Report of Fire Department Investigations.
The commissioners of accounts have presented to Mayor McClellan, of New York, their report on their investigations of the fire department. No direct charges are brought against any officials, and as to charges of graft the commissioners find that they were baffled by the unwillingness of the men themselves to testify. At the same time, however, they believe it exists, although, so far as the purchase of supplies was concerned, everything seemed satisfactory to them. As to the hose: The report says particular attention was paid to the relations between the department and the Windsor Fire Appliance company after the Parker building fire. The commissioners say, “We are of the opinion that fraud was committed on the city in the sale to it of the Windsor fire hose,” and announce that Fire Commissioner Hayes laid the entire matter before the corporation counsel with the request that he proceed immediately against the surety on the contracts. No one is blamed particularly for the granting of the contracts to the Windsor company; but it is pointed out that Chief Croker was for several years an intimate friend of former President Loughman, whom Commissioner O’Brien subsequently appointed deputy commissioner of the city’s water department. And, according to the testimony of an employe of the company, it was this friendship which prompted Loughman to enter the fire appliance business. The commissioners sum up the evidence on the Windsor company hose by saying: “The responsibility for defrauding the city rests upon either Michael F. Loughman, formerly president of the Windsor Eire Appliance company, or the United and Globe Rubber Manufacturing companies of Trenton, N. J., makers of the Windsor hose, or both. Grave responsibility also rests upon those who accepted the hose for the city.” As to the Parker building fire the report recommended, that the fire commissioner “should proceed to bring charges against those officers of the department responsibile for the loss of life” at that fire, and thus to clear up what seems to have been some conflict of evidence as to the orders given by the deputy chief. He said he had ordered the men uoon whom the floor fell, killing two of their number, to leave the building half an hour before the crash. Other members of the department denied this statement and stated that no such orders was received till a very few minutes before the crash came. On the subject of defective water supply at certain big fires the report does not confirm that complaint, although it advocates the installation of 12-in. mains across the city from the mains running north and south in the city. The commissioners utterly condemn the existing fire-alarm telegraph system of the city as a “menace” to the public safety, and recommend the installation of an entire new system, with a central station in the southern part of Central Park or in Fifty-ninth street between Second and Tenth avenues. It advocates the formation of nine new engine companies and ten new ladder companies, besides an increase in apparatus, in Manhattan and The Bronx. In Brooklyn and Queens, also, the recommendation of the underwriters that six additional engine companies and five additional engine and ladder companies be added to the Brooklyn and Queens division of the city’s fire department, and that for the theatres a special uniformed force of firemen should be created, controled by the commissioner, but paid by the theatrical managers should be enrolled.