The fire menace of the moving picture film has come to be recognized as among the worst hazards that the fire chief has to deal with. This is true because the flaring of this inflammable material usually occurs when the hall or theatre is crowded with human beings. The potentiality of a panic is always present in these play houses and is more of a danger than is the fire itself, which is usually confined to the film and its immediate surroundings.
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In some states and municipalities the most stringent laws are thrown about these exhibitions and rightly so, for the lives of all those who attend the moving pictures are endangered where proper precautions are not taken. In New York State and in several others the use of any but non-inflammable films is prohibited unless the machine is in an approved fireproof booth, ventilated to the outside of the building, and in charge of a licensed operator. More states should adopt this regulation which would remove much of the peril.
However, a new danger has arisen of late in the increase in the sale of toy and amateur moving picture machines designed to be used in the home. Many of these are furnished with inflammable films and are placed in the hands of inexperienced people and even children. The liability of fire and serious accident under these circumstances is quite apparent. Especially at this time, when these machines will no doubt be given as Christmas presents to hundreds throughout the land, the hazard is extreme. Dealers should be cautioned by the authorities not to sell inflammable films with these moving picture machines, and if laws of the state or municipality provide for it, those responsible for such matters should see that violators are made an example of. A campaign of education in this respect could also be inaugurated by the fire chief with or without the cooperation of reputable dealers in his city. The results would justify any trouble taken in the matter.
A pioneer in the movement against these dangerous toys is Fire Commissioner Drennan, of New York City, who has sent out a warning circular to all department stores in the Metropolis, pointing out the hazards of these films.