NOTES FROM PHILADELPHIA.
The most important matter in connection with fire protection in Philadelphia during the past year was, of course, the completion and putting into service of the new fire pipe line in the business section of the city. The system has been tested and has proved altogether successful. It will be still further enhanced by the completion of the pumping station at the southwest corner of Delaware avenue and Race street.—The citizens are pluming themselves in the fact that two distinguished experts, one from Europe and the other from Melbourne, Australia, after inspecting the chief fire departments of the world, have declared that of Philadelphia to be far in advance of anything they had seen in their tours of inspecting fire departments either in Europe or America.—The repair shop of the Philadephia fire department is worthy of notice. It is thoroughly equipped for making all necessary repairs to the fire apparatus, and, besides, builds all the police patrol wagons and those used by the board of health and the electrical bureau.—During the past year ten new fire houses and a union police and fire station were completed and put into service.—The electrical bureau has kept pace with the growth of the city, and during the past year was begun the work of equipping the central office, with expensive apparatus, to facilitate the transmission of fire alarms. Communications may now be had from any point along the fire pipe line with the power house or the pumping station, thereby rendering the line ready for immediate use at whatever point a fire may he discovered. The work of the fire department will thus be greatly facilitated, and still further by the removal of several poles and miles of overhead wire. Nearly 1.000 miles of underground wire have been laid—making a present total of nearly 43,010 miles in use in this city.—The fire marshal’s force has been transformed into a detective one, with increased facilities. During the past year it arrested twentyeight persons, of whom eight were convicted, while three are awaiting trial, and eleven were discharged. A close inspection was made by the fire marshal of fire escapes and places where combustibles were carelessly kept. In several cases infringements of the law as to erecting fire escapes were discovered and ninety-four where the law as to the careful storage of combustibles was not observed. Five hundred and seventeen theatres, halls, department stores, etc., were inspected, with a view to providing precautions for property and life.—During the year there were 3,102 fires, involving losses on real estate of $605,531; on personal property, $1,501,427—total, $2,106,958. The insurance on these properties aggregated $42,527,650. The losses of 1902 were something over $500,000 less than those of 1901.—One great feature of the city’s fire equipment is its chemical apparatus, which, it is claimed, far exceeds that of any other department in the country. In the department there are forty-seven combination fire and chemical engines, five chemical engines, and eight fifty-six-gallon fire exteinguishers. Of the 3,102 fires in 1902 505 were put out by the chemical service alone.—During the year one large size hook and ladder truck was purchased, and the water tower was rebuilt, with all the recent improvements added to it.—The pension fund connected with the bureau of fire has in its treasury $287,071.04, and the amount paid out to beneficiaries during the year was $49,597.66.—The total force of the department is 849 men, which includes officers and those employed in the repair shops. The list of the uniformed men ineludes Chief Baxter; one assistant chief; ten district engineers; sixty-four firemen; sixty-six assistant firemen ; fifty-two enginemen ; fifty-two stokers ; eighty-one drivers; thirteen tillermen; and 509 hose and laddermen. The apparatus in active service, exclusive of the chemical already mentioned, is as follows: Steam fire engines, fifty; two-wheel hose carts, three: four-wheel hose carts, two; hose wagon for the three and one-half-inch hose to be used in connection with the fire pipe line, one; hook and ladder trucks, sixteen: water tower, one; fireboat. one: auxiliary fireboats (and police), four; Duval water towers, with aerial trucks, four ; fuel wagons, four. In reserve are the following: Steam fire engines, eleven; hose carts, nine; hook and ladder trucks, two; combination hose wagon and chemical engine, one. During the year was purchased 12,700 feet of two and one-half-inch hose and 6,000 of chemical, and there is always in reserve from 12.000 to 15,000 feet of hose. The total cost of maintaining the department for the year was $1,124,582.81, of which $914,240.70 was for salaries; $205,342.11 for general expenses; $5,000 appropriated to the fire Pension funds.—During the year 1902 112 fire escapes were erected.