FIRE PROTECTION AT TAUNTON.
The population of Taunton, Mass., is close upon 34,000, which is spread over a fire-area of 26,500 or more acres. Owing to there being practically no building laws, although the fire-limits are defined. every man builds as seems right in his own eyes. As a result, there is a superabundance of wooden structures overtopped with wooden roofs. For the same reason, as the regulations concerning explosives and inflammables are mainly in the hands of the State police, and the laws governing their storage and sale are altogether inadequate, were it not that the local conditions of the city are fair, and the inspections bv the fire department adequate, if few in number, the danger of fire from this source would be considerable. Another source of danger is that of electricity. It is true that the municipality has the control of it. and the management is efficient, so far as it goes. But the city electrician has too many other duties to perform, and there are no laws to direct him— his sole source of guidance being a modified form of the National Klectrival code, whose provisions are solely advisory, not mandatory from a legal standpoint. Installations, therefore, are made after a happy-go-lucky fashion and virtually left to take care of themselves. There is, also, too much old wiring, and the condition of the new stuff is only fair. Overhead wires, likewise, form a great obstacle to the fire department when operating at a fire. All these are serious disadvantages and greatly increase the severe conflagration-hazard in several blocks and groups of blockin the congested-value district. It may fairly be said that it is mainly due to the fact of the fire do partment being efficient and of there being several wide streets and a large square that fires, as a rule, do not spread beyond one district. The city presents no obstacles to the fire department making good time, in running to a fire. The ground is level: the streets are of fair width, paved in the principal districts, and of dirt (sometimes a hindrance to the apparatus in winter and bad weather) elsewhere. The lire department is composed of full paid and part paid call men and volunteers. Its numbers are large; but there should be more full paid men. The management is efficient, though the drills are too few in number. The discipline is good; but it is liable to be upset at any time, owing to the objectionable feature that the city officers’ tenure of office is for short terms. The men turn out very promptly in answer to alarms sent in over a Gamewell fire-alarm system of the automatic type. It is in fair condition; but owing to the multifarious duties of the superintendent, the supervision is poor. The system is imperfect in other respects. The lieadquarters building is non-fireproof and contains serious hazards. The firehouses lack tape registers; the call men are not properly notified. The boxes themselves are satisfactory, except in the use of the brush contact and detached keys on many. There are no red lights to indicate the location of the boxes. and key signs are missing on some. The spacing is only fair, and the circuits are overhead and on poles with high-tension wire. The circuits, how ever, are well interlaced in important sections; but some are very much overloaded. The tests are fairly satisfactory, and the system, as a whole, except that there is no department telephone sys tern, is reliable enough as to the apparatus. There are. engines enough; but they are of too small capacity or in too poor condition to stand a satis factory test. As they respond only to second alarms, it is thought sufficient to send back the horses that have hauled the pieces of apparatus on the first alarm. This, of course, is an objectionable feature and gives rise to delay just when the services of the steamers are most needed. The hose wagons are in good condition; but all are not provided with chemical tanks. The hose The ladder service is satisfactory. Two houses is in fair condition, but too limited in amount, are very poorly arranged and the horses not all fit for the service. The minor equipment is poor. The discipline is good. The fire methods are fair. Reports and recommendations arc good, and the department is fairly efficient. The water supply is ample and available in sufficient quantities in tinmost important sections. The works are owned, operated and efficiently managed by the municipality. The source is a natural pond from which the water is pumped to another pond, whence it flows by gravity to the main pumping station, and is furnished to the city by direct pumpage. The supply main to the pumping station is ade quate for present needs, and the auxiliary supply available from the river through the filter-basin. The pumping capacity is inadequate to insure a safe supply under possible adverse conditions. The consumption is moderate; the pressures are satisfactory; the main arteries and secondary feeders are of adequate size and well arranged. A large proportion of distributing mains are 6-in. or less in diameter. The gate-valves are fairly well spaced, but are not regularly inspected. The hydrants are of fairly satisfactory type and in good condition; the spacing, however, is too wide in some sections.