PROPER FIRE PROTECTION.
Commenting editorially on “Proper Fire Protection,” the Indianapolis, Ind., “News,” in a recent issue, said: “It is a sign of a great advance when we refuse to construct buildings likely to burn easily. In the last generation and before, few buildings were erected that were in any sense fireproof. We of today inherit these buildings and accept the risk. And now and then the burning of a public institution and the attendant loss of life show how great the risk is. New York has awakened to the responsibility involved, and has been at work for some time rendering such public buildings nearer fireproof. For the first time in the State’s history such work is now being done under the supervision of the Board of Public Charities. The work indues nearly 300 buildings, which house 13,000 inmates and over 3,000 employees, and will cost only $175,000. It is regarded as the best work that the city ever did for the same money. The municipality cannot discard the old buildings which, aside from the lack of safety, are sound; nor can it make these entirely fireproof, but it can equip them so as to approximate fireproof conditions. So it is putting in fire walls and fire doors, dividing the buildings into sections, isolating each in case a fire breaks out in any compartment. In some cases a fire wall has been put in from cellar to roof, but in most cases the end can be gained at less cost. There is, of course, still great risk. But the new system supplemented by watchfulness will make virtual safety. An experienced hotel man once said that the best fire prevention was a vigilant system of night watchmen. New York proposes thus to supplement its work. In some cases additional fire escapes are installed. The details are not important. The principle is all important and is the thing to which all states could wisely direct their attention. This is based mainly on the idea of fire walls ana horizontal exits, it being found that the chute system of escapes was in many cases useless because of neglect which had allowed the chute to rust. The whole lesson is for a state or city to render its non-fireproof buildings as near fireproof as possible by compartments divided by firewalls, and then to institute a system of fire drills and watchfulness which should not be allowed to fall into neglect.”