London’s Fire Protection.
An article contained in The Londoner, recently directs attention by a series of alarming comparisons and inferences to the necessity for an augmentation of the fire service of the metropolis. The fact that the brigade has of recent years been called to so many chimney fires at the risk of being absent when needed for more important work, is regarded as evidence that the present provisions of the law for the due sweeping of chimneys are utterly inadequate, and throw a heavy burden of unnecessary and illegitimate work upon the fire brigade. Similarly the sometimes eccentric action of the water supply, and the delinquencies of those individuals who ought by this time to have been superseded—we mean the turncocks—are made to show that the water arrangements might fail at the most critical moment. But the most startling feature of the fire service in the metropolis is, according to The Londoner, the inadequate strength of the brigade. One fireman is, under existing circumstances, deputed to every 10,000 inhabitants, for it must be recollected that all the men could not turn out. Despite the repeated and urgent requests of the late chief officer “ all that has been tardily granted is the addition of a hundred firemen and a few steam fire engines on barges which can only be termed tinkering.” The writer concludes the first part of this article with his idea of what appliances should be added to the brigade. In this he is unreasonable. Taking up again the subject of the origin of fires, in the second part, he is startled to find that one-third of the causes of London fires remain unsolved mysteries, whilst only one case of arson was reported for 1891. “ Yet,” adds he, “ firemen tell us and insurance companies know but too well that a large number of metropolitan tires are felonious attempts to avoid bankruptcy or other exposure or to obtain payment of large sums of money.”