New Jersey Labor Commissioner Admonishes Factory Inspector
A heart-to-heart talk on the necessity of fire drills in factories was given to the 24 labor inspectors of New Jersey recently by their chief, Lewis T. Bryant, commissioner of the state department of labor. The inspectors met their chief at the local office of the labor department in Newark. General Bryant had formulated a set of rules for the guidance of the inspectors, and these he read to them. Later they will be furnished with printed copies. Following the commissioner’s talk the inspectors, headed by Mr. Bryant, visited several factories in the city where fire drills were given. Mr. Bryant, in beginning his talk, said that proper attention should be paid to means of egress in factories, supplementing this by saying that the law under which the department was operated gives the inspectors the power to say where fire escapes shall be placed. Next the commissioner referred to the system of alarms that all factories more than two stories high are obliged to install under the law for the protection of their operatives. The value of fire drills in factories was emphasized by the commissioner. He said that out of several hundred letters sent to factory owners there had been a generous response. about 300 expressing themselves as favorable to the plan of having a fire brigade in their shops. “The factory people.” continued the commissioner, “scent anxious to co-operate with us in preventing fires and panic. I believe the law gives the head of the department power to say whether or not a fire brigade shall be established in a factory. We ask the proprietor or manager to name some one as fire chief and this officer is given a badge and his duties defined.” Mr. Bryant went on to say that the slogan of the department is “Prevention, rather than cure.” Outside of the physical loss that factory owners sustain by fire, he declared, there is a moral side to the question, and this is the protection of the employes. “We want to see.” the commissioner continued, “that the operatives are protected in every possible way, not alone front fire, but from panic. You inspectors have an important position. It might he said in effect that you hold human life in your hands. See to it that the law is obeyed; show no favoritism and he loyal to your commissioner.” The importance of shutting off the gas supply of burning buildings was brought out by the commissioner. His plan is that every factory should be equipped with a valve on the outside of the building, by which the gas can he shut off. By such a plan, he added, serious loss by fire would be often prevented. He would have some one in the factory designated to do this duty. Another part of the rules for the guidance of the inspectors related to promptness in cases ot fire. “We want to co-operate with the fire department.” said General Bryant. “It should lie the duty ot every factory owner to designate, some one in his employ to call up the fire department just as soon as a blaze breaks out. Don’t try to put out the blaze without first calling the firemen. Valuable time is often lost in this way. One man should call fire headquarters at once, and another should run to the nearest fire box and turn in an alarm.” Snow and ice covered fire escapes were condemned, the commissioner holding that it was the duty of.the inspector to see that they are not so blocked.