TO CURB THE FIRE LOSS.
Special and wide attention has recently been called by the annual meeting of the National Board of Fire Underwriters to the large fire losses in this country since the commencement of the war in Europe, notably the increase in the past year, the heavy loss incurred in the past year from munitions disasters being commented upon. The expansion of munitions manufacturing and in some instances an increase in carelessness due to the extra activity in some manufacturing lines are undoubtedly responsible for many of the serious fires that have occurred, but, while this is so, a glance at the figures for the year previous and for years before the war began reveals losses of large dimensions, and we must not forget that it was these heavy losses in normal times which gave rise to the fire prevention campaign which has produced such good, substantial results in many places. A careful review of the situation indicates this sequence of conditions—a needlessly heavy fire loss in normal times, due largely to carelessness—a fire prevention campaign that has certainly counteracted to some extent this heavy loss—extra fires due to munitions, disasters, and other causes which have swelled the total loss despite the fire prevention gains. The carelessness referred to has consisted not alone of individual carelessness in homes and business places, but in some instances of municipal carelessness—the failure of city officials to provide fire departments with adequate means for meeting not only ordinary fire conditions, but extraordinary conditions, such as have occurred in various places. What to do to meet this condition is happily not a problem. It is simple. The condition itself suggests the remedies. For one thing the fire prevention campaign must be pushed with even greater energy than in normal times and the other— the vitally necessary one in these emergency times—is the adequate equipment of fire departments to combat extraordinary fire conditions. The most effective and modern fire apparatus and water supply in sufficient quantity to meet any conditions likely to arise are absolutely necessary and where such is not already at hand it is the civic duty of municipal officials to see to it that such is provided. Recently attention was called editorially in this journal to the increased cost of labor and materials involved in the manufacture of fire apparatus, and that it seems the price of motor fire apparatus must be advanced to meet these conditions and it follows that city officials should place themselves in touch with manufacturers so as to be advised in regard to prices, and they should make early purchases of needed equipment before they go higher.