From the report of the fire patrol committee of the New York Board of Underwriters for the year ending April 30, 1888, we learn that during that time the patrol responded to 2072 alarms, the largest number ever tabulated by the committee in any one year. The proportion of useless alarms to actual fires was forty-five per cent, and the average for six years was forty-four per cent. In responding to these alarms, 2174 hours of service were performed. The covers spread numbered 9981. The insurance involved at fires was $35,479,549, and losses incurred $6,222,096. The expenditures for the maintenance of the patrol aggregated $95,574.41. An interesting table is that showing the grade of losses as follows :


The amount of insurance involved and the loss sustained are, according to the report, in excess of those of any year yet reported, the next largest on record being those of r866. The excess of that year is attributed to the change from the volunteer to the paid department system, the appointment of new and untried men and the inadequately equipped fire apparatus. “ No such reason, however,”it continues, ‘‘can be given for the excess of the present time—our fire department stands unequaled in point of discipline and efficiency, in apparatus and implements, and therefore the responsibility docs not rest upon them for the great destruction of property. It has been a year of extraordinary events, not only In fire matters, but in atmospheric influences ; fires which at other times would have been handled and been of little importance, have turned into conflagrations, despite the efforts and ability of tried men and improved methods of fire extinguishment.”

Attention is called to the fact that the insurance companies’ losses exceed the premium receipts of the calendar year 18S7, and, then, after reviewing the twenty-three prominent fires of the year, at each of which the losses exceeded $50,000, and so many of which occurred in the drygoods district, the report calls special attention to the values and risks in that district in the following words :

The dry-goods district, or rather that portion of the city bounded by Chambers street on the south, Elm and Crosby streets on the east, Houston street on the north and South Fifth avenue and West Broadway on the west, an area of 145 acres, contains 1636 buildings.

The value of in«urable ptoperty is not ascertainable, yet can be approximated and the result may be surprising.

For instance, during the year there occurred in that district a total of sixty-six fires wheie loss was sustained by the underwriters. The amount of insurance involved in those fires aggregated $10,906,316.72, and the actual loss sustained $2,447,814.11. The average amount of insurance upon the ninety-nine buildings and contents involved in the loss was $110,164.81 to each, and if this average is taken upon the total number of buildings in the district it would produce the sum of $130,229,629.16 of insurable properly.

Extending this example a trifle further to ascertain the bearing of the loss to the amount of insurable property as stated, we find that a rating of $135,81 would be required to meet the loss incurred. Some may say that this approximate estimate of insurable property is not large enough, but if we double it to $360,000,000, which on the other hand is too high an estimate, it would still require a rating of 67.90.

It may be argued that this is problematical, and that the year was an exceptional one for volume of disaster, and while this is so in a measure, yet our records present a noticeable fact that 32^ per cent of the entire city losses for the past sixteen years have occurred in that district. See following exhibit:

AN expert who has given the subject due attention says that it will be noticed that most boiler explosions come, like black coffee, right after dinner. The reason for this, as he explains it, is that the water in the boilers is in perfect readiness to become steam, and would be such but for the pressure of the actual steam on top of it. When the dinner hour is over and the men and machine begin work again, the valves are quickly opened, the steam rushes out and the water suddenly becomes steam. As steam has 1700 times the expansion of water, the effect is an explosion.

No posts to display