FIRE PROTECTION OF BAY CITY.
FOR a city of between 35,000 and 40,000 inhabitants, Bay City, Mich, has every reason to be proud of its fire department, of which Thomas K. Harding is the chief. Its record in the matter of extinguishing fires and economy of operating may safely challenge comparison with that of any other in the country. For sixteen years past only one fire—the great conflagration of July 2(5, 1802, when more than forty squares were burned over—has extended to an adjoining building or adjacent property. All have been confined to the place of origin. This has been due to the skilful methods adopted by Chief Harding, as well as to the pluck, promptness, and energy of his officers and men, assisted, of course, in no small degree by the efficient Game well firealarm telegraph system, which Chief Harding rightly looks upon as the “most complete system of fire telegraphy in existence ” The economy of operating is shown from the fact that out of the appropriation of $27,629 for the department during the fiscal year, only $26,718.05 was spent—leaving a balance of $910.95 in favor of the city, ‘rims the expense of operation did notexceed ninety-eight cents per capita— a showing not equaled by more than one-half dozen cities in the United States. During the year there were 183 alarms of Are, involving a lose of $73,418.18 The manual force of t he department consists of chief engineer; assistant chief engineer; two district engineers; nine captains; seven lieutenants; twentythree hoeemen, laddermen, and drivers—making a toted of forty-three men—two of the captains being district engineers. They are divided into six hose companies, two truck companies, and one chemical company.
The six stations of the department, illustrations of which accompany this article, art* all substantially built structures and in good repair, with theexception of Nos. 3 and 0 houses. Within the houses are placed the following apparatus: Six hose carriages, two hose wagons, one chemical engine, two trucks, and two steamers. There are alsoin the department, for winter use, eight sets of sleighs and one cutter. Of hose there are 7,400 feet of cotton which is first-class; 2,750 of rubber, and 500 of cotton, poor; 1,200 of rubber and cotton, 600 of rublier, and 500 of cotton, unserviceable.
During the past sixteen years there have been 2,160 alarms of fire, involvingaloss of $2,048,669.85. Chief Harding recommends the purchase of a new hose wagon similar to that purchased last year, a first-class aerial, turn-table truck, long enough to reach the top windows of the highest blocks and hotels in the city, to be equipped with all modern appliances for fighting fire and saving life—this cannot be done at present, as the largest ladders at present in the department will not reach the required height. Chief Harding animadverts severely on the fact that while many of the business blocks in the city have fire escapes on them,
some are totally inadequate and insecure, being constructed in such a flimsy manner that they will hardly more than carry their own weight, let alone being used for either life-saving purposes or for carrying lines of hose and a number of firemen while fighting fire 1 know of cases where those so-called flreescapes, made of one-half-inch gas pipe, have broken in pieces at the joints, where corrosion has taken place, when tested Were they all made solid, as our best escapes are constructed, they would undoubtedly fill the bill where located on a block; but a fire is not always an accommodating agent It frequently cuts off all escapes, and some other avenue and egress must be provided. The recent appalling hotel and factory tires which have taken place in different parts of the country have awakened municipal authorities who have not these appliances to the necessity of their introduction. A piece of apparatus such us 1 speak of will be of inestimable value in the business portion of the city, both us a fire-fighter and life-saver. I ask you to call to mind the number of blocks which are beyond our reach with such ladders as we have, full of tenants, customers, and guests in the top stories, and contemplate the results should the elevators and escapes be cut off by fire.
The report gives portraits of the members of the fire commission of Bay City, of the different fire houses, and of Chief Harding—all of which are reproduced in this impression of FIRE AND WATER.
While the family of Dr. Amory, of Bar Harbor, Me., were at luncheon, they were routed out of the house by a fire which was caused by a defective flue, The loss was $17,000; insurance $10,000. The fire department was telephoned for, but was slow in arriving. Meanwhile Dr. Amory and his son did what th could by attaching small hose to the water pijjes. When the engine and hose cart arrived, the one hose had to be attached to a hydrant a quarter of a mile away. All the furniture and valuables were saved.