NEW YORK’S PLIGHT IN CASE OF FIRE.
A WEEK or two ago the Wipke cigar factory on First avenue and Thirty-second street took fire, and its destruction involved that of a vast amount of surrounding property and the loss of four lives. The number of engines at work (some thirty odd) altogether overtaxed the powers of the miserably small mains on First avenues, with the result that fora considerable portion of the time these engines got absolutely no water at all. What happened on that occasion may happen at any moment in that neighborhood, which has long since outgrown the distribution system of earlier days. This has been pointed out over and over again in these columns, as well as in those of the daily press, but no notice has been taken of the defective supply, nor apparently will any remedy be applied at present. Whether this course is due to apathy or to some other cause, it can be stigmatized only as criminal,and the attention of the grand jury might well be called to it not only as regards that district, but also in the case of other parts of the city, especially in the drygoods territory south of Canal street, where, as nowhere else in the borough of Manhattan, are stored values running up high into the millions of dollars. In common with former Chief Bonner, FIRE AND WATER long ago advocated the laying of auxiliary pipe lines. Bnt no attention has been paid to the suggestion—in fact, it has been openly opposed by some, on the ground that the salt water from the North or East river would injure the fine silk and other fabrics held in stock by the wholesale houses in that neighborhood. Commonsense, however, would seem to dictate that it were better afew bolts of silk or clothshould be spoiled than that whole blocks should be swept by a conflagration, with which no fire department, even that of New York, with the inadequate water facilities that now obtain in this city, would be able to cope. Chief Croker, in a recent interview, rehabilitates the auxiliary pipe idea, which while a battalion chief, he, of course, must often have heard discussed by his chief, Hugh Bonner, some three or four years ago. He now brings it up again, in the hope, as we suppose, of forcing the authorities to take some action iu the matter: He says that, owing to the narrowness of the island below Canal street, in no other city in the country could the great advantages of auxiliary pipe lines be so quickly and cheaply secured. There should be below Canal street, a complete auxiliary pipe-line system running from the East and North rivers to Broadway, with four pumping stations—two on each river. These pumping stations should be equipped with modern and powerful pumping engines, capable of feeding properly the entire pipe system of that section. There should be a sufficient number of hydrants to cover the territory fully, and at each of these hydrants there should be means of signaling direct to the various pumping stations. These pumping (stations should also receive all fire signals from stations in the piped territory, so that, on receipt of a fire signal, the pumps could be started and the pipes charged, ready for service on the arrival of the engines, if necessary. The cost of such a system as that would be comparatively small. I believe that $750,000 would be sufficient for that section of the city, and when it is considered that the loss at a single fire on account of a failure of the present water supply might easily be many times that sum, the whole subject should receive immediate and careful attention. This rehabilitation of the advocacy of the system so strongly upheld by Mr. Bonner, when chief of the New York fire department, and by FIRE AND WATER on various occasions, is timely at present, when this city’s system of water supply needs not only adding to, but a complete overhauling. It rests with the insurance men, property-owners, and big dry goods and other wholesale merchants to take the matter up and not to rest till some remedy of some sort is adopted to do away with the existing evil aud dangerous conditions.