GREAT HARDSHIP EXPERIENCED IN FIGHTING WINTER FIRES
Specially Reported for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING
The winter just past has been even more than ordinarily prolific in fires of every sort, all of which have presented corresponding difficulties to the firemen in the way of reaching them and operating at them on arriving at the scene. What the sufferings of these brave men have been none can tell but themselves, and they would be the last to complain. The accompanying illustrations will give some very faint idea of thes severe fires and what hardship the firemen had to endure.
On February 12 there was an early fir” in a South Third street overall factory, Philadelphia. The building was of brick, five stories high, and was filled with workpeople. The blaze started on the second floor, and the employes, men and women. on the two floors immediately above it had time to escape very hurriedly and nearly all hare headed, coatless and jacketless into the street, with the exception of one man. On the fifth floor, however, the twenty workpeople, finding their escape cut off, were about to jump from the windows, when they were halted by the firemen. One man on the fourth floor, who could easily have got down with the rest, jumped from the fire escape and came down headfirst to the sidewalk, fracturing his skull so badly that death ensued in a few minutes. Several firemen ascended the five flights of stairs in the adjoining building and broke open a window parallel with, and only about five feet from the escape upon which the frightened men and women huddled. Reaching across, the firemen took turns in grasping the hands of the workers and pulled them one by one to safety. They then set to fight the flames, which had meanwhile gained such headway that all that could he done was to save the adjoining buildings. The hardships the firemen endured at this midwinter fire can he imagined by a glance at the accompanying illustrations specially made for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING from photographs taken on the spot. The men’s clothes crackled with the ice that formed upon them, and icicles hung from their hats. Their apparatus was incrusted with ice; the ladders were so slippery as to render the ascent with the hose or the descent with their living freight a work of the greatest danger. The hose was covered with a coat of glass and frozen so stiff that the firemen could not handle it or return it to the hose wagons, and those who witnessed the scene were confronted with a spectacle that told more eloquently than words the tale of the difficulties the fireman has to encounter in the pursuit of his calling.
The cut of another fierce midwinter fire in Boston objectively tells the same tale. It took place on the night of Saturday, February 23, in the area in the rear of the establishment of the Baldwin & Robbin company, wholesale hardware merchants of Pearl street in that city, and caused a loss of about $150,000. In the language of the firemen, it was a “tough blaze.” Three alarms were sounded, and a fourth at the end of four hours, as the department was afraid the fire would get out of the building. As may be seen from the illustration, a great volume of water was used, both from front and hack; hut it did not seem to reach the fire, as it kept bursting out repeatedly from the different floors and the roof. It was right in the heart of the dangerous district, and numerous had explosions added to the dangers to which the firemen were exposed. The worst showing was in the rear, where, also, tinmen were exposed to the greatest risks. They presented a curious spectacle, with ice crackling on the back of their coats in the rear and water from the heat of the flames pouring down their persons in front. The same scene was constantly exhibited in an even more aggravated form during this winter in Milwaukee, Toronto and other cities in the Northwest of Canada and the United States. But, so far as such hardships go, each fireman is a Gallio—he cares for no such things, hut takes them all as in the day’s work.