TOPICS OF THE DAY.
FOR a long time past the fact has been recognized in Cincinnati that the fire department was not up to the needs of the city. During the past few years the suburbs have grown with astonishing rapidity, and now there are cities all around the city proper. The fire department has endeavored to keep pace with this growth, but it has been unable to do so for want of money, and a large and valuable property, most of which is fine residence property, is left without proper fire protection. A movement is now on foot to get authority to raise money for the establishment of not less than five additional companies, to be quartered in districts where fire protection is now lacking.
H MIGHTILY plucky piece of work was done at Hyde Park, Ill., last Monday, by the crew of a railroad switch engine. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company’s sheds had taken fire and were a mass of flames. Within, among other cars, were three loaded with gunpowder. This crew, knowing the danger, ran the engine through the burning shed, coupled to the cars and pulled them out, covered with burning cinders, to a safe distance, fortunately without mishap. The destruction which would have resulted from leaving them in the fire would have been very great. ‘These men, doubtless, worked without thought of reward, but they certainly deserve a handsome recognition for their bravery.
NTOT two weeks ago the Mayor of Indianapolis, Ind., in his * ‘ annual message, recommended some picayune reduction in the expenses of the fire department of that city. Now it may be noted that, although Indianapolis has had, for its size, a large number of fires of late, the department has, generally, nipped them in the bud, and the losses have been very moderate. Very well. On Friday night of last week a fire broke out on one of the main business streets. The night was still, the water-works were in good order, the fire department was promptly on hand and, from all accounts, did everything in its power, yet the flames spread from one building to another—and they were not frame structures, but brick and iron—until six or more of the best business edifices of the city were in ruins, and the people were poorer by nearly $750,000. It would be interesting to hear what the local economists think now about reducing the force of the fire department. It may be noted that last year the fire losses at Indianapolis aggregated only $139,702, an average of less than $350 for each fire.
TJOPES that the fire fiend might have turned over a new leaf with the coming of the new year might as well be relinquished, the losses reported up to Saturday last, including the big blaze at Indianapolis, reaching a total of pretty nearly $4,500,000. This is doing pretty well for the first two weeks of the year, and the fact is commended to the attention of sundry Mayors and other municipal officials who, in their annual messages and reports, have recommended a cutting down of fire department appropriations in the interest of economy. After a year of small losses in any particular city or town, it is unfortunately only too common for shortsighted officials to adopt this course without seeming to recognize the fact that in nine cases out of ten it is to the efficiency of its fire department alone that the place owes its escape from more serious loss, and that the department has, in reality, paid for itself many times over in a saving in the rates of insurance and in losses to the uninsured taxpayers.
GENERAL NEWTON, commissioner of public works of New York city, has sent to the Mayor a statement of the operations of his department for the year 1887, of which the following are the main points: The expenditures were as follows: On appropriation account, $2,411,851.81 ; fund for local improvements, $1,592,233.72; Croton water fund, $514,584.37; special funds, $258,700.65 ; liabilities, $322,450.00. ‘Total, $5,099,820.18. The rainfall in the Croton watershed was 58.37 inches, and furnished abundant water for the aqueduct; 160,000,000 gallons of water were drawn from storage reservoirs. ‘The average daily supply received through the aqueduct was 97,000,000 gallons, and through the Bronx river conduit 14,320,000 gallons. There were 24,873 linealfeet of twelve-inch pipe and 56,571 lineal feet of six-inch pipe laid in the city, and the distributing system now comprises 619.88 miles of pipes. There are 16,552 water meters in use, and the average quantity of water per day supplied through meters is 24,771,200 gallons. There were it.67 new streets paved; 7.43 miles of streets were repaved, exclusive of Fifth avenue. Excavations were made in the streets for 99 miles of gas mains, 25^ miles of electrical subways, 4790 lineal feet of steam pipes, 3790 lineal feet of salt water pipes, 10,500 feet of rail tracks and 973 house connections. There were 7.12 miles of sewers and 43 receiving basins built. ‘The total extent of sewers on Manhattan Island is 421 miles; 127,135 lineal feet of sewers were cleaned. In grading the streets the following work was done : 81,568 cubic yards earth excavated, 115,307 cubic yards rock excavated, 331,963 cubic yards earth filled in, 331,200 square feet flagging laid, 81,583 lineal feet curb stone set, 50,402 lineal feet picket fence built. ‘The Macadam roadways under the charge of the department are 28 miles in length and cover an area of 840,000 square yards. The city furnishes light on 478 miles of streets and 62 acres of public parks, with 24,719 gas lamps, 331 electric lights and 120 naphtha lamps. _There are 1118 miles of gas mains in the streets of the city.
THE value of an adequate system of water supply was made very clear during the past fall to many hundreds of villages in the West and Southwest which Jacked one. In consequence of the prolonged drought of the summer, wells, streams and ponds went dry or became polluted, much sickness and suffering to man and beast followed, and the loss in money was enormous, many times that of the cost of sinking wells or establishing reservoirs enough to avert any such trouble. Speaking of this question of water supply systems for small places, The American Machinist remarks very justly that if the money appropriated for waterworks is judiciously expended, the water tax will in nearly every instance be so small as scarcely to be felt. In this direction some figures given by Stephen Harding Terry of England are of interest, showing as they do how small the tax for water may be, even when only a few people are to be supplied. Mr. Terry, who has had exceptional opportunities for observation, instances villages supplied by different methods. In one instance the cost for a gravity system to a village of 678 inhabitants, which cost provided for the extinguishment of the debt in thirty years, was scarcely more than three cents per week for each house. Another case is one in which the supply for 180 cottages is by pumping. The reservoir holds a supply for four days, so it is only necessary to run the pump twice in the week. The cost for the 180 cottages is six cents each per week, this leaving a balance of sixty odd dollars per year for repairs, after providing for canceling the indebtedness in thirty years. The bugbear of cost often prevents the inhabitants of towns and villages from having a good water supply. Sometimes money has been most injudiciously expended for this purpose, but this is generally the result of ignorance. The village Solon is not generally the man to plan water-works; only a man skilled in such matters should be employed to look over the necessities and the facilities, and to prepare plans and estimates. If this is done, the expense will be kept low, and the fact that the village cannot afford to be without water supply will be demonstrated.
lA/RlTING from Cincinnati, a prominent underwriter of that * * city pictures, in few words but graphically, the state of many of the Ohio towns and villages as regards defense against fire. *• We have had,” he says, “the usual number of destructive fires in the smaller towns of the State during the past month. It is rather dull times in Ohio when we do not burn at the rate of one a week or the whole or the greater part of the best business portion of one of our villages. We build them that way, and have a right to expect such results. We not only build solid frame rows, so that a fire once started can take them all in, but we do not provide any defenses whatever—not even so much as a few convenient barrels of water or buckets to be used when a fire starts. We take no pains in the erection of chimneys or flues, or the guarding of stoves or stovepipes or lamps. I once called the attention of an occul>ant of one of these frame rows to the careless condition of his premises as to fire dangers. He said: ‘I am as safe as anybody in the row. If a fire starts in any of the other places in the row we will all go. Instead of going to the expense you suggest to make me safer, I apply it to insurance, where it will count if there is a fire.’ The fact that there are many men such as he who do not feel or recognize any of the obligations due from the individual to the public, is one of the reasons why there is so much carelessness as to fire dangers and so much fire waste. They have no higher motive than to keep themselves fully insured, * where it will count.’ ” He might, worse luck, have truthfully written the same about too many towns in any other State in the Union.
/’COURAGE and presence of mind in case of fire are not always confined to the firemen after all, but are so often lacking in laymen that the heroism displayed in Chicago a few nights since by a merchant named Horner, and in Philadelphia by several male employees of a factory, is refreshing to note. Mr. Horner was awakened by his wife to find the house on fire and full of smoke. Bouncing out of bed he snatched up his little girl, who was choking with smoke, and rushed into the hallway. The flames and smoke were sweeping up the stairway and for a moment he was discouraged. He looked at his wife, who stood beside him only in her nightdress, for she had made no move to put anything on, and then at the little girl in his arms similarly clad. With the thermometer fifteen degrees below zero, exposure seemed almost certain death. Taking his chances, he groped his way to a front room, seized a couple of wraps from a chair, folded one about the child and threw the other over his wife’s shoulders. By this time the stairway leading down was on fire and escape seemed cut off. Seizing his wife around the waist with one arm and the child with the other, Mr. Horner half staggered, half fell down the stairs. He pushed through the smoke and with a last effort threw open the front door and rushed into the street. Then he started back into the house to save the two servants asleep on the top floor. Though the fire had nearly destroyed the stairway, he succeeded in getting the servants out in safety. Then he gave an alarm and the flames were extinguished with a loss of $10,000. In the Philadelphia case twenty girls and several men were imprisoned by the flames in an upper story of a factory. The men lowered the girls one by one by a rope from a window, and only after the last cne had reached the ground looked to their own safety, three of them from the long delay being severely burned in the descent. This was an exhibition of clear grit and coolness which, made by untrained men, was, to say the least, surprising. ‘
H BILL establishing a firemen’s relief fund for the benefit of all the firemen of the State who may be injured in the discharge of their duties, having been presented to the Massachusetts Senate, the Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association urges all interested to join in a petition to the Senate and House in favor of it. Blanks for signatures can be had from Secretary Edward F. Martin of Boston. The measure is a most important one and should obtain the undivided support of all having the good of the fire service at heart. We print below the full text of the bill. The appropriation called for is but $10,000 yearly, a very modest sum, and the act provides that the unexpended part shall revert to the State at the end of each year:
An act appropriating $10,000 annually to the Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association :
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in general court assembled.
SECTION I. The Treasurer of the Commonwealth is hereby authorized to pay to the order of the treasurer of the Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association the sum of $10,000 annually, to be paid out of any money appropriated therefor.
SEC. 2. The money so paid into the hands of said treasurer and of said Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association, shall be known and remain as the Firemen’s Relief Fund of Massachusetts, and shall be used as a fund for the relief of firemen injured while responding to, working at, or returning from an alarm of fire, and for the relief of the widows and children of firemen killed in the line of their duty as aforesaid, in such manner and in such sums as said Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association shall by its by-laws provide.
SEC. 3. The treasurer of the Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association shall give a bond with good and sufficient sureties, to the satisfaction of the Treasurer of the State, in double the sum by him received of said State Treasurer for the faithful performance of his duties under this act, and shall make a detailed report to the State Treasurer of the yearly expenditures of the appropriation made under this act, on or before the end of the fiscal year.
SEC. 4. Said amount shall be appropriated from the taxes received from fire insurance companies doing business in the State of Massachusetts.
SEC. 5. The officers and members in active service of all incorporated protective departments, acting in concert with fire departments, shall be eligible for benefits from this fund.
SEC. 6. All unexpended moneys under this act by said Massachusetts State Firemen’s Association, shall be refunded to the Treasurer of the State at the end of each and every fiscal year.
SEC. 7. This act shall take effect upon its passage.