RESPONSIBILITY FOR FIRES IN FRANCE.
In his latest monthly bulletin State Fire Marshal Joseph L. Baldwin, of Pennsylvania, deals with the French method of inquiring into fires and placing individual responsibility for loss by fire. Fire Marshal Baldwin cites provisions of the Code Napoleon and says: There are no special laws in France relating to fire inquests, yet an inquiry by the police is made into every fire in cities and towns and in country districts by the gendarmerie. The responsibility of a man for fire damage to his neighbors lies not in any special enactment, hut in the interpretation of two short sections of the Code Napoleon, which code of laws prevails especially in France and Belgium, and forms the basis for the modern law in most Latin countries. The sections referred to are as follows: Article 1382. Every person is responsible and liable for any acts of his by which any other person has or may have sustained any loss, damages or injury. Article 1383. Every person is responsible for loss, damage or injury caused by his own act, carelessness or negligence. The responsibility, as it relates to fire, is called in France the neighbor’s risk. It is universal and applied to landlord and tenant alike. If a fire starts in any premises through gross carelessness or culpable fault, all damage done to neighboring property by that fire must be made good. There is no limit to this liability, which may extend an entire block in case of conflagration. The only point in the application of the law by which such offender may escape is that a burden of proof lies with the neighbor making the claim. The latter must be able to prove, before he can recover damages, that the fire was directly due to gross carelessness, culpable neglect or mischievous intent. Ihere are also two articles in the French code which apply specifically to fires. These undoubtedly originated with the landlord. They read: Article 1733. The tenant is responsible for a fire on his premises unless he can prove that the fire was caused by something beyond his control, by some fault in building, or that the fire was communicated by a neighboring building. Article 1734. If there are a number of tenants all are alike responsible unless they can prove that the fire caught in the apartment occupied by one of them, in which case, he alone is responsible or unless some one of them prove that the fire did not begin in his apartment, in which case he is not responsible. I lie tenant having a fire is responsible to the landlord for loss of rent, not. only his own rent, but that of other tenants.