GREATER NEW YORK FIRE GOSSIP.
London congratulates itself that since 1855 up to the present time there have been only seven large theatres burned within its limits. New York shows a long list of 120 such fires between January 1, 1891, and October 1, 1897, thirty five of which, including that of the Metropolitan opera house, involved a loss of $336,804—a costly average of of nearly $9,100 apiece. That worse results did not ensue in the case of the other theatres was due to the services of the firemen on duty in the theatre and the prompt attendance of the fire department. The records of the Tariff Association show how uncertain these theatre risks are. Outside of the Metropolitan opera house, the losses in 1892 were only $275, while in 18Q3 they amounted to quite $22,300. In 1894 there were no losses; but in 1895 the total was $4,560, while last year it was only $567. Up to the present time they have reached the sum of $87 only. The insurance companies, however, notwithstanding the comparatively small losses of the last eight years or so, refuse to reduce their rates upon theatres—apparently on the very ground of this uncertainty as to the risks.—There are now three instead of two fire divisions in the city, each one of which is presided over by a deputy chief. The first includes all the territory below Thirteenth street, and is under the command of Deputy Chief Gicquel. The second includes that part of the city between Thirteenth and Forty-third streets, and is in the command of Deputy Chief Purroy.a brother of the county clerk. The third division includes all that part of the city above Forty-third street, and is in charge of the senior deputy chief, F. J. Reilly— Several officials in the fire department have just had their salaries raised an account of merit. Inspector Thomas of the telegraph bureau, had his salary advanced from $t,8oo to $2,000; the salary of Chief Inspector George Farrel was advanced from $2,200 to $2,500; of Lineman J. J. Coffin from $900 to $1,000; and of William II. Underwood, stenographer, from $1,200 to $1,500.—The firebug Zuker will have to serve his thirty-five years, less the commutation for good behavior, as the court of Appeals has affirmed the judgment of conviction against him. It will be remembered that Zuker was a cloakmaker, and was convicted for setting fire to. and burning on January 4, 1892, the dwelling-houses Nos. 564 and 266 Division street. No. 264, which was owned by Zuker, was not worth more than $500; but it was insured for $5,000. There was no insurance on the contents. On the trial the People introduced evidence showing that the fire was set by Morris Schoenholz, now serving a sentence of fortyeight years’ imprisonment in Sing Sing, at the instigation of Zuker and Max Blum, who, by the name of John Blum, was jointly indicted with Zuker.—There were last year 4,649 stables in this city, in which were housed 73,746 horses. Stables and the storage of the provender consumed in them, have always been a dangerous risk in the eyes of fire insurance men; but, owing to recent legislation, such risks are now very much less feared. By the law as now enforced, the storage of loose or unbaled hay or straw in any tenement house is forbidden, and what is so stored in the way of baled hay and straw must not exceed twenty-five bales of the former and fifteen of the latter; nor must either of these nor any feed be kept under the stairs in any tenement house. Whatever lights are used must be adequately protected, nor is any smoking allowed. Stores must be surrounded by, and inclosed in a portable sheetiron pocket for at least three-quarters of their bulk, and must stand on a sheet of zinc or iron. The stables themselves must be more or less fireproof. The good results of this legislation have been seen in the decrease in the number of stable fires in New York during the past two years—the saving in losses being even greater.—The total of the fire department budget as made out by the board of estimate is $1,841,433. Among the items was an addition of $20,000 to the office force for the employment of civilian clerks and the returning of detailed firemen to duty. To the chief’s payroll. $r4,ooo was added. There will be 120 men to be provided for on the uniformed force, fifty-five for filling short companies below Fifty-ninth street, and sixty-six for six new companies to occupy new fire houses.—J. Roth formerly deputy building commissioner of Brooklyn,writes strongly in favor of extending the fire limits of that city. lie says that on Broadway, from Flushing avenue to Stone street, a distance of over two miles, the centre of the Brooklyn Broadway forms the boundary line of the fire limits, by which the erection of cheap frame structures is permitted on one side and prohibited on the other.—Another brave fireman has died at his post and,as constantly happens, while engaged in fighting a fire of apparently the most trifling sort, where the risks were unaccompanied with any sensational surroundings. A slight cellar blaze on East Fourteenth street threatened the safety of sixteen families in the tenement house. The men who were sent into the cellar to extinguish the fire were Assistant Foreman Thomas E. Head and Firemen James G. Davis, Peter Donnelly,and Martin J. Oakley, jr., a brother of Alderman Oakley, all of engine company No. 5. On entering the cellar they encountered a choking mixture of smoke and gas—the latter so bad that none could breathe it and live. Till truck No. 7 came up there was no means of turning off the gas, and the four men were immediatlly overcome by the fumes. Oakley lost consciousness at once and fell ; but the smoke enveloped him, and a quarter of an hour elapsed before he was found. lie was, of course, perfectly insensible. The Rev. C. C. Le Baron Johnson and the Rev. N. B. Carey, curates of Grace chapel, had the four men brought into the chapel di«pensary, where every attention was paid them by Miss F. M. Linton, the head nurse, and others connected with the institution. Ambulances and Roman Catholic priests were sent for; the latter, the Rev. John E. Edwards, rector of the church of the Immaculate Conception, and his assistant, the Rev. Mr. Breslin, administering the last rites to Oakley, over whom many doctors worked for nearly two hours—but in vain, as he died in the dispensary. He leaves a wife and two children, to whom Mr. Johnson, at the request of the firemen, broke the sad news. Head and Donnelly were taken to Bellevue and Davis to the New York hospital. Donnelly was soon revived; but the other two men were for some time in a very critical condition. Lieut. Skelly, of truck No. 7, Acting Chief Maher, Engineer Walsh, and Fireman McCabe, of engine No. 5, were the rescuers of tbeirj brother firemen. It would seem better for the future that the engine companies likewise should b« provided with the means to turn off the gas ; that none should go down into a cellar unprovided with smoke protectors; and that for cellar fires a cellar pipe should always by used, when possible.— A magnificent act of bravery was that of Fire ‘Patrolmen Kelly, Leonard, and Cleveland at a fire at 255 East Ninetyfifth street. Escape for the tenants by the stairway had been cut off and many of them were huddled together on the rear fire escape. These men, with two policemen, were on the roof, Cleveland having taken a small stepladder with him. With the ladder Cleveland threw himself full length face downwards, his feet being held by one of the other firemen, whose feet were in turn held by the policemen. Cleveland let himself down over the edge of the building suspended at full length, and holding the ladder in front of him. A mother and her little daughter, the latter with her doll, had the ladder lowered to them, lie grasped it,and she and her child climbed up it over Cleveland’s body and were saved. It was a life chain made up of brave men. Unfortunately one life was lost; but that was no fault of the firemen, for Cleveland had no sooner resumed his natural position than he started down the building through the smoke by way of the scuttle, at the bottom of which his foot touched the dead body of a woman. His coolness and pluck deserve ail he can get in the way of credit and reward.
Brooklyn’s only woman boss barber was considerably discomfited last week by the explosion of a kerosene stove in an office above her—that of the Lawson Manufacturing Company, 25 Willoughby street. At noon she and her two assistants were busily engaged in shaving some young men, when a small boy popped his head into the shop and yelled “ fire.” At the same time flames and smoke came down from the second floor. The young men. young women, and Mrs. Leland. the boss barbaress herself, stood not upon the order of their going, but went at once pell-mell into the street, the customers only half shorn. The last had the tonsorla! operation complctrd by male hands elsewhere. Mrs. Leland mourns her uninsured loss.
The big cooperage department ot the John F. Betz brewery One Hundred and Twenty-eighth street and Amsterdam avenue, burned on the night of December 17. The fire was a hot one, owing to the rosin, staves, ami other inflammable material on which it fed. When the firemen arrived the flames were bursting from a dozen windows at once and shooting high into the air. Three alarms were turned in, as the brewery building, the power house of the One Hundred ami Twentyfifth street cable road, and the Sheltering Arms house, with 20o?children;were threatened. The firemen worked hard; but there was little left of the building when the flames had been extinguished. Before this time the firemen were wading through two feet of water, for the ungraded streets did not permit the water to flow away. The loss from the fire, whose origin is unknown, was very heavy; but was well insured.