The Fight Against Arson
The advancing tendency toward incendiarism in a certain class of dishonest business men, who attempt to recoup their losses by the destruction of their highly overinsured property by fire, can only be controlled in one way. That way is to make this course so hazardous to the individual adopting it that it will be abandoned. In order to accomplish this the fire chief must have the co-operation, not only of the other branches of the state and city governments—the police and the fire marshal—but also that of the insurance companies and their agents. In fact the latter is fully as essential as the former.
If the insurance companies will bravely fight the claims of the arsonist and stand ready, in suspicious cases, to go the limit in pushing their defense against fraudulent claims, the trade of incendiarism will be abandoned. It is because only too often it is so easy to collect insurance money, that so many cases of fraudulent fires have occurred. A signal case where co-operation between the fire department of the city and the insurance companies defeated the ends of alleged fraudulent claimants was that which is described on page 896 by Ex-Judge William T. French, counsel for the companies in claims made after a fire in Camden, N. J.
Such co-operation of the insurance companies with the chief of the fire department is, alas! only too rare, and therefore serves to emphasize how much could be accomplished in Fire Prevention were it more general.
Chief D. K. Moser, of the fire department of Warren, Ohio, makes a serious charge against the council of the city. It is that during a fire, causing heavy loss, two of his pumpers were lying useless in their houses, owing to the failure of the council to appropriate funds for the purchase of batteries to run them. The chief also said that a cut in the fire force only gave him 23 instead of 38 men to fight this fire. As it was he was compelled to call upon the Niles department for help. The idle apparatus would have enabled the chief to throw four additional streams on the blaze.