FIRE PROTECTION AT ERIE.

FIRE PROTECTION AT ERIE.

Chief John J. McMahon, Erie, Pa.

The most pressing necessity existing at present at Erie, Pa., is to make its fire department permanent and full paid and abolish the call system, under which it is now being operated, as the city has long outgrown the present method of conducting a fire department. The engine companies are now composed of eight men, five of whom are regular and fully paid. The stoker of each engine company and two of the call pipemen are call men, and are only partly paid. The five regular men of each engine company are allowed by ordinance one day off in every ten. With one of these men on his day off and another on his meal hour, it leaves only one man in charge of each apparatus to respond to fires. Efficient service, therefore, cannot be expected, as long as the department is operated under the present system. If it cannot be made full paid, it should at least be so arranged that the fire commissioners might reduce a portion of the call force each year until the whole department is permanent and full naid. There is also absolute need of a new fire headquarters, as has been previously recommended. At least one fireboat is also called for to protect the shipping interests, as well as the means for maintaining and operating a new hook and ladder truck purchased some years ago, but never put in service. It is also recommended that ordinances be enacted extending the fire-limits in such portions of the city as are already built up; also, prohibiting wooden roofs to be put on buildings in certain congested parts of the city. The adoption of proper laws governing this recommendation, would greatly diminish the conflagration-hazard, and would cause a reduction of the insurance rates in this city. Proper laws should also be enacted regulating and governing the use and storage of explosives, before some great calamity happens through this often repeated recommendation being neglected. During the year the fire department, which is under the command of Chief John J. McMahon, answered 210 alarms, the loss at which was $22,788.76. insured for $1,461,325. The number of alarms answered during 1905-06 was 173; in 1904-06, 205. The number in 1906-07 beat every previous record since the present department was established in 1878. During the year there were three fire-escapes erected under the direction of the department and 175 inspec -tions of mercantile and other business buildings were made with a view of preventing fires, thereby causing alterations to be made in electric wiring, gas-connections, stoves, furnaces, doors, chimneys, and the storage of combustibles, and, also, causing a general cleaning up of the premises where it was necessary. The personnel of the department consists of eighty-six officers and men, of whom fifty-three arc uniformed and full paid, and thirty-three call men, partly paid. The chief is John J. McMahon; assistant chief, M. J. Duerncr. There are eleven captains (ten being also drivers of hose wagons) ; engineers (one relief), nine; drivers (one for chief), three; tillerman; ladderman, with four call men; firemen (paid, twenty-seven, call men, 19), fortysix ; stokers, eight. The apparatus with hose is as follows: Engines, nine; hose wagons, nine (one in reserve) ; combination chemical and hose; hook and ladder trucks (Hayes, 70-ft. and 60-ft.), two; chemical engine (Holloway); two 60-gal. tanks; hose—in good condition, 6,400 ft.; in fair condition, 4,325 ft.; in poor condition, 9,770 ft.; chemical hose, in good condition; 700 ft.— total hose in use 21,195 ft. During the past year the department traveled 1,150.79 miles; laid 70,395 ft. of hose; raised 2,455 ft. of ladders. There were six incendiary fires and eleven of unknown origin. Eight alarms were unnecessary; ten owed their origin to carelessness with matches; fifteen to gas stoves; twenty to foul chimneys; eleven to overheated stoves; “set afire purposely,” twenty; bonfires, six; sparks from locomotives, twenty; sparks from chimneys, ten; electric light wires, six; the balance from the usual causes.

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