FIRE FIGHTING IN NEW YORK DURING 1898.
FIRE COMMISSIONER SCANNELL has caused to be published the report of the “operations and actions” of the fire department of the Greater New York during the year 1898. Since consolidation alterations have taken place in the administrative part of the department, but radical changes in the management of the force have been avoided. In the borough of Richmond and many parte of that of Queens the volunteer forces are still maintained under the supervision of the chief of the department. The management of the force in Brooklyn. being under the immediate supervision of a deputy commissioner, 1ms been brought into line with the management of the force in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, and the whole machinery of the fire-extinguishing force has been running without any apparent; friction. The report notices that the year 1898 was remarkably free from disastrous fires.
No great conflagration visited the American metropolis during that year, no great calamities, as will happen in spiteof the skill, watchfulness, and ordinary foresight of men, have startled this community in that period. The possibilities of danger always exist. The number of immensely high buildings increasing in this city, the fire department is trying to solve the problem of finding physical means to insure their safety.
A few notable fires took place and are enumerated in the report. They are those which have necessitated the calling into service of an extraordinary number of companies, and those which have been attended by pecuniary loss of not less than $50,000, or were marked by some exceptional circumstances. In describing the few noticeable fires which took place in Brooklyn, that limit of loss has not been -considered.
The uniformed force of the several boroughs amounts to a grand total of 5,087. It is distributed as follows; Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.—Engine companies sixty-eight, including four in charge of firebouts, and nine of which are double companies, consisting of two sets of apparatus and men in each; twenty-three hook and ladder companies, one of which is a double company ; three water towers; two double-tank chemical engines; two boat tenders attached to hook and ladder and engine companies, and operated by the officers and men connected with such companies. The uniformed force consists of chief of fire department, three deputy chiefs of department. five chiefs of battalion, one chief instructor,and 1,208 company officers, engineers of steamer and firemen—making a total of officers, engineers, and firemen of 1,228.
Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.—Engine companies,sixty-two, including t wo in charge of fireboats, one double-tank chemical engine company; one water tower company, and sixteen hook and ladder companies. The force consists ‘of five deputy chiefs of department, seventeen chiefs of battalion, and 1)07 company officers, engineers of steamers, and firemen— making a total of officers, engineers, and firemen of 989.
Borough of Richmond (Staten Island)—volunteer service.—Eleven engine companies; twelve hook and ladder companies; sixteen hose companies; undone fire pat rol company—comprising a force of three chief engineers, eight assistant chief engineers, and 1,464 company officers, engineers, and firemen—making a total force of officers, engineers, and firemen of 1.475.
Borough of Queens—Volunteer service —Thirteen engine companies, twenty-six hook and ladder companies, twenty-four hose companies comprising u force of one chief engineer, nine assistant chief engineers and 1,980 company officers, engineers, and firemen—making a total of officers, engineers, and firemen of 2,000.
Uniformed Force, City of New York.—Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, 1,223; boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, 989—total, 2,212. Volunteer Service Ununiformed.—Borough of Richmond, 1,475; borough of Queens, 2,000—total, 3,475; grand total, 5,687.
The apparatus in actual service by the regular force is as follows;
Roroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.—Steam fire engines, sixty-nine; hook and ladder trucks, thirty-one; hose wagons, sixty-one; hose tenders, ten; fireboats, four; boat tenders, two; water towers, three; chemical engines, three; fuel wagons, twenty-five; combination hose wagon and chemical engines, two.
Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.—Steam fire engines, sixty; hook and ladder trucks, twenty-eight; hose wagons, fifty-seven; hose tenders, seven; fireboats, two; boat tenders, two; water tower, one; chemical engines, three; fuel wagons, seven.
Tlie spare apparatus held in reserve is (for the four boroughs): Steam fire engines, thirty-eight; hook and ladder trucks, nineteen ; wrecking truck (Manhattan and the Bronx), one; water towers (Manhattan and the Bronx), three; chemical engines (Manhattan and the Bronx), five.
The apparatus in actual service by the ununiformed volunteer force is as follows:
Borough of Richmond.—Steam fire engines, ten; hook and ladder trucks, twelve; hose wagons, ten ; hose carriages, twenty; hand engines, three; fire patrol wagon, one.
Borough of Queens.—Steam fire engines, three; hook and ladder trucks, twenty-four; hose wagons, nine; hose carriages, thirty-eight; chemical engines, three; hand engine, one.
The appropriations last year for the various boroughs were as follows: Manhattan and the Bronx.—Salaries. $2,078,053; apparatus supplies, etc., $444:816,35; new buildings, $80,000. Borough of Richmond.—Supplies, rents, etc., $11,966.69; Borough of Brooklyn.— Salaries, $1,422,527.99; apparatus, supplies, etc., $258,500. Borough of Queens.—Salaries—$30,713.26; supplies, rents, etc., $10,000—total, $407,713.76, maintenance to volunteer fire system in the borough, $17,450; Woodhaven, $4,100—total for borough, $62,263.26. The total amount appropriated for the greater city’s fire department was $4,358,122.25.
The total number of alarms in the boroughs of Manhattan, Richmond, and the Bronx, during 1898 was4 720, of which 305 were unnecessary—191 from street fire alarm boxes; six by special department telegraph signals; sixteen, verbal; ninety-two by automatic telegraph. There were 176 indications of fire—191 from street fire alarm boxes; twenty-six, verbal; ninety-two, by automatic telegraph. Of the remaining 4,279 actual fires, 2,906 were from street fire alarm boxes; six, by special department telegraph signals; 1,306 verbal; twenty-one by automatic telegraph. Of these actual fires, 4,115 were in buildings; sixteen were in vessels; 108 in other places. Of those in buildings,3,881 were confined to the point of starting; 199, to the building; and only thirty-five spread to other buildings. One hundred and two called for more than three engine streams; 263, for two or more streams; 1,129 for one stream ; and 2,745 did not call for any stream. The water consumption amounted to 35,428,089 gallons, of which 7,068,800 gallons were river water. The total number of second alarms turned in was 117; of third, 104; of fourth, fourteen; of fifth, two; simultaneous, one; of special calls for companies, eighty-four; for water tower, one; for insurance patrols, 210. Fire Marshal Seery estimates the loss, insured and uninsured, in the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Richmond, as follows: On buildings and vessels, $1,407,686; on contents, $2,747,505—total, $4,155,191. Estimated insurance: On buildings and vessels, $79,882,816; on contents, $23,102,385— total, $102,985,201. Estimated uninsured loss: On buildings and vessels, $31,020; on contents. $91,689 —total, $122,709. Average loss per fire (4,239 fires), $980.23. The indictments for arson in the three boroughs during the year,were twelve; convictions, two, with sentences of fouryears and eight months (David Goldstein, jeweler, second degree), and ten years (Antonio Balletti, organ grinder, first degree). The magistrate dismissed or discharged four cases; the grand jury failed to convict in one; one woman was acquitted in General sessions; two cases are still pending, and two accused persons are out on heavy bail.
Of the twelve deaths in the uniformed force, one, that of Fireman Pierce English,took place when driving hook and ladder truck No. 22 to a fire. He was thrown off the apparatus and his neck was broken. The Brooklyn reports give a total of 2,335 alarms, of which 2,203 were for actual tires, for which 1,386 alarms were turned in from the street boxes; six, by special department telegraph signals; verbally, 808; three, by automatic telegraph. In fifty-four cases there were indications of flre;and in seventy-eight the alarm was unnecessary. Of the 2,203 actual fires, 2,063 were in buildings, of which 1,818 were confined to the point of starting; 163, to the building; and eighty-two extended to other buildings. There were twelve fires in vessels and 128 in places other than buildings and vessels. More than three engine streams were employed to extinguish sixty-one fires; two or three streams, for 190; one stream, for 362; and no streams for 1,590 The water consumption was 23,994,233 gallons, of which 9,283,658 gallons were river water. In the borough of Queens fifteen towns or villages have sixty-three volunteer fire companies among them,with 2,023 members
The pension fund of the department lmd a balance on hand of $1,235,853.47 on December 31. 1898—an increase of nearly $250,000 over the balance a year preceding. There was a slight decrease in the department life-insurance fund; forty-three claims of $1,000 each were paid, leaving $14,502 60 on hand
The accompanying cut gives a diagram of the exact locations of each of the fires which took place in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, N. Y., during the past year. A glance at this will show that the greatest number of fires occur red downtown in Manhattan, especially in that district bounded on the north and south by Houston street and Chambers streets and the North River, respectively, and that on the east and west by Elm, Howard, and Crosby streets and the East River.