Importance of Fire Doors Shown by Hamilton Fire

Importance of Fire Doors Shown by Hamilton Fire

Long Corridors Unprotected by Fire Doors and Severe Weather Conditions Made This One of Hamilton's Worst Fires Note Also Impeding Wires. Picture Courtesy of Hamilton Herald

This Ontario City Has One of Its Worst Fires—The Long Corridors Unprotected Allowed Full Sweep of the Flames—Fires of the Week

WHAT was considered one of the worst fires which the city of Hamilton, Ont., had ever suffered was aggravated by the intense cold and by the old fashioned construction of the building, which contained long corridors unprotected by fire doors that extended the entire length of the building and along which the flames swept unimpeded. The fire took place on February 23, burning out over one hundred tenants and destroyed the entire Lister Block on James and King William Streets, according to an account furnished by Fire Chief Wallace T. James. Coming so soon after his appointment it gave the new chief a chance to show what he could do with his department and the fact that the flames were prevented from spreading north and south to the other portions of the business section-shows how well his men backed him up. The illustration herewith gives a very good idea of the severe weather conditions under which the department was compelled to fight this fire. The alarm was received by telephone at 2:37 a. m. and in spite of the fact that the response of the department was very prompt the building was pretty well involved when they arrived and the fire was burning through the roof. The building, which was 200 x 200 feet in dimensions, constructed of stone and brick, and of five stories in height, had been built sixty years. The cause of the fire was unknown but apparently started in the rear of the north end of the building occupied by the Hudson Cloak Company.

Chief James in speaking of the building a week before the fire to Fire Marshal Bishop, had said: “There is one building in this city that I dread the thought of a fire in, and that is the Lister Building. If she ever catches fire watch her go.” His fears were apparently justified in the fire when it occurred. The chief especially feared the construction of the building referred to above owing to the danger of the fire sweeping through the long corridors unprotected by fire doors. The department turned out five officers and seventy-two men with one Waterous and one Clapp-Jones steamers; two Seagrave motor pumpers; three motor combination chemical and hose cars; five horse-drawn combination chemical and hose wagons; two motor service trucks and one motor aerial truck. Fourteen 6-inch double hydrants were available, spaced 200 feet apart, with a pressure of from 70 to 72 pounds at the hydrant. Twelve hydrant and eight engine streams were thrown with nozzles of l’/g inches, the water mains being 12 and 20 inches. Ten thousand feet of hose were laid, one length of which burst during the fire. Two turret pipes were also brought into service. The water system is by gravity. Ex-Chief Ten Eyck turned out during tihe night to help his old comrades to fight the fire. He made his way to the cellar of the Model Coat and Cloak Company on James Street north to see if the fire had broken through and when he was about to make his way out, with two of the firemen, the back wall caved in, trapping them. Fortunately the chief and the men were able to cut their way through a large wooden door to safety and escaped with considerable difficulty. There were many rescues by the firemen of tenants in the apartments in the Lister chambers, who were awakened by the dense smoke and wh-o were forced to escape through windows by means of the department’s ladders. In this connection the charge which had been made that the aerial truck of the department was useless, and an unnecessary expense was disapproved, as several rescues were made from the upper floors by means of the aerial ladder of the truck, and besides this both Chief James and Ex-Chief Ten Eyck attributed to it much of the successful fire lighting, as the aerial enabled the firemen to get the streams with full force on the top and to the upper floors of the building. The fire burned for twenty-four hours and one firemen was slightly injured. The loss on the buildings, which were valued at $400,000, was $197,000, and the contents, consisting of retail store stocks and office and apartment furnishings, valued at $300,000, were damaged to the extent of $400,000.

The Manchester, N. H., fire commissioners have recommended a small bond issue in order to complete the motorization of the department. During the past year the number of horses in use was reduced from 23 to 12. Three motor pumping engines, an 85-ft. aerial truck, and a city service truck were purchased during the past year.

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