Furniture Storage Warehouse Burned in Battle Creek
The Sanatorium Furniture Warehouse, a 15-year-old, four-story, wooden structure, 36×150 feet, in the northwestern part of Battle Creek, Mich., took fire, it is supposed, from defective wiring, and provided a spectacular blaze until subdued, after a five-hour battle by the fire-fighting force of the city, under Chief W. P. Weeks. The fire started at the bottom of the elevator shaft, and shot up to the third floor, where it spread out. The first alarm was a verbal one by a citizen who saw the fire in passing; the second a phone message to the central station, and, last of all, a general alarm at 6.03. The night watchman had not come on duty, and the building was unguarded at the time the fire broke out. The alarm brought out twenty-eight of the thirty-four men of the department, under Chief W. P. Weeks, and they found the whole of the top floor in flames, and the fire bursting through the roof when they arrived. The apparatus on hand consisted of four type 12 pumping engines, one type 14 service truck and one combination hose, all American-LaFrance. Two of the pumpers worked three hours and did excellent service. Of the six available hydrants, three 3-way 4 1/2-inch were used, 350 feet apart, with pressure at 60 pounds, from 6-inch water mains. Five engine and two hydrant streams were thrown from 1 1/2-inch nozzles, 4,200 feet of cotton rubber-lined hose being laid. One Cooper hose jacket was used at couplings with satisfactory results. One deluge set was of great assistance in fighting the flames. This was the first real test that the motor apparatus had had in actual service, and they stood up well. One pumper had three and the other two streams going continuously for three hours without pause. The strong breeze sent sparks over the nearby houses, and the firemen again and again flooded the roofs with their heavy streams, thus preventing the spread of the fire to the residential section and the sanatorium, adjoining the building on fire. A panic among the inmates of this institution was averted by the coolness of the attendants, who kept a knowledge of the danger from the patients. The value of the building was $18,000, with loss of $6,500, and of the contents, furniture in storage, both old and new, $27,000, with a loss of $14,500.
Former Commissioner Adamson, of New York, says that the American people can reduce their fire losses by from $150,000,000 to $250,000,000 annually. He points out that insurance companies fulfill a very necessary and valuable function in the community, but they do not replace destroyed wealth or property. They simply enable the community in which property is burned to combine their saving and to go on laboring to produce more property. Insurance companies are vitally interested, however, in fire prevention and have done what they can to educate owners of large buildings in fire prevention. But the average man is very difficult to teach in this respect. The result is that “buildings burned in one year in the United States would line a street from New York to Chicago.”
Pittsfield, Mass., council has raised the salaries of every member of the fire department. The chief was given an increase of $150 per year.