Fire Prevention in Toledo
Organized fire prevention work carried on in Toledo, Ohio, is administered by two agencies. While the per capita fire loss in 1925 was much smaller than in many other cities of the same size, the $1,219,821 conflagration loss still exceeds the amount which it is possible to establish. Through its 7,380 inspections of buildings last year the city performed practically the only preventive work on the part of the municipal governmen. Probably the agency doing the greatest amount of fire prevention work is the Ohio Inspection Bureau, through its insurance rating service. Last year the inspectors of this bureau surveyed in Toledo nearly 3,000 buildings, all of which were wholly or partially occupied for business or industrial purposes. During the year there were 5,243 hazardous conditions found by the inspectors, for which they made an added charge in determining the insurance rates. Most of the offenders of fire preventive etiquette are found in the class called “Light,” which numbered 2,125. Most of these were due to faulty electric wiring and the use of electric equipment installed in an unsafe manner.
It is generally conceded that sound fire preventive work involves two principles. In the first place there should be regular and careful inspection of all buildings in the city, and the inspection department should have the power to enforce the fire preventive rules and regulations. At the present time the fire department conducts its inspections intermittently. Only in the case of buildings equipped with automatic sprinkler systems are regular inspections conducted by the Ohio Inspection Bureau. But quite regularly the state fire marshal and the building inspector examine the theatres and other public gathering places.
The great advantage in having buildings surveyed by regular firemen is that it familiarizes them with the buildings in their districts. If serious hazards are discovered by the firemen in these surveys, the owner could be forced to remove such conditions through the general police power. It might be impossible for the department to enforce minor recommendations relative to decreasing the fire hazard in the absence of ordinances to that effect, but it is different with the Ohio Inspection Bureau, whose recommendations are usually carried out because it is to the owner’s financial advantage to do so, as a reduction in fire insurance rates may result. Last year the bureau was able to secure about two thousand improvements conducive to a lessened fire hazard. The chief improvements secured were as follows:
Chemical extinguishers installed, 337; no smoking signs placed, 572; change in roofs, 150; waste, refuse and rubbage cans installed, 242; water cans or pails installed, or made standard, 118. The National Board of Fire Underwriters, and the National Fire Protective Association have recommended the establishment of a fire preventive bureau in connection with the fire department. Toledo has a population of 288,000. The fire department consists of 19 fire stations, 42 companies, 420 firemen.