New York Fire Record for 1916
New York City had 756 fewer fires in tenement houses in 1914 than in_1915, as shown by a compilation of the 1916 fire records, completed by Fire Commissioner Robert Adamson. This great reduction in so dangerous a class of fires Commissioner Adamson considers the most encouraging single result produced by fire prevention. He attributes it principally to the monthly inspection by uniformed firemen of cellars and hallways of tenements, inaugurated in January, 1914, and tod the 250,000 personal fire warnings distributed to tenement house dwellers in 1916, and to the good work of the Tenement House Department. “This reduction in tenement house fires,” said Commissioner Adamson, “has been extremely marked during the last three years, averaging over 700 fires a year. There were only 5,839 fires in tenements last year. The lowest previous number in tenement houses, shown in the records of the Fire Department, is 6,220. In 1915 there were 6,584 fires in tenements; in 1914, 6,741; in 1913, 6,220; in 1912, 7,808; in 1911, 7,297. In the last three years, 1914, 1915 and 1916,” said Commissioner Adamson, “we had a total of 19,204 tenement house fires. In the three years preceding that we had a total of 21,325. We have been constantly hammering it into the people that 65 per cent, of our fires occur in their homes, and that they are caused by some form of carelessness. We have used moving pictures, circulars, newspaper publicity and every other form of fire prevention education. Two years ago this Department arranged to have fire prevention taught to the children in the public schools, and we published about 1,000,000 copies of a special fire prevention text-book prepared by one of my assistants. I believe this work is telling. This year we are going to resort to a new form of fire prevention campaigning—billboards.” The effect of fire prevention is reflected in the fire record generally for last year. There were 313 fewer fires in buildings than in 1915. This decrease in fires in buildings also makes a remarkable showing for the three years last past. In spite of the fact that in these years (1914, 1915 and 1916) there have been constructed 34,232 new buildings, costing $448,021,478, there was a decrease in the number of fires in buildings in those years, as compared with the three years preceding (1911, 1912 and 1913) of 2,972. The reduction in loss has been proportionately marked. For the three years 1911, 1912 and 1913, the total fire loss for the city was $29,008,383. For the three years 1914, 1915 and 1916, the total fire loss was $22,721,235. Thus the total reduction in the fire loss for the last three years, as compared with the previous three years amounted to $6,287,048. These figures make a remarkable showing for fire prevention and for the New York firemen,” said Commissioner Adamson. “New York City has grown at a remarkable rate and yet we have in these three years actually reduced the number of fires and the loss by fire. Last year particularly the fire hazard was the greatest ever known here, owing to the increase in the chemical industry, the great business activity which caused all our factories to be kept chock-a-block with materials, and the great shipment of war munitions fiom this port to Europe. But for the steamship and pier fires, due to munition shipments, the record of the fire loss would have beer extraordinary for the reduction shown.” The total number of fires last year was 13,676, and the total number of fires in buildings, 11,036.