The Fire Protection of Key West.
In a recent issue of FIRE AND WATER we quoted from The Insurance Monitor a paragraph commenting upon an alleged lack of proper fire protection at Key West, Fla. In reply to this C. B. Pendleton, editor and manager of The Daily Equator Democrat of Key West, writes to the Monitor that the paragraph does the city an injustice, and incloses us a copy of his letter. He also forwards us the accompanying report made by Special Agent W. A. Cooke upon the subject, which we print below as follows:
SPECIAL AGENT’S REPORT OF KEY WEST,
STATE OK FLORIDA, Dec. 1, 1889.
Population, 25,000; population of county, 25,000; principal product of surrounding country, cigar manufacturing (120,000,000 manufactured 1888) sponging (?) 500,000 this year; fishing, 100,000; turtles, 50,000; width of main business street, 60 feet; width of other business streets, 50 feet; width of streets in residence portion. 50 feet ; number of brick or stone buildings, few ; usual height, two-story; ordinance has not been passed defining fire limits; city tax, personal; county tax, $7.50; number of agencies, 1; number of companies, 2; gross premiums on city business, $50,000 to$6o,ooo on agent; gross premiums on outside business, none.
Four steamers of the following make and age from one to three years: One Silsby, 4000 lbs.; one 4000 lb. Button and two 3500 lb. Button ; one hand engine, in use five years ; no che nical engines, one hook and ladder truck in fair condition, 7000 feet of good hose, twenty paid men, 100 volunteers, eleven horses owned by department, horses are not used for any other purposes, tire alarm is private electric and well distributed.
Three stationary engines, one on each wharf, with ample supply of hose, 2000 feet just received; will likely have waterworks in eighteen months; assessed value of property $5,000,000, and three mills tax by act of legislature for fire department only; map misleading; buildings most invariable one story and small; only $2000 loss in past three years (until Del Pino fire); from 1857 to 1886 the losses by fire did not exceed $10,000, and had there been any fire department in the place the conflagration would have been averted.
In his letter accompanying the report the agent says:
I am rather favorably impressed with the place, although it has a very black eve for the present on account of the cigarmakcis’ strike, which, of course, in time must end. The Sanborn map is very misleading. Most of the buildings are very sm ill and low. A fireplace in any house is a rare exception. There is a great deal of sameness about the tobacco factories. Aside, from moral hazard, for the life of me I cannot see why any of them should burn. The Del Pino factory recently destroyed was the only brick one in the town and considered the best physical risk in the place. This, I believe, is the only tobacco factory ever burned in Key West where a fire started in the factory. The fire department is good and the water supply (cisterns) is ample. Phe city, like all const towns, is subject to high winds at times, and a general conflagration is among the possibilities, but, with the present fire department, not at all probable, no more so than many other places. Strange to say, that with such a large laboring population, the city is an exceedingly orderly one. It is a very rare thing to hear of any disturbances.
The rates obtained pass all understanding. They are from two to four hundred per cent higher than any place I know of. The moral of the town I don’t think is any worse than elsewhere and the merchants all do a good business, due to the fact that the cigar makers form the largest proportion of the population, receive handsome wages and credit is extended to them only by the week. It is not improbable that the place will have water-works in the very near future, the city having already authorized issue of half a million dollars of bonds for that purpose.
STEAM NAVIGATION ON THE NILE.—A new Egyptian association has been formed, styled the “ Thewfikieh ” Company, owning a number of steamers which have been specially fitted for a regular service for passengers desiring to ascend the river from Cairo to the first cataract, visiting the antiquities on the banks. The formation of this company has been sanctioned by a decree of the Khedive, who has just inaugurated the operations by a personal visit on board the steamer El Khedevie. The saloon, ladies’ boudoir, smoking-room, and all parts of the steamer are illuminated by eighty electric lights of a total power of 2500 candles, and the decorations of the apartments arc of the most elegant and luxurious character.
THE TAUNTON WATER-WORKS Report.—The water commissioners of Taunton, Mass., have made their fourteenth annual report, covering the year ending November 30, 1889. During the year extensions have been made and pipe laid to close “ dead ends,” amounting to 3.43 miles, making a total length of 59.29 miles of mains in the system. The service pipes were extended .94 miles, making a total of 30.31 miles. The addition of 27 hydrants makes the whole number of these 514 ; 22 stop gates total, 378 ; I blow off, total 30, and 118 services ; 80 meters, total 938. Of the services now in use 29.8 per cent are metered, The maximum daily consumption of water has reached a point which taxes the pumping capacity to an extent leaving little reserve to draw upon in case of a large lire, and an addition to the pumping plant will be asked for. The quality of the water has varied, ranging from rather poor in September to very good from October to May. The total consumption of water during the year was 280,885,963, average per day, 769,551 ; consumption per day per head o( population, thirty-two gallons ; per consumer, thirty-seven gallons. Of the total amount consumed there passed through domestic meteis 32,432,212 gallons, and through manufacturing meters 81,966.873 gallons. The number of gallons pumped per pound of coal was 343. The cost of pumping, figured in actual pumping expenses($5395), was per 1,000,000 gallons against an average head (8) 12.09, and per 1,000,000 gallons raised one foot high, 7.9 cents. The Taunton water board consists of Parley I. Perrin, president; Henry M. Levering and Silas I). Prcsbrey, M. D., while George F. Chase is clerk and superintendent of the works.
THE PROPOSED EAST RIVER Tunnel.—It is announced that the East River Railway Company, whose scheme for a gravity railroad under the Last river, has been described, has let the contract for the construction of the tunnel to the American Tunnel Construction Company, organized under the laws of West Virginia, with a capital of $300,000, which may be increased to $2,000,000. Colonel R. H. Hunt of Kansas City is president of the company. By the terms of the contract the surveys and drawings are to be made within sixty days. President Henning of the East River Company stated to a reporter that steps will he taken at once to secure the the necessary privileges from the authorities of New York and Brooklyn, and he expects to have the railroad in full running order within two years after these privileges are obtained. It is proposed to connect with the Manhattan elevated road on Broome street, running the tunnel train on an elevated track until within a block of the river, when a plunge will he made into the tunnel, and the car will gain a momentum sufficient to carry it up an incline on the Brooklyn side, where it will clutch a cable as it slows up that will draw it to the station platform on South Sixth street. The car will run back in the same way. The whole time of the trip in the tunnel is estimated at fiftysix seconds.
To EXTINGUISH FIRES IN SHIPS’ Holds.—According to The Louisville Courier Journal, a new apparatus for extinguishing fires in ships’ holds and for rapidly ventilating the holds in emergencies has been brought out in England. The scient fic basis of the invention is the fact of carbonic oxide gas being inimical to combustion. Fire is extinguished in a ship’s hold by the apparatus filling it rapidly with fumes extracted from the boiler funnel, and cooled and purified on their way to the hold, vents being left for the expulsion of fresh air contained in the hold. The fumes are injected with such rapidity as to produce an outflow through all the vents and crevices in the hold, and thus prevent the ingress of fresh air which would otherwise occur. A boiler burning two hundred weight of coal per hour evolves sufficient fumes for this purpose, and it is claimed for the apparatus that it is applicable to any vessel, whether a steamer or a sailing ship, having a boiler at which coal can be consumed at this rate. The fumes are deadly to tire, whether it result from the combustion of ordinary cargo or of such dangerous substances as turpentine, petroleum, benzoline, gasoline, or even phosphorus; consequently, when a hold is filled with the fumes, it is effectually protected throughout against fire. After a tire has been extinguished, or at other times when the atmosphere in a hold is in a vitiated condition, the apparatus can he set to force in a large stream of fresh air and thus rapidly purify the atmosphere.
THE ELECTRIC MOTOR CAR IN PHILADELPHIA.—There is no doubt about the mechanical success of electric motor cars run by storage batteries, and that seems to be all that was demonstrated in the trial on the Lehigh avenue road last Wednesday. Repeated experiments have shown this to be the ideal system for the running of street cars, provided the cost he not too great. On this subject we have the estimate of President Wharton that the cost will be less than that of running the cars by horse power. If that can be demonstrated it should not take long to get rid of horses altogether on street car lines, for the electric motor cars can be introduced without any change whatever on street car lines with tracks heavy enough to bear them, and sandwiched in. if need be, between the cars drawn by horses until the latter have been gradually replaced. Successful experiments were reported yesterday with electrical cars on the underground railroad of London. It is probable that storage batteries were used, for any other system would require special construction of line conductors, too costly to be put up merely for experimental purposes. In New York yesterday the electric cars run by storage batteries were the only surface road ears that were able to keep on schedule time in spite of the snow storm. That simply means that they had enough reserve power to force their way through the obstructions. —Philadelphia Ledger.