The Boston Fire Department in 1890.
The board of fire commissioners of Boston, Mass., has made its report to the Mayor of the operations of the past year. The alarms of fire numbered 1025. The loss has not yet been fully adjusted, but the waste is estimated at not above the average.
The cost of running the department for the last twelve months, including the draft for January, 1891, has been $815,350.62. In addition there have been expended for new apparatus and charged to the special equipment account, $48,818.90, leaving a balance to the credit of that account of $12,911.10. The expenditures of the department year beginning May 1, have been $630,849.94, leaving a balance to cover operations until May 1, 1891, of $293,564.29. This sum accounts for a transfer of $12,556.77 to the fire alarm telegraph, that branch of the service having been placed under the con trol of the inspector of wires, according to the new ordinance creating that position.
The department is in stronger and better condition than at any previous time in its history. During the year it has been reinforced by the addition of a permanent engine company on Longwood avenue, another at Charlestown, and the establishment of a double company in engine house 28, on Mason street. New houses are so nearly completed in East Boston and on Congress street, South Boston, that in a couple of months the city ought to have the benefit of three more engine companies, and not long after another ladder company on Harrison avenue. Ground has been broken for a new engine house at Allston, and plans accepted for one at Egleston square. There have been contracted for and received, within the year, four first size steam fire engines, five second size and four third size, two Hale water towers, one Hayes extension ladder truck, two box ladder trucks and several hose wagons, coal wagons, etc., besides a large supply of smaller equipments. A Preston extension ladder truck is nearly ready for delivery.
There are employed in the department 709 men, of whom 487 are permanent and twenty-one are in the repair shop. With four or five exceptions these latter are not members of the department. The call system, which still remains in certain sections of the city, “while it is represented by many excellent and efficient men, is, nevertheless,” says the report, “a standing provincialism and element of weakness that should be speedily reduced to a minimum, or better still, eliminated.” The call companies throughout the department have been strengthened during the year by the addition of permanent men to as large an extent as the commissioners could see the way clear. No new call companies are being organized, and only in rare case are any men appointed to call positions. The condition and discipline of the department are very satisfactory, but the commissioners are as anxious as the public can be that each year shall show growth and improvement, and to that end they will soon have some recommendations to make for 1891.