Survey Made of Ashland, Ky.
A survey was made of Ashland, Ky., a manufacturing center of 25,000 population, by the committee of fire prevention and engineering standards of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. There are few fires in the city but both the fire loss per capita and the loss per fire are very high.
The water works are under municipal management and the records kept are mainly good. An ample supply is obtained from the Ohio river; the water is sent through a filtration plant and then repumped to the distribution system against equalizing reservoirs. The capacity of the pumps are slightly inadequate. The pumping station is of fireproof construction and any hazard in the station is protected. In case of emergency, a supply is available from a private water company. In the main section of the city, the water pressure is good but it is low in outlying districts. The mains which supply the mercantile district are of ample capacity; the gridiron is fair although the valve spacing is. generally, somewhat wide. The hydrants are in good condition and well spaced—about forty per cent of them are too small.
The city has a full paid fire department which operates on the two-platoon system under good supervision. The chief is both experienced and progressive. Members are appointed for an indefinite term and are removable only for cause after a trial. The personnel is good. No age limit is set for retirement and the pension provisions are good. There are a sufficient number of companies but they are somewhat undermanned. The department is deficient in pumping capacity, ladder service, heavy stream appliances, hose and minor equipment. The chemical equipment is adequate. Fire stations and fire apparatus is in good condition but there is no 3-inch hose. The discipline is good. The department has no drill tower and whatever drills there are, are held infrequent. The fire methods are good and building inspections are held infrequently. The records of the department are good but incomplete.
The city lacks a fire alarm telegraph system and depends entirely on the public telephones. The service is slow, unreliable and unsatisfactory.
There is good co-operation with the police department. Whenever called upon, the public service corporations render assistance. Within two hours, a large amount of fire-fighting apparatus is available from neighboring cities.
The structural conditions are fair although laws covering building construction are lacking. The fire limits are ample. The proposed building code does not cover all the essential features of building construction.
Whatever laws are existing concerning explosives and inflammables they are few and inadequate. The State has drawn up a fairly good proposed code. Inspections of the fire department are of some value in locating rubbish. The local conditions are poor in several respects.
In the principal mercantile district, there are groups of buildings of inferior construction which are subject to serious fires. However, the streets are wide and the fire-fighting facilities are fairly good so that there is little probability of the fires assuming sweeping proportions.