Neglect of Fire Prevention

Neglect of Fire Prevention

A local daily in a city of the Middle West in commenting on the growth and prosperity of the municipality calls attention to the fact that this very development has outgrown the facilities for fire protection, or, to be more exact, the city authorities have failed to keep pace with this development as far as fire protection is concerned. The paper in question says:

This rapid development has altogether outgrown the fire protection provided and an extension of fire service corresponding to this spread of the city is a necessity and should not be put off. In all the new residence section there are but two fire stations and they are poorly equipped, with a single engine in each. The new residence district has sidewalks, paving, electric light, water, gas and sewer—everything but protection from fire. As this development has not come to an end but is only well started the inadequacy of the fire service grows more serious as time goes by. Last year after an appeal from a delegation of residents against the turning down of the fire marshal’s request for new equipment the equipment at the— street station was considerably increased. If two stations properly housed and equipped will answer for the increased hazards of fire, their housing should be enlarged. But the southwest district needs urgently a new city service truck, a new car for station — and either a third station or else the rebuilding of station —. Such enlargements would take care of the fire hazard probably for some years even with the growth in residential building.

Unfortunately this condition in the city in question is by no means a unique one. The recommendation of the fire chief tor improvement in service is only too often honored in the breach rather than in the observance. The city authorities, with a mistaken idea of economy, are apt to either ignore the recommendations or else cut them down to such an extent that they are practically rendered of no effect.

Not only is this a short-sighted policy but it results very often in causing the loss of lives and property of the citizens, which could have been saved by a judicious and careful expenditure of the city’s funds in providing proper fire protection. There is no excuse for this kind of official niggardliness.

Builders of apartments and dwellings who throw large quantities of inflammable rubbish, shavings, discarded wood from building operations, etc., on the grounds outside of the unfinished building are apt to cause the fire department considerable annoyance and likewise get themselves in trouble, not to speak of endangering their own building and others from fire. A case of this kind occurred in upper Manhattan Borough, New York City, last week. The rubbish from an apartment house in the course of construction bad been thrown in an open court between the buildings and had accumulated to a depth of several feet. A carelessly tossed match or cigarette had ignited it and when the fire companies arrived the fire was briskly smoldering and had penetrated deep into the rubbish pile. Water seemed to have little effect on it and there was but one thing to do, and as the workmen had departed for the day, the firemen procured shovels and proceeded to dig. And dig they did for a good eight or ten feet down before the seat of the fire was reached. The operation wasted about three hours of the firemen’s time, not to speak of the brain cells destroyed in anger and disgust in having to perform such a task.

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