The Fire Service of Portsmouth, Va., and Neighborhood.
(From a Special Correspondent.)
PORTSMOUTH, VA., February 8.—The fire department of Portsmouth is a volunteer one consisting of two steam engine companies. One machine is a third-sized La France, and the company name is Independent No. 1, commanded by Foreman Frederick Wiesdorf. The membership is 75. The next company is Chambers No. 2, commanded by Foreman B. C. Marshall. The membership is 108. This company has a third-sized Amoskeag. The department has no truck, but needs one. We have a fine water supply and good pressure from fire plugs. This city is composed mostly of frame houses, and fortunately fires are not frequent. Our chief, W. T. Robinson, is a veteran fireman and understands his business.
The city of Norfolk, across the river from this city, has a paid fire department, with all apparatus housed in one building. This includes thiee Amoskeag steamers, all second class and one first-size Hayes truck. This city has a good water supply also. Chief Thomas Kerill, who commands this department, has had a number of narrow escapes while performing his duty at fires. The Gamewell fire alarm is used by this department.
The village of Berkley, which is situated between Portsmouth and Norfolk, has one volunteer company, Hope Fire Company No. 1. This company has a single-brake hand engine. The village is not incorporated, and this fire organization has to pay its own expenses. Valuable work has been done by this band of fire fighters. Large cisterns, about ten in number, have been dug about the village, and there is strong talk of having water works in the near future.
The town of Suffolk, about twenty miles from Portsmouth, has a fine department for its size. There is one La France steamer, one Holloway double tank chemical engine, and a hook and ladder truck. Suffolk has suffered several times from disastrous fires, and is now looking ahead. The water supply is very good, with a fine plug pressure. The name of the fire company is Phoenix No. 1. It numbers some forty members.
Hampton has good fire protection. There are two companies, with one horse power engine and a hook and ladder truck. The chief is William Wymouth, and Robert Massenburg commands the hook and ladder company. This department has done considerable fire work, and is composed of a fine set of men. The National Soldiers’ Home adjoins the Hampton department and has also a good department of its own, composed in part of veterans of the late war, inmates of the home. The department is commanded by Chief Richard Ruth, a man who has earned an enviable reputation as a fireman,while at the same time making himself generally liked in private life.
ANCIENT BRIDGES IN China.—The Chinese suspension bridges, dating from the time of the Han dynasty (202 B. C. to 220 A. D.), furnish striking evidence of the early acquaintance of the Chinese with engineering science. According to the historical and geographical writers of China, it was Shang Lieng, the commander of the army under Kaen Tsu, who undertook the construction of the roads in the province of Shense, to the west of the capital, the high mountains and deep gorges of which made communication difficult, and which could be reached only by circuitous routes. At the head of an army of 10,000 workmen, Shang Lieng cut through mountains and filled up the valleys with the soil obtained from the excavations. Where, however, this was not sufficient to raise a road high enough, the built bridges rest ing upon abutments or projections. At other places, where the mountains were separated by deep gorges, he carried out a plan of throwing suspension-bridges stretching from one slope to the other. These bridges, appropriately called by Chinese writers “flying” bridges, are sometimes so high as to inspire those who cross them with fear. At the present day there is still a bridge in existence in Shense 400 feet long, which stretches across a gorge of immense depth. Most of the bridges are only wide enough to allow of the passage of two mounted men, railings on both sides serving for the protection of travelers. It is not improbable that the missionaries who first reported on Chinese bridges two centuries ago gave the initiative to the construction of suspension bridges in the West.—Iron.
THE Fair Haven (Conn.) Water Company has petitioned the superior court for permission to take a part of the water of West river, 10,000,000 gallons per day, “for the parpose of supplying the city of New Haven and the village of Fair Haven with water for public, private and mechanical needs.” The water is to be taken from the river at a certain point in the town of Wood bridge, distant about two and one-half miles above the stone bridge, just below the junction of the two roads known as the Waterbury and Seymour turnpikes. A dam is now being constructed across the river at that place.