The Danger to Firemen from Overhead Wires.
Chief Cantlin of the Philadelphia Fire Department thinks the proper place for electric, telegraph and telephone wires is underground, “I am not an electrician of sufficient experience to be thoroughly conversant with what would be necessary to accomplish this,” said Mr. Cantlin the other day to a reporter, “but I think constant experiments will solve the problem. At a large percentage of fires in this city the firemen have been handicapped by these overhead wires. Along Market street, when there is a fire in a large four or five story building, we frequently have to rest our ladders on these wires, and as a consequence we have to do what we call ‘long range’ fire fighting. Our method in fighting a fire is to put a ladder at the window, so that all advantage gained can be followed up. The men in this way can step from the ladder into the window, and by pulling their hose with them can force the flames back. We also experience a good deal of difficulty from wires over housetops supported on ‘horses.’ The danger in that direction is that while our men may be on a roof fighting the flames from that point they may catch their feet or trip over these wires and be thrown from the top of the building. Another danger arises from placing a ladder against these overhead wires. Probably seven or eight men may be on a ladder resting in this position, and it may slip and shde along the wires. Nothing could stop it after once started, and every man on it would be thrown to the ground. We often cut these wires when they come in our way, but in doing this another danger presents itself. Should a man cut one of these ‘live’ electric light wires without being armed with the necessary facilities, he would receive a shock which would no doubt result in death. I would not cut one of these wires myself, nor would I allow my men to do so if I knew of it. At the fire which occurred last winter at Janney & Andrews’ wholesale grocery house on Market street, below Second, these overhead wires were in our way to a great extent. A fire gains considerable headway in the failure to get the ladder at a desired point within reasonable time, and often these wires prevent us from getting our ladder within several feet of this point.”