THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OF HONOLULU.
ANY miles away in the Pacific Ocean, some 3,000 from San Francisco, is a cluster of notable islands, known as the Hawaiian group. Twice or three times each month steamers sail between its ports and those of California, and to the growing commercial relations existing between these countries, there has for some four months been added a political solicitude on our part, that has awakened the very liveliest interest in the islands, but particularly in Honolulu. Honolulu is the principal city of the group, and has about 23,000 inhabitants, made up of native Kanakas, Japanese, Chinese, Americans and other nationalities.
Whatever of progress that has characterized the islands is due entirely to American enterprise, wealth and pluck. But no amount of perseverance could withstand the prodigal and criminal extravagance of the rules of these people, and after several uprisings and modifications of constitutions, a radical change was effected in the government in January, 1893, which exulted in the dethronement of Queen Liliuokalani, and the establishment of a Provisional Government. Sanford B. Dole was made president, and he at once, with the aid of a new cabinet, effected a complete change in the government of the islands. The provisional president is the son of New England missionaries, who went to Hawaii in 1841. He was born in Honolulu in 1844, received his elementary education at Punahou College, and was then sent to Williams College, Massachusetts. He read law in the office of a Boston law firm, and later went to New York.
Mr. Dole is at the same time provincial President of Hawaii and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He draws a salary of $5,000 a year as minister and none as president. All the other ministers get $5,000 a year. His office at the palace is labelled “Minister of Foreign Affairs.” In the days of Kalakaua it was the king’s bedroom and the anteroom was the king’s library. In this anteroom Major A. C. Potter, the Secretary of the Foreign office and aide-de-camp to the president, now sits.
Mr. Dole’s office is a large, well-lighted room. The hangings are in blue. Conspicuous is a bust of the Empress Eugenie. There is a painting of banana shrubs by Mrs. Dole, a picture of the President and some pictures of Hawaiian scenery. In the anteroom are busts of Disraeli and Gladstone. Connecting with the president’s office area private room where a secretary sits and a small chamber that was once Kalakaua’s dressing-room.
No one in Honolulu ever makes any charge against the character of Mr. Dole. The opponents of the Provisional Government say he was put forward to lend respectability to it.
Mr. Dole’s full name is Sanford Ballard Dole. When he returned from the law office of William Bingham, of Boston, he was about twenty-five years old. He had been admitted after examination to the Suffolk County, Mass., Bar, and was admitted also to the Honolulu Bar as soon as he returned. In 1884 he became a member of the Legislature, and was conspicuous in the revolution of 1887. In that year he was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii, which office he held until he became provisional President.
Liliuokalani, Queen or ex-Queen of the Hawaiian Islands, had a husband, John Dominis. Dominis is dead now. He was a white man, an American. In life, besides being royal consort, he was Governor of the Island of Oahu, on which island the capital city of Honolulu stands. It is said that Mr. Dominis and Mrs. Dominis, as she is now called by her political opponents, were never disposed to be critical of each other. Therefore there was no especial ill-feeling between Mr. Dominis and Mr. Charles B. Wilson when gossip said that the Queen liked Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson has become to a certain extent a political issue in the islands. He is one of the reasons, so the adherents of the Provisional Government allege, why the Queen should not be restored. In fairness, however, it must be said that this was not held against her until the revolution last year. The native Hawaiian views of some things differ from those of Americans and Europeans. Not until it became a question of to be restored or not to be restored was it held that the Queen should be like Ca sar’s wife. Nevertheless, Mr. Wilson has become very conspicuous in Honolulu talk, lie was born at Tahiti and went to Honolulu with his brother Jack about twenty-five years ago. They were blacksmiths, and for a long time were hard workers. Then Charles married a Miss Townsend, who is three-fourths white and had been brought up by the Queen, though she was not a Queen then. Miss Townsend is descended from a Boston family of the same name, and recently inherited some property there. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have a son about twenty years old who is at the I,eland Stanford University in California.
Under King Kalakaua, Wilson became Superintendent of the Water Works and clerk of the market. This advancement was received through the influence of Liliuokalani, it is alleged. When Kalakaua died and Liliuokalani became Queen, Wilson was made Marshal of the kingdom. The place was worth $3,000 a year and perquisites. When Wilson became Marshal he moved into a bungalow in the palace. Wilson made a very good Marshal, and is a man of courage. When the Queen was dethroned he would have organized her guards and fought to defend her crown, had she permitted it. The Provisional Government people say so. Wilson is not a cruel man. In fact, the Provisional Government has no charge to make against him except that he is superfluous. He tried to induce the Queen to consent to a general amnesty when Mr. Cleveland made it a condition of her restoration, but in that instance, at least, his influence failed.
The incidents attending the coup that resulted in the establishment of the Provisional Government, and the resultant muddle made out of it by President Cleveland, are too recent to require being told at this time. The Provisional Government is still in power, but it looks now as if a republic, with laws similar in many respects to those existing in the United States, will be the outcohic of the revolution.
The interest awakened in these strange and off islands through the extraordinary and exciting incidents of the past three months invites curiosity regarding the fire service, and one naturally asks, what sort of fire department exists in Honolulu. Surprise may be felt in the assurance that the department at the Hawaiian capital is an excellent stitution, and by all odds the most important and best managed branch of the government. The apparatus consists of two steam fire engines, of American make, two trucks, one chemical engine, four hose companies and one company of fire police. One the engines is drawn by horses, Four hundred and forty men, which include the police, make up the manual force, and John C. White, an old Californian and veteran fireman, is Chief of Department and survey engineer of the city. The character of the buildings owned by the department is shown the illustrations. While not at all pretentious, they are comfortably and conveniently furnished, and contain many of the devices in use iu American cities. The department is part paid, and annually appropriation $35,000 is made for its maintenance.
Two of theengine companies arc manned by white men, one bv natives and one by Chinamen. The hose companies are all volunteers and made up of all races. l’hc latest statistics at hand show a loss for twelve months preceding March 31, of $27,294 fully covered by insurance. There have been no great fires in Honolulu, but the department has a continual battle with sin .ill incendiary blazes. The area of the city limits is about eight square miles, many of the buildings in this section are hand, some and costly. The stores are principally of brick and wood and generally small. The lire marshal must be a competent civil and mechanical engineer, is appointed by the cabinet and cannot removed without cause. Once every three months he must make an inspection of all buildings, and he is empowered to order immediate changes in defective construction, etc., etc. The building regulations are somewhat strict, and violations are punished with heavy fines. The water supply is derived from five reservoirs which have an elevation of from too to 775 feet. Their combined capacity is 41,000,000 gallons. A 15-inch main connects with the main reservoir and water water is distributed to the business portion of the city through 12inch pipes. Fire hydrants are all through the place, and altogether the fire and water services of Honolulu arc all that could be desired.