Methods of Safeguarding Schools from Fire
Hazard of Matches in Pupils’ Hands—Regulations of Cooking Classes and Moving Picture Instruction—Some School Fire Prevention Statistics—Work of Boy Scouts
FROM the subject assigned to me to discuss before the Convention of Fire Marshals’ Association of North America, we perhaps had better determine from what sources fires originate so we may more intelligently discuss the most effective methods of securing results.
The chief origin of fires is carelessness. This of course can be caused from many sources. On October 8th last, when talking to the pupils of a Nashville, Tenn., school, occupying a new building that stands where the former building was destroyed by the great Nashville fire, I requested two firemen to get me the matches from the boys in the room; and much to my surprise, and I must say embarrassment of the principal, they gathered together 164 matches.
I am glad to tell you of another occasion when I made this same request, with the result that I found it impossible to get a single match, with the additional information from the teacher that it was a rule that they lived up to every day in the year, that no match would be allowed in the school room.
Fires from Poor Construction
One of our speakers on October 8 found this condition when he made his visit—the teacher had not been having fire drills. But this was the least of the alarming conditions discovered. He had the small children of the primary grades on the second floor of a very poorly constructed two-story frame, shingle-roof building, and some of the tots were so small that it was just about impossible for them to get down in a fire drill. When I received this report from this speaker I immediately sent one of our deputies to correct this condition, and he issued a state order to put small children on the first floor and larger pupils on the upper floor. He also issued an order to suspend school for a period of two weeks so a new roof could be put on the building, and a new flat brick flue built from the ground.
I find we have a number of fires from poor construction and the lack of proper heating arrangements, also lack of stove boards under the stoves to protect the floors. We have issued a great many orders to schools to put furnaces in proper condition. The superintendent of public instruction of Tennessee is putting forth every effort to correct poor construction by sending out blue prints and specifications where new buildings are to be erected.
Cooking Classes and Moving Pictures.
There is this new condition we must consider now that we have our girls in cooking classes and our boys in the school workshop, and it is very necessary that additional caution be used to take care of this situation.
During our last State Fair I discovered that a great many of our schools are taking up the idea of moving picture instruction, which is an excellent idea in my opinion, but we must admit that this brings about many complicating conditions which are very hazardous; the lack of proper booth, and an experienced operator. I imagine that we will find that as this idea develops and progresses the films will not be of the non-inflammable type.
We lost a very bright boy in Knoxville last week. He was playing with some sort of a new fire toy—Sun of a Gun, or Little Red Devil. He fired it while seated on a truck and the gasolene tank cap being off at the time, the tank exploded. The boy lived two and one half hours.
Statistics on Fire Losses in Schools.
Through the courtesy of Mr. Lum of the National Board I give you the following statistics on Fire Losses in Schools, including those in universities, boarding schools, convent schools and academies, including the strictly preventable causes and the partly preventable causes for the years of 1916, 1917 and 1918. I am also giving the number of claims for the years 1918 and 1917:
I am also able to give you losses on schools, academies, etc., by states for 1917 and 1918:
I imagine I have given you sufficient number of sources for the origin of school fires—now for the remedies and corrections.
Some Suggested Remedies
You have heard many suggestions made upon this convention floor the last two days, and they are all good —excellent. We heard Miss Llooyd Marshal’s most valuable paper, which if followed will yield good fruit. Colonel Young’s suggestions were 100 per cent, and many others were just as good.
I will have our state superintendent of public instruction introduce a bill in our next legislature to include and compel the teaching of fire prevention, but I am of the opinion that no law is worth the paper it is written on unless public sentiment is sufficient to see to it that the law is enforced. Now how are we to accomplish this? I suggest we use our womens clubs, and the Tennessee State Federation of Clubs, Parent Teachers Associations, and Mothers Clubs have all passed resolutions during their recent annual sessions to have fire prevention as a special subject. Our Tennessee Boy Scouts did most excellent service on October 9th.
Boy Scouts’ Fire Prevention
This reminds me to suggest something in connection with the Boy Scouts. I am still strong for the creation of public sentiment and I think one of the best methods would be to assist in creating the highest type of manhood and womanhood, thereby securing the highest class
of citizenship. My experience with our Nashville Scout Masters convinced me we were overlooking one of our greatest opportunities in not having our Fire Marshals Association of North America to take up with the highest executive officials of the Boy Scouts at once and attempt to have them adopt, or at least recommend, in an official way that the Boy Scouts either be instructed or advised that they co-operate with us to the greatest extent possible, in saving life and limb as well as property. I hear a great deal of recent years from my S. A. friends in regard to uniform forms, and I believe it would be desirable to as far as possible have all states have a uniform Fire Marshals Law, and I desire to express my appreciation to the National Board for their 100 per cent co-operation with our Tennessee department.
(NOTE—Attention is directed to the editorial comment on the foregoing on page 68.—EDITOR.)
Christmas Display of Erie Fire Department
The illustration herewith shows the admirable display that the firemen of Engine No. 1, on French street, between 4th and 5th streets, Erie, Pa., prepared for their house. The tree with its setting was the direct result of the work of Fred Hintenach, a member of the company. Eighteen members of the company took up the work and this year’s display is con-
sidered the best that the company has ever given. In order to obtain room for the setting the men slept in cramped quarters. The platform containing the display was set in one corner of the room. Each wall was painted to resemble a mountain landscape. On one side of the platform a miniature railway of the present day and age wound its way through mountain tunnels and paths. On the other side of the platform was reproduced a miniature Bethlehem, depicting the birth of Christ with the typical village of Biblical times and with the manger reproduced. The electric railway was all a boy’s heart could wish for. Half its length was through tunnels and mountain passes. Bridges had their place on the line, while numerous mountain paths and roads crossed the tracks. At one crossroad, miniature gates raised and lowered at the approach of the train. Streams trickled slowly down the mountain side, ending in cascades, before taking the final plunge into mountain depths. On the stream boats and fishermen were numerous, while in a miniature lake passenger steamers plied their way. A typical old mill, run by water from a mill dam, was reproduced while a Dutch windmill turned slowly. A feature of the village of Bethlehem was the miniature church with its chimes tinkling in the tower. Off to one side of the setting, high up on the mountain side, a small house was placed with lights shining from the windows. On the other side of the setting a half moon was shown.