THE WORK OF FIRE ENGINEERS
News From All Points.
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.
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.
The new chemical engine just purchased for Washington, D. C., will be placed in service in Congress Heights.
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.
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.”