THE ATLANTA FIRE DEPARTMENT.
While the reports of the Atlanta, Ga., fire department, as drawn up by Chief Joyner, always cover a great amount of ground, they are at the same time models of comprehensiveness. The report for 1904 is no exception to the rule. It presents all the information necessary to give an intelligent idea of the workings of the department, what it has accomplished in the past year and what will be needed to keep it up to its present standard in the future. 1 he department answered during 1904, 572 alarms of lire, covering 437 buildings. T he alarms each month were as follows: January, forty-nine; February, fortytwo; March, fifty-six ; April,sixty-three ; May, fiftyfour ; June, thirty-three ; July,thirty-nine ; August, twenty-two; September, forty-six; October, fiftyseven; November, fifty-one; December, sixty. T he values, insurances and damages, were as follows: Value of buildings where fires occurred, $2,158,492; value of contents in buildings where fire occurred, $2,485,147—total value of property at risk, $4.643,639; insurance on buildings, $1,385,870; on contents, $1,658,084—total insurance, $3,043,954: damage on buildings, $75.’ 521 ; on contents, $73,843—total damage, $149,364. The smallest loss—$6,805—was in July ; the greatest—$25,987—was in December. Since July, 1885, when Chief Joyner took charge of the department up to December 31, 1904, there have been in Atlanta 6,463, the lowest which has been $2,436,842. Many improvements are needed. Among these on account of the large number of frame buildings erected in the southeastern section of the city during the past few years, it has become absolutely necessary that an engine company be located in that territory. The buildings are all frame, shingle roof cottages, and a number of them are erected close together, causing grave danger of a conflagration of serious proportion in this section, unless better fire protection is given immediately. As it is now, the department has but little hope of saving a building that is on fire in that locality, but, on account of tingreat distance from any engine house, it must devote its energies towards saving adjoining property. It will Cost $15,000 to build and equip an engine house for this section of the city. The western part of the city is also badly in need of better fire protection, and the outlying districts should now receive the attention of the proper authorities The distance is entirely too great to be traveled by the different companies to render anything like efficient service. T he new terri tory recently taken in the city limits, known as the Eighth ward, should also have fire protection. Should it be decided to give these localities proper fire protection, it will require an appropriation of $15,000 to build and equip each engine house, not including salaries. In Chief Joyner’s opinion the growth of the city demands these expenditures. Attention is called to the fact that the entire city is now covered by only two hook and ladder companies. The necessity for more is obvious as is consistently pointed out. Appropriations amounting to $1(12,652 are asked for. In the appropriation Chief Joyner estimates for only one company, but states that it will be found necessary next year to place two additional hook and ladder companies in service owing to the rapid growth of the city. Me finds that since his last report the conditions of the theatres have been very much improved. The ordinance prohibiting the obstruction of aisles or passageway with chairs, he suggests (as was first suggested by FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING) should be amended so as to apply to churches and all public places where meetings are convened. Chief Joyner again calls attention to the great number of shingle roofs now being constructed in the citysomething to which, up to the present time, he has in vain called attention every year. And, though he does not say it in so many words he, nevertheless prophesises a big lire, if the practice of building such roofs is not stopped. Me suggests that the fire limits be extended and the building of such roofs forbidden. Chief Joyner, adverting to the department repair shop, points out that, while it has always been of great service and saving to the department, it has this year surpassed itself by repairing a nineteenyear-old engine at a total cost of $1,260 The owest bid he had received for this work was $2,500—the city to pay the freight each way. The work done is all of the highest standard, and today the engine is as good as new and worth about $4,500. Chief Joyner is lucky in having such intelligent and skilful workmen in the ranks of his department. Me is equally fortunate in all, whether officers or ordinary firemen. and not least in the service of Superintendent W. B. Walker and his assistant linesmen, who have kept the fire department up to the mark, and Mason C. Sharp—the fire inspector. The work of this last-named officer during the past few years has been educative in a measure, and by persistent work he has taught those in the fire limits to make a proper disposition of inflammable material and to keep their premises in such a condition as to prevent the possibilities of fires. This work accounts to a large measure for the small fire loss in the fire limits, and reflects credit upon the inspector’s ability and activity. During the Christmas holidays, as usual, a corps of twenty-four firemen, under the direction of Mr. Sharp, patroled the centre of the city, day and night, and were on the alert to prevent fires. There is no doubt that this fire patrol prevented many Hires. With respect to Atlanta and its fire protection, it may he noticed that the underwriters are on hand, and, like the horseleech’s daughter, as King Solomon has it, their cry is ever “Give, give!’’ That cry has not ceased today, although the young lady in question lias been relegated to the domain of myths, hut is re-echoed every hour hy the fire insurance men. to content whom seems to he an impossibility. Their latest attack has been made on this very city of Atlanta, whose many “vertical areas’’ are regarded by fire underwriters as showing had features. Yet these high buildings. which are now becoming more and more common in the capital of the Empire State of the South, are surely more to lie regarded with favor by the underwriters than the old rookeries which they have displaced. The claim of the insurance men is that the exposure risk is greater now, on account of their being still surrounded in many cases by buildings of the antiquated and firetrap type. It is pointed out that, as higher values are now contained in the skyscrapers, and the structures themselves are more costly, every window should he provided at least with wireglass (have the underwriters as a body any stock in any factory of that material?)—a precaution which has been taken only by the First National bank, which has the windows of its lowest three floors so protected. It is true that extra low rates of insurance have been given the buildings erected, as well as to those in course of construction. It seems evident, however, from the feelers thrown out by one of the chief insurance papers that some move is in contemplation to restore the rates to their old level or thereabouts, unless this particular type of glass is used in all windows from ground floor to roof. But surely Chief Joyner and his model fire department may he trusted not only to put out fires but, also, to sound an alarm, when danger is threatened.