The Paid Fire Service in the Sixth District of New Orleans.
As is generally known the seven districts of the city of New Orleans are protected by four district fire departments. One of them covers the four districts comprising the city proper, while the fifth, sixth and seventh districts have their own departments. That of the sixth district has for between one and two years been a fully paid force, the others being run upon the volunteer system.
When the paid department of the sixth district was put into operation, the books showed that the fire losses for that year, under the volunteer system, had been $30,505 for 1889, $35,450 for 1888, and $95,018 for 1887. During the first year of the new organization the losses were $20,382.50. From January 1, tSgl, to June 20, 1891, the losses were $3172.
The sixth district has a population of 25,000. Its fire area is 2880 acres, and the buildings almost all of wood, one and two stories high. The apparatus of the fire department consists of three steam fire engines, three hose carriages, one hook and ladder truck, three chemical engines—one with a thirty foot extension ladder and one operated for the Board of Underwriters. The department owns seventeen horses, valued at $3400; equipments worth $13,850; buildings, $21,000. Its expenses, yearly, are $26,200. Thirty-nine men compose the force and they are promptly paid full time. The Gamewell telegraph alarm system is in use, with twenty-nine street boxes.
The water supply consists of twenty-six fire hydrants, one fire well and thirty-six dug wells. The latter quickly dry up during a spell of drouth, such as was recently experienced. In some parts of the upper section of the district there are neither fire wells nor other sources from which to obtain water. The chief engineer states that he has frequently called the attention of the city council to the inadequate water supply. The district is rapidly building up, there having been houses erected and improvements made to the full value of $1,000,000 during the past twelve months. Most of the buildings are in localities where a scarcity of water exists.
The amount of losses and other facts of interest to the insurance people were as follows during 1890 : Total losses, $20,382.50; total amount of insurance involved, $85,295; total amount of uninsured property, $52,000 ; total losses on uninsured property, $2560; amount of valuation in excess of loss on uninsured property, $2640. Estimated value of property involved, $112,500.
The figures for the first half of 1891, i. e., from January I to date, are as follows : Total losses, $3172; total amount of insurance involved, $25,725 ; total amount of uninsured property, $1900 ; total amount of loss on uninsured property, $32 ; amount of valuation in excess of loss on uninsured property, $1868.
The chief of the sixth district fire department, Captain Thomas O’Neil, is a native of New Orleans. He became a member of the volunteer fire department in 1866, and has filled every position of trust, honor and responsibility within the gift of his company, Phoenix No. 8 of the third district. In 1884 Captain O’Neil had charge of the World’s Exposition Fire Department, and in 1885 he was chief of the exposition fire department and police patrol combined.
When the exposition closed he was appointed deputy United States collector of internal revenue ; next was chief clerk in the office of the assessor of the sixth district, and, in 1889, resigned the latter position to take charge of the sixth district paid fire department.