FIRE PROTECTION IN FACTORIES
The recent tragic fires in the Peabody school and the Brooklyn and Pittsburgh factories prove anew the need of fire protection and fire prevention. In Wisconsin, although we have fortunately escaped any large catastrophe, about 100 lives are lost through fire every year. The economic loss is even greater; the total cost of fire in Wisconsin is as great as if a city like Beloit or La Crosse or Green Bay were wiped off the map every year. Experience has shown that fire escapes on the outside of a building will not always save the people within, and that a fire department cannot always save the building or the citv from destruction. When a fire gets a good start, especially if the wind is strong, hose streams will not stop it. The only way that we can secure real safety is by fire prevention. The best protection against fire is exactly the same as the best protection against accidents; namely, carefulness and good order. Carelessness with matches, cigars, etc., and accumulations of rubbish, are responsible for more than half of all fires. Fhe next most frequent cause is defective heating and lighting equipment, including boilers and furnaces, smokepipes, chimneys, steam and hot air pipes, gas lights and electric wiring. The third point which requires attention is proper equipment for extinguishing small fires. This may take the form of water pails or extinguishers; the best extinguisher, however, is the automatic sprinkler. Another important consideration is the construction of the building. It is not possible or necessary to make all buildings fireproof, but a little care in the design and arrangement will greatly decrease the danger of a serious fire. Among other things the boiler room and other special hazards should be shut off by incombustible walls; stairs and elevators should be enclosed in similar walls or partitions; large floor areas should be divided by fire walls; concealed air spaces should be avoided; if the floors are of wood, “mill construction” with large beams spaced several feet apart is much better than the ordinary construction where small joists are placed close together. It is also important that proper exits be provided because even the most carefully managed and best constructed factory is never quite free from the danger of fire. The best exit is a stairway enclosed with brick walls and fire doors, or a door through a fire wall into another building or section. If an outside fire escape is necessary, it should be substantially built, with easy stairs and good railings. In many actual fires, persons have been unable to use the escape because of flames issuing from doors or windows below; therefore all such doors should be fire doors and the windows should have wire glass. Lastly, every large factory should have a fire drill to insure against panic. Certain men should also be chosen as a fire brigade and should be assigned definite duties in the event of fire. For example, one man will close the fire doors, others will man the extinguishing apparatus, etc. Fire protection along these lines ts coming to he recognized as a necessary part of the equipment and organization of every large factory. Such fire protection is a good business investment because it not only protects the lives of the occupants, but also protects the building and its contents. Every city should put a stop to the construction of unsafe buildings, in order both to protect the lives of the people and to protect the city itself against conflagration. Experts agree that the great Salem fire, from which it will take the city many years to recover, was due largely to unrestricted poor building construction. Even if a city escapes Salem’s fate, flimsy buildings are had because they require ever increasing expenditures for the fire-fighting department.