FIRE HAZARD AT SPRINGFIELD.
The conflagration-hazard at Springfield, Mass., is set down as “severe” by the inspectors of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The fire department is said to be undermanned; the fire hydrants, to be of an unsatisfactory type; and the gate-valves to be improperly placed. A sweeping fire, therefore, would hardly be controled, if out broke out. As to the waterworks, which are owned and satisfactorily operated by the city: The supply, which is reported as being sufficient for present needs, is soon to be abandoned because of the poor quality of the water. It is delivered by gravity through conduits too small to maintain pressure at times of maximum consumption. In this way is accounted the necessity for haste in the construction of new works. 1 he distribution is in two services, and the consumption is large The pressure is generally satisfactory, but is not well maintained in the higher parts of the city. The distributing mains are adequate in the congested value and adjoining districts, but are too small and not always well supported in the important residence districts. The gate-valves are too widely spaced throughout. The hydrants are well maintained; hut many of them are ot unsatisfactory type. The spacing is good in the congested district, hut too wide in the residence sections. The fire department is part full paid and part call, Its Supervision is unsatisfactory. The companies are fairly well distributed, but are decidedly undermanned and depend on inefficient call men for their strength. As a whole, the engines are in good condition, but too few in number, especially the powerful size. The reserve engine is in poor repair. The ladder service is good except in the outlying sections. The chemical service is good. The supply of hose is inadequate, and the minor equipment is incomplete. The discipline is good and the methods are fair; but the response to alarms, with few exceptions, is weak. The service as a whole is only moderately efficient. The lire alarm system is of the automatic type. It is insecurely housed, and the supervision is poor; the distribution of the boxes, also, is poor to fair. The boxes are of fair construction, with keyless doors or keys attached. The department telephone facilities are limited. The circuits are partly overhead and partly underground (the latter is being gradually extended). The maintenance is poor, and the whole system is not thoroughly reliable. As auxiliaries to the system, it may be added that the co-operation of the police department is good; the telephone service, also, is good and extensively used. The installation of the local alarm and central station watch service, however, is defective; but the service is generally fair. The private fire apparatus is of considerable local value, and valuable outside aid is available. To sum up: The water supply is delivered through conduits without reserve capacity. There is adequate distribution in most of the high-value dis tricts. with generally satisfactory pressure. The lire department is moderately efficient, hut not capable of handling serious fires. The fire alarm system is poorly maintained, limited in extent and not thoroughly reliable. The conflagrationhazard is severe, owing to narrow streets, the lack of horizontal and vertical opening protection, numerous serious exposures, hazardous centres of high combustibility, grouping of bad blocks and a fire department inadequate for coping with large fires. A mitigating feature is found in the fact that a number of the inocr hazardous risks are sprinklcred; but the resultant conflagration hazard is still considerable. The laws of the building department are condemned as altogether inadequate. They omit mention of fireproof and mill construction, restrictions of areas and heights, protection for floor and division-wall openings and many other salient points. The enforcement of the laws is also poor. The requirement of fireproof construction in the central business district is under consideration. As to explosives and inflammables: The State police department has recently been given power to regulate these; but no regulations have as yet been promulgated. The former laws and regulations in general are still observed. These, however, are very meagre and those applying to naphthas and oils are decidedly inadequate. There is practically no enforcement ; hut the actual conditions are fairly good. With respect to electricity: There is practically no municipal control. The old and the new inside wiring is in an equally hazardous condition. The principal streets within the twomile circle are free from overhead wires, except trolley, series arc light, long distance telephone and service connection wires; the outside wiring, on the whole, is in fair condition. The trouble from electrolysis is slight.