Fire-Loss in 1907.
In his address to the National Board of Fire Underwriters at its forty-second annual meeting in New York city, President George W. Burchell said that the board’s tables and data for 1907, proved during that year, while there were twenty-five fires, each of which showed a loss of $500,000, causing $12,000,000 damage, and over, there were only two which exceeded the $1,000,000 mark—namely the street car barns, burned in April, and the elevators in Superior, Wis., in September. These fires (he pointed out) have already been exceeded in magnitude by some which have occurred since January 1, 1908—notably the Chelsea fire, involving an insurance loss of $8,846,879, and the Atlanta fire. The total property loss for 1907 was $199,383,300. For the last five-year period, he said, the destruction by fire in the United States has amounted to $1,257,716,955, an average of over $251,000,000 per year. He complimented the work of the lire prevention committee in dealing through its engineers with the situation in New York, whose presence in the city had led to the investigation of the hose used there. Taking up the work of the committee on construction of buildings he said the importance of that committee’s work was emphasised by the burning of the school at Collinwood, in the suburbs of Cleveland, where nearly 200 children lost their lives. Thus, “While we are actuated by our own motives as underwriters in urging stringent building regulations (he said), “yet this is but another of the many instances where our interests are linked with the public welfare. Such examples as that and the burning of the Iroquois Theatre. Chi cago, make it nothing short of criminal for municipalities to go on under the old methods when the remedy lies in adequate building laws rigidly enforced.” He advocated more fire inspection and better structural work in buildings. The report of the committee on incendiarism and arson showed that these crimes were not decreasing in number. Charles G. Smith of the committee on construction of buildings suggested that the efficiency of the fire department and the adequacy of the water supply should he considered in limiting the height of buildings and their area. He said: “No fire department should be depended upon to successfully cope with a fire of serious proportions at a height beyond 65 to 75 ft., and a fire in any building having an unbroken floor-area greater than 5,000 to 7.500 sq. ft. is likely to be difficult for firemen to control.” Neither Commission er Hayes nor Chief Croker had replied to the charge of the underwriters that there were about 38 per cent, third and fourth-class men in the congested districts of Manhattan south of Fifty-ninth street, and that onlv 15 per cent, of first-class men were prepared to handle fires there. Incidentally it may be notice! that President Burchell’s report showed that the underwriters’ profits for the past year, notwithstanding their losses, had amounted to 11.14 per cent, of the premiums.