Report of Fire Marshal Horan, Chicago
The report of Fire Marshal Horan, of Chicago is just at hand. Detailing as it does the work of a department embracing 117 engine companies, 34 hook and ladder companies, including one water tower and 15 chemical engines and one hose company and four fireboats, the whole manned by a force of 1,799 firemen, the report is naturally one of much interest. Chief Horan places the inventory value of buildings and real estate at $1,729,040.25 and the equipment at .$1,310,611.26—making a total of $3,039,651.51. And it cost to administer this department in the year 1908 the sum of $2,102,861, which is at the rate of $1.40 per capita. During the year reported six new enginehouses were completed— four for engine companies and two for hook and ladder companies. The city is divided into eighteen battalion districts, the companies in each comprising a battalion, in charge of an assistant fire marshal.
For the period under consideration the department responded to 10,811 alarms, of which 7.793 were actual fires. Eighty three persons in peril were rescued by members of the . department. The value of proprty involved was $114,527,300, and the loss was $3,873,444, about $65,000 in excess of the loss for the previous year. The total insurance was $72,044,810. Some of the more important fires arc mentioned by Chief Horan, as follows:
On January 17, at 10:51 p. m., an alarm of fire came in from box 28, Nos. 19-29 Market street, followed by a 2-11 at 11 p. m.. a 3-11 at 11 :02 and a special call for ten engines at 11:11 and one for five engines at II :32. This building was occupied by McNeill A Higgins, wholesale grocers, and the loss sustained was $55,178.31 on building, and $362,500 on contents.
On January 27, at 2:50 a. m., a still alarm was received, followed by an alarm from box 42 at 2:53 and a 2-11 and 3-1! and two special calls for five engines each at later intervals. The location of this fire was at Nos. 163 to 167 East Adams street, immediately west of the new Corn Exchange building, which was nearing comple tion at that time, and although its close proximity to the burning structure seemed dangerous, the damage sustained was very slight. The weather was bitter cold the morning of this fire and the masses of ice that formed wherever streams were thrown, made it exceedingly difficult to handle. One fatality resulted, that of a member of the department, and the loss on building and contents amounted to $430,000.
On January 28, 1908, at 6:06 p. in., an alarm came in from box 44, Nos. 144 to 146 Wabash avenue, followed five minutes later by a 2-11 and at 6:14 by a 3-11. Special calls were given at 6:18 for five engines. 6:20 five engines. 6:25 ten engines, 6 :40 five engines, 11 :32 five engines anil 11 :58 five engines. The fire originated in the building occupied by Alfred Peats & Co. and communicated to those occupied hv John A. Colin & Son and Edson Keith & Co., besides doing much damage to adjacent structures in both Wabash and Michigan avenues. In point of number of engines at work this was one of the larg est fires Chicago has had since 1894, and it re quired an all night fight to prevent it from spread ing, and sixty engines were engaged in pumping water for the scores of streams thrown into the burning buildings. The fire throughout was highly spectacular and attracted tens of thousands of persons to view it. but at 2 a. m. it was under control, and aside from a slight injury to one fireman it was free from casualties, in spite of the terriffic sweep of the flames and the sharp cold of the night, made more bitter by a northwest gale.
On February 17, 1908, at 7:21 p. m.. a still alarm was given by hook and ladder company No. 3, followed by an alarm from box 819. and a 2-11. 3-11 and three special calls for five engines each. The fire swept through the 6-story building of Albert C. Schmidt & Co., Nos. 120-122 Illinois street, manufacturers of parlor and library furniture, and threatened for a time to spread to other buildings in the vicinity. The blaze was extinguished after a loss approximating $20.00c.
On March 20, at 2:56 p. in.. a still alarm was received from engine company No. I and book and ladder company No. 1. followed by a box alarm at 2:59 from station No. 17. and twelve minutes later a 4-11, followed by a special call for five engines at 3:15 p. m. As the location of this fire was in the heart of the business district of the city, Nos. 232 to 248 South Clark street, the Grand Pacific hotel, one of Chicago’s famous landmarks, the scene was indeed spectacular, although the loss was comparatively small, amounting approximately to $59,000, anti that, too, on account of the tons of water poured upon the stubborn flames for two hours or more. A double roof and false ceiling made it almost impossible to get at the flames. Sparks from tinners’ furnaces, in use while repairing a defective smokestack at the northwest corner of the building, caused this fire.
On May 21, at 1:29 p. in., still alarms were received from engine company No. 15 and hook and ladder No. 14 and an alarm from box No. 435. A 4-11 was struck at 1:31, followed by a special call at 1 :34 for ten engines. The location of this fire was Nos. 750 to 760 Throop street and the building consisted of a 3-story brick, occupied by .1. C. A intermeyer as a box factory. The loss on building amounted to $27.500 and that on contents $46,000.
On Sunday, May 24. 1908, at I :25 p. m., an alarm came iir from box No. 247, Thirty-eighth street and Centre avenue. Eight minutes later a 4-11 wa,: struck and at 1:40 p. m. a special call was given for ten engines. The buildings, which were occupied by the National Box company, were of lniek anil frame construction and, to gether with their contents, consisting of finish and unfinished stock and material, burned like tinder and produced a great sight for the thou sands of people who gathered in the vicinity. The loss on buildings amount In $56,689 and that on contents to $126,500, approximately.
Accompanied by many tremendous explosions one of the largest and most spectacular fires Chicago has known in many years, swept the great railroad and elevator district, between State and Canal streets .south of Twelfth, on August 3, 1908, at 12:47 p. m. The alarm came in from box No. 272. followed by a 2-11 at 12:52 p. m., and by a 3-11 five minutes later and by two special calls for ten engines each and one for live engines. This lire consumed a large freighdiou.se. two huge elevators, containing much corn and wheat and many freight cars leaded with valuable merchandise, and in addition a number of smaller buildings were destroyed. I’lie loss on buildings and merchandise amounted to $885,000, approximately, and the principal sufferers were Armour & Co. and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad company. The day of this fire was the hottest in seven years, but not sufficiently so to deter the many thousands of sightseers taking in the situation.
On September 6 at 6:05 p. nt. a slill alarm was received from engine company No. 59 followed by box No. 2,183 and by a -l-ll and four special calls for five engines each. The location of this tire was at Forty-fourth place and Packers avenue. and the building, a 4-story brick, was occu pied by Armour & Co. as a woolhouse and storage of fertilizer. The hiss on building amounted to $45,000 and on contents $79,(MM), approximately.
On October 16 at 3:16 a. in., still alarms came in from engine company No. 81 and hook and lad der No. 17. followed at 3:18 by an alarm from box No. 1,647 and three minutes Inter by a III and at 3:28 bv a special call for live engines. As this came front the large plant of the International Salt company. One Hundcrd and Third street and the Calumet river, the loss might have proved more serious than it actually was on account of the remoteness of the location and the difficulty in reaching it in quick time. The loss on buildings amounted to $7.3,000 and on contents $27,000, approximate!}.
Chief Horan’s principal recommendations arc that a bureau of combustibles be established to regulate the storing and handling of explosives and inflammable matter within the city limits: also, the installation of the high pressure system in the congested district of the city, and ihc same for the stockyards district, or that the engine companies now located there he dupli oated: also, the installation of the pipe line system for the fireboats, the same to be a part of the high-pressure system.