HOTEL KEEPERS AND THE FIRE ESCAPE LAW.
THE sweet little legislative cherub that sits up aloft and aims at guiding hotel keepers in the way they should go, has assumed a reactionary attitude; for after effecting a brief Sunday “tie-up,” it is now giving its proteges more rope than they want. A bill, which became a law and took effect on the 1st of July, requires that hotel keepers must provide a rope “or other better fire escape appliances in every room of their establishment.” This law is being enfotced at Albany ; and though as yet it has only been more honored in the breach in this city, the hotel men here intend to carry it out as soon as they can conveniently ; but not without protest. This is what W. D. Garrison of the Grand Union Hotel said to a Tribune reporter yesterday :
” This bill requires us to have in every room a rope or better appliances, thus acknowledging that there are better appliances than the rope. Then it goes on to say that this rope shall be coiled—that must mean that the better appliances must be coiled ; and how are we going to coil i on fire escapes? The rope will be very handy for a man who wants to commit suicide. I was just thinking, coming along Forty-second street from the depot, how it would look to find a row of corpses adorning my hotel walls with these ropes around their necks. That is one of the great absurdities of our existing system of legislation to have people make laws for a business who don’t know anything about it ; and it is one of the aims of our projected State association, as I say in my prospectus, to educate the people up to the wants, not of us alone, but of the great bulk of the traveling community.
“Another phase of that rope business is the fact that a rope becomes in time rotten. The bill does not specify what kind of rope shall be used ; therefore, it may be a manilla rope which will support 400 pounds when new, or a hemp rope which will support 400 pounds. But in one year a hemp tope that will, when new, support 400 pounds, will not support one. It goes to decay—no one seems to know why—except it is tarred, and anyone will admit that a man would not like to go down a tarred rope. Another thing to which I drew the Governor’s attention is that no man can go down a rope for more than ten feet unless he twines his legs around it. He cannot descend dangling from his hands, and unless he gets hold of it with his legs he cannot support himself; and to qualify yourself to do that you n ust enter a circus or a gymnasium and go through a course of traiiiing.
‘‘ l had a little experience of my own in the way of rope descending. 1 was building a new house on Forty-first street a few years ago. A oneinch rope hung down through the building, i wanted to descend two stories, and thought 1 would manage to travel by the rope. I grasped it and began my ttip, but before 1 got one story down 1 found it was utterly impossible to keep my hold, and was glad to swing myself to the next story below. Next morning 1 asked one of the workmen about it, and he said : * I’ll show you how to get down,’ and he did it by twining the rope twice around his leg ; but how many people know that, and how many could do it ! Another point to which 1 drew the Governor’s attention was that if this rope was attached to the base of the window, with the different outward projections there it would be utterly impossible for a man to go over it by a rope unless he went out backward like a crab ; and how many are expert enough to do that ? I thought I had made the matter plain enough to the Governor to prevent him from signing the bill. However, he signed it, and we in New York city are going to comply with it.
” The absurdity of the rope bill, or rope law, rather, is fully demonstrated by the fact that the rope is to be made ‘ attachable to a joist or timber near the wiudow,’ which does not exist in any brick building. But they legislate for our business without any regard lor what is practical. There is no hotel man in the city 01 New Yoik who would not spend $1000 or $10,000 to prevent the loss of a single life, if he knew how to do it; and we claim that we carry out in every sense of the word, in every way in our power, the laws made for our guidance in that respect. One of the main points is to look at the thing just as it is ; but we can neither get the legislative men nor the departments to do so. We believe ni ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ; but as fot this rope law—”
Mr. Allen of the Astor House said to the reporter; ” If we have a ton of rope coiled up in every room 1 don’t see where the occupant is to sleep, except on the roof! It will cost a mint of money to obey this law and no end of trouble.”
” But will you obey it ?”
” Why, certainly. My dear sir, if the law asked me to hang myself, I would cheerfully do it ! ”
“And will you as cheerfully provide for the hanging of a rope in case of fire ?”
” Why, certainly. The rope is a great institution. What a great convenience for suicides ! It beats the old-fashioned escape-of-gas method completely. And how easily and gracefully ladies will glide down ! Oh, I’m for the rope ! The law makers remind me of an old rhyme with reason in it, which states that:
“ There was an old man, and he had an old cow,
And he had nothing to give her;
So he took out his fiddle and played her a tune—
* Consider, good cow, consider !
This is no time of the year for the grass to grow !
Consider, good cow, consider ! ’
Moral: But the c nv died just the same.”—New York Tribune.