FIRE PREVENTION AT HARVARD
Ninety-nine business men out of every hundred are ignorant of some of the commonest and most easily, avoided sources of fires, according to a leading fire insurance man in Boston. To illustrate his point the speaker proved to the satisfaction of a sceptic that an incandescent electric bulb will set fire to a light material with which it is long in contact, by wrapping his handkerchief around the bulb and allowing it to remain there for nearly an hour, when the cloth ignited and was destroyed. One of these “ignorant” men—a professional gentleman too, one cold night took the incandescent bulb hanging by his bed and placed it beneath the bedclothes to warm his feet. He fell asleep. Fire alarm, ambulance, hospital. He still lives to tell the story. The prevalence of such stupidity as this has brought about the new course in fire insurance engineering at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration— for the compulsory education of officials and business men. It is argued that there is no mystery in any fire, as every one starts from sources which science knows and which engineering can prevent. The fact as to the cause of fires and the engineering measures for prevention are taught by lectures, by detailed inspection under guidance of various types of insured buildings, and by laboratory work in the Underwriters Bureau. “Just as the doctors are trying to prevent disease, so the fire insurance companies are trying to get property owners to prevent fires,” said one of the lecturers in the Harvard course. A pupil might have asked with propriety if writing policies on property without first investigating, is going to prevent fires? The public has been shown during the past year that the insurance companies are too eager to obtain business tc prevent many of the fires that occur.