THE WORK OF FIRE ENGINEERS

THE WORK OF FIRE ENGINEERS

News From All Points.

CHATTANOOGA, TENN.

As compared with the fire losses of 1901, those of 1902 were considerably greater at Chattanooga, Tenn., than in the previous year, although the number of alarms answered was smaller. These were 223 last year, with a loss of $117,444 and insurance of $800,685, as against the loss in 1901, which was 71,733.50, for 230 alarms, with an insurance of 513,540. But in that year Chief McQuade had to fight only one fire of any magnitude, the loss at which was $35,000, while in 1902 there were three fires of $30,000, $35,000, and $20,000 respectively, to each one of which the entire department was called out and had to work under very difficult conditions. The greatest number of fires—forty-four—was in January, with a loss of $31,386 on an insurance of $156,050; the lowest—ten—in June, with a loss (the highest in the twelve months) of $34,078 on an insurance of $30,200. The lowest loss—$618 on an insurance of $29,925 for eighteen fires—was in October, The smallest number of alarms—eleven— was turned in in November, with a loss of $772 on an insurance of $85,640. in May there were no fires. Of false alarms there were three; of “unknown” causes, twenty-nine. The greatest number of fires where causes were known—sixty-seven— were from sparks falling on roofs; twenty-two originated from burning chimneys; nine from gasolene explosions; eight from lamp explosions; nine were incendiary. One hundred and fifty-two took place in frame buildings; thirty-two in brick. One hundred and seventeen alarms were turned in from fire alarm boxes; 102 by telephone; and four by citizens. Chief McQuade took charge of 119 fires, and Assistant Chief Toomey, of forty-six; the rest were looked after by Captains Garner, Hicks, and George M. Brown. One hundred and seven alarms were received in the morning, and n6 in the evening. Of the steamer companies No. t made the greatest number of runs—114; chemical engine No. 1, 167; hook and ladder company, tot. Under Chief McQuade the fire department has markedly improved during the past year, and, if he can carry out all he recommends, it will be still further improved during the coming year. Among other things he recommends the purchase of a firstclass engine, to be stationed at No. 1 fire hall for emergency calls in both the business and manufacturing section of the city. He also advises the purchase of several fortyfive-foot ladders, as those now on hand are not suitable for all occasions, and the purchase of twelve new alarm boxes to be placed in immediate use.

CHIEF M’QUADE, CHATTANOOGA, TENN.

NEW YORK CITY.

Among the heroes of New York city’s fire department Deputy Chief Ahearn’s name ranks very high. He was always noted as a fearless firefighter —pointed at as such from the first day he entered the fire department as the strongest, the most agile, and the quickest man in his company, all of whom were athletes. It was many years, however, before the chance was afforded him of showing what he could dc> at a moment of extra emergency—not, indeed, till after he had been promoted to be captain of a company, the promotion coming to him thirteen years after he had joined the department. The chance came at last during the famous Consolidated gasworks fire on the East Side. Aheam and his company were among the first on the spot, and he was one of the first to advance at the head of his men on the fiercely burning building. The flames were shooting high into the air, and roaring between the huge gasmeters, on which streams were being thrown continuously to keep them cool and avert an explosion. Towards the rear of a yard, at the end of a lane lay the figure of a man apparently dead. No attempt had been made to rescue him, and the ground about the tanks was honey-combed with reservoirs of naphtha, which might at any instant explode and shatter everything for blocks round. The police had driven the crowds back with clubs, leaving the lifeless figure of the man to perish unnoticed. Even the firemen assumed that the man was dead, and that an attempt to save were a useless risk. Suddenly, however, they saw the figure of one of their officers, wrapped in his rubber coat, hugging the ground and hastily threading his way on hands and knees over the naphtha tanks towards the prostrate form. Even the hardened eyes of the busy firemen were not proof against the act of bravery, and a shout 01 encouragement rang forth, while the rescuer went on. Time and again it seemed as if he would be cut off by flames, but he crawled doggedly and quick as a weasel and disapappeared. Presently he emerged out of the sea of smoke into the glare of the flames carrying the body ot the supposed dead man. The rescued man died in the hospital within a few hours after admittance; but Ahearn had had his chance and was made a battalion chief. His second chance was not long in coming. His district embraced the tenement house region in Rivington street on the East Side. In one of these tenements there was a fire in which dense smoke, as usual, predominated. The building, of course, was of the firetrap type and liable to burst out into fierce flame at any moment. As Chief Ahearn jumped out of his wagon, a father panicstricken with terror and maddened with grief, grabbed him by the arm and shrieked to him to save his young son, who had been left in a rear room. The chief no sooner heard that than he grabbed a helmet from a fireman and dashed into the house, in the front of which the fire was raging, while inside all was black with smoke. When Chief Ahearn reached the room, he found only an empty bed. Hastily wrapping a blanket round his head, (for it was wellnigh impossible to breathe even when close to the floor), he searched under the bed for the child, but could not find him, and was making his way back with what speed he might to the door and the fresh air, when he found the spring lock of the door leading to the hall had snapped shut. He grasped the lock to turn it. but the fire had burst through from the front of the house, and the lock burned his fingers. With a single effort the cornered man sent his foot through a panel of the door, then he lay down to crawl through the opening— when he lost consciousness. His men found him as soon as the flames were out. His clothes had been burned from his body. Of the leather helmet only the wire rim remained. Yet, strangely, Ahearn survived. For ten months he lay in an hospital. When he was finally discharged, he was deaf and a pitiful wreck physically. The fire board retired the hero to a quiet country district, where he could feel that he was earning his salary, and yet where the duties were comparatively nothing, even for so handicapped a cripple.

DEPUTY CHIEF AHEARN, NEW YORK.

The new chemical engine just purchased for Washington, D. C., will be placed in service in Congress Heights.

NEWPORT, KY.

Under the command of Chief John J. Waters, the fire department of Newport, Ky., during the year 1902 responded to 151 alarms, 102 of the number being sounded on bells and forty-nine by telephone and otherwise. The following are the figures of loss and insurance: Loss on real estate, $5,030.12; loss on personality, $5,746.10—total, $10,776.22. Insurance on real estate, $72,150; on personality, $92,800—total, $164,950. The above figures show that the Newport fire department knows how to keep the fire loss down.

CHIEF J. J. WATERS, NEWPORT, KY.

ELIZABETH, N. J.

In his annual message to the council Mayor Ryan, of Elizabeth, N. J., points out that the paid fire department of that city, which has been in operation for the last twelve months, has done its work so well that it has been a “matter of common observation that the fires that have occurred have been handled with intelligence and efficiency. It is believed (continues the message) that hereafter our city will not be discriminated against by fire underwriters, as has been the case heretofore. This is an expensive necessity because of the large payroll which the fire department necessarily has, whereas the other expenses of maintaining the department have been reduced. I believe that the business ability displayed by the commissioners in managing their department is marked, and that the gentlemen who have consented to give their time and attention to this matter have earned the gratitude of the community for their gratuitous services. The request of the fire commissioners for appropriations to maintain the efficiency of the apparatus, and the department generally, should be favorably considered by your honorable body. No matter how good a workman may be, he cannot perform his work unless he has proper tools. Fire engines and fire houses should be kept in proper order, so that when the emergency for which they are created to meet arises, they will be in condition to perform their functions. Undoubtedly now that the first year has passed, a detailed report will be presented by the fire commissioners, and I bespeak your favorable consideration of such report and recommendations when presented.”

THE WORK OF FIRE ENGINEERS.

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THE WORK OF FIRE ENGINEERS.

News From ALL Points.

ST. JOSEPH, MO

During 1902 up to December 22, 1902, inclusive, the fire loss at St. Joseph, Mo., showed a slight decrease over those of the corresponding period in 1901. The aggregate loss amounted in round numbers to about $175,000, in the neighborhood of $25,000 less than in 1901. Since that time, however, a candy factory has been burned with heavy loss. During 1902 there were only three big fires. One was a hominy mill; the other, the Griegg Brothers’ elevator, of which the former was the more serious, costing the insurance companies $60,000, the latter, $30,000. The third, a few days ago, in a candy factory, destroyed about $100,000 worth of property. The number of alarms up to the beginning of the last week of 1902, with whatever might be turned in before the end of the year, would be about the same as the total for 1901—namely, 314. Chief P. J. Kane is a valuable man to have as head of the fire department, which he has raised to a very high state of efficiency, as is proved by the small loss of the past year—comparatively small, that is to say, considering the size of St. Joseph and its importance as a business centre. If the improvements recommended by Chief Kane are carried out during the present year, the fire protection of the city will be put on a still more efficient footing. The chief is pressing the passage of an ordinance prohibiting the erection of other than fireproof buildings within the fire limits. He says that would reduce the number of fires, and that they could be better controled. Another ordinance will certainly be introduced directing the chief of the fire department to purchase nets for every fire wagon, and making it the duty of the firemen as soon as they arrive at a fire, to spread the nets beneath the windows, so that persons who jump may escape injury. This ordinance is proposed in consequence of five or six girls having been severely injured by jumping from the windows of the burning candy factory, although there was a fire escape within a foot of the window from which they jumped in their panic. Chief Kane says that if they had kept their heads and stayed where they were, the firemen would have arrived in plenty of time to have rescued them all. He insists that in factories as well as in the public schools, the employes should be practiced in fire drill.

CHIEF P. J. KANE, ST. JOSEPH, MO.

WARREN, ILL.

Although Warren, Ill., is not a very large place, its nopulation being about 2,000 more or less, and its fire area only too acres, still it boasts of several wood and brick mercantile buildings of from two to three stories, and a number of frame residences, some of which are three stories high. For these an efficient fire department is provided under Chief I. R. Myers, who, with his assistant chief, Frank Bayne, has just been deservedly re-elected, as were also the other offiers. There were only three fires during the year, and these were promptly extinguished without much loss. The department consists of about thirty members who form a hook and ladder, one fire company, and a hose company. Their equipment comprises a hook and ladder truck, and a hose cart, with six chemical extinguishers. The water supply for between thirty-five and forty hydrants is abundant. The fire pressure is from forty-five to 120 pounds.

POPLAR BLUFF, MD.

Poplar Bluff, Md., having now a good water plant, has been enabled to do away with its old lumbering fire engine, but not with its fire department, which is an organisation composed of the right material. This department boasts the proud record, that never since its organisation has any fire it has had to fight got beyond the building in which it started. No members of the fire department have lost their lives at any fire, but some severe injuries have been sustained, and any amount of hardships endured uncomplainingly. The personnel of the department is as follows: Chief, C. Williams; assistant chief, John Mabry; captain, Charles Langley; secretary and treasurer, Charles Flanigan; nozzle-men, George Sauerwine and Frank McGown; linemen, Neil Williams and Hiram . Menge. These are the active ones; there are numerous honorary members. The usual water pressure is seventy pounds, which is sufficient when only one nozzle is playing. A pressure of 200 pounds can be furnished in an emergency, but thus far about no is the heaviest that has been demanded. As there is a large amount of property to be protected from fire, the trend of popular opinion is altogether in the direction of liberality towards the department. The council has just ordered 500 feet of additional hose.

MARLBORO, MASS.

On December 26 shortly after midnight a destructive fire swept away the city hall of Marlboro, Mass., and left it a heap of ruins. In the smoking debris were the ashes of the 25,000 valuable volumes comprising one of the finest public libraries in the Statesome of the books of which can never be replaced— the fine furnishing of the city offices, the equipments and other municipal property. With the exception of a few of the city auditor’s books, however, the important public records were preserved safe in the vaults. All the plans and specifications relating to the city sewerage system and other departments of public works, valued at over $10,000, which were in the office of the city engineer, shared the fate of the library books. Another loser was George R. Stacy, superintendent of the Marlboro waterworks, who had an office in the city hall. The main cause of the total destruction of the building is found in the fact that the fire gained great headway before it was discovered. The large open spaces in the structure on the second floor, used as a hall, and on the third floor, used as an armory, made admirable conditions for the spread of the flames. The fire propably started in one of the coat rooms in the second story. A basket ball game was held in the afternoon of Christmas Day and it is thought that a burning cigar left near paper was responsible for the blaze. Marlboro depends for effective water service at fires upon a high-pressure system—pressure sixty-two to 142 pounds. There are no fire engines in the city, but there are four hose wagons and a combination chemical and ladder truck, but with the exception of about half-a-dozen all of the sixty firemen are call men or volunteers. The city hall was located on the main street and occupied such a position that the firemen were able to work from all sides. With a pressure of over too pounds, several strong streams of water were directed on the building. The Gamewell fire alarm is installed in the city. The fire was handled in a thoroughly efficient manner by the chief and his men, to whose energy and hard work it is due that the destruction was confined to the one place and that the flames which were here and there discoverable in other buildings were at once put out. Although the walls of the city hall collapsed suddenly there was no loss of life, but Michael O’Brien, one of the call firemen, was seriously, possibly fatally injured. The flames had gained great headway before the alarm was turned in, which accounts for the rapid destruction of the building.

WASHINGTON, D. C.

The Washington, D. C., fire department has had its ups and downs. Strange as it may seem, the different volunteer companies worked against each other during the early part of the last half century. So great was the rivalry between those departments that street fights were common and fires were permitted to burn while the firemen fought. A great many changes have occurred in the conduct of the department during all these years, until Chief R. W. Dutton is able to boast that his department is firstclass in every particular. It is true that departments in some of the larger cities possess appliances such as are not to be found in Washington; but this is because they are not locally needed. The several chiefs of the department have always shown a disposition to get the latest improved firefighting appliances. Chief Dutton has managed to get a good increase during the short time he has been chief, and is responsible for a number of improvements made and for the excellent discipline that is now maintained. Early in the fifties there was a volunteer fire department, with John Peabody as chief engineer. The companies composing the department were the Anacostia, Northern Liberty, Franklin. Perseverance, Union, and Webster hose, and the American and Metropolitan hook and ladder companies. In those days the ringing of a bell notified the firemen that their services were wanted, and, despite the fact that the members of the companies were scattered all over the town, they usually made fairly good time running to fires, pulling the trucks or hose after them. What were known as Meigs plugs were used over cisterns at the intersection of streets. These plugs were covered with heavy iron plates, and considerable difficulty was experienced in finding them in the winter time when they were covered with snow and ice. Many times the firemen were obliged to build fires and thaw away the ice and snow before they could reach the plugs. It was during the days of the volunteers that the street fights occurred, and sometimes streams of water had to be used to disperse the belligerents. During these combats houses were permitted to burn to the ground. This condition of affairs continued until 1864, when the present department was organised, with John H. Sessford as chief. Part of the old volunteer apparatus was utilised in the formation of the new organisation, and the department was soon better equipped. The McClelland fireplug was put in operation about 1864, and the firemen no longer had the trouble of digging in the ice and snow and getting suctions from the canal, and sometimes from street gutters, as they had been compelled to do previous to this time. When the department was organised the privates received only $8 a month; but this amount was soon doubled. William Ellwood succeeded John H. Sessford as chief engineer, and after him came George Holmes, Martin Cronin, Joseph Parris, and Robert W. Dutton. There arc now 300 firemen in the department, with thirtythree engines, hose carriages, and combination wagon. Three extra first-size upright engines and a modern truck are about to be put in service.

CHIEF R. W. DUTTON, WASHINGTON, D. C.

The hook and ladder truck and house of the Mount Carroll, Pa., fire company have been sold to private parties. When the coal strike began the company consisted of 300 members, the majority of whom went out on strike, while some few remained at work. As these could not legally be ousted from the company, all those on strike resigned. The company’s two horses which were used for hauling ice and coal were no longer needed, as no one would give the company orders. Expenses were accumulating and no means of meeting them were in sight. The remaining eighty members, therefore, decided to disband.