LOWER FIRE LOSS IN SEATTLE
Good Showings in Reports By Chief Stetson and Fire Marshal Bringhurst
An interesting report of last year’s operations of the Seattle, Wash., fire department, which is commanded by Chief Frank L. Stetson, and including a detailed report of much value by Fire Marshal Harry W. Bringhurst, has been issued in pamphlet form. It shows a substantial lowering of the fire loss in that city.
Fire Marshal Bringhurst’s Report.
Fire Marshal Harry W. Bringhurst, in his report, shows a lower fire loss than in 1915, and fewer fires. He tells of the work done by firemen assigned to the making of inspections, telling how, under Ordinance 36-209, taking effect September 22, six regular inspectors were detailed from the firemen on October 6; two were assigned to the inspection of buildings, one on the causes of fires; one to garages and the general use of gasoline, one to the theatres and moving picture shows. By the close of the year, they had inspected 3,472 buildings and 25 docks. They made 528 inspections of theatres and 98 of film exchanges; 337 of garages; 461 for gasoline handling and 142 for causes of fires. From December 3rd to December 20th, inclusive, a house on 45th Av/enue South was watched every night and parts of days, by one or more of the six inspectors, ending with the discovery of an arson plant December 21st, and three arrests. Also, during the week before Christmas, these inspectors kept a special watch in the large department stores, because of the holiday crowds. All the false alarms were investigated, and five offenders caught.
The Year’s Losses.
The report shows a loss in 1916 of $625,759.43 in 497 actual fires with loss, or an average of $1,259.07 at each fire in which the damage was great enough to record. This, Fire Marshal Bringhurst points out, is about $10,000 less than what the loss for the year 1915 would have been without the disastrous Pier 14 fire in October. A comparison with the figures of former years is as follows: In 1915 there were 524 fires with loss, average loss at each actual fire, $2,500; in 1914 there were 522 fires with loss, average loss at each actual fire, $1,717; in 1913 there were 456 fires with loss, average loss at each actual fire, $2,130; in 1912 there were 450 fires with loss, average loss at each actual fire, $994; in 1915, without Pier 14 fire on Oct. 28, average loss at each actual fire, $1,214. The average fire loss for the three years 1913-15, inclusive, was, without the Pier 14 fire in October, 1915, $834,410.46; with it, $1,059,410.46. For the three years 1910-12, inclusive, it was $583,575.87; for the three years 1907-1909 inclusive, $364,777.60. In 1916, the value of buildings was $6,317,832.79, and the value of contents, $5,939,341.55; the value of buildings and contents being $12,557,174.34. The loss on buildings amounted to only $259,881.04, and on contents to only $365,879.39, loss on buildings and contents amounting to $625,759.43. Loss on buildings where fires started was $607,645.07, and loss where fires extended was only $18,114.36. The “buildings” and “contents” are those involved in the fires. The “losses where fires started” are those in the buildings (and the buildings themselves) where the fires originated; the “loss where fires extended” means the buildings and their contents to which the fires spread.
The year’s alarms were as follows: From alarm boxes, 378; by telephone, 1,064; given at the stations, “stills,” 165; special calls for apparatus, 63; second alarms, 6; third alarms, 0; total alarms of all kinds, 1,676; false alarms, 138; smoke or steam mistaken for fire, 60; fires for which no alarm is given, 11; calls for special work outside of fire duty, getting horses out of bay, etc., 57; fires causing actual loss, 497; fires causing no loss, 912; total fires of all kinds, 1,409. The figures show a substantial reduction from 1915, when the total fires of all kinds numbered 1,623, the fires causing actual loss numbered 524, and the fires causing no loss numbered 1,097.
Causes of Fires.
There were 104 different causes of fires in 1916. For the first time on record there were seven fires caused by lightning in the year. The largest number of fires was from chimneys burned out, 164, and the next was from sparks on roofs, 122. Rubbish inside and outside of buildings was responsible for 75. Other statistics given concerning fires are: Grass fires, 92; brush fires, 101; bridge and planking fires, 88; fires originating in masonry buildings, 66; fires originating in frame buildings, 421; fires in automobiles, 38; fires in awnings, 29;’ fires in vessels and boats, 6; fires in cars, 19; fires originating in vacant buildings, 40; number of total losses, 56; number of fires extending beyond the first building, 19; number of fires extending beyond second, 1; fires confined to floor where they start, 227; special inspections for cause of fires, 306; firemen’s inspections of manufacturing plants, 254; firemen’s inspections of business and hotel buildings, 1,036; firemen’s inspections of assembly halls, schools, etc.. 183; firemen’s inspections of dwellings and apartment houses, 585; total firemen’s inspections, 2,058; fire marshal’s permits, burning permits, 1,498; sign permits, 305; fuel oil permits, 35; gasolene permits, 90; fireworks permits, 288; explosive permits, 143; inspections of fire escapes, exits, etc., 281; complaints investigated, 262.
Chief Stetson’s Report.
Chief Frank L. Stetson’s report says: The value of the fire department equipment and property is given as: Fire department equipment, $541,892.20; fire alarm equipment, $144,505; real estate, $659,250; improvements, $395,836; total valuation, $1,743,483.20. Chief Stetson says that the passage of an ordinance by the city council establishing a Bureau of Fire Prevention and Inspection under the direction of the fire marshal was a step in the right direction. However, he says, in view of the fact that the inspectors are regular firemen and must drawsalary from department companies while so detailed, the manual force for handling apparatus is necessarily cut short for these men. I shall ask in the next appropriation that provision be made for filling the places of these members in the companies so that the department be not shorthanded. He recites that during the early part of the year there were received seven new pieces of motor apparatus: two combination hose and chemical wagons, two high-pressure hose and combination chemical wagons, two frontdrive tractors and one squad wagon. The two tractors replaced horses on Engine No. 10 and on the water tower. The two high-pressure hose wagons were equipped with monitor nozzles and are used as fire-boat tenders. The two combination hose and chemical wagons replaced old hose wagons at Engines 10 and 2. The old Hose 2 replaced horses in the Monitor Company. The squad wagon took the place of Chemical 1 and the latter will be rebuilt and converted into a combination chemical and hose wagon and will be assigned to Station No. 25 in place of horse-drawn equipment in the very hazardous automobile district. In the course of his recommendations Chief Stetson says: Once more I desire to emphasize the importance of taking steps to motorize the entire department, and with this end in view I would recommend that not less than $60,000 be levied for the year 1918 and an equal amount each year thereafter until a complete motorization of the department can be effected. Motor apparatus has reached the stage where It must be considered a matter of economy as well as efficiency to the city to replace the present horse-drawn equipments.
Training School for Firemen.
Chief Stetson said relative to a training schools: With the removal of the fire alarm equipment from the third floor of the present Fire Headquarters Building it is proposed to use this space for the commencement of a training school for firemen, which is intended to be developed along the lines of the present Fire College maintained in the fire department of New York City. For this purpose I shall at the proper time ask of the council and your honor an appropriation sufficient to cover the expense of sending three energetic, intelligent and interested members of this department to New York City for a period of two or three months, for the purpose of making a thorough study of the Fire College and the methods used by the New York Bureau of Fire Prevention and Inspection. The results obtained by a first-hand knowledge and study of methods used by the largest and considered the foremost fire department in the country, would in my judgment be of inestimable benefit to this department in the bettering of local conditions.
Officials at headquarters are: Chief engineer, Frank L. Stetson; first assistant chief, Wm. H. Clark; second assistant chief, Geo. Marlowe; battalion chiefs, Thos. E. Nunan, Wm. J. Hodder, Geo. M. Mantor, F. G. Gilham, Wm. J. Carr and H. J. Hale; secretary, Geo. Mapel: assistant secretary, A. P. Jensen; timekeeper, B. W. Cregan; operators, A. N. Russell, J. J. Riplinger and J. W. Stover; assistant operators, John Sheehy and H. O. Nelson; fire marshal, H. W. Bringhurst; assistant fire marshal, H. L. Neff.
The manual force of the department consists of: Chief, 1; first assistant chief, 1; second assistant chief, 1; battalion chiefs, 6; captains, first grade, 41; captains, second grade, 1; lieutenants, first grade, 48; lieutenants, second grade, 4; engineers, first grade, 14; stokers, 14; chief marine engineers, 2; marine engineers, 6; marine stokers, 8; marine pilots, 4; firemen, first grade, 349^ firemen, second grade, 29; firemen, third grade, 21; secretary, 1; assistant secretary, 1; timekeeper, 1; fire alarm operators, 3; assistant fire alarm operators, 2; fire marshal, 1; assistant fire marshal, 1; chief hydrant inspector, 1; hydrant inspectors, 2; master mechanic, 1; machinists, 2; supply driver and horse superintendent, 1; supply driver, 1; horseshoers, 2; blacksmith, 1; blacksmith’s helper, 1; department painter, 1; tinsmith and harness repairer, 1; woodworkers, 2; carpenters, 2; superintendent fire alarm, 1; line foreman, 1; linemen, 2; linemen’s helper, 1 ; electrical machinist, 1; substitutes, 20. Total force, 003.
The apparatus of the department consists of the following pieces housed in 34 stations: 4 motor combination pumps and hose wagons, 14 steam fire engines (two with front-drive motor tractors), 1 motor plain hose wagon, 4 motor combination hose and chemical wagons, 2 aerial trucks with motor tractors, 2 motor combination chemical and ladder trucks, 1 motor squad wagon and chemical, 2 motor high-pressure hose wagons, 1 water tower with front-drive tractor, 6. chief’s cars, 16 plain hose wagons (horse drawn), 8 combination hose wagons (horse drawn), 3 combination chemical ladder trucks (horse drawn), 3 plain ladder trucks (horse drawn), 2 chemicals (horse drawn), 2 fire-boats; total, 71. Apparatus in reserve is: 1 motor chemical at shop undergoing repairs, 1 motor Waterous hose wagon, 1 electric chassis, 1 city service truck with tractor, 7 horsedrawn hose wagons, 2 horse-drawn fire engines, 2 chief’s buggies, 1 volunteer hand truck. Miscellaneous in service are: 1 motor truck used as supply wagon, 1 horse-drawn supply wagon, 1 horseshoer’s wagon, 1 lumber wagon. Fire alarm equipment is: 1 Buick roadster, 1 Buick truck, 1 Gramm truck. The department consists of 48 regular companies, as follows: 18 engine companies, 15 hose companies, 10 truck companies, 2 chemical companies, 2 fire-boat companies, 1 water tower company.