The Water Supply of Baltim ore.
Thomas Mackenzie, of the Baltimore bar, delivered an address last week before the Taxpayers’ Association on fire losses and insurance rates in that city and enumerated the causes of their increase.
Mr. Mackenzie told how the insurance business was conducted and then gave figures to show that the loss by fire per capita in Baltimore during 1891 and 1892 was greater than in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis or Cincinnati, He said of the 105 companies doing business in Maryland 38 had losses in 1892 averaging over 130 per cent, of the amount received in premiums. These were all foreign companies and Mr. Mackenzie said he found that the losses of home companies had not reached the 100 per cent, limit and out of 13 companies the highest loss was 85.4 per cent., while the lowest was 26.3 per cent. Mr. Mackenzie learned from reliable statistics that some of the foreign companies were doing a large and profitable business here and if any conclusion can be formed from the facts it must be, he contended, in accordance with the statement of the Fire Commissioners that risks are taken by some companies which no prudent man would incur.
” Notwithstanding the record which seems to have been made for this city.” continued Mr. Mackenzie, “ Baltimore ought to be one of the most desirable centres for fire insurance agencies. No city in the union has a water supply equal to that which Baltimore is blessed. Here are some of the statistics which illustrate this part of my statement: Philadelphia, with a population of 1,142,653, has a reservoir capacity of 869,298,814 gallons: Brooklyn, with its 973,000, has a reservoir capacity of 1,000,000,000 gallons; Buffalo, with its 255,000 inhabitants, has a reservoir capacity of only 140,000,000 gallons; Boston, with its population of 450,000. has a water capacity of only 53,000,000 gallons; Cincinnati, with its 350,oco inhabitants, has only a reservoir and tank capacity of 105,000,000 gallons.
“ While Baltimore with only 500,000 inhabitants has a reservoir capacity of 2,315,000,000 gallons, and with an average daily waste over the breasfs of our dams of 308,000,000. The water pressure here is also greater than in any of the cities named, being between twenty-five and seventy-five pounds.
“If it is not from the lack of water in our reservoirs,” said Mr. Mackenzie, “ It must be as has been intimated by the special committee of the Fire Underwriters, from an imperfect system of distribution throughout the streets, and we need not be surprised at such a conclusion when we learn by an inspection of the plans in the water department that even in the very heart of the business portions the mains are small. For instance, take Charles street, north of Baltimore, and we find that for the small half square to Bank lane there is only one 6-inch pipe ; from Bank lane to Fayette street there is only one 4 1-2inch pipe ; from Fayette to Lexington it dwindles down to a 4inch main ; for half of the square from Lexington to Saratoga street it is a 3-inch pipe, and for the remaining half it is only i 1-2 inches ; at this point a 10-inch pipe has been laid to help out its weaker brother. South of Baltimore street to Lombard street we find the Water Board has considered two mains, one a 6-inch and the other a 10-inch, not more than enough. From Lombard to Pratt there is only a 4-inch pipe, while from Pratt to Barre it has been considered advisable to place two pipes, one 8 and the other 3 inches in diameter, while from Barre to Lee streets we get back to a 3-inch line; while in some of the dwelling portions of our city we find squares with no supply excepting such as goes up the small alleys in the rear, and such as may be derived from cross streets. On F’ranklin street, from Charles street to Park avenue, there appear to be no mains at all, and on Park avenue, between Centre and Richmond streets, there appear to be none but 4-inch mains in the alleys in the rear.
“That Baltimore has too few fire plugs is shown by the following comparisons: Boston, with an area of 22,922 acres has 6S00. Buffalo, with an area of 25,345 acres has 3100. Cincinnati, with an area of 15,360 acres has 1750. While Baltimore, with 11,120 acres, nearly the same area of Boston, has but 1420 fire plugs, or only about one-fourth the number that the city considers’ proper for its protection. However, the number of plugs is quite in keeping with the scanty supply of water and a change in one must necessarily mean an increase in the other.
“Again, Cincinnati has 371 street fire alarm boxes. Boston has 530 fire alarm boxes. W hile Baltimore has only 350 fire alarm boxes. Thus showing that our department is perhaps insufficiently supplied with the appliances necessary to send in promptly an alarm, while I cannot state as a fact that the distance to the boxes has materially retarded the announcement of threatening dangers.