Natioual Negligence as to Fires.
At a recent meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, C. M. Goddard, president of the National Fire Prevention association and secretary of the New England Insurance committee animadverted severely on the “gaping negligence of the public that causes annually in the United States more accidental deaths and injuries than three great wars.” He quoted the following: “If news had been received during the last six months of the total destruction of our fleet of battleships on its way to San Francisco, even without any loss of life, what a calamity it would have been considered, ai d how messages of sympathy would have poured in from all the governments in the world! The value of that fleet is probably less than $125,000,000; the property loss by the conflagration in the city of San Francisco, towards which that fleet was headed, of $350,000,000 by one fire, brought similar messages because it was an unusual occurrence. The property loss by fire (in the United States) for the year 1907 was $180, 000,000; the average annual loss for the last thirty-two years was $134,000,000: the national debt at its highest point was $2.845,000,000—or a little over two and three-quarters billions; the insurance companies have paid $2,500,000,000 in losses since i860; the total property loss by fire has been $4,250,000,000 since 1875. There is terrific loss of life and limb in this country from preventable causes. No other land shows anything like it, or anything approaching it. This is not because of the vastness of our population, but because of its carelessness. We are the most careless people on earth. We permit a looseness of conditions, a recklessness of method, or a method of recklessness which would not be tolerated in Great Britain or Germany or France. This laxity runs on our railroads, pervades our coal mines, meanders in our mills, asserts itself in the slovenliness of our cities and our vacant lots and is traced directly to our homes along the icy sidewalks to our front doors and the doors of our churches and public institutions. The average American cares no more about the conditions outside the walls of his home than he cares about the conditions on the most distant planet. We are indifferent and unashamed. The spasms of public horror are soon over and foreign. They accomplish nothing. This arrangement of the American people (Mr. Goddard added) applies with equal force to our force-loss and ought to bring the blush of shame to every public spirited citizen.”