FIRE PREVENTION METHODS
Texas has a strong State Fire Marshals’ Association, recently formed in Wichita Falls, with thirty charter members.
F. R. Morgaridge, acting States fire marshal of Illinois, has issued nine bulletins so far this year, dealing with fires in factories and in business houses, incendiary fires, inspections by firemen, moving picture theater hazards, etc. Mr. Morgaridge is preparing a bulletin on the storage of gasoline and other volatile o Is and on the storage and handling of dynamite and other explosives, the general results being to eliminate a number of very dangerous hazards to life and property.
At Muskegon, Mich., there seems to be a set of persistent violators of the law regarding the accumulation of rubbish. Some have been warned a score of times or more about cleaning up. These warnings have been followed by spasmodic and only very temporary pretences at doing the right thing, and within a week after the accumulation of paper boxes, waste paper and old rags has been removed it is succeeded by another just as bad. It this persistency in wrong-doing continues, prosecutions will follow.
There is an ordinance before the Wheeling, W. Va., council making it the duty of the fire chief to inspect, or to cause inspection of buildings, premises or public thoroughfares for the purpose of ascertaining and causing to be corrected any conditions liable to cause fire. It provides for the serving of notices of removal or correction whenever combustible or explosive matter, or dangerous accumulation of inflammable materials are discovered, and fixes penalties for failure to comply with such notices.
The city council of Newport, Ore., has divided the city into three fire districts and prescribed certain safeguards against fire to be observed within these limits. The only blocks affected are those in which business houses are situated. A fire commission is created, consisting of two councilmen and the chief of the volunteer fire department. This commission may refuse a permit ior the erection of any building within the fire limits, whose existence would increase by seven per cent, the insurance on neighboring buildings.
The Sheldon avenue school, in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been reported as lacking fire escapes and being, besides, a dangerous firetrap, because of the location of the boiler at the foot of the stairs through which 300 children must pass. Owing to the lack of escapes, very young children would be unable to get out of the building on an emergency (in any case, the school is overcrowded). because of the many turns in the stairway, from which they would land just where the fire would burn the fiercest.
An investigation is being begun at Grand Rapids into the electrical wiring and appliances in the large factories and many of the large stores of the city, in a large number of which it is suspected that much of the wiring and electrical work is done without securing a permit, as the building ordinance requires from the board of electrical examiners. The work is done by private electricians attached to these stores and factories without inspection and is, therefore, valueless. Wherever this is found to be the case, Fire Marshal Lemoin will order a protection.
In a booklet issued by Chief Ely, of Champaign. Ill., some valuable hints are given as to fire prevention. The following verses are found on the last page:
Only a little match-head.
Dropped on the closet floor;
Only a little apron.
Hanging beside the door;
Only a little creeping.
Up to the apron-strings;
Only a home in ashes!
Think of these little things!
Chief McDonnell, of the fire prevention bureau of Chicago, is to leave July 6 for a visit to Europe. He intends to revisit his old home in Ireland, but will make a special study of fire preventicn conditions in the European cities and countries for use in the growing worx of the fire prevention bureau. The passage of the new tax law by the legislature makes it certain that the bureau will have a larger amount ior its work, but this will not be available for some months to come, and so Chief McDonnell is making this visit now in order to obtain the best possible results when he gets his additional inspectors.
The Illinois lire Prevention Association has inspected seven towns since the beginning ot the year. They are as follows, with the inspections in demand and the defects noted for which correct ons have already been secured:
At the recent State convention at Wichita Falls, Tex., an address on “Fire Protection” was delivered by Assistant State Marshal Peninger, who that firemen could be of great assistance in preventing fires as well as in extinguishing them. He gave figures showing the heavy loss by fire in Texas last year, and how much of it was preventable. Resolutions were introduced and referred to a committee declaring that the $10,000,000 loss by preventable fires in Texas last year was too great, and that stronger efforts should be made along prevention lines, indorsing the work of State authorities and commending the Governor for setting aside a fire prevention day.
The office of State fire marshal of Indiana, being desirous to keep in closer touch than ever before with fires and fire losses in the State, has sent out blanks to be filled out by every chief, giving, among other details, the time, place and cause of the fire, the class and kind of building in which it occurred, conditions of tenancy, value of contents, amount of loss and insurance, and its condition. From the statistics thus obtained during a year or half a year the State department hopes to be able to draw conclusions as to the causes of most fires and how their occurrence can best be prevented. If the person whose duty it is to report a fire within his province within a reasonable time fails to do so. he renders himself liable to a fine of $25 or 30 days in prison in default of payment.
Muskegon, Mich., property owners are being served with notices by the State fire marshal to set their houses in order or to pull them down and in their stead build such as shall not be a menace to the safety of the city. On one man alone, notices were served that his five pieces ot property must be torn down or rendered safe from a fire-preventive standpoint. Throughout the State hundreds of such notices have been served on property owners. This is made possible under a new law passed last session by the legislature, giving the fire marshal’s department the right to a new law passed last session by the legislature, condemn property that is now a fire menace. Convictions can now be secured under the new law where owners of property fail to comply with the orders of the department.
The assistant State fire marshal of Michigan, assisted by the local fire chief, has made a thorough inspection of the city and caused a general clean-up. They inspected 150 buildings and found seventy defective, thirty-five of which were ordered to be torn down. The rubbish cleaned up in it was by no means confined to the poorer or the business sections, but was found also in the rear of some of the best residences in the city, showing great neglect on the part of these householders. In a congested portion of Kalamazoo was a three-story block on Seminary and East avenues, which had only one entrance in the rear, which is used by three families on the second floor and four on the third. The stairway was rickety and the build ng a firetrap. It was ordered to be made safe in every way; if not, it would be pulled down. The old Ox Bow dumping ground was also condemned “unofficially as being “not only very unsightly and unhealty and a fly-breeding place,” but, also, as within the city limits dangerous from a fire-protective standpoint.
A Montreal, Que., court decided and, on appeal the full Appellate Court of the province confirmed the decision that a casualty company may recover front the owner of a building the sum paid by it to a tenant who had suffered damage by reason of a defect in the construction of the structure. The Maryland Casualty Company had paid $786 under these conditions to a tenant of the St. Lawrence Realty Company, as the result of an accident caused by the breaking of the main pipe of a sprinkler system on premises insured against such damage and had brought suit against the Realty Company to recover the sum thus paid to the tenant, in the course of the hearing it was shown that the breaking of the sprinkler system pipe was directly due to the settling of the building, one of the main supporting beams having sunk to such an extent that it weighed down on the pipe and broke it. The court ruled that this subsidence of the beam was due to a defect in the foundation, hence the appellant company, as lessors, were responsible for all damages ensuing as a result of defects in the construction of the building.
At the recent convention of the American Society ot Mechanical Engineers, held at Baltimore, H. F. R. Porter, of New York City, in discussing “The Life Hazard in Crowded Buildings, Due to Inadequate Exits,” advocated legislation requiring that architects and builders be prohibited from designing buildings which cannot be empied within three minutes after a given signal. “The fire wall,” he said, “should be introduced in all buildings where the public congregate in large numbers. Moving-picture buildings and theaters should be redesigned. People come out of them by the way they go in, and, in case of emergency, aill crowd into the narrow aides. These aisles should he turned across the room and lead directly to courts opening on the street in a way that such streams of people will not collide. The various balconies and galleries should have foyers behind fire walls, with separate stairs and street exits, so that patrons will not have to mingle with those making their exit from the lower floors. Every school building should be divided by a fire wall providing a horizontal exit on each floor, so that the children will not have to be drilled to go downstairs in case of fire.”
The Milwaukee, Mis., municipal authorities, especially those connected with fire protective and fire preventive bureaus, will find themselves following the wiser course if they refrain from pushing too vigorously the provisions of the ordinances that look towards safely in construction and the prevention of fires. If they do not. they may be brought up with a round turn and put to the blush on account of their own shortcomings when reference is made to the quarters of the crew of Firchoat No. 15, at tne foot of Fast Water street, in which arc housed (or rather penned up), 12 firemen. These are compelled to live, as one of the city aldermen said the other day, “in conditions that are unfit for an animal.” According to this authority, these men exist “in a shack that is made of pine hoards and building paper. When it rains they have to spread tarpaulins over their beds to keep them dry, and, if it rains hard, they have to go on hoard the firchoat. * * * In the winter they had to shovel out snow that drifted in between the cracks. The heating is done by a small stove.” The building is about 18 by 94 feet, and it is supposed to “accommodate” 12 men. Sonic time ago a proposal was made to build proper quarters for the men. It fell through, and they are still obliged to put up with this unsanitary and inflammable fire trap.