PROVIDING AGAINST FIRE
How ofton do we see it stated in descriptions of now buildings, manufactories, hotels, warehouses, etc., that the establishmot is amply provided with the means of extinguishing fires should such occur in the building. Then follows an enumeration of the number of hydrants in the building, the number of fire extinguishers, length of hose, etc. All this is very well, but it is bettor calculated to effect a reduction in tho rate of insurance than to provide adequate protection against liro. This fonndiablo array of fire apparatus is absolutely valuless in a firo emergency unless it is controlled by a trained body of men, and experience teaches that this is always the one thing wanting at tho proper moment. Factory and hotel employes are not calculated to make efficient Firemen unless systematically trained to operate the machinery at thoir disposal. There must be, also, an executive head to a firo department, whether it bo a publio or a private affair, and without such a head, a firo company would be little better than a mob. Private establishments have other uses for thoir employes than training thorn to act as Firemen, and, as a consoquonce, in a very short time tho much talked of fire extinguishing apparatus falls into disuso and neglect, gots lost and becomes unavailable at a crisis. The number of fires extinguished by private apparatus is very small, while, on the contrary, wo frequently read that hud such appliances, as wore at hand, been available in time the building enclosing them might have been saved from destruction.
An instance of the utter inutility of private firo apparatus is furnished by the burning, at ISt. Louis, in September last .of the magnificent river stoumor Grand Republic. This steamboat took fire while lying at tho wharf, and Mas entirely cousumod, tho flames having got beyond tho control of the city fire department before the steamers reached the scene. Tho Grand Republic was fully equipped with fire apparatus, and it Mas supposed that her crow would be able to extinguish any fire that might occur. aRdlowji*gfis a partial list of the fire xtingiTTsning apparatus found in debris of this fine steamer.
One very large (stationary champion chemical lire engine, with 600 feet of hose attachi d, leading to all parts of the boat. It was charged with 100 gullons of acid matter, and was in readiness at all times in case of tire. This engine was built in Louisville expressly for the Grand Republic, and was thought to he tho host invention known. There were also sevoral of tho same pattern, of smaller size, stationed in different parts of the boat that could ho carried by hand. The midship and forward fire pumps, with (>!)() feet of hose each, could lie in full operation in thirty seconds after an alarm was given, throwing a four-inch stream lo any part of the boat. Tho engines wore all to be in charge of the engineer, who had speaking trumpets to tho pilot-house, captain’s room, clerk’s office, etc. In addition to these there were the usual requirements of’ the low water tanks, buckets, axes and other implements.
The appliances were all tliore, but when the emergency arose the trained men to oporate it were not to be found. This is but a single illustration out of many that might be given, of the utter worthlessness of fire apparatus without trained men to care for and use it in emergencies. Mr. Cornell, an able insurance authority, writing on the subject of “Fire Hazards of Saw Mills,” says:
“Out of nearly seventy mills. I have visited lately, I saw but five that kept their hose as though they bought it to prevent fires, and intended to uso it for that purpose. The balance of them kept and treated their hose as though they bought it to got a low rate and save their premiums but not thoir mills.”
As it is with saw mills so it is in a similar proportion with other mills and large buildings provided with these appliances.