FIRE MATTERS IN WISCONSIN.
(Special to FIRE AND WATER.)
THE tabulated statements compiled by John C. Spencer, chief of the Janesville fire department, published in this article,contain valuable information for the public, especially taxpayers and city officials. Chief Spencer has included all Wisconsin cities having a population of 8,000 or over, for the purpose of comparing the equipment, strength, aud cost of the several fire departments. In compiling the statistics many other valuable points have crept into his tables. There are twenty-two cities represented, which he has arranged in order of population—census of 1900—as follows: Milwaukee, Superior, Racine, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Madison, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Marinette, Fond du Lac, Appleton, .Janesville, Ashland, Wausau, Manitowoc, Kenosha, Beloit, Stevens Point, Merrill, Watertown, Chippewa Falls.
These twenty-two cities represent an aggregate population of 635,220, and an assessed valuation of $285,032,653.50. Milwaukee, as a matter of fact, stands first in population and wealth—visible to the assessors; and while Racine stands second in population, she stands fifth in wealth. Chippewa Falls is at the bottom in population, buther visible wealth raises her to the nineteenth place, or ahead of Stevens Point, Merrill, and Watertown. The comparison of the population of these cities with their assessed valuation reveals some curious facts, making some radical changes in their relative positions. Taken in the order of taxable wealth, as revealed by the following table, the cities would stund in the following order:
ORDER OF CITIES BT TAXABLE WEALTH.
City. Taxable Wealth. Fire Chief.
The fire departments in these twenty-two cities give steady employment to 648 men; in addition to the regular force there are 354 callmen, or volunteers, who are paid for only a part of their time—the pay of the callmen, or volunteers, varying from $30 to $180 per year, with a few who receive no pay. Forty-six steam fire engines are used or held in reserve, twenty of which are in constant service at Milwaukee. One hundred and five hose wagons, carriages, or carts arc in service, together with thirty-four hook and ladder trucks, eighteen chemical engines, three fire patrols, five fireboats. Three hundred and sixty-seven horses are required in these departments. The sum of $683,752.98 was expended in 1900 for fire department ex elusive of water rentals. Milwaukee, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Appleton, and Merrill, are the only cities having full paid departments.
All the cities have waterworks—Milwaukee, La Crosse, Madison, Wausau, Kenosha, and Watertown owning their plants, while the other cities are supplied by private companies, and paid in 1900 the sum of $190,071.28 for their water. With the exception of Milwaukee, all the waterworks plants are what is termed high-pressure—fire engines not being required. There are 7,819 lire hydrants in use. Of the cities depending upon private companies for their water supply, Janesville appears to be at the head of the list, considering water rates—her water tax (representing 262 fire hydrants) amounting to only $0.46 9-10 jier capita, while in Ashland (with 224 hydrants represented) the per capita water tax is $1.07 1-10, and in Chippewa Falls (155 hydrants being represented) the per capita water tax is $1.00 9-10. There is a wide variation shown in the water rentals of the several cities depending on private companies for their supply.
All the cities, except Steven’s Point, Merrill, and Watertown, have a fire alurm system—there being 1,039 boxes in use, Milwaukee having the greatest number—371, with Chippewa Falls at the lower end of the line,with sixteen. The fire departments of these cities, omitting Marinette—responded to 2,804 alarms during the year 1900—the Milwaukee department leading the column with 1,247 alarms, and Manitowoc and Watertown bringing up the rear with nineteen alarms
The fire insurance statistics are quite interesting, and reveal some important facts. The property-owners in the cities named paid the fire insurance companies in 1900 the sum of $2,967,440.59 in premiums, and—omitting Stevens Point and Watertown (from which no data as to losses paid were received)—the insurance companies paid back in fire losses the sum of $1,434,559.60. The insurance losses paid in the several cities are reported as follows:
The fire insurance premiums paid in the several cities are shown us follows:
FIRE INSURANCE PREMIUMS.
Referring to these two recapitulations, It will be seen that the premium paid in Milwaukee, besides paying her own fire losses for the year, very nearly balance the losses of the other cities named, thus leaving the premiums of the twenty-one cities practically unscorehed.
Chief Spencer’s tables show that much work and painstaking have been bestowed upon them. The data were gathered from the several chiefs of departments whose names appear in the first table, and are, therefore, considered reliable. After writing letters asking for the information desired, printed proofs of the tables were sent to each chief for correction. Chief Spencer is confident, therefore, that the figures are as correct, ns it is possible to make them. As a whole, the tables will be found to contain many valuable points not shown in this review, besides being of great value as a reference to fire matters in Wisconsin.