FIRE DEPARTMENT OF CHICAGO.
CHIEF Swenie’s report of his department at Chicago is always interesting reading. It is eighteen years since he first began to render an account of his stewardship—last year being the thirty-ninth of the series, the paid fire department having been established thirty-nine years ago. Chief Swenie begins by enumerating the departmental gains in the shape of another engine house for engine company No. 63, removed from its temporary quarters to the new twostory brick building at 6328-6330 Maryland avenue, of which an illustration is given herewith; the organization of engine company No. 81, in quarters formerly occupied by hose company No. 1, discontinued on October 19, 1896; the leasing at a nomrnal rent of a lot on the south side of Ninety fifth street near Cottage Grove avenue, on which a house will be built at once and an engine installed; and the purchase of a northfront lot, twenty five feet by 138.46 feet on which an engine house will soon be erected. He then strongly urges the erection of several new engine and hook and ladder truck houses, frame and brick, with new companies and apparatus in some cases; the replacing of two old steam fire engines with new ones, the purchase of a new steel fireboat of greater capacity than the Chicago, at present the only boat available for fire purposes, to be paid for out of part of the proceeds of the tax now levied on foreign insurance companies doing business in the city, and the laying of water mains leiding from the Chicago river, to be used for fireboats, for conveying water by direct pressure in case of fire The net increase in pipe laid for water supply for fire purposes during the past year was 416,310 feet,making available for fire purposes 1,691 miles of water mains. The total number of fire hydrants now amounts to 17,375, being an increase of 909 during 1896. One fire cistern was built; the number available for fire purposes being ninety-four. There were 112 fire alarm and twenty-seven public and eight private police boxes placed during the year, making 1,227 fire alarm boxes, 921 public, and 395 private police boxes placed during the year — in all, 2.543 alarm stations. The system of overhead wires has been increased by 106.18 miles of new wire, the total length of were on poles being now 2,630,7 miles. 1’he underground system has been increased by the addition of 1,692 feet of steel pipe and 30,574 feet of cable of various sizes—total 254, 888 feet of cable and 4,540,782 feet of wire, making with wires on poles 3,490 miles of wire The apparatus includes (all in good condition) four fireboats, eighty-six steam fire engines, four hand enginestwenty-seven chemical engines, forty-two hose wagons, thirtysix hose carriages, thirty-three hook and ladder trucks—all kinds, fifty three chemical extinguishers, sixty-eight portable pumps, two water towers, and 175,812 feet of hose, with 477 hjrses in the service. The value of the property of the department, including buildings, land, apparatus, and fire alarm telegraph, is $2,562,464.47. The present force of the department amounts to 1,142 uniformed men. seven not uniformed. and eighty-six attached to the city telegraph—1.135 in all. There are eighty-one engine companies (including one double company and four fireboats), two of which also operate the water towers, twenty-seven hook and ladder companies and one hose company. There are sixteen battalion districts, each under an assistant fire marshal. Seventy-one new members were certified in 1896 by the civil service commissioners, of whom sixty probationers passed into the service after six months’trial. There were 177 promotions from a lower to a higher grade; thirteen members became lieutenants eleven assistant engineers, engineers;ten lieutenants, captains; and two captains, assistant fire marshals. During the year forty-six slight, fourteen severe, two serious, and two fatal accidents happened to firemen while in discharge of their duty, seven members died, and nine were discharged under the provision of the Firemen’s Pension Fund act. John P. Barrett was till last week superintendent of the city telegraph, but was discharged by the incoming Mayor Harrison, The department answered 5,693 alarms,oeing 1,124,or sixteen and one half per cent less than in 1895. The number of fires was 4.414. being 902 or seventeen (ter cent less than in the previous year. Of the total number of tires, 2.603, or fifty per cent reported a loss of less than$io apiece; while in but four cases did the loss amount tofjo,000 or more. The total loss was $1,979.355,or thirty-three and one-half less than in 1895. Seven hundred and thirty-seven fires were extinguished before the arrival of the department; 122, by the department smothering, cutting out with axes, etc: 108, by department with pails of water; seventy four, by department with fire hydrsrt streams; ten. bv department with fire hydrant stream and chemicals; 1,294, by department with portable pumps; ninety-three bv department with portable chemical extinguishers alone or with the added help of portable pumps; 320. by department with one chemical engine; sixteen, by department with two or more chemical engines; 581. with one steam engine; 267, with one steamer and one chemical engine; thirty eight with one steamer and two or more chemical engines; iSfc, with two or more steamers; 256, with two or more steamers and chemical engines; 307 chimney or prairie fires and fires caused by burning rubbish, etc. Two very obstinate fires called for three alarms followed by a special call for ten additional steamer* and two lireboxts; at two more third alarm fires, ten steamers and three trucks and twenty steamers and four trucks respectively were in service. In addition to the paid department Chicago has also the Riverside, Klsden, Chicago l.awn, and Norwood Park volunteer companies, with eighty-seven members, of whom twenty are officers or office-bearers, and forty retired members in the Firemen’s Pension Fund. Needless to relate amid all the changes and chances of polit’cai life in the “Windy City.” Chief Swcnie remains fixed in his seat as head of the fire department—the only chief of department, whose head was not taken off by Mayor Harrison’s brand new axe.