FIRES IN MARYLAND.

FIRES IN MARYLAND.

In the second annual report to Governor Lowndes, Mr. E. J. Lawyer, Maryland State fire marshal, shows that during the past seventeen months the total number of fires throughout the State was 2,404. The loss was $1,192,514.50. The whole insurable risk upon the property damaged, including buildings and contents, was $5,099,809.56. The amount of insurance paid was $967,851.05. The uninsured loss was $224,663.45.In the counties there were 782 fires, causing a total loss of $647,717.99, while the uninsured loss was $180,650.50. The number of incendiary fires was eighty-nine. Mr. Lawyer belives that, if the power of the fire marshal were increased, and if he were permitted to have a sufficient force at his command to investigate thoroughly and promptly every fire that occurs within the State, the number might still further be reduced and the crime of incendiarism might become a rarity. Mr. Lawyer says that Maryland is peculiarly situated as to fire protection. Outside of Baltimore city the fire service is exclusively volunteer. This service has been strengthened through the organization known as the Maryland State Firemen’s association. The amount of damage done by lightning in Maryland during the period closing September 30, 1897, was extremely large—fires reported as due to lightning numbered seventy-six. The loss by them was$i76,875.43. Three were in Baltimore city, in June and August, 1896, and in August, 1897. The loss by them was $120,218.93. Thirtysix persons died by fire during the seventeen months. The great majority of these fatalities have been due to explosions of gasolene stoves. There are at the present time numerous dead wires in the city of Baltimore that Mr Lawyer says should be removed, as they are a menace to both life and property, and an ordinance should be made and passed to compel the removal of all such wires. I would recommend (concluded Mr.Lawyer) that the legislature incorporate within the fire marshal law a section giving authority to the marshal, his deputy or aides, fire chiefs, mayors, burgesses, and constables, in their respective jurisdictions in the State, to take steps for the prevention of dangerous inflammable conditions on any ptemises.

FIRES IN MARYLAND.

FIRES IN MARYLAND.

State Fire Marshal Jackson, of Maryland, in his first annual report is not far wrong in claiming that, since the actual property loss by fire during the past twelve months has been less than one-half of that for the corresponding period last year, the creation of the office of state fire marshal has at least greatly (if it has not entirely) contributed to the good work. The total number of special investigations made during 1894 was 160, of which more than one-half were in Baltimore; two of these last, one in the northern annex of the city and the other in the resspectabie residential portion, calling for investigation, the outcome of which he considers lias more than justified the creation of the office and its whole cost. In his report Fire Marshal Jackson touches upon kerosene standards, the heating apparatus in modern houses, and the frequent fires reported in haystacks and barns. As to the kerosene standards, be severely animadverts upon the fact that the coal oil which is commonly sold throughout the state is of too low a grade, and therefore of a much more dangerous character than is allowed in Baltimore—a very perilfraught condition of affairs, and one which does not benefit the consumer, who pays nearly the same price for the more inflammable article and takes a bigger risk. With respect to the heating apparatus in modern houses, Mr. Jackson has but scant regard for the regulations that govern their use. He recommends a special system of inspection, with penalties attached for non-observance, in order to lessen the danger. The construction of the cheaper grade of gasoline stoves likewise he looks upon as a constant source of danger. In considering the subject of the frequent fires in haystacks and barns during the period that follows the storing of the hay, the Are marshal has devoted much time to ascertaining their cause. His opinion is that they are all traceable to spontaneous combustion, of which the cause is not ordinary dampness arising from the effects of humidity in the atmosphere, rain, or cold, but fermentation produced by the moisture remaining when the grass has not been thoroughly dried; hay properly cured not being liable to spontaneous combustion. Twenty-two persons were arrested during the year charged with the crime of wilful burning, and the evidence in a number of these cases was necessarily largely circum stanfial, hence conviction was not an invariable result.