smallpox. There was no sewer system in Manila, a city of over two hundred thousand population. The water supply for the city was derived from a river, the watershed of which was inhabited by about ten thousand persons who considered it their inalienable right to bathe both themselves and their animals in the river and otherwise pollute the same. There was practically no provision for the care of the insane, a common custom being to tie them to a stake with a dog chain. About two hundred lepers were taken care of at San Lazare and the Palestine leper colony; about four thousand more roamed about the islands at will. The remains of human beings were interred as many as four or five in one grave, the remains of former persons being frequently thrown carelessly about in order to make room for a more recent corpse. Cases of death from beri-beri in penal institutions were very numerous. Diseases like plague, cholera, leprosy and small pax were frequently introduced from the great infected centers of the Orient. This information was brought out at a recent conference at Lake Mohonk. Dr. Victor G. Heiser, health officer in the Philippines, said that soon after occupation the general campaign of cleaning and scrubbing so characteristic of the American sanitarian was at once inaugurated throughout the islands. Over six million people were vaccinated. In the provinces near Manila, which represent a population of about a million, there were formerly six thousand or more deaths from smallpox annually. Last year, after the systematic vaccination was completed, not one death occurred from smallpox. A new gravity water system, bringing water from an uninhabited watershed, and a new sewer system, costing nearly two million dollars, have been constructed for Manila. Hygiene is taught in the three thousand five hundred public schools of the islands, and the simple rules of health are repeated like a catechism in thousands of Philippine homes. In the establishment of the leper colony on the island of Culion, one of the most extensive segregations recorded in history is being undertaken. Of the four thousand estimated lepers in the Philippines, only about one thousand remain to he collected.