Fire Loss of Detroit a Half Million Less
Notwithstanding an increase of 819 fires and an increase of millions of dollars in property values contained in 34 miles of territorial annexations to the corporate limits of the city during the year 1926, the city of Detroit, Mich., as revealed by the annual report of Fire Marshal G. S. Goldwater of the Fire Prevention Bureau to the Board of Fire Commissioners, had a decrease of $460,000 in the fire losses.
Detroit—the mecca of the automobile industry in America, had 1,314 fires in automobiles, which was 11.5 per cent of the classified fires. In his report, Fire Marshal Goldwater points out to the Fire Commissioners that wood shingle roofs are a growing hazard with each year of their existence, and he strongly advocates the termination of that and other forms of combustible construction. He declares that there is no longer any justification for wood shingle roofs, and that whatever justification there may have been in years gone by for the construction of houses with wood shingle roofs, there is no excuse of that type of construction today.
Devoting much space in his report to the subject of construction, Chief Goldwater makes a distinction between the fire prevention responsibilities of a builder and an occupant, and he adds—“it would be much better if we spoke of buildings as ‘fire resisting’ instead of ‘fireproof,’ for as a matter of fact nothing is entirely proof against a severe fire. It is the duty of every person building a structure of any kind tomake it as fire resistive as possible.”
Detroit had thirteen fires of more than $30,000 loss during the year 1926. The largest fire from the loss standpoint was the F. M. Sibley Lumber Company on July 4th, the loss amounting to $200,984. The next in size of loss was the Fisher Wall Paper fire on Randolph street in the month of May, reaching $102,999.
The total losses for the year amounted to $3,519,549 on an assessed valuation of $170,791,524, carrying insurance of $151,218,327. These figures are computed on the record of 11,329 alarms, of which 1,043 were false; 54 per cent, or 6,102, show no recorded loss.
Of the 9,000 actual fires during the year, July leads the list with 1,116 and September was the lightest with 447 fires. October, November and December were the heaviest in false alarms, averaging 125 per month.
The principal classified causes among the 45 known causes of fires were as follows: Automobiles in garages or on highways 1,314, bonfires, grass and rubbish fires 1,091, careless smokers 920, carelessness with matches 267, chimneys 445, children ancf matches 459, ovens, boilers, furnaces and stoves near woodwork 315, smoke, furnace and steam pipes near woodwork 195, sparks from chimneys, stacks, etc. 1,208, from stoves, furnaces, forges and flues 135, from locomotives 26, spontaneous comhusion 177, street cars 129, tramps and matches 65, thieves and matches 8.
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Fire Loss of Detroit a Half Million Less
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During the year the Bureau made 54,749 inspections and details to premises as follows: Buildings inspected 40.781, reinspected 7,008, theatres at night 5.337, complaints from citizens 993, film exchanges inspected 456, night details to bazaars, churches, schools, etc. 174.
Building violations corrected 9,948. immediate corrections made in structures 6,173, extensions of time granted for compliance 24, defects referred to Building Department for investigation 1.880.
The Bureau issued orders for the procurement of 857 licenses from the Building Department—garages 82, steam pressingplants 166. steam boiler operators 167, inflammable liquids 221, torch welders and cutters 154 and paint and oil permits 67.
The total number of fires investigated was 1.429, of which the Arson Squad inquired into 569. Of this number 491 were found to be accidental and the balance of 78 of incendiary origin. The 78 incendiary fires embraced 25 classifications, in which dwellings led with 26 criminal fires, barns 13, dry goods shops 9, groceries 3, rooming houses 3, vacant buildings 3. garages 2, automobiles 2. All the others had one “crooked” fire each and some of these were a near beer saloon, barber shop, orphanage, warehouse, brothel, hardware store, etc. Of the 78 incendiaries 36 motives were for revenge, 25 to defraud insurance companies, 15 by pyromaniacs and 2 to conceal thefts.
The losses incurred by the 78 incendiary fires amounted to $228,930.81, of which amount $155,607.66 represented those fires set to collect insurance which was far in excess of the true value of the property.
The arson report, signed by George W. Smith, detective, and William F. McDonald, special officer, discloses that, while there was a slight increase in the number of incendiary fires in 1926 as compared with 1925, the losses caused thereby were less. The arson detectives made 26 arrests under that provision of law, obtained five convictions, one of which was a commitment to an insane asylum.
Chilton, Wis., Department Re-organized—The fire department in Chilton, Wis., has been re-organized and Verne Hall is chief. The department was allowed to become inactive since 1922.