Mississippi Fire Prevention
A meeting was held in Brookhaven, Miss., on July 22 by the Mississippi Society for the Prevention of Fires, an organization whose purpose is the “dissemination of information on the science and methods of fire protection, prevention and extinction, and the loss of life.” The morning session was spent in committee work and inspection of the business district and public buildings. The result of the inspection was the pointing out of numerous hazards which could lie avoided. The visitors praised the clean condition of the’ streets and commended the city for providing garbage cans. Inspection of back yards, however, led to the recommendation that the cans be more freely used. A public meeting was held later at the city hall. Mayor llenck welcomed the visitors and then turned the meeting over to A. J. Holtwanger, president of the society, who presided. Interesting talks were made by Mrs. E. M. Bee, for the Brookliaven Library Association, who discussed “Carelessness, the Cause, and Precaution, the Preventive”; Max l.ewinthal. “What the Board of Trade Can Do to Help”; Dr. William Cross, representing the Peripatetics, “Fires, Past, Present and to Come”; Mrs. A. B. Connelly, of the Climbers, “Teaching Children Fire Protection”; J. M. Surnrall, “Influence of Laws on Fire Waste”; Alderman Sam Abrams, “Cleaner Streets, More Water, and the Garden of Eden.”
P. L. Davis, of Vicksburg, chairman of the law. ordinance and fire protection committee, made the principal address. He called attention to the fact that Mississippi stands high in the loss ratio and that the loss by fire in the United States annually exceeds $250,000,000, a per capita waste of $3. He stated that in continental Europe the fire waste is 35 cents per capita, and in Germany 19 cents. This is due to the superior laws regarding construction of buildings, to official investigation of all fires, and to a more rigid enforcement of laws. He showed that the United States maintains better equipment for fighting fires than any other nation and yet suffers greater loss from fire, the total cost of fire waste and of fighting fires being in excess of the total production of gold, silver and all other metals. He showed that under German law the man on whose premises a fire starts through carelessness is held for the damage to his neighbor. The commonest menaces, Mr. Davis said, could be reached by legislation. He named them as shingle roofs, defective flues, the gasoline hazard, and use of parlor matches, touching upon the danger in each. Figures were produced showing that in one Mississippi town in 29 months there were 768 fires, out of which 305, or approximately 39 per cent., originated from sparks on shingle roofs, due in a large measure to insufficient height of chimneys. This town has an ordinance requiring all chimneys to be built at least three feet above the highest point of the roof, but it is not enforced. Mr. Davis recommended teaching children in public schools to avoid the carelessness which leads to fires. Attention was called to three elements which enter into the control of fire waste in Brookhaven: First—Water waste, which he commented on as something frightful. He commended the city fathers for adopting water meters, contract for which has just been let, and prophesied improvement. Second—Fire department. He commended the equipment, but said the department should have two more paid men on duty. Third—Police department. All fires should be investigated. One city in the State had 8i incendiary fires in five months, and not one investigated by the police. He pleaded for a change along this line.