Four Fires in Three Years.
To the Editor of FIRE AND WATER :
Having fallen upon days when the Boston papers teem with “full accounts of the great fire,” and when articles on oneheaded commissions and the efficiency of the fire department have become more numerous than interesting, it is refreshing to turn aside from the appalling results of our modern civilization and contemplate the blissful state of affairs existing in the “city of peace,” Jerusalem, as told by the special circular report on “Fire and Building Regulation in Foreign Countries,” issued by the Department of State.
The following excerpts are taken from the report, and to those underwriters who have been seriously considering abandoning the business of fire insurance to engage in the more lucrative one of peanut vending, they are respectfully dedicated :
The population of Jerusalem is 45,000, and the buildings are built almost universally of stone. In 1889 there were two alarms of fire ; in 1890, one ; in 1891, one. ‘During 1889 the two fires involved property worth $10,000, destroying it. All fires are confined to the buildings m which they originate, and the consul states there are no insurance companies and nothing is ever insured in Jerusalem.
The fire fighting is under the jurisdiction of the military department, and the report says: “When called upon, from soldiers take axes and march out just as they do when going to a parade. They never run to a fire. They have in the bar. racks, for use in the city, one tub, holding about half a barrel, and a little pump with ten or twenty feet of leather pipe. This steamer is never used, for they never have any water. When the soldiers get to a fire they smash up everything they can with their axes. It is probable that not one in a hundred of the soldiers stationed here (the garrison is changed every year) ever saw a fire, and when one occurs they simply do not know what to do. A photographer’s shop was burned in 1891, and soldiers stood within forty feet from the house and did not move from their tracks—did not even give an alarm. There is no water system whatever in Jerusalem. Shopkeepers are allowed to keep four cans (twenty gallons) of petroleum in their store at a time. The rest of their stock must be stored at a government house outside the walls and pay a certain sum per month for storage. ‘ Explosives ’ are not allowed to be kept by storekeepers.
There is no law regulating heating,’lighting,’etc. The city government has rules for buildings, but these refer solely to the external portions as relating to the rights of neighbors.”
BOSTON, April 24.