SOMERVILLE, MASS , FIRE DEPARTMENT
In 1865 the fire department of Somerville, Mass.,responded to 188 alarms, 57 more than in 1894; but 53 were still alarms, where the services of only a small portion were required. The total loss was $42,316, about $225 an alarm. The valuation of the property at risk was $361,355, and the insurance involved amounted to $180,509. The men under Chief Hopkins and Assistant Chief Barker number, when the companies are full, 21 permanent, and 80 call. The department has in active service 2 steamers, 2 tracks, 5 hose wagons, 1 combination hose and chemical, with two 30-gallon tanks, and 1 chemical, and 2 50 gallon tanks. This piece of apparatus has made a good record. There are in reserve 1 steamer, 1 hose carriage, and 1 ladder truck, all in serviceable condition. In accordance with the law requiring the chief engineer to make an investigation within two days into every fire occurring within the limits, by which damage is done to property, and to report to the State fire marshal, Chief i Hopkins,who has faithfully observed the law,has shown that; many of the fires had a criminal origin, and there have been fifteen convictions of incendiarism during the year. There were 28 incendiary fires. Chief Hopkins adds: “As the crime of incendiarism is one of the most difficult in the whole catalogue of offences to bring to conviction, the record shows the value of the law, and is evidence that the fire marshal and his’aides have been zealous and alert in the performance of their duty and deserve the encouragement and support of all our citizens.” Of the 1,900 acres included in the city of Somerville, there are 400 acres of marsh land. On the 1,500 acres remaining there is a population of about 53,000 people, who occupy 9,476 buildings, which, with the manufacturing and business establishments, have a valuation of almost $25,000,000. This is exclusive of 30 churches and other untaxed real estate of various kinds. Nearly all these dwellings are constructed of wood with shingled roofs. The construction of so many buildings with highly combustible roofs, supplies the conditions for an extensive conflagration if wind and weather are right. In conflagrations the exterior of buildings near or remote are liable to be fired from the big fire, and the roof is the combustible point. In the Roxbury blaze of May, 1894, 30 working fires were set, some a mile away. Somerville’s possibilities in this respect emphasize the need of a very efficient ladder service. This Chief Hopkins emphatically recommends. During 1895 there were laid down 94,400 feet of hose; 6,762 feet of ladders were raised; and 1,432 miles run. Chief Hopkins and his men keep up the high reputation which the Somerville fire department has so long possessed for promptitude, efficiency, and thorough organization.