Fire Protection for Public Schools.
Charles G. Smith, secretary of the GermanAmerican Insurance company, of New York, in answer to a request for an expression of his opinion concerning the question of protecting public schools with automatic sprinklers, says that all possible measures should be adopted for the protection of the lives of children who attend the public schools. Many of the schools throughout the country, in cities as well as small towns, he looks upon as veritable tirctraps, as viewed from the present standard of safe structures, and a complete equipment of reliable automatic sprinklers, adequately supplied with water sufficient in quantity and pressure, is the most reliable internal protection against destruction of life and property by fire. Wherefore, not only public schools, but private schools and colleges as well, housing—say, more than fifty pupils or students, should be provided with suitable automatic sprinkler protection. The possibilitites of death and injury from panic as a result of fire under conditions similar to those of the Boycrlown theatre should not be underestimated. In that case, the fire broke out, so to speak, almost in the midst of the audience, yet the control of the blaze by water from automatic sprinklers, he believes, would have enabled the audience to escape without such appalling loss of life. In the case of the Collin wood schoolhouse, the fire having started in the basement, automatic sprinklers would undoubtedly have held the blaze in check sufficiently at least for all of the occupants of the building to have escaped without injury. Asylums, hospitals and other similar buildings, where people congregate in large numbers, should also be provided with automatic sprinklers, without regard to the particular manner in which the buildings are constructed. The necessity for such internal protection is, of course, far greater with respect to frame buildings and buildings of non-fireproof construction. As compared with theatres, where people vojuntarily pay for the privilege of assembling, little or no provision has been made for the safety of human life in many other classes of buildings where people are compelled to congregate. “It would be a humane act for the legislatures and municipal bodies to enforce such regulations as would eliminate as far as possible the danger of fire to life, particularly to the lives of helpless children and invalids, and the use of automatic sprinklers, properly installed, would be an effective means towards this end. In installing automatic sprinklers every part of the building should be equiped, except where it is a practical impossibility, in which case the places of greatest danger should be covered—such as, for instance, in a schoolhouse, the basement and cellar, boilerrooms and all places where heating or other apparatus using fire are installed, storerooms, corridors, stairways, janitors’ rooms, attics, lockers or clothesrooms, and all concealed places.”