FIRE PREVENTION IN CANTON
Chief Mesnar’s Weekly School for Firemen-An Effective House to House Inspection-Ordinances Regulating Rubbish and Storing of Gasoline
Chief R. O. Mesnar, of Canton, Ohio, who is conducting a fire prevention campaign in his city, has been following up the subject of fire prevention, studying it as well as practicing it since he has been chief of the fire department, which position he has held continuously for eighteen years, since 1899, In fact Chief Mesnar began to make it a study when he became connected with the department which was in 1871. In the last eighteen years, as chief, he has been conducting a school in his department, once every week, his system of schooling consisting of location of fire alarm boxes, fire hydrants, factories, school houses, etc., as well as knowledge of streets, avenues, etc., and the easiest way of reaching a fire in a given locality. He also instructs the men on conditions to le found in the way of equipment for fire purposes in the various factories, business buildings and schools of the city. In the past eighteen years he has divided his department into eight districts and has conducted a thorough inspection of all business places in the city. He instructs the firemen to examine basements for accumulations of rubbish, where it is often found, and to look for bad wiring, bad chimneys, rubbish in closets, hallways, garrets, etc., in fact any condition of a hazardous nature and he has the men make a written report to him of same.
House to House Inspection.
On April 1, of this year Chief Mesner started an effective house to house inspection of the entire city, as already reported in this journal. This inspection includes every building in the city and consists of determining the number of stories, construction of same, kind of roof, condition of chimneys, electrical wiring, etc., in fact a complete description of construction which is recorded by the firemen and turned in to the chief. To date, in every case of hazardous nature Chief Mesnar has then made a personal visit, giving instructions, as well as suggesting measures for bettering conditions and citing city as well as state ordinances to decrease the fire hazard. Chief Mesnar stated recently that the department was just about half through the city, the population of which is about 78,000 and up to that date the chief had personally inspected more than seven hundred places. He had, he said, found much bad electric wiring, defective flues, stoves, furnaces, rubbish in all parts of buildings as well as many other conditions which would be called hazardous from this standpoint of view.
Chief Mesnar also said: “I wish to
state that if the insurance people would come half way and help us along in our
city, as well as other cities, by making a thorough investigation of the risk before writing a policy, in my opinion there would be less fires throughout the country. If insurance companies would instruct their local agents in this manner 1 am satisfied there would be less fires to contend with. I know of many cases of over-insurance, and I have on record in my office many cases where insurance losses have been paid which amounted to much more than the actual loss,” and he added that these records can be seen at any time in his office. Chief Mesnar also declared that there should be no politics mixed up in any fire department, for when a man knows he is there for only a year or tw-o he does not take the proper interest in the department and make it what it should be.
Views on the Two-Platoon System.
Relative to two-platoons, Chief Mesnar said: “In regard to the tw-o-platoon system, it is my honest opinion that it is brought up and agitated merely for political purposes in many places. I do not believe this system is what it should be for one shift that is off duty will be around dance halls and other places of amusement, thus making them practically unfit for duty the following day. You know as well as I that an officer on the fire department in any city is expected to have his men full of energy in order to do duty.”
An ordinance in force defining rubbish, regulating the gathering and disposal of same, provided that: “It shall be the duty of the person, firm or corporation having the charge or control of any business house, office building, store, manufacturing plant, apartment house, or tenement house, within the limits of the City of Canton, to provide galvanized receptacles having tight fitting lids in which all rubbish in said building over which they have charge or control, shall be placed. And it shall be the duty of said person, firm or corporation to have said rubbish disposed of at frequent intervals and not permit said rubbish to accumulate in large quantities. Any person, firm or corporation violating any of fhe provisions of this ordinance shall, upon conviction, be fined in any sum not exceeding $25,000 together with costs of prosecution.
Storing of Petroleum Products.
An ordinance regulates the storing and handling of gasoline, naphtha and other similar pertoleum products. Its provisions include that no person shall store within the city limits any gasoline or naphtha in
a building used for any purpose, except when contained in a vapor proof supply tank of a gasoline engine, automobile, gasoline stove, or other appliance supplied with a vapor proof tank and except as provided in the ordinance, which says, in part, that all tanks, cans, drums or barrels or other receptacles in which gasoline or naphtha is stored or handled may be placed above ground if stored in a separate well ventilated box or building constructed of iron, concrete, stone or brick, not exceeding one story in height, with basement without sewer connections, which box or building shall be used exclusively for the storage of gasoline, naphtha or oil and shall be located not less than ten feet from any other building, and where there is no yard room gasoline or naphtha may be stored in iron or steel tanks placed underground, provided, however, that no gasoline or naphtha shall be stored in any place in the city without written permission from the chief of the fire department; that all tanks above ground, exceeding 200 gallons, must be not less than ten feet from any other building, separated by a fire wall not less than twelve inches thick, or at a distance not less than twenty feet from another building or combustible material. The tank or receptacle shall be set upon a substructure of iron, stone, cement or brick not to exceed 8 feet in height. The tank shall be made of iron or steel with gooseneck and pressure valve and with manholes at the top. A pipe line of iron, steel or brass or other suitable metal may be run to a warehouse or point of delivery and shall have a shutoff valve at the tank and at the delivery end, and to which shall be attached a pump approved by the National Board of Fire Underwriters, and which shall be used only for filling purposes. A pipe line may be run from the railroad sidetrack connecting with the storage tank for the purpose of unloading tank ears; provided, however, that nothing in the ordinance shall be construed to prohibit a manufacturer. bringing into bis factory in air light cans, iron barrels, or drums, snfficicnat material for his daily operative needs. All underground storage tanks shall be constructed of iron or steel, coated on the outside with rust-resisting material, and shall be placed at such points as may be approved by the chief of the fire department, and the tops shall be at least 21 inches under the ground. No tank shall be placed underground within the limits of the city with a greater capacity than 580 gallons. All tanks shall be 1-10 of an inch thick and each underground tank shall be provided with a vent pipe at least one inch in diameter running from the tank to an elevation of at least 12 feet along the side of a building with a shut-off valve af the top of said pipe. The filling pipe and offtake pipe may be extended into a building provided no fire or light excepting electric light installed in accordance with the National Electrical Code are used in the room where located.