Fire Prevention Is Biggest Task
“When this department was organized a little over a year ago,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Eugene D. Stocker at Albany, a few days ago, “it looked as if the investigation of the causes of fires and the attempt to ferret out those of supposed incendiary origin and secure the punishment of the incendiaries would form a large part of its activities. While there is still much of that work to be done it is by no means the most important, nor does it take the most time. What will prove in time to he the most important work of the department will be to reduce to a minimum the preventable causes of fires and to afford the greatest protection to the lives of those who happen to be caught in a burning building. The law which was passed last year strengthened the department and the opinion given by Attorney General Thomas Carmody shows that we have the powers to enforce our decrees as to the protection of life. If he construes that law so as to give us the powers we think we have as to the care of explosives there will be a way by which much of the danger from fire may be eliminated. In reference to placing fire escapes on buildings we are to send out inspectors to look over factories and other buildings, and where it is found that the law is not being complied with orders will he issued which will accomplish the purpose. This department will co-operate with the labor department and the special factory investigating committee. The work of inspection will begin between now and September 1. If the attorney general holds that we have the authority the proper storage of explosives, particularly gasoline, will be taken up and rules formulated to reduce the danger. At present this explosive is kept within the building where it is sold. The possibilities of fire and explosion cannot be overestimated. If the law is not strong enough it should be amended, giving power to cope with the situation. In some garages there are tanks which hold as much as 500 gallons. The careless ignition of a match in one of these places might cause untold damage and loss of life. Just what disposition should be made of these tanks is an open question. My own idea is that they should be buried where there would be the least possible damage.”
Another matter which the department will take up is the inspection of boilers. Governor John A. Dix recently approved a resolution placing additional inspectors in the exempt class. But as the appropriation to pay them is not available until after October 1 the appointments will not be made until that time. To educate the people to a realizing sense of the importance of the new department to them, particularly in view of the enlarged scope which the work has assumed, is being taken care of by Deputy George F. Roesch and Mr. Stocker. Mr. Roesch and Mr. Stocker have been on a tour of the state talking to different organizations. It is the belief of the officials of the department that when its work is thoroughly understood and its importance realized its scope will he further enlarged.