PRIMITIVE FIRE FIGHTING IN NEW YORK.
In the days of the old Volunteer fire department in New York, a glimpse of which is occasionally brought to light through the dem’se of one of the “vamps,” matters were not regulated and ordered as they are to-day, but nearly everything depended upon the judgment or foresight of the individual, and there was, practically, no public authority to enforce compliance with even the most reasonable regulations A quite large item of domestic importations during the years preceding the Civil War was cotton, chiefly from New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, and Charleston. This cotton was stored in cotton warehouses, and, when a fire occurred in one of these, it lasted, usually, not several hours, but several days. One such conflagration in the first year of the century at the corner of Roosevelt and Front streets lasted three days, at the end of which the walls stood intact. Some years later in another fire in a cotton warehouse, it was thought necessary to blow up an adjacent building to prevent the flames from spreading, as the water was frozen and there was a high wind blowing. The owner of the premises refused to give up the keys, and, as the firemen had no right to demand them, an interview was arranged with the mayor to talk the matter over. The mayor recommended that the keys should be demanded “in the name of the city.” The owner continued to refuse, until,finally,the police were called. 1 hen he gave the keys.
Another cotton warehouse fire occurred in New street. When it was supposed that there would be no further conflagration, the firemen were told that they might better go home They went home, leaving one company only on the spot play. ing on the cotton until daybreak. As the cotton continued to smoulder, the proposition was made that much time might be saved by the adoption of a new plan of fire fighting, and so the originator of it, Zophar Mills, “went down to the wharf and hired some laborers at fifty cents an hour.” They com menced throwing the cotton out of the windows into the street and pumping water on it through hose thus, as Mr. Mills described the method, “bringing the water in contact with every particle of fire.
The kindly deeds of great public benefactors, are seldom appreciated by thtir contemporaries. The next day Mr. Mills sought out the insurance companies which had policies on the cotton saved, and presented his bill for the money paid the wharf laborers. It was about $45Mr thought the companies would pay it promptly, as by his original method of-cotton saving they had been saved several thousand dollars. The companies, however, refused to liquidate Mr. Mill’s bill, and, as he added in his memoirs, “it was with the greatest difficulty I got my money back, promising myself not to do the :e again.”
Under the organized rule of the present New York fire dertment the engagement of dock laborers at fifty cents an ,ur would be regarded as a somewhat primitive method of e fighting, and the presentation by the foreman 01 a fire mpany of a bill to some insurance company would probab y itail as a penalty his removal from the force, and he, too, to Ho the like afain.
The fire alarm of Fulton, N. Y„ is nearly completed. The batteries are all in position in the engine house, and the tower striker and box will be in place in a few days.