SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Population as shown by the 1920 United States Census, 118,110. The city is governed by a board of five commissioners. The present incumbents are C. Clarence Neslen, Commissioner of Water Supply and Waterworks; Herman H. Green, Commissioner of Public Affairs and Finance; T. T. Burton, Commissioner of Streets and Public Improvements, whose terms expire January 1, 1924, and Arthur F. Barnes, Commissioner of Public Safety, and A. H. Crabbe, Commissioner of Parks and Public Property, whose terms expire January 1, 1922. Salt Lake City is the commercial, financial and distributing center for a large intermountain agricultural and mining territory; manufacturing industries are of little impotance. Transportation facilities are provided by five trunk railroads.
The gross fire loss for the past five years, as given in the fire department records, amounted to $951,319, the annual loss ranging from $128,479 in 1915 to $347,067 in 1919. The average annual number of building fires was 340, varying from 304 in 1918 to 386 in 1917, with an average loss per fire of $559, a moderate figure. Based on an average population of 110,500, the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 3.08, and the average loss per capita was $1.72, both low figures.
The features affecting the conflagration hazard in the congested value district to the greatest extent are the unusually large number of excessive areas, extreme size of blocks, numerous unprotected floor openings and the seriously exposed windows in the joisted brick buildings, which greatly predominate. Fireproof buildings are mainly of good construction, but few are so protected against external fires as to forny fire barriers. The occasional high winds and generally weak structural features from a fire-resisting standpoint make serious group to block fires probable in nearly every portion of the district. But the general low height of buildings, exceptionally wide streets, and fairly adequate fire fighting facilities are mitigating features, and the hazard of a general conflagration involving the district or crossing the 132-foot streets is low.
In the manufacturing plants and the minor mercantile district, west of the principal district, severe local fires are probable but should not assume conflagration proportions, except possibly in the lumber and wood working plants, where the hazard is more pronounced. The conflagration hazard in most of the residential sections is high, on account of the exceptional number of wooden shingle roofs, many of which are in poor condition.
The fire department is a well organized force, commanded by competent and experienced officers. While the present ordinances governing the fire department do not place the members beyond political influence it is the policy of the present administration to maintain an efficient organization and it is evident in recent years that pernicious politics have not entered the department; the detrimental possibilities of the present system could be remedied by adopting suitable civil service regulations. Provisions for retirement and pensions are mainly good, but no age limit for retirement has been adopted; however, the personnel is composed mostly of young men.
The motorization and the adoption of the 2-platoon system, with the requirement for the response of the off-shift to serious fires, has greatly strengthened the effectiveness of the department, but the present number of companies is insufficient and the apparatus inadequate in amount to provide proper protection, being particularly deficient in ladder service. .Drills and training of members are such as are necessary to develop efficient firemen. Discipline is very good. Minor equipment carried on apparatus is mainly satisfactory, but no salvage equipment is provided; there is also need of additional powerful stream appliances, such as deluge sets and turret pipes. Chemical service is good except in the congested value district. Water pressure is excellent for direct hydrant streams, and the use of pumpers as boosters for emergency use, powerful streams, or long lines is commendable. Hose is well cared for and is regularly tested; the present supply is adequate and two companies carry 3-inch hose, a valuable feature. Fire stations are in good condition. Excellent facilities for making repairs are provided. Apparatus is mostly in good repair, but troubles that developed during engine tests show the desirability of regular tests similar to those conducted by the National Board.
The amount of apparatus which responds to first alarms in the congested value district is seriously deficient ; response in other sections is mainly adequate, hire methods are good and the inportance of reducing water damage is well understood. Building inspections are especially well made and are of much benefit in correcting hazardous conditions and familiarizing officers and men with building construction in their districts. Records are complete and in detail.
Fire Alarm System
The fire alarm system is under good management and maintenance is excellent. Headquarters is in a semi-fireproof building of mainly good construction and is only slightly exposed: the equipment is new, of good type and well installed. Batteries arc of sufficient capacity and in good condition. Headquarters wiring is well installed, but wiring in fire stations is mainly poor. The amount of underground construction and the use of duplicate alarm circuits greatly improve the reliability of the system. Recent box installations have been of modern type, but many old inferior boxes seriously jeopardize the reliability of an otherwise dependable system. Box distribution is excellent in the congested value district; elsewhere is fair to very poor, many built up sections being practically without protection. Red lights are not provided in the congested value district to indicate box locations at night. The department telephone system is suitable and the method of handling telephone alarms is good, but could be improved by confirmation over the telegraph system; the ability to call all the stations simultaneously and the use of four lines from the public telephone exchanges for fire calls only is an excellent feature. Tests of circuits, batteries, and boxes are mainly satisfactory; an operating board for the gong circuits would provide bettest testing facilities. Good records of trouble, boxes, circuits and inspections are kept.