Our Western Letter.
Chicago Office of FIRE AND WATER, 202-206 LA SALLE STREET,
May 16, 1S94.
IT is not often that we are called to chronicle the death by suicide of a member of the Chicago fire department. The oldest man in the department does not recall when the last violent act of this kind took place. But on Saturday night shortly ofter 7 o’clock, William N. Belt, driver for engine company No. 32, committed suicide by cutting his throat. The suicide took place at the corner of Pine and Pearson streets, and a dozen or more pedestrians saw the man when he killed himself. Belt, so several witnesses say, had been standing on the street corner for some time when he was seen to deliberately take a razor from his pocket and draw the blade across his throat.
The man fell to the ground and died almost instantly. Officer John Sedarburg, of the East Chicago avenue station, was near by and called the patrol wagon and the body was removed to Sigmund’s morgue at No 192 West Chicago avenue.
Belt’s relatives say he was not a drinking man. He went home to supper on Friday night and told his wife that he would return home early next afternoon or as soon as he was relieved from duty. When he did not return Mrs. Belt did not feel alarmed, she says, as he was often detained at the engine-house to do extra work. It was 10 o’clock when the woman learned that her husband had killed himself. She said their domestic relations were pleasant. He had no children.
There will be a test of a new standpipe system at the Counselman elevators in South Chicago next week, which will be given for the benefit of the fraternity and the Fire Department. The system is for outside protection, and is arranged after the pattern of the standpipes on the fire boats, so that water can be thrown in any direction. Powerful pumps ready for duty at all hours will furnish the motive power, and a special force will be drilled into use of the apparatus. With such a system the danger from outside fires should be reduced to a minimum.
The Muskegon, Mich., Board of Public Works and Board of Education got on an economical streak the other night, and at the close of the executive session had reduced their expenses by $30,000. The Board of Public Works adjourned at 12:30 and reported the following appointments : Chief police and city commissioner, Nels. P. Nelson; chief fire and water department, William Dixon ; city surveyor, Clifford F. Gamble.
At a meeting of the Milwaukee council committee on Fire Department, Monday, resolutions were recommended for the purchase of fifty additional hydrants and 100 tons of water pipe. A favorable report was also rendered on a communication from the Board of Public Works asking for an appropriation of $2,000 for the purchase of additional horses for the Fire Department. Chief Foley is urging the purchase for the department of some electrical apparatus by which signals can be given from one place to another during the progress of a fire. He explained this apparatus to the committee and said that its introduction in Milwaukee would prove exceptionably useful in the management of the fire boats James Foley and Cataract, as he claimed orders could then be given to them mnch more expeditiously than at present.
St. Louis is keeping abreast of the times, and is going to have another new engine house at Carondelet.
A correspondent in Sioux City, Neb., writes me as follows:
One of the most elaborate irrigation schemes that has ever been undertaken in this part of the West has just been incorporated by the Niobrara Irrigation and Power Company. The company is backed by some of the leading people of Northern Nebraska, and proposes to build a ditch to carry the Niobrara river through a great arid region and supply it with water. It is designed to tap the Niobrara river at a point about 300 miles west of the Missouri. The water will be carried several miles across the country, to the old Snake river bed. This stream is now nearly dry most of the year. It will follow this stream some distance and be turned into a chain of small lakes, once large but now nearly dry. By damming it in these lakes a reservoir of about forty square miles will be made. The lake beds are so high above the surrounding country as to give pressure to supply water for a distance of fifty miles to the east, north and south. P’rom the eastern end of the lakes the water will follow some small streams to a point where it can be returned to the Niobrara river.
Fremont, O., will build an additional water works reservoir.
Springfield, O., is going to extend its water works system.