Fire Drills in Australia
The Australian Fireman has this to say about fire drills in Australia:
“We so often hear of fire disasters in warehouses and large factories that a few ideas on the necessity of fire drills for employes may give some food for thought. Unfortunately, in nearly all the cases we read the loss of life is the result of indifference to the necessity of providing some safeguards for the protection of human life under condition of employment. It would be a great step forward if our factory legislation adopted a clause making compulsory a system of fire drill in all buildings where a number of people are daily working or congregated. Fire escapes and other factilities for egress are recognized as indispensable, but these alone cannot be effective unless accompanied by the fire drill. Taking American statistics in nine disasters alone during the past six vears. appoximately l,400 people have been killed outright, in addition to the numberless maimed and injured. With the growth of the large store and its frequent “bargain sales” and “fairs,” it can be easily seen that we are getting well up to the danger line, where a fire may lead to consequent panic and many deaths. It is not claimed that fire drills will eliminate the fire danger, but we can feel sure that the absence of any adequate provision for effective regulation and control must have been an active contributory cause of the panics which followed the discovery of the fire. The primary object of the fire drill is to prevent panic conditions from arising, by the enforcement of regular and systematic practice in the exercise of measures of restraint and selfcontrol. In devising a fire drill it is necessary to recognize the two classes of persons whom the drill is to protect. First, those who are regularly present on the premises, as employes in a large store, and secondly, the general public, who do business in these stores. For the first class the problem is simplified by reason of the opportunity afforded for regular training and drill practise, and the familiarity with all the means of egress and ingress: so that tor this class the question is largely confined to the character and frequency of drills to ensure a prompt and orderly exit from the building. The disasters of which we have read, which have been most prolific in fatalities, belong to the second class, comprising those buildings where the public is assembled in considerable numbers, and where overcrowding may be of frequent occurrence. The large percentage of women and children comprising this crowd makes it imperative that every possible safeguard be provided to ensure safety of life. In framing a fire drill it would be necessary to have in charge someone whose orders would command respect and immediate performance. Each department should have its particular squad or detachment, working under one chief head. Certain men or women whose duties it would be to prevent undue haste on stairways; certain employes to run out the line of hose; one told off to turn the water on or off. When stair exits have a sharp bend, or are poorly lighted, additional guards should be provided as required. On fire escapes, where conditions permit, the arrangement should be similar to that on the stair exits, with the exception that guards should be stationed on the balconies or platforms. Some intelligent and earnest employe, who fully realizes the seriousness of his position, should be appointed to examine each morning the condition of the stairways, fire escapes, and all exits, and report to the manager any obstruction found. He should also see that all doors leading to stairways or exits are unlocked. Fire drills, to be effective, should be held weekly, without notice, and at different hours, and should embrace all employes in the building. The fire alarm should indicate the floor or section for which the fire call is given. This should be repeated once, to make sure the employes make no mistake. The first thing to be done should be employes in the work room to stop work, rise and place seats under benches and clear stock from aisles and passages. On word of the person in charge, or by whistle, a line of files by two should be formed, and all marched to the nearest exit. If the exit be down stairs, the stair guards will control movements. and when reaching the street all will be marched clear to avoid crowding around the doorways. In the shop, on an alarm of fire being given, it should he the dutv of employes to check hasty and wild exit. Tare should he taken to make use of all the exits for clearing the public from the building, and thus avoid congestion of people at the one opening. Of course, drills must necessarily suit local require ments, and no hard and fast rule .can be laid down, but if the outlines mentioned here are followed, some drill could be built which would minimize the great danger of nanic and disaster of which we have read of late in large stores and shoos, and which may any day appear in our midst in some of the large warehouses and stores of our Australian cities.”
Philadelphia will complete its filtration scheme and will perfect the plants in West Philadelphia and at Queen Lane. The filter beds will he enlarged by an additional supply pipe from the Belmont filtration plant to the George’s Hill reservoir. which will result in the maintenance of a better pressure in the distributing mams in the wards west of the Schuylkill river. Plants for the treatment of the water with hypochlorite of lime will also be installed throughout the city for emergency purposes.