REPORT OF CAPTAIN SHAW OF LONDON FOR 1885.
To the Metropolitan Board of Works:
GENTLEMEN—I have the honor to present the following report of the London fires in 1885. The number of calls for fires, or supposed fires, received during the year has been 2851. Of these, 410 were false alarms, 171 proved to be only chimney alarms and 2270 were calls for fires, of which 160 resulted in serious damage, and 2110 in sight damage. These figures only refer to the regular calls for fires, or supposed fires, involving the turning out of firemen, fire engines, fire escapes, horses and coachmen. They do not include trifling damages by fires which were not sufficiently important to require the attendance of firemen ; neither do they include the ordinary calls for chimneys on fire, which are separately accounted for further on. The fires of 1885, compared with those of 1884, show a decrease of 19; but, compared with the average of the previous ten years, an Increase of 441. The following tabte gives the result, both in actual numbers and percentages :
The number of fires in the metropolis in which life has been seriously endangered during the year 1S85 has been 138, and the number of these in which life has been lost has been 36. The number of persons seriously endangered by fire has been 201, of whom 154 were saved and 47 lost their lives. Of the 47 lost, 24 were taken out alive, but died afterwards in hospitals or elsewhere, and 23 were suffocated or burned to death. The following is a list of the firemen whom I have commended for special merit in saving life from fire during the year:
Details of 138 cases in which life has been endangered will be found on page 32. The number of calls for chimneys has been 3603. Of these, 1239 proved to be false alarms and 2364 were for chimneys on fire. In these cases there was no attendance of engines, but only of firemen with hand-pumps. The number of journeys made by the fire engines of the 55 land stations has been 32,272, and the total distance run has been 65,257 miles. The quantity of water used for extinguishing fires in the metropolis during the year has been almost exactly 19,500,000 gallons, or about 87,000 tons. Of this quantity, nearly 25,000 tons, or less than one-third of the whole, were taken from the river, canals and docks, and the remainder from the street pipes. During the year there have been r3 cases of short supply of water, 17 of late attendance of turncocks and 9 of no attendance, making altogether 39 cases in which the water arrangements were unsatisfactory ; but, notwithstanding this, I am bound to repeat my usual statement, that all the water companies have made great efforts to serve us, and that we owe them our warmest thanks for their successful exertions in this respect. I have also, as usual, to express our great obligations to the metropolitan and city police, whose cordial and energetic co-operation never fails us under any circumstances, however difficult.
The strength of the brigade is as follows : Fifty-five land fire engine stations, 4 floating or river stations, 26 hose cart stations, 127 fire escape stations, 4 steam fire engines or barges, 42 land steam fire engines, 87 six-inch manual fire engines, 37 under six-inch manual fire engines, 64 hose carts, 3 self-propelling fire-floats, 4 steam tugs, 7 barges, 144 fire escapes, 5 long fire ladders, 4 ladder-vans, 2 ladder trucks, 1 trolly for ladders, t trolly for engines, 12 hose and coal vans, 11 wagons for street duties, 4 street stations for ditto, 107 watch boxes, 589 firemen, including chief officer, second officer, superintendents and all ranks ; 14 pilots, 66 coachmen, 131 horses.
During the year there has been some development of our means of communication, and we have now the following lines in working order; but orders have been issued for the completion of the system, and it is probable that within the next few months the whole of the work may be executed: Twenty-eight telegraphs between fire stations, 38 telephones ditto, 1 direct fire alarm ditto, 42 alarm circuits round fire stations, with 263 call points ; 3 telegraphs to police stations, t8 telephones ditto, 13 telegraphs to public and other buildings, 20 telephones ditto, 13 direct fire alarms ditto.
The number of firemen employed on the several watches kept up throughout the metropolis is at present no by day and 245 by night, making a total of 355 in every twenty-four hours ; the remaining men are available for general work at fires. Our list of wounds and other injuries for 1885 is, as usual, very heavy ; but the nature of the work, and the way in which it is always carried out, make it impossible to diminish the number of accidents. There have been during the year 270 cases of ordinary illness and 117 injuries, making a total of 387 cases, of which many were very serious and one resulted in death.
Particulars of the accidents are as follows :
A reference to the figures in this report will show that the total number of calls, including those for actual fires, supposed fires, chimney fires and supposed chimney fires, has been 6454, or mote than 17 a day, all of which have been attended by firemen with suitable appliances. The abolition of payments for calls has been attended with very satisfactory results in reducing the number of unnecessary alarms to an appreciable extent. In addition to the fires, we have kept 129.585 watches of twelve hours each, have maintained all the machinery of the brigade in working order, written several thousand reports and letters, and carried on a variety of other work. This represents a severe amount of labor for so small a force ; but all ranks have done their best, and I venture to express a hope that the result may not be considered unsatisfactory.—I have the honor to be, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
(Signed) • EYRE M. SHAW, Chief Officer, M. F. B.