The Annual Fire Report of Providence.
The annual report of the board of fire commissioners of Providence, R. I., shows that the total fire loss in the city during the year of 1909 was $395,336.31, but that the actual loss was but $15,208.01, because of insurance paid to the amount of $380,128.30. The property visited by fire carried a total insurance of $5,303,814.44. During the year the department responded to 1,538 calls. A recommendation is made for the aerial type of ladder trucks, life saving devices and drill paraphernalia, and the introduction of auto apparatus as being superior to horses. The report shows that there are 14 engines, 8 hose and 10 hook and ladder companies in the department, together with a protective company, organized February 1. 1875. which is still maintained jointly by the city and insurance interests. The manual force of the company consists of 328 men. The apparatus in service and reserve consists of 17 steam fire engines, of which 14 are in service and 3 in reserve ; 13 combination wagons in service ; 11 hose wagons, 9 in service and 2 reserve; 11 hook and ladder trucks, 10 in service and 1 reserve : 1 water tower in reserve at Station 1; 2 protective wagons; 6 chiefs’ wagons, 4 in service and 2 reserve : 2 light wagons in the fire alarm service; 2 heavy wagons. 1 in service and 1 reserve, and 27 exercise wagons. There are 116 horses attached to the department, of which all but three are attached to the various pieces of apparatus. Concerning apparatus the report says: “For a long time this department has watched with interest the development of the automobile as far as its adaptability for fire department use is concerned, and we believe that it would be greatly to the advantage of this service if action was taken looking to the introduction of such apparatus. There can be no question regarding the superiority of the motor vehicle over that drawn by horses, so far as it relates to the work of the chief and his assistants or to that of the companies equipped with hose or combination wagons. The initial cost of the motor vehicle is admittedly greater, but, on the other hand, the expense of maintenance is much less. No comparison can be made in this respect between the automobile designed for commercial purposes and those used in a service like that of the tire department, inasmuch as with the latter the only expense incurred is during the limited period in which the machine is being operated.” The amount expended for the maintenance of the department for the year was $432,629.05, of which $346,275.55 was for salaries, $21,426.59 for water and $24,846.74 for horse account.
The board of tire commissioners in a message to the board of aldermen recommended the appropriation of $40,000 for placing the fire alarm telegraph wires underground. The demoralization wrought by a recent blizzard, with the aeriel circuits, putting many boxes out of service, was compared with the absolutely perfect condition of the boxes connected with headquarters on the underground service. At present there are in the underground service 84 public and 25 private boxes, and in the aerial service, 283 public and 57 private boxes, making a total of 449 in the entire city.