THE FIRE PERIL IN SCHOOLS.
It is not known what would become of the writers on the “danger of fire in schools,” if by chance the buildings could be made fireproof and the teachers and scholars clothed in some Asbestine covering that would be impervious to the dread monster. Surely it would be a calamity to the writers, but what a relief to the pestered public. Of course, it is on account of popularity that most of these people rush into print, as probably they never would have the pleasure of reading their compositions were it not that everybody has a kindly feeling for the poor teachers and children who, according to the writers, are momentarily exposed to the dangers of being burned alive. It is well to occasionally call attention to these dangers where fire protection is neglected, but nauseating to have imaginary calamities constantly pointed out where there is no necessity for it other than to frighten the people engaged in school work. It is true that some school buildings arc old and do not contain modern fire appliances to safeguard them against fire, but it may also be depended upon that the municipal authorities are not such savages as they are painted that they would allow their children and teachers to be consumed if they knew there was a likelihood of such a thing taking place. The cold facts are these: Old school buildings are being rapidly equipped with the best fire preventive appliances; automatic fire alarms connecting direct with the fire department and interiors made as fireproof as possible; new school buildings being constructed strictly fireproof and equipped with modern fire alarm systems; regular drills being carried out to accustom the children to make steady and rapid egress from the buildings; with a large number of schools not more than two stories high, so that they could be emptied in less than a minute, and numerous improvements being made daily, and with up-to-date conditions existing and constant supervision as to heating and lighting, rendering the. danger from these sources nil, there does not seem such need for alarm by nervous mothers about their children’s safety more than if they were allowed to run about the streets risking the dangers of traffic in our public places. It is even more tiresome to find reports from fire prevention officers on the great annual fire loss, giving the same old figures and statements that have long since passed the censor of public opinion. Still we notice in every fire prevention circular issued the well known “terrible annual fire loss of $250,000,000 a year,” whereas since that heading was written the real fire loss has made many changes. This deviation applies to the school alarmists as well, as they have to use the two and a half million fire loss argument to help them along on the school bugaboo. We do not intend to make light of the dangers that exist in poorlyequipped buildings, more especially in those where large numbers congregate every day for instruction or business. On the contrary, we realize the great importance of having school buildings made as near fireproof as possible and instilling in janitors and teachers the highest point of courage and efficiency in safeguarding the children. But it must be borne in mind that with the rules and regulations passed by council, the constant and serious work of the Fire Marshals, the daily inspections of the officers of the fire department and others whose duty it is look after and provide fire protection for school buildings, that the fire risks in these buildings are daily becoming less, and that we are now better equipped in this special line of “fire protection for schools” than we dreamed of a few years ago. All the means now being adopted to save life and property from fire are having the desired results and soon we may he able to look hack and admire the great work accomplished in saving students, wage earners and principals from fire while the record of property destroyed will also show such good results that wc may never again have to refer to the two and a half million ash heap.