Fire Commissioner Dorman’s Report Tells of Many Aehievements New Book of Rules— Modern Uniforms Adopted Fire Alarm Extended

AN increase of 14 per cent in fire losses in New York City last year, is disclosed by the annual report of Fire Commissioner John J. Dorman, which he has just completed for transmittal to Mayor Walker.

Commissiner Dorman attributes much of the increased losses to corresponding increases last year of 16 per cent in the assessed valuation of property; 10 per cent in the number of fires, 6 per cent in the number of buildings, and 0.84 per cent in population.

The report reviews the stewardship of Commissioner Dorman since his appointment last May as fire commissioner and the activities of the department for the twelve months period. It recites among other achievements during the year, the promulgation for the first time in 14 years of a new book of rules and regulations ; the adoption of modern style uniforms to replace the Civil War mode which firemen in New York have been wearing since 1865; the granting of additional vacation time to all ranks and grades in the uniformed force; the extension of the fire alarm telegraph system; the organization of four new fire companies—two in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx and two in Richmond Hill section of Queens; the conversion of two fireboats from coal to oil fuel burners; the award of contracts for the construction of three additional firehouses in the Flatlands and Rugby sections of Brooklyn and the Springfield section of Queens; the purchase of 20 additional fire engines and 62 automobiles for chief officers, and a saving of 8102,717 in the department budget for the year, or one-half of one per cent less than the budgetary expenditure for the year 1025, which were 819,085,899.71.

Fire Commissioner John J. Dorman

Fire Losses for the Year

The fire losses last year in New York City amounted to $21,671,755, an increase of $2,802,670 over the year 1925. Fifty-six per cent of the losses were nominal or less than $10. There were 25,185 fires, an increase of ten per cent over 1925 and 30,610 alarms—an increase of 9 per cent over the previous year. Of the 30,610 alarms, 5,425 were false or unnecessary.

The per capita loss was $3.21, an increase of 45 cents over 1925. The number of fires per thousand of population was 4.25, an increase of .36, and the number of fires per hundred structures was 4.17. an increase of .15. The fire fighting force maintained its previous good record of extinguishment by confining 90 per cent of all fires to the point of origin. The total fresh and salt water used in extinguishment last year was 84,282,942 gallons, or 19,341,056 less than the year 1925. The battalion district in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn had 1,210 fires during the year, or about 100 per month; the second busiest battalion was the 12th on E. 125th St. in Harlem, with 1,086 fires, while the third busiest was the 20th battalion in the Hunts section of the Bronx with 1,025 fires.

Substitute Fuels Contributing Causes of Fire

One of the contributing causes for the increased number of fires, was the use of fuel substitutes during the winter months of 1926, due to the shortage of anthracite coal which necessitated the use of wood, oil and other heating materials, resulting in many additional fires principally in tenements and other dwellings. In that connection, the report states, 16,380 of the 25.185 fires were in buildings, and of this number 10,868 were in tenements or other residences, 2.979 were in factories, lofts or other commercial structures: 11.338 were miscellaneous of which 5.673 were brush, fence or street fires.

Carelessness with matches again leads the list of causes, although there were less persons killed and injured by fire in 1926 than in 1925. Last year 280 persons were injured and 131 were killed, a decrease of 61 in the former and 10 in the latter. The Fire Marshal made 69 arrests for arson, an increase of 27 and obtained 30 convictions, an increase of four. There were 93 incendiary fires, a decrease of 41, and 307 were of suspicious or questionable origin, a decrease of 17. More than a majority of the persons who met death by fire were between 40 and 50 years of age, and most of these had lived in old-law tenements.

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N. Y. F. D. Annual Report

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Number of Inspections Made

The Bureau of Fire Prevention made 172.497 inspections which was 14.834 more than the number of inspections made in 1925. while the uniformed fire fighting force made 1.126.825 inspections of premises in the interests of prevention. The Fire Prevention Bureau issued 47.926 orders for compliance which was 3,682 less than in 1925. and 38,617 orders were complied with, or 3,465 less than in 1925. The bureau collected 848.189 in fines and penalties imposed for violations of the law.

The Division of Combustibles issued 85.058 permits for which it collected 8718,483.55 in fees. Inspectors of this Division seized, opened and examined 20 bombs or suspicious packages. made 804 seizures of contraband fireworks, 20 seizures of unlicensed explosives, conducted 18,000 inspections and supervised the storage and handling of dynamite principally along the ten miles of the route of the City’s new subway system nowunder construction and where four tons of dynamite are exploded daily.

The Division of Public Assembly which has supervision over places of amusement, entertainment, exposition, rinks, baseball parks, arcades, dance halls and boxing clubs, made 3.193 inspections, 47917 reinspections and issued 696 orders. The division assigns firemen to protect approximately 1.000.000 persons dailyattending the 419 theatres, 338 motion picture houses, 619 dance halls, 14 boxing clubs as well as 150 miscellaneous skating rinks, arcades, shooting galleries and exhibition halls.

Extensions and Expansions of Fire Alarm

The Bureau of Fire Alarm Telegraph completed contracts for extensions and expansions of fire alarm plant and equipment amounting to $94,967. awarded contracts amounting to $161,976 and prepared plans and specifications for $576,000 worth of improvements in the fire alarm system this year. New cable installed in conduits to replace miles of overhead wire reached the unprecedented total of 92.291 feet. In the recently built-up areas of suburban Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens boroughs, where wooden dwellings have been constructed along extensive tracts of land as yet without underground ducts or public service conduits, considerable mileage of overhead fire alarm circuits have had to he erected ot give these newly developed communities fire telegraph connection.

Personnel of the Department

The year 1926 saw 98 members of the department promoted, 332 appointed, 42 resigned, 9 dismissed, 47 died, 193 retired after twenty years service and 24 retired on the recommendation of the Medical Board. Of the 47 who died, five were killed in the line of duty and three of these -were killed in traffic while enroute to the fire.

The department has 6,139 members, 320 fire companies, 662 pieces of apparatus, 15 volunteer companies and 359 volunteer firemen in the suburban sections of Staten Island and Queens.

At some time throughout the year, one half the entire fire fighting force, or 3,339 members were sick and lost 59,395 days from duty due to illness, while 1,161 or 18 per cent were injured and lost 21.859 days, making a total of 4,500 members sick or injured and losing 81,254 days from duty.

The pension rolls on December 31, 1926, contained the names of 3,227 widows, orphans or retired firemen receiving annuities aggregating $2,894,941 of which amount $1,788,345 represents City revenue bonds contributed to offset the deficit in the pension fund.

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