SUGGESTIONS BY THE OHIO STATE FIRE MARSHAL

SUGGESTIONS BY THE OHIO STATE FIRE MARSHAL

In a paper read at the recent meeting of the Ohio State Fire Prevention Association, State Fire Marshall Zuber gave the following details of the work of his office and advocated certain improvements. He said; Upon assuming my official duties last June, I obligated myself to their faithful performance and I assure you that in so much as lies in my power, I will endeavor to accomplish such results as persistent and untiring efforts on the part of myself and assistants can produce. The duties of my office are agreeable, and I like the work exceedingly. My legal education, my six years’ service as prosecuting attorney and my experience as local fire insurance agent for a number of years have been valuable assets and stand me in good stead. While my official tenure opened under some handicap, yet I am justified in saying that the department has been unusually successful during the past seven months. During that time 51 convictions have been secured, making a total of 70 for the year 1909, or within two of the largest number ever secured by the department in any one year. The motives of the firebugs were diverse as well as in some cases quite humorous. For instance, a young married man, living at Ashley, Delaware county, was unable to “hit it off” with bis mother-in-law. He insured his household goods, fired the dwelling while his family were at a show, collected the insurance money and left the county. Some time after our department was called in. Our investigation produced sufficient evidence to secure an indictment. The young man was apprehended and arrested in Kansas, and on bis way back to Ohio, he made a full confession. He excused his crime on the ground that his mother-in-law was making life miserable for him and that he needed the insurance money to get as far away from her as possible. He is now reflecting on his folly at the Mansfield reformatory. There are many important cases now pending, some of which are under indictment, ready for trial; others of which are ready for presentation to the grand jury. While the primary object of investigations and prosecutions is to apprehend, convict and punish those guilty of arson and incendiarism, yet the deterrent effect of such prosecutions can hardly be estimated. It is quite evident, however, that the publicity given to investigation and prosecution of arson cases by the State Fire Marshal and the known fact that there is such an organized department in the state, has materially reduced the incendiary loss in the state. This assertion is verified from the fact that since the establishment of the state fire marshal’s department in Ohio, the number of incendiary fires in the state has fallen off more than one-half. In the year 1905, for instance, the number of incendiary fires in Ohio, was by far the lowest of any year before or since. It will be remembered that George Fletcher, the wealthy Williams county firebug, was in the early part of that year extradited from California, tried and convicted. His extradition and trial was given wide publicity, in fact more publicity than any other arson case previously tried in Ohio, and the result was a great reduction in the number of incendiary fires for that year. The deterrent effect of this particular prosecution is thus apparent and plainly manifest. Under the law, fire chiefs in organized cities and villages and township clerks in rural communities, are required to report all fires to the state fire marshal, together with such other facts as is deemed necessary. Many of the officials charged with this duty have been doing so in a perfunctory manner only. Beginning with the new year effort is being expended to systematize this branch of the work so that an actual report of all fires will not only be received but the facts and circumstances reported will be more complete, accurate and correct than has been the case in the past. I believe that the educational feature of the department, namely, the publication from time to time, of articles on common fire dangers, should be continued. I have not published such articles quite as frequently as my predecessor. These fire bulletins are published gratuitously by the newspapers and periodicals throughout the state, and I find a growing tendency among the publishers to neglect their publication if they come too frequently and are of too great length. For that reason I have made my articles as brief and to the point as possible, and upon subjects that will appeal to the public mind, and at a time when the public is in a mood to receive and digest the particular subject discussed. I am now preparing a bulletin touching the matter of a sane celebration of the Fourth of July, and legislation along that line by municipal authorities. I believe early publication of such an article will be beneficial as we are seeking, at this early date, to awaken the interest of the municipal authorities throughout the state, to the end that a large number of municipalities will enact proper legislation for a sane celebration and for the sale and use of fireworks, hoping that such ordinances as will secure these regulations will be passed at an early date and be in force and effect at the coming Natal day. The second volume of school books prepared by the state fire marshal under the Reed law, for the instruction of school children as to fire dangers, was distributed at the beginning of the school year. We have received many favorable reports concerning this instruction from superintendents and teachers. Among the reports so received is one directly in point from Defiance, Ohio. A small girl some nine or ten years of age, was left at home alone during the absence ot the family. From some cause the lamp exploded setting fire to the carpets and stand cover. The little girl with rare presence of mind grabbed a rug and smothered the flames before they gained much headway. When questioned as to her action, she said her teacher taught her at school. As important as the state fire marshal’s work may be in prosecuting cases of arson and incendiarism and in the education of the public as to fire dangers, yet, in my opinion, an equally important function, if not the most important function, is the enforcement of fire preventative measures and the removal and abatement of fire dangers. We all know that a large per cent. of our fire loss and waste is directly traceable to carelessness and avoidable causes. Your association is doing great work. We of the fire marshal’s department, seek your co-operation. Working toward the same end, we all are agreed that the thing now of most importance is the enactment of a general building code of the state. This can only be accomplished by hard and persistent work. If the present general assembly will pass the bill now pending empowering the three officers named therein as a commission to prepare such a code, a very important step will have been taken. With an efficient building code upon the statute books, embodying measures in respect to construction, safety, sanitary conditions and use and maintenance, and vesting with the proper officials sufficient enforcing power and authority, the good that will result cannot be foretold. We know that our laws in this respect are at present crude and incomplete, imperfect and of minor force and effect. While the lire marshal’s act, empowers him to enforce orders for the removal and abatement of certain fire dangers, his powers arc not clearly defined, his authority is limited and, therefore, questionable, and the good accomplished is not commensurate with what he feels he should accomplish along these lines. A building code will solve many difficulties and will be the greatest conservation legislation enacted for years. It can be made so specific, broad and far reaching that the enforcement of its fire preventative provisions and the reduction of fire waste will become an accomplished fact. May we all hope that the general assembly will appreciate the importance of the preliminary measure now pending before it and create the desired commission. With the commission created, final results are only a question of time. In conclusion permit me to say that the state fire marshal’s department is ready at all times to give serious consideration to suggestions made by your association or any member thereof. My desire is to make the service of the department as efficient in all its branches and working as possible. While my interest in preventative measures may be equal to yours, yet the experience of each of you gentlemen is much broader and far reaching than mine. Your advice and suggestions will be gladly received. I trust that I may at all times have your good will and kind co-operation.

Altus. Okla., is to vote on a $200,000 bond issue, of which $130,000 will be expended in the construction of a system that will give Altus an adequate supply and equipment for a city several times its present size.

Providence Waking Up.

The board of fire commissioners of Providence, R. I., in a message to the city council urged the need of life-saving training for the members of the Providence department. The commission asked an appropriation of $2,000 for drill towers. The commissioners find that little attention has been paid in this city to the purchase of life-saving appliances or the installation of means whereby the members of the department could be drilled in the use of such devices. Considering the department deficient in this detail, the commission declares that it is firmly convinced that drills, such as have been introduced in other cities, should be established in Providence, and that all the firemen under 45 years should he required to undergo a systematic course of training under the direction of a competent instructor. It is declared that the men should have an opportunity to become proficient in the use of scaling ladders and other devices, and thus obtain the nerve, skill and confidence necessary for success in time of need. Two drill towers are asked, one to be kept m the rear of station No. 2, on South Main street, and the other in the rear of station No. 8, on Harrison street. An aerial truck for the Wickenden street company is asked, at a cost of $5,500, the commission pointing out the need for such a piece of apparatus and telling why an aerial truck is practically imperative for efficient service. The commissioners also recommend the purchase of five automobiles, one for the chief, one for each of the three district chiefs and another for the superintendent of fire alarm telegraph, the five cars to cost a total of $10,000. The need that the fire chiefs arrive at the fires with the least possible loss of time is one of the principal reasons assigned for the improvement. Nearly all the other cities are purchasing autos for this purpose, it is stated. The communication was referred to the committee on ordinances.

Water Rates.

CATSKILL. N. Y.

One faucet, each family, $4.

Boardinghouses, over 8 persons, each 50c.

Bathtub, private, $2; public, $6; each additional, $3.

Barber, one chair, $4; each additional, $2.

Blacksmithshop, $4.

Building.—Laying brick, per M, 6c.; stone, per cu. yd., 3c.; plastering, each 100 sq. yds., 25c.

Drug store, $6-$10.

Photograph galleries, $6-$10.

Urinals, continuous flow, $5; self-closing, $2.

Watercloset, one family, $3; each additional, $1.50.

WATER METER RATES.

100 gals, or less per day, 1,000 gals……….25c.

Over 100 to 250 gals., per day…………..20c.

Over 1,000 and up to 5,000 gals…………10c.

Over 5,000 per day special rates.

No charge less than $8 per year.

TOWANDA, PA.

Dwellings, three persons or less, $5; over three and less than six, $7.

Boardinghouses, 10 to 20 rooms, $10-$20.

Restaurants, general use, $5-$25.

Blacksmithshop, 1 to 5 forges, $3 $10.

Building.—Laying brick, per 1,000, 10c.; stone, per perch, 3c.; plastering, per bushel lime, 3c.

Urinals, private, $3; public, $10-$30.

Waterclosets, public, self-closing, $5-$15; private, $3-$5.

WATER RATE NOTES.

It is stated on reliable authority that the Johnstown Water Company, supplying Johns town. Pa., proposes to revise its new schedule of water rates, recently announced, especially in so far as a reduction of the minimum rate for small consumers is concerned.

Complaint is rife in Galveston, Tex., that the rates charged for water are too high, exceeding, in fact, the cost of production, so that the city is making a profit oil consumers. A readjustment is demanded on the basis of the cost of supply.

Manager C. H. Cobb, of the Kankakee. Ill., waterworks, emphatically disapproves of the proposition that water be supplied free to the public school buildings. The buildings are, he claims, distributed throughout a district that extends beyond the corporate Imits, and many non-residents participate in their benefits. Moreover, the great waste of water in school buildings warrants their being supplied under the meter system.

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