The Control of Arson

The Control of Arson

The problem of arson is one that is ever looming up in nightmare fashion before the fire chief. The most unscrupulous as well as the most despicable criminal is the incendiary. He cares little if his act entails the loss of human life and he has no hesitancy in firing a house filled with sleeping men, women and children in the midnight hours, when the occupants are apt to be heavy with slumber and bewildered with sudden awakening.

Thus the problem is one that the fire chief dreads as much as any other of his many worries. How this evil may be controlled is a question that is hard to answer. The quick and ruthless punishment of the offender is a matter of the utmost importance as a deterrent to others who would follow in his footsteps. In order to accomplish this the evidence must be conclusive and intelligent work by the members oi the fire department is very necessary. They must be careful not to disturb the conditions found on their entry into the burning structure, if they are fortunate enough to arrive before the fire has done its work in eradicating signs of the arsonist’s work. They must see to it that no persons other than members of the fire department enter the structure in which the fire occurs, so that the evidence may not be disturbed or tampered with. To this end a detail must be posted as soon as the fire is under control or the aid of the police must be enlisted.

A very wise move that will prove of great value in the subsequent prosecution of the incendiary is to have photographs taken of the interior at once, so that the conditions discovered immediately after the fire is extinguished may be registered by the lens.

The chief and his men should possess a working knowledge of the nature and value of legal evidence, so that when called upon to testify against the incendiary they may be prepared to avoid technical pitfalls which the astute counsel of the arsonist may set for them and which may neutralize the entire case.

Some excellent hints are presented in this issue on page 1261 by Mr. Magruder, which should be of help to the fire chief in his fight against this enemy of humanity. A careful perusal of this paper will be found of advantage.

It is not often that a fire puts itself out but this happened in New York City on May 25. The fire was in a sevenstory double apartment house in 57th Street and the flames sweeping along the roof consumed a wooden tank, which collapsed, releasing 5,500 gallons of water that quickly overwhelmed the fire and extinguished it, with the aid of the fire department.

It is rather unusual for firemen to listen to a church service in their central station but this is what was done on May 12, by the members of the headquarters at London, Ont. The service, too, came through the air for hundreds of miles. A radio outfit had been tuned in on the third floor of the station and the firemen listened with interest to a service held in a Detroit, Mich., Episcopal cathedral. The words of the preacher and the singing of the congregation were plainly audible to the listeners.

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