FIRE PREVENTION DAY IN NEW YORK
“Fire prevention day” was formally inaugurated in this city last Wednesday, October 9. It was pretty generally observed in the public schools and in the factories throughout the city where fire drills were executed to the admiration of the public which had been invited to look on. The greatest attraction was that arranged by the fire department officials at the National Cloak and Suit Company’s factory, No. 207 West Twentyfourth street. Previous advertisement of the exhibition bad caused many thousands of persons to congregate on the streets adjacent to the building around which a cordon of police had been drawn to keep out of the test zone all who had not printed cards of admission. Moving picture cameras and others were on hand in profusion. After short addresses had been made by the president of the company and others, outlining the construction of this fireproof building, the actual demonstrations btgan. While the visitors were passing through the building a general alarm was sounded, and the half oi the building which was supposed to be burning was emptied in less than a minute by the various exits, fire escapes and stairways. This manoeuvre w’as highly complimented by the fire officials. After the visitors had been escorted to the street and everything was in readiness, an alarm was turned in to the city fire department at the corner of Seventh avenue and Twenty-fourth street. This was responded to by the big Waterous auto pumper from lire headquarters, the new Webb aerial ladder truck, the big water tower from engine house 31 in Lafayette street, and several other apparatus, which remained in the background, as if in readiness for action. Accompanying the apparatus and present at the exhibition were Fire Commissioner Johnson, Chief John Kcnlon, Battalion Chief John Howe, Chief William Guerin, of the lire prevention bureau: Deputy Chief William Swartout. of the lire prevention bureau; former chief Edward Croker, Hatallion Chiefs Darken and Boss and Electrical Engineer Leonard Day.
An extension ladder was run up to the fifth floor, and Frank Petcrson, of hook and ladder company 16, brought down Fireman Mortimer Addison, illustrating in a practical way the method of rescue. A display of the operations of the water tower was also made. Another, and one of the most interesting features of the performance was the dropping into the life net from the third story of the building. This was executed by John J. Nicholas, of ladder company No. 10, and O. J Ryan, of engine company 13. Simultaneously with this performance, the building was being emptied of its hundreds of employes, who emerged from two wide street doors. All were in their hare heads and working clothes, as if disturbed from their work by the alarm of fire in the building. The whole was an exceedingly spectacular display of skill and energy on the part of the fire department and the company’s employes.
The outside program having been carried out, the officials and guests again ascended to the fourth floor of the building and listened to an address by Mayor Gaynor. The mayor complimented the cloak company upon having set a good example for other manufacturers to imitate in constructing factory buildings. He admitted that the matter of lire prevention had heretofore been only a jingle in his mind, but it now had some meaning, since he had seen a demonstration of its utility and practicability. He gave Fire Commissioner Johnson credit for having inaugurated a new and useful device for saving liie and property, praised the fire prevention laws and complimented the fire department for its efficiency. The ideas of a manufacturer of wearing apparel on fireproof construction are seldom worth giving publicity, but in this instance many very good points are brought out by S. G. Rosenbaum, president of the National utoak and Suit Company. For this reason the address of this gentleman before the mayor, Commissioner Johnson and others is given here. It is worth reading:
“It is extremely gratifying to us that what we have done here in the way of lire prevention and protection from fire should have been recognized by Commissioner Johnson, as constituting his ideal of what a building of this kind should be. When we erected the first of these buildings six years ago, and the second one three years later, we had no thought that they would ever be designated as model buildings of tb ir kind. We felt very keenly then, as we do now, the responsibility that goes with the housing of over 2,000 employes, and so we started with the idea of putting up the safest and most comfortable buildings possible. When we planned the first of these buildings we went to the old line fire insurance companies and said to them: ‘What must we put in this building to make it a desirable risk from your standpoint?’ and they told us. We then went to the New England factory mutuals and asked them the same question, and they gave us quite a different list. We practically put in what they both recommended. The first step was to put up a solid and substantial building—the kind in which, if a fire occurred, it could with prompt action he confined to one room. As part of the building equipment, we installed a sprinkler system. Every nook and corner of this building is protected by this system. If a fire should occur, the heat would melt the fuse connected with the nearest sprinklerhead and from this head would he discharged a stream of water covering a circle about 11 feet in diameter. It the fire should spread, other sprinklerheads would discharge. This sprinkler system is connected with tanks on the roof and in the basement of these buildings, containing over 100,000 gallons of water, and we have two electric pumps, each capable of pumping 750 gallons of water per minute to keep up the supply in the tanks. At the time of the great Baltimore fire the only building in the burned district that escaped serious damage was one which was provided with what is known as a water curtain on the outside of the building. Taking a lesson from this, when we put up the first of these buildings we protected the Twentyfourth street front with a similar water curtain. In case of a fire on the other side of the street we could pour a curtain of water over the entire front. In addition to our sprinkler system we have 52 lines of fire hose in the building, all connected with standpipes, which in turn connect with the city water supply. We have 48 chemical fire extinguishers; over 500 pails of water and sand distributed throughout the building, and an ample supply of fire hooks, fire axes, tarpaulins, etc. All of this apparatus, however, is for the purpose of putting out a fire after it has started. But we have taken the more important step of trying to prevent fires. We prohibit the bringing in to this building of lighted qigars, cigarettes or pipes, and so far as is possible, we prevent our employes from using or bringing in ‘parlor’ matches. By having a competent building superintendent and an ample cleaning force to keep the building clean, we try to prevent accumulation of dirt or rubbish. I am informed by the National Board of Fire Underwriters that a very large percentage of fires have their origin in rubbish in out of the way places, and we endeavor to remove this element of risk by disposing of such matter promptly. To take care of this we have a dirt chute in each building, with an opening on each floor, and all waste papers, broken boxes and rubbish of every kind is thrown into these chutes, dropping directly into a brick fireproof room in the basement. We have a strict rule that papers and other inflammable materials must not be placed on, under or near radiators. We have our buildings carefully patrol.ed at all times and at night a trained crew of watchmen make half hourly trips through both buildings. Much more important, however, than the saving of property in case of fire was the problem of how to take eare of our more than 2,000 employes if a fire should break out during working hours, and to meet this contingency we have an arrangement which is unique. We are fortunate in having two distinct buildings, separated by a fire wall and fire doors. In case of a fire during business hours, the first thing to be done would be to send in an alarm to the city fire department. At the same time our own brigade would be summoned, and, under their charge, the employes would BE marched from the building in which the fire occurred to the connecting building, the fire doors would be closed and the employes marched to the street. We have been told by experts that this arrangement constitutes the greatest measure of protection to our employes that could well he devised. But we have not rested here. We have endeavored to take care: of the almost impossible contingency of a fire breaking out simultaneously in both buildings. We have on each of these floors four exits to fireproof stairways (each at a considerable distance from the other); two exits to outside enclosed lire escapes 120 feet apart, and six exits to elevators. These fire escapes are not the usual narrow dangerous affairs, but as you will see, they are as safe and comfortable as any stairway and amply wide for two people to walk abreast, the only difference being that they are on the outside of the building. At least once a week a fire drill is held. A call is sent in from any one of the house fire alarm boxes and 21 men, composing our fire brigade, respond to the alarm. Each man is trained to handle certain apparatus and take a definite position ready for immediate action. Six other brigades, consisting of a total of about 98 men, see that the exits are kept open and direct employes down the stairways and fire escapes in proper order. We shall give you a demonstration of this work in a few minutes. Now, some people are going to ask: ‘Does it pay?’ Our answer is: It certainly does pay. It pays in the peace of mind it gives you to know that your employes and property are safe, and it pays in lower insurance rates.’ Before we moved into these buildings we paid in a well constructed loft building as high as $1.36 per $100 for fire insurance. In these buildings our lire insurance averages less than 10 cents per $100 per annum. Intelligent business men know, however, that lire insurance does not cover tinloss which an active business sustains in case of a lire. Your insurance does not repay you for tininterruption to vour business, nor. for what is most serious to your employes, the loss of employment. If our business men would realize that they are themselves paying for fire losses due to flimsy construction and careless methods, there would very soon be a substantial reduction in insurance rates. Every one of us are to-day paying for losses that occurred in the Baltimore and San Francisco fires, and we will continue to pay for them for years to come. If we could appreeate the benefits that would accrue to us, every man who pays a fire insurance premium would at one? adopt methods that would result in fire prevenuon. 1 want to gnc you some interesting figures in the way of comparison between the finloss in the United States and other countries, and New York and foreign cities. For the year l!’l l the tire loss in the United States was $2.31 per capita. as against SI cents in France, 53 cents in F.ng land, and 21 cents in Germany. The fire loss in New York City per capita last year was $3.45 against tin cents in Paris. 51 cents in I.on.Ion, and 18 c: nts in Hamburg Now. Hamburg is not much larger than Boston, and yet Hamburg’s fire loss last year was 18 cents per capita, against $3.20 ior Boston, In other words. Boston’s fire loss per capita was over 18 times that of llamburg. These figures speak for themselves, and if we wish to overcome this tremendous inequality it will he necessary for us to build better and pay more attention to fire prevention.”