THE SAME OLD STORY.
THE past has been a fiery week, as a glance at the long list of destructive fires which appears elsewhere in our columns will show. It might have been added to considerably had every fire been put down in which, the $10,000 margin of loss was, possibly, but not certainly reached. The worst conflagrations were those at New Westminster, B. C., Livermore Falls, Me., and Jerome, Arizona—the last accompanied with the loss of at least fifteen lives, and the first with utter ruin and dire distress to hundreds of persons. Had these places been properly prepared to grapple with such emergencies, the probabilities are that the losses would have been kept down to a much smaller figure, and that possibly no lives would have been lost. But at Jerome there was no means of fire protection at all, and at New Westminster, with a population of over 7,000 and a fire area of 1,500 acres filled with costly business and public buildings of brick and stone, the equipment included only two fire engines (one of them a manual), a chemical engine, a hook and ladder truck, and 4,400 feet of hose, with but thirty-one firemen, of whom twenty are volunteers and five of the remainder paid part time, It would thus seem as if these places (as was the case with others included in the list) absolutely courted being wiped out by fire. Somehow or another it appears to be impossible to get the idea through the head of the average city councilman or town or village trustee, that it is the poorest kind of economy to trust to what is miscalled Providence—it is really blind chance —in the way of fire protection; and that it is the safest policy to be liberal in supplying the very best outfit possible in the way of fire apparatus and ample water provision, even if other municipal departments are somewhat pinched. Money thus expended pays for itself, if only through the reduction in fire insurance rates. All this is an old story; but it needs objective teaching such as that of New Westminster or Jerome to bring the lesson home in the proper quarter.