The lowest fire loss per capita as per fire on record in New York City and the first reduced budget since consolidation, 18 years ago, are among the achievements for 1915, shown by Fire Commissioner Robert Adamson, of New York, in his annual report submitted to Mayor Mitchel Although 24 new fire companies were put into service in new locations with payrolls of $515,000, and the force of civilian bureaus increased by $74,412, and although the average annual increase in the budget tor 18 years has been $313,659, the budgets for both 1915 and 1916 are reduced below that of 1914. Commissioner Adamson’s report, dated April 26, says:

Hon. John Purroy Mitchel,

Mayor, City of New York.

Sir: Three new records were established by this Department in 1915: First—The fire loss was the lowest per capita and per fire in the city’s history. Second—For 1915 we had the first reduced budget since the consolidation of the Greater City in 1898, and for 1916 we have the second. Third—We turned back to the city during 1915 and the year before 2y buildings and sites, valued at $418,000 and 11 buildings leased at $10,800 a year. The fire loss was lower by 32 cents per capita and $140 per fire than in any previous year, and the total loss lower by $2,400.793, than in 1914. We had 1,010 fewer fires, and an aggregate loss of only $5,757,018, as against $8,217,811 the preceding year. The per capita loss was only $1.00. The lowest previous loss was $1.38. The loss per fire was $429.11. The lowest previous loss—that of 1914—was $569.69. Since consolidation the average loss has been, per year, $8,215,264; per capita, $2.04; per fire, $709.75. Last year’s record, therefore, reduced this average by $2,450,600 in the annual loss, by 98 cents in the per capita and by $280 in the loss per fire. In only two other years since consolidation, a period of 18 years of rapidly growing population, has the total loss been below $7,060,000. In only one year, that the first year of consolidation, has it actually been lower in the aggregate than last year, namely, in 1898, when it was $3,186,890. In short, with eight times the population, the loss was actually nearly $1,000,000 less than in the first year after the creation of the paid Fire Department 50 years ago. Fires during the year numbered 13,416. Of these 7,951 were trivial blazes, extinguished without the aid even of a fire engine. One stream extinguished 3.509. From any single fire the heaviest loss was $130,IKK).

How the Budget Was Reduced.

Not less remarkable is the budget reduction. Up to 1015, for a period of 16 years, the Fire Department budget increased at the annual rate of $313,079—almost a million dollars every three ears. When your administration began fireouses for 20 companies were under construction. some of them practically completed. They were in newly built up sections of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, The Bronx and Upper Manhattan where fire protection was urgently needed. For these houses not a dollar had been provided in the budget for men and equipment. When the Fire Commissioner asked for it in the fall of 1915 he was told to come back the next year and get it when the houses were ready. How to man these companies without a great increase in expense, and thus enforce the policy of economy to which your administration was pledged, was the first problem confronting me here. It has been solved. Companies have been placed in every one of these firehouses, and three other fire companies organized besides, one of them the Rescue Company—24 companies in all. For these 24 companies, the annual payroll and maintenance charges are approximately $515,000 a year. Employees to meet new duties have also been added to each of our three civilian bureaus of the Department at an increased cost of $74,412 a year. Despite this extension of service, not a dollar of additional appropriation was asked for to meet these increases. On the contrary, for the first time in the history of the Greater City, and, so far as 1 know, in the entire history of the Department, the budget was reduced instead of increased. This decrease in the budget for 1915 was $65,110, and in the budget for .1916 it amounts to $173,050. The means by which this was accomplished chiefly are these: Cost of supplies reduced, $294,647; vacant positions abolished, $95,990; details of 16 officers and 63 firemen revoked; fifteen fire companies, rendered obsolete by motorization and other causes, discontinued and 7 captains, 20 lieutenants, 20 engineers, 157 firemen and 4 pilots thereby released for dutyin newcompanies; repair shops, fuel depots, stables and storehouses consolidated; forty buildings and sites given up and cost of maintenance saved. This reduction was effected without dismissing employees, or wholesale salary reductions. Salaries of 113 employees were increased, and only 85 reduced. In all, only eight employees were actually dismissed from the Department in two years—2 horseshoers, 2 horseshoers’ helpers, 2 stablemen, 1 caulker and 1 watchman no longer needed because of the decrease in horses. Other employees whose places were abolished were taken care of by transfer to vacant positions in this or sonie other City Department. How rapidly reductions may be made by dropping only those positions which become vacant by death, resignation or retirement is shown by the fact that in two years our reductions by this method amounted to almost $100,000. These reductions in the budget are a permanent saving. The cost of maintaining these abolished activities and positions will not reappear as an annual item in the budget. The surrendered buildings and sites can be sold or rented and the proceeds used to reduce taxation. Had not these decreases and readjustments been made, we must, perforce, have increased the budget to the extent of the cost of new companies and employees, instead of reducing it, as we did, a difference of about threequarters of a million dollars. This Departmental revision was based upon a careful survey of the Department, its needs and requirements. Especially was great care exercised in respect to the fire companies discontinued. Most of the changes were made on the advice of Chief Kenlon and a Board of Chiefs In each instance action was based upon the past working record of the company at fires, and upon the recommendation of the Chief of Department that it was no longer needed in its old location. In this redistribution of 15 companies we have merely taken intelligent advantage of the changes wrought by motorization and the evolution in fire conditions. Most of the companies were obsolete where they were. One of them, located almost within stone’s throw of another company, Chief Lally stated, might have been discontinued years ago without a particle of disadvantage to the service. One company worked at only 29 fires in three years, and on each occasion at least three other companies were present.

Fire Commissioner Robert Adamson.

Causes of Reduced Fire Loss.

To three causes the reduced fire loss may be attributed: Systematic extension of fire prevention, monthly building inspections by firemen and increased efficiency of the uniformed force, due to the Fire College and School of Instruction training. More sprinklers were installed under fire prevention orders in 1915 than in any previous year, and the greatest amount of substantial structural fire prevention work in buildings was secured. This is because 300 firemen, one in each company district, relieved the F’ire Prevention Inspectors of the houskeeping inspections and left them free for the more effective and permanent form of structural fire prevention work. The 300 firemen inspectors made 1,500,000 inspections during the year, and corrected 50,000 fire producing conditions by verbal requests. Their work caused buildings generally to be kept in better condition and undoubtedly substantially reduced the number of fires. Specific proof of the effect of structural fire prevention work upon the loss is supplied by official reports of many fires by officers in charge. These tell of fires extinguished by sprinklers, of fires checked and loss curtailed by fire prevention installations.

Where Fire Prevention Prevented.

Acting Chief Martin reported that a fire wall prevented a three alarm fire from becoming a conflagration. Captain Callagy reported two fires extinguished by sprinklers. Captain Dunn reported an East 8th street factory fire was held in check by a sprinkler until firemen arrived. Two fires in a Pearl street factory, at different times during the year, were kept from going to upper floors by a fireproof elevator enclosure. Automatic fire doors confined a serious fire to the cellar of a lower Broadway building. Another cellar fire two doors away was similarity confined and extinguished by a sprinkler. Fire doors prevented fire in a Brooklyn factory from extending to two connecting factory buildings. The same thing occurred in a large upper Fifth Avenue factory. These are but a few instances, taken at random. Scores might be cited. The attached report of Chief Hammittt tells of five lodging house fires checked, and panic and loss of life undoubtedly prevented, by recently installed fire prevention work. These instances suffice to indicate the class of fire prevention work being done and its effect in reducing fire loss. Open stairs and open elevator shafts and trap doors provide ready made flues for flames, and in buildings where such openings are not protected fire spreads with incredible rapidity. Had the stairways of the Brooklyn factory, in which 13 lives were lost by fire last November, been enclosed the fire would doubtless have been confined to the first floor, and no lives have been lost. As it was. the flames swept through the building inside of five minutes. Another factor in reducing the loss is the increased efficiency of the uniformed force. This is strikingly shown by reduced consumption of water at fires. Chief Kenlon reports only 47,683,2S3 gallons used last year. How much the force has improved in this respect is shown by the fact that in 1914, 76,826,586 gallons were used; in 1913, 114,606,785 gallons, and in 1912. 150,150,654 gallons. This is a direct result of Fire College training. Officers are instructed not to turn on water until it can be effectively used and to turn it off instantly when the fire is out. A minor, but still an interesting factor, in reducing the loss is the new “Smoke Squad.” This company is provided with oxygen helmets which fit over the head and shoulders like divers’ suits. Pulmotors, lungmotors, life lines, oxygen tanks, life guns and a special device for sawing iron and steel bars are a part of their equipment. They respond to fires where smoke and fumes are so dense that other firemen cannot enter the building. Last year they worked 71 dangerous and difficult fires. At many, they carried effective streams right up to the seat of the fire and quickly extinguished it. A similar company for Brooklyn will be installed in the coming year.

Department Now Half Motorized.

In mechanical equipment, the fire fighting force last year made material advance. Almost exactly half the apparatus of the Department is now motorized. Companies which have been motorized number 147, while horse-drawn companies number 148. We have 233 pieces of motorized and 280 pieces of horse-drawn apparatus. During the year six new gasoline pumping engines, replacing old fashioned coal burning engines, were purchased. In 1915, 92, and in 1914, 76 pieces of motor apparatus were added to the Department—168 in all.

Where Fires Occurred.

Carelessness continued to hold first place as the cause of fires, and the great majority of fires continued to occur in homes of the people. Of the total number of fires (13,416) 8.960 occurred in places in which people live. As 1.961 of tlie year’s fires occurred outside buildings, only 2,495 fires, therefore, occurred in buildings other than homes. In other words, we had 8,960 in homes and only 2,495 in other buildings. The remedy for this condition is obvious—greater care in the home. A marked increase was shown in factory fires—845 in 1915, as compared with 540 in 1914—a fact probably attributable to the increase in hazardous manufacturing incidental to the war. On the other hand there was a great decrease in fires in lofts and business buildings. In 1914 there were 1,285 fires in this class of buildings; in 1915 only 443.

New Fire Alarm System in Manhattan.

After years of agitation, money was finally appropriated last year for a new fire alarm system in Manhattan Borough. Plans and specifications for all sections of the new system are being prepared by our engineering force, and contracts should be let before the coming summer. I intend to push the new system to completion in the shortest possible time. The Board of Estimate and Apportionment appropriated $875,000 for the work, which, with the balance of unexpended appropriations on hand, will enable us to complete the construction. A reduction in insurance rates of no less than 16 per cent, on the cost of the system will be made by the Fire Insurance Exchange in recognition of the new system, when complete. Before action was taken on my request for the appropriation, I formally asked the Exchange what reduction in rates would be made provided a new fire alarm system was constructed. By formal resolution the Exchange agreed that upon the installation of the new system “in accordance with plans and specifications for building and equipment approved and to be approved by the New York Board of Fire Underwriters, a reduction of 1 per cent, be made in the rates of the New York Fire Insurance Exchange existing at the time such installation is completed.” In order that property owners may realize the benefit of this offer, we are submitting copies of all plans of the Underwriters’ engineers, who, so far, have approved them, and who have given us valuable help and co-operation. All underground subways for the system are to be furnished by the Empire City Subway Company, under the terms of its contract with the city. This space is to be supplied to us without cost.

New System Needed in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

There is now pending before the Board of Estimate and Appointment my application for $630,000 for a permanent, modern fire alarm installation, covering one-third of Brooklyn, and for $545,850 for a new system in the southern half of the Bronx. I strongly urge that these appropriations be granted. Overhead wires in these boroughs are at the mercy oi any storm. Nine storms last winter kept us in a continual state of anxiety. In the storm of March last, 1,142 out of 1,718 fire alarm boxes were put out of commission. In the storm of December last, 423 of the 481 boxes in the Bronx were put out of service, and many of them remained out approximately four days. We were compelled to establish a temporary patrol of firemen to go through the street and report and extinguish fires. The labor force of the fire alarm telegraph bureau was utterly insufficient to make the emergency repairs. An auxiliary squad of linemen, consisting of seventeen firemen, experienced in that kind of work, was formed to assist the bureau in restoring alarm service.

Bureau of Fire Investigation.

On July 1, 1915, the fire marshal’s bureau was detached from the bureau of fire prevention and organized into a separate bureau, known as the bureau of fire investigation. Fire Marshal Thomas P. Brophy, who had done excellent and energetic work in Brooklyn in detecting cases of arson, was made acting chief of the bureau. Incendiary fires incidental to the war have given this bureau a great deal of difficult work during the year. Excellent work has been done by the bureau so far. During the year, 50 persons were arrested and 36 persons convicted by this bureau.

Prospect of Further Reductions.

On the whole, we feel that the results achieved throughout the department during the year were highly satisfactory. In particular, are the reductions in fire loss and the budget encouraging. The significance of these results is that they definitely mark the turning point in the campaign to reduce the fire loss by fire prevention and to check for the first time the annually increasing cost of the department. The work of fire prevention has by no means been completed. Nor have the possibilities of revision and readjustment in the administrative processes of the department been exhausted. I believe that by the energetic continuation of the administrative activities and processes by which the reductions of last year were secured, we should continue to reduce the normal average fire loss of the city and, at least, prevent for some time to come, a return of the era of increasing budgets.


I have the honor to recommend the following measures for the future improvement of the department: (1) That motorization be completed as rapidly as possible. This not only increases efficiency by extending the radius of operation, and making possible quicker response to fires, but such is the economy in operation of motor as opposed to horse-drawn apparatus that if all apparatus were now motorized a saving of $132,000 a year could be made; (2) that pending applications for modernizing fire alarm systems in Brooklyn and the Bronx be granted; (3) that funds be provided for a new central fire house in Jamaica in which the four fire companies in that section may be located; (4) that the high pressure system be extended from 34th street to 59th street, Manhattan, through the eastern district of Brooklyn, and into the Rockaway section of Queens; (5) that the purchase and operation of private fire alarm companies as a part of our system, be authorized; (6) that steps be taken by the water department by which sprinklers, to be connected with the city’s water system and operated by pressure from the mains, may be installed in cellars of tenement houses. I am advised if this is done, sprinklers can be installed at a cost of $75 per building, which sum could easily be saved by the reduction in insurance. Such installations would greatly reduce the loss of life from fire in tenement houses; (7) that the water department be requested to make further investigation of the feasibility of increasing pressure in the Croton mains for the operation of sprinklers in factories and other buildings. This would eliminate the cost to the owner of roof tanks and pumps where sprinklers are installed and greatly accelerated sprinkler installations. I transmit herewith reports from heads of the various bureaus of this department, showing in detail the operations of the department for the year. I also attach hereto a postscript giving a summary of the principal changes made in this department during your administration. Very respectfully,

(Signed) ROBERT ADAMSON, Fire Commissioner.




The annual report of Fire Commissioner Robert Adamson, of New York City, for the year 1914 was presented to Mayor Mitchel this week and shows that the principal features of the work accomplished by the Commission during the year were: The lowest per capita fire loss for any year in the history of the city save one. The lowest fire loss for any year since 1907 save two, with a population 1,379,000 greater. A budget for 1915 lower by $65,000 than that for 1914, despite provision for 20 new fire companies, costing $400,000 year—the first decrease in the Fire Department budget since the creation of the Greater City. The return to the city of ten fire buildings, no longer needed as a result of economies, valued at $350,000. A reduction of $152,928.27 in open market order purchases for the department. An increase of 58 1/2 per cent, in the number of Fire Prevention orders complied with and of 29 1/2 per cent, in the number issued. Winning of a suit establishing Fire Commissioner’s right to recover cost of extinguishing a fire due to “culpable and wilful negligence.” Establishment of an emergency fire alarm system, introduction of the teaching of fire prevention in the schools, inspection of all lodging houses and public schools and the introduction of many measures of improvement and economy. After summing up the work of the year. Commissioner Adamson says that it shows excellent work in all branches of the department and that the economies effected constitute a really double achievement in economical municipal management. These economies were effected in the fare of a great expansion of the department, and were made possible only by reducing details of firemen and by taking intelligent advantage of the benefits of the motorization of fire apparatus. Details were revoked of firemen whose annual salaries amount to $107,500, and by careful readjustment of companies firemen with annual salaries of $164,100 were made available for new companies, and apparatus valued at $64,-000 was also made available. These changes, with the saving of $152,000 in the purchase of supplies, enabled the Fire Commissioner for the first time in the history of greater New York to present a decreased budget, while at the same time adding to the service additional firemen equal to the force of a city the size of Buffalo or Rochester.

Report in Detail.

Fire Commissioner Adamson’s report to the Mayor, more in detail, is as follows: “1. The fire loss was the lowest of any year since 1907, except two, 1909 and 1913, and the loss per capita the lowest of any year in the history of the city except one. This despite the fact that the losses for the United States and Canada were the largest in history, except alone 1904, 1906 and 1908, the years in which the Baltimore, San Francisco and Chelsea conflagrations occurred, this loss being significantly high in the period following the declaration of war in Europe, increasing in the United States and Canada $6,000,000 in November and over $7,000,000 in December (about 50 per cent). Thus notwithstanding their abnormal increase in losses, undoubtedly largely due to commercial causes, and an increase of 1,579,470 in population since 1907, our local fire loss was $1,195,251 less than in that year and the per capita loss 78 cents less. 2. Despite a vast extension of the work of the department, including nine new companies already organized and eleven new companies shortly to be organized—twenty in all, with an aggregate payroll of about $400,000—the budget for the fire department is $65,110.80 less for this year than for 1914. This decrease would be $115,110.80 had not $50,000 been included for hose, an item not previously incorporated in the budget. 3. Though an increase of only twenty firemen was allowed for 1914, these for the fireboat ‘Gaynor,’ and though it was understood funds would be requested during the year for men for the new companies, three new companies were organized May 15th, and six on December 31st last, without an additional dollar being asked for, the necessary men being procured by revocation of details and by relocation of companies, due to a careful study of the effect of motorization. 4. Officers and firemen on details were sent back to fire duty, men thus being found for the new fire companies, as follows: 2 battalion chiefs, $6,600; 7 lieutenants, $14,700; 4 engineers, $6,400; 57 firemen, $79,800; total, $107,500. 5. Four fire companies, five second sections and six sipall combination hose and chemical companies, shown by careful study to be no longer needed at their old locations because of motorization and changed conditions, were discontinued, thus releasing for new companies 8 captains, 8 lieutenants, 4 engineers and 93 firemen, with total salaries of $164,100 and apparatus valued at $64,000. 6. By expert study of heating requirements in each fire house, on which fixed coal allowances for each and a fixed heating period of 150 days were based, a saving in coal was effected of $12,000. 7. New gasoline specifications resulted in a saving of $6,000. 8. One fireman (salary $1,400) with a $450 runabout, was substituted for nine messengers (salaries $12,600 a year). 9. New quarters for two fireboat crews, costing $14,000, were built out of budget savings. 10. $17,000 saved in “Maintenance of Apparatus” has been set aside to buy four motor fuel wagons, which will replace 11 horse-drawn wagons, releasing when in service seven more firemen (salaries $9,800) a year, and saving $15,400 in upkeep. 11. A notable saving was made in open market purchases, such purchases amounting in 1913 to $333,054.97, and in 1914 to $180,126.70, a reduction of $152,928.27. 12. Not a dollar was paid out for architect’s fees, all the work being done by our own force. 13. In addition to this budget saving, ten buildings and sites, found by a study of the department to be no longer needed, were surrendered to the city to be sold (value $350,000). 14. New hose specifications, so drawn as to exclude favoritism and secure good hose, were prepared by a distinguished body of disinterested engineers, appointed at my request, one each by the Chamber of Commerce, the Merchants Association, the National Board of Fire Underwriters and the Society of Mechanical Engineers, in co-operation with our own engineers and those of the Board of Estimate. 15. The Fire Prevention Bureau secured compliance with 6,649 more orders than were complied with in 1913, an increase of 58½ per cent., and this Bureau issued 5,845 more orders than were issued in 1913, an increase of 29½ per cent. 16. A system of monthly housekeeping inspections by the uniformed force was inaugurated in January of last year, and 1,224,177 such inspections were made and 156,612 corrective verbal orders issued. By this means 13,000 complaints accumulated here on January 1, 1914, were disposed of. 17. An investigation of fire protection in the public schools by a board of experts appointed by me resulted in a new code of safety standards for schools being adopted and steps being taken to secure enforcement of those standards by placing a printed copy in the hands of each janitor with directions to enforce the housekeeping regulations, and by asking the Board of Estimate for funds for structural compliance. 18. Fire Commissioner brought and won a suit establishing for the first time in history his right to collect expense of extinguishing a, fire caused by’ ‘culpable and wilful negligence’—-a decision which has attracted national attention and resulted in national movement to secure legislation in all the States enabling fire authorities to bring similar suits. 19. Inspected all lodging houses and had them provided with adequate exits, fire alarm systems, watchmen, fire detectors, fireproof windows, stairways, etc. 20. Introduced teaching of fire prevention in public schools, which has attracted national attenion. 21. Seventysix new pieces of motor apparatus were added to our equipment—27 hose wagons, 42 tractors and seven combination hose and chemical wagons. 22. Construction work on contracts aggregating $405,801.87 for the improvement of the fire alarm system, including three new central office buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx, were completed, and detailed plans for a new fire alarm system in Manhattan prepared and a request for funds to construct this system made to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. 23. An emergency fire alarm central system, for use in case of a breakdown in the present system in Manhattan, was, by arrangement with the New York Telephone Company, installed in East 58th .Street, Manhattan. 24. A plan was submitted by the Fire Commissioner to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment providing for the operation by this department of the fire alarm service in office and other buildings, a service now supplied by private companies, which plan, if adopted, will provide ample revenue to pay the operating and maintenance cost of the entire Fire Alarm Telegraph Bureau. 25. The Fire Commissioner suggested to Your Honor, and is now, at your request, working out in detail plans for the’ consolidation of all the numerous repair shops of all city departments, which will result in releasing numerous valuable buildings and sites now used for repair shops, and a great reduction in the operating cost of the city’s repair work.


Excellent Work in All Branches.

“This record, I feel, shows that excellent work was done by the department in all its branches, and that in the matter of economical municipal management a really notable record was achieved. To be able to organize twenty new fire companies and otherwise to extend the work of the department, while at the same time cutting the budget for 1915 $65,110.80 below the figures of 1914, means in itself a clear saving in administrative cost of almost half a million dollars. The new companies added last year and to be added this year constitute a fire department for a city the size of Buffalo or Rochester. These new companies had to be organized. New houses for them had almost been completed in BrookJyn. Queens, The Bronx and Richmond earlv last year. Had not a way been found bv a most minute study of the uniformed force to obtain men for these new companies out of the existing force and by the practice of the most stringent economy in the purchase of supplies, I would have been compelled to ask the Board of Estimate and Apportionment for funds for every officer and man needed to man those new companies, approximately $20 000 per company. Indeed it was definitely understood between the Fire Commissioner and the Board in the Fall of 1913, when the budget for 1914 was being made up, that onlv 20 men for the fireboat “Gaynor” would be allowed in the budget, but that he would come back during the year for the men for the new companies. Having in mind the imperative need for economy, my first concern after becoming Fire Commissioner on January 1, 1914, was to see whether we did not have enough firemen on details and elsewhere to enable us to get through the year without asking for anv additional men, at least until the new budget was made up. Consequently I made a careful study of the entire department, in which I was assisted by a board of high officers of the uniformed force, headed by Chief Kenlon, to see whether or not, as a result of motorization or other causes, there were not some companies which might be discontinued at their old location with advantage to the service. After careful study and with the approval in each case of the board of experienced officers, it was determined that five second sections of double companies, four separate companies, six small combination hose and chemical companies could be discontinued. These changes and the revocation of the details of 13 officers and 57 firemen, together with substantial savings made in the purchase of supplies, made it possible for the department not onlv to get through 1914 without any money being asked for but actually to submit for 1915 a substantially decreased budget. Three of the new companies were organized on May 15 last year, and six on December 31. The others are to be organized as soon as new apparatus can be procured. Therefore, had we not made the changes I have outlined, all of which are merely in the line of adjustment of companies to meet present day conditions, and had we not installed substantial economies in the purchase of supplies, the budget of the department for 1915 must of necessity have been at least $500,000 more than in 1914. In addition to this, as shown in the foregoing summary, these changes made available for service in the new companies apparatus valued at $64,000. These changes were merely bringing the department up-to-date. Motorization has greatly increased the rapidity of operation of the fire companies and extended their radius of operation. It was only natural that the city should reap some advantage from the ‘greatly increased speed and efficiency that have come with the introduction of motor apparatus, high pressure service and other mechanical improvements. In line with this same policy was the surrender of this department of ten valuable buildings and sites hitherto used by this department. It was found that these buildings were really not needed by the department and that the department would be saved the expense of maintaining them and the city should be allowed to sell them, turn the proceeds into the general fund and add this property to the taxable values of the city.

Statistics for the Year.

“On December 31 the uniformed force consisted of exactly 5,000 men as against 4,952 on December 31, 1913. The total number of fire companies on December 31, 1914, was 295. The total number of fire alarms received was 16 245 of which 1,820 were false alarms. The actuai number of fires was 14,425. Of these fires the extraordinary large number of 2,414 occurred outside of buildings—that is, brush fires, bonfires, automobile fires in the street, etc. The total fire loss was $8,217,811, an average loss per fire of $464.11, and a per capita loss of $1.44. The total fire loss in 1913 was $7,467,991, and the total number of fires was 12,598. The average fire loss in 1913 was $576.32. There was, therefore, an increase of $749,814 in the fire loss in 1914, and a reduceion in the average loss from $576.32 to $464.11. There was an increase in the population of the city in 1914 of 216,000. A large number of the fires in 1914 are accohnted for by the many brush fires which occurred in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island during the excessively dry period last fall, by the severe winter with the blizzard of March 1, during which the number of fires trebled, and by the economic and business depression in the fire months following the war. The year 1914, as I have already shown, recorded the heaviest fire losses ever known throughout the country generally, except during the three historic conflagration years. The fact that this increase in loss occurred in the last few months of the year, after war was declared, has caused fire authorities generally to ascribe the increase to business conditions. The hre loss by years since 1907, together with the per capita loss, was:

“The number of fires per 1,000 population was 2.53. The total value of property protected by the New York Fire Department is $10,264,060,715. There are in the city 375,037 separate buildings, divided as follows: Tenements, 100,504; 1 family frame or brick houses, 150,723; 2 family frame or brick houses, 75,195; hotels and elevator apartments, 2,747; warehouses, 9,782; office buildings, 1,169; factory buildings, 5,290; theatres, 229; stables and garages, 14,payers, etc., 15,115. Of last year’s fires, 9,243 occurred occurred in in places ulaces in in which whirl, people neonlr live—prili..r—r.ri_ vate dwellings, tenement houses, hotels and boarding houses. This was 64 per cent, of all our fires. Of the remaining number of fires 2,414 occurred outside of buildings, which means that only 2,768 fires occurred in buildmgs other than those used as homes. There were 6,781 fires in tenement houses alone. There were 1,167 fires in bedrooms, 1,674 in cellars, 478 in chimneys, 1,340 in kitchens 1,031 in parlors and dining rooms, 375 in closets, 180 in bathrooms, 490 awning fires, 105 dumbwaiter fires and 215 fires under stoops, porches and areaways. To each of these fires the department had to send men and apparatus. Most of these fires were due to downright carelessness. Investigation by our Fire Marshals shows that the principal causes of fire were: Carelessness with cigars, cigarettes and smoking pipes, 1,342 fires; careless use of candles and tapers, 523; children playing with matches or fire, 755; careless use of matches, 1,248; overheated stoves, boilers, ranges, etc., 958; defective insulation, 472; hot ashes igniting woodwork, 90; bonfires, brush fires and rubbish fires, 1,491. It is obvious that the only method of fire prevention which can reduce these classes of fire is one which will reform the habits of the people. It was with this idea in mind that I conceived the plan of having fire prevention taught in the public schools. A compact, illustrated text book was prepared, suitable for use in all classes, and setting forth the way fires start, what causes them and the serious and fatal consequences which often follow. President Churchill, of the Board of Education, and Superintendent Maxwell have co-operated fully in introducing this useful branch of study. Through publicity, by parades, lectures and in other ways, I have sought to impress upon the public the true acts . to the causes of fire and the co-oper tion which is needed from the public in order o reduce them. The Fire Prevention Bureau ssued 2~,6~3 orders, as against 10,808 in 1913, n incrcae of The increase in orders :oniplied with was even more marked, 18,010 )eing complied with in 1914, as compared with [1,361 in 1913, an increase of or per ent. The effective work done by this Bureau n improving the fire protection in lodging hiouses is described in detail in the report of [he Bureau, which is transmitted herewith. rhis Bureau is handicapped by an insufficient Force, and I have tried to make up this short age by using the uniformed firemen to make certain kinds of fire prevention inspection. There were 13,000 uninvestigated complaints in the Bureau on January 1, 1914. Since that time practically all of these have been cleaned up with the help of the uniformed force. In Jan uary of last year I inaugurated a system of monthly housekeeping inspections by mem bers of the uniformed force. These inspec (ions are not intended to be used as the basis Df fire prevention orders but merely to see that the housekeeping of buildings is properly looked after and that all fire appliances in uildin~s are kept in condition for itustant use, that exits are not blocked, that “No Smoking” iigns are properly displayed, etc. Of course, the fireiuicn were instructed to report any dan erous condition found. 1 am now planning to roaden these inspections so as to include the iiaking of reports on garages, drug stores and laces where kerosene oil is stored. Chief Kenon enthusiastically approves these inspections [[or their work. There were 60 arrests for arson in 1914, and 37 convictions. The Fire Marshals Bureau reported 173 incendiary fires for the year. Of course, these were only a fractional part of the actual number of fires of this character. The very nature of the crime of arson makes it one of the most difficult to detect. On December 31, 1913, there were 1,341 horses in the department, and on De cember 31, 1914, only 1,167. Contract~ were let during the year for 75 pieces of motor ap paratus to take the places of the horses re tired. Forty-two pieces of this new ap paratus arc tractors, each one of which represents a saving in maintenance as compared with the horse of $480 per year, $20,160 a year for all. On the 27 motor propelled tenders installed there will be a sav ing in maintenance of $280 per year on each. Shortly after my own appointment, I appointed W. Holden Weeks and Richard H. Laimbeer, Jr., as Deputy Commissioners, and Clarence H. Fay, Secretary of Department. Deputy Commissioner Laimbeer ivas assigned in charge of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Later in the year Joseph O. Hammitt was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention, and on v1arch 1, Put nani A Bates was appointed Chief 1 the Bureau of Fire Alarm Telegraph. Facti of these men has been of great assistancr in the admin istration and has rendered excCllent service the City. I wish al. t~ dd that the uniformed force under Chief John Kenkim has maintained its high reputation for valor and efficiency.



That the installation of the high pressure water service, which was extended during the year from 23rd to 34th streets, Manhattan, be extended to cover all of Manhattan Island south of 59th Street. That the high pressure service he extended in Brooklyn and in the Rockaway section as recommended by Chief Kenlon. That funds be immediately provided to complete the construction of a new fire alarm system in Manhattan, and as soon as possible to place all the wires underground and reconstruct the system in the other boroughs. That the Fire Department he empowered to begin at once the operation, in connection with its street box fire alarm system, of fire alarms in private buildings, now operated by private companies, charging a reasonable fee to the owners of buildings for such service. That the two large Repair Shops of the Fire Department be combined with the Repair Shops of all other City Departments in one large centrally located shop. That sufficient funds be provided to complete the motorization of all fire apparatus by the end of 1917 according to the schedule fixed by this Department.”