January Fire Losses Show Increase
The fire losses for last month have again taken a leap upward from the record of the months for 1921. In only three instances, those of January, July and September, 1921, have the losses exceeded those of January, 1922, whose total reaches the immense sum of $29,122,000. This is against, in December, 1921, $24,294,300, or a little less than $5,000,000 in excess of December. November, 1921. showed a loss of $23,641,160. Thus during the past three months the increase in fire losses has been marked and has shown a steady upward tendency.
The number of fires that occurred in January also have run ahead of those of any month of 1921, the greatest number in any single month of that year being 388 fires whose losses ecpialled or exceeded $10,000 for last December, there being 109 more for January than for the preceding month. The number of fires in November of 1921 was 305 and in October, 376. Thus the first month of 1922 holds the record for the greatest number of fires in any month in two years.
The fires whose losses equalled or exceeded $10,000 are to be divided as follows: Those of $200,000 and over, 17; $100,000 to $200,000, 58; $75,000 to $100,000, 29; $50,000 to $75,000, 40; $40,000 to $50,000, 42; $30,000 to $40,000, 47; $20,000 to $30,000. 70; $10,000 to $20,000, 194. The fires equalling or exceeding $200,000 during January were divided as follows : $200,000 and less than $300,000, seven; $300,000, six, and $400,000, one. There were three fires which had a loss of one million dollars or over, one being the fire in the Niagara Falls High School with a loss of $1,000,000, the second being the fire in the Chicago street car barns with a loss of $1,350,000, and the third being that in the Allouez, Wis., ore docks, with a loss of $1,800,000.
The continuation of the heavy tire losses in spite of all that is being done to arouse the people of the country to the necessities of Fire Prevention might well he considered to he full of discouragement for those interested in reducing the country’s enormous losses. However, so many elements enter into the consideration of this problem that possibly the record may not be as bad as it at first seems, though it is surely bad enough. The month of January always is a particularly heavy month as regards the fire record. January, 1921, showed a loss of over $35.000,000 and January. 1920, was even worse, showing a loss of over $37,000,000. So comparing the loss of January, 1022, there would seem a slight reason for encouragement rather than depression. There seems very little doubt hut that the moral hazard enters very largely into the records of the past three months. Incendiarism has played entirely too large a part in the history of fire losses of late. Very strenuous work ou the part of those responsible for the lessening of this evil apparently will he necessary within the next few months in order to put a curb upon it. However, it is safe to predict that the state fire marshals and chiefs of fire departments can and will successfully handle the situation.
In connection with the article which leads this week’s issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING on increasing the water supply of wells sunk in rock by blasting, an experiment along this line tried in Medina, N. V., will be of interest. The drain upon the water supply of Medina has been very severe owing to large demands made on the local supply by factories and railroad locomotives taking on water, and the necessity arose for increasing the supply. Geological engineers were consulted by the board of aldermen of the city and they decided that there was a stratum of rock about nine feet below the bottom of the present wells, which apparently bore an unlimited supply of water, but which was not feeding the wells as constructed. It was finally decided to dig a separate well outside and adjoining the pumping station and to sink it to such a depth as would connect with the particular stratum which the engineers hoped would furnish an unlimited supply. The work of excavating and blasting this well had been going on for some time and the final act in its completion was an explosion of 350 pounds of dynamite at the bottom of the well. The result was said to be far more successful than the engineers had hoped for, and although attempts have been made to drain the new well by powerful pumps, so that the shattered stone resulting from the blast might be removed, two days of continual pumping failed to show any perceptible lowering of the water in the well. The clearing of the rock from the new well was postponed and the experiment was declared to he an unqualified success. This would seem to hear out the contentions of Mr. Russell in his article on the blasting of wells.
Another city is contemplating a large bond issue for the purpose of extensive improvements in its water works system. St. Louis, Mo., according to Water Commissioner Edward E. Wall, is to place the issuance of $12,000,000 worth of water works bonds before the people provided the board of aldermen authorize the project. This will he used in the purchase of land and the establishment of a new water works plant, the cost of which will take up the entire bond issue.