Report of Marshal Whitcomb.
The report of Fire Marshal Whitcomb of Boston for the year ending May 1, 1893, was submitted to the city council this week. He estimates the fire loss during that time at $5 542,900.47. The fire marshal says:
“Three-fourths of the total amount of this loss was the direct result of the two fires in the Ames and llecht buildings, while something over $200,000 of the remainder was occasioned by the Tremont Temple fire. The total number of fires which havejoccurred during the year is 991, showing an average loss per fire of $5500.
“ The uniformity with which the principal causes of fires, such as spontaneous combustion, electricity, defective construction, rats and matches, carelessness with matches, lamp explosions, etc., maintain their several percentages year after year with scarcely any variation is something remarkable. The same may also be said of the comparative loss on buildings and contents, which remains the same as usual, viz., seventy-three per cent on contents and twenty-seven per cent on buildings.
“The number of Russian and Polish fires istwenty per cent smaller than last year, and represents but four per cent of the total number of fires. Twenty-five per cent of these fires are believed to have been incendiary.
“Seven-tenths of one per cent of the total number of fires are classed as ‘ proven incendiaries.’ If to this percentage all fires classed as * under investigation’ (of which three fourths are thought to be incendiary) be added, the percentage of actual and probable incendiary fires would be only three per cent, and if the percentage be still further increased by the addition of all fires placed under the head of ‘unknown,’ the total number of possible incendiary fires would even then be less than five per cent of the totpl number. I believe it would be an exceedingly liberal estimate to attribute three per cent of the year’s fires to incendiarism
Regarding the Ames fire, Mr. Whitcomb says: “The lessons to be learned from this destructive conflagration, many of which have been taught by previous fires, may be briefly summarized as follows: Smaller floor areas, incombustible partitions, automatic sprinklers, roof hydrant service, smaller windows in lower stories, improved shutters with a trained force to guard them, fireproof stairways, true mill construction, with all combustible connection between floor eliminated.”
The following summary of causes appears in the report : “Accidental, .47629; careless, .44198; defective construction, .01211 ; incendiary, .00706 ; malicious mischief, .02019; unknown, .01917; under investigation, .02320; total, 100000.