TOWN TOPICS.

TOWN TOPICS.

SINCE the great fire in 1872, the anniveisary of which has recently been celebrated, the fire department of Boston, in the city alone, has been increased from six to thirteen engines, and from two to fourteen hook and ladder trucks, In 1872, with nearly the same fire area to protect, the department had no chemical engines; it has now three, besides two water towers and two fireboats, whose capacity is equal to six first class engines. The system of construction ol buildings has also been greatly improved, so as to render them safer against the ravages of fire.

T FUAT causes frequent loss round coal mines and is A / not due to the operating e-penses. is the great damage accruing to the companies from the burning of barns tnd stables, with their contents. The barns, as usually built, consist of two stories—the mules and horses being kept on the ground floor and the hay in the loft above. Owing to the large losses occasioned by the burning of such barns, it is becoming the custom in the Connellsville region, in Pennsylvania, to build two buildings of one story each, at some distance apart, in one of which the mules and horses are kept, the other being for the storage of hay only. The stable has twolinesof stalls,with a passage ⅜ ay bet ween them through which runs a track leading from the hay barn, on which is run a truck for taking the hay from the barn to the stable. By this means the danger of loss by fire is lessened, as. if one building catches fire, the other is comparatively safe; in the region spoken of. the two buildings are generally iron-clad, or are constructed of brick, with slate rools. The Hecla Coke Company »nd the South West Connel’.sville Coke Company have both adopted this plan.

HIEF IlIGGINS, of the fire department of Albany, I • N.Y.. is responsible for granting permits for erecting new buildings and altering or repairing old ones, as well as for placing and repairing healing apparatus, boilers, electric gas and oil engines for mechanical purposes, forges, ranges, hot water caldions, furnaces, freight and passage elevators, and fire escapes. Plans and specifications of the intended work are filed at the chief’s office, and subjected to the strictest scrutiny, especially with respect to the requirements exacted for fire protection. Unless these plans and specifications are up to the mark in every particular, new ones must be furnished and subjected to a similar inspection. In the matter of granting or refusing permits the chief of the fire department has absolute power—nor can the courts interfere. The court of Appeals has ruled that his ‘ determination is final and conclusive” and will not be reviewed by the court. This discretionary power continues while the building is being erected, the alterations are being m »de, or the heating and o’her apparatus is being installed, and the duty of the chief engineer is to see that the contractors live up to the letter of the plans and specifications; that the material used is as set down, and that every part of the building is constructed ir. accordance with the terms of contract or filed in the office of the chief If the contractors do not live up to the law, they are compelled to do so hy the inspectors. These conditions have been in existence for seven years, and in that time many thousands of permits have been granted. During 1897 alone 3.529 were issued and up to November 1 of last year 1.622 new buildings, 1,463 new additions, and 566 open piazzas have been erected. Under the chief ol the fire department the police of the city work so far as that they are obliged to report to him any such houses or buildings as may seem to them to be dangerous or dilapidated, so that they may be inspected, the necessary repairs be made by the owners of the property or the houses themselves be condemned. In the same way, reports are received by the chief, and investigations made by him as to the storing of dangerous and combustible mateiials in cellars and outbuildings.

T a recent meeting of the Western Society of Engineers, Theodore W. Snow, in speaking ol the difference be•* “ tween theoretical assumption and actual experience in the flow ol water in pipes, mentioned some interesting experiences of his own. Among these were those which follow: ‘‘In designing a water station for a large railroad, the problem given was to obtain 4,000 gallons per minute through a dis’ance of 350 feet—the head and size of supply pipe to be sufficient to accomplish this result. The mean head of water supply .’as made thirty-eight feet; from this m-st be deducted twelve feet for height of crane, leaving a net head of twentysix feet. In computing this flow, an allowance of ten tier cent, was deducted for the friction of the water column. In tiguring this discharge, E. E Johnson’s curve of discharge was used, and, comparing actual result with theory, we fell short only 400 gallons per minu’e. This is pretty fair for practice; for, considering that all table-makers are careful to state that only straight smooth pipes were used (they want no curves), we laymen have to make due allowance for the cast pipe of commerce, which usually is anything but smooth, and is not always -traight. In the station just referred 10,the supply pipe was twelve inches in diameter, and the crane, ten inches; the distance, as stated, was 350 feet, and the discharge was 1,600 gallons it. twenty-five seconds, or, at the rate of 3 840 gallons a minute. Under the same conditions, with 1,000 feet of twelve-inch pipe and a similar crane, this flow was reduced to 3,000 gallons per minute, due solely to friction. Comparing this again wiih Johnson’s curve above referred to, we find that we should have obtained 3 300 gallons. Again, with 350 feet ol fourteen-inch pipe and a twelve inch cr on with three ninetydegree elbows, we obtained a discharge of 3,51 o gallons in forty-eight secomis, with a net head of twelve feet. A comparison of the same tables will show a uniform discrepancy.”

ROM the annual report of Dr. Benjamin Lee secretary of the Pennsylvania State board ol health it would appear that the contamination of the Schuylkill river, which is responsible for the presence of typhoid fever in Philadelphia. is simply a conspicuous example of what is takii g place all over the State. Dr. Lee points out that the fact that during the past summer, no sooner has a military encampment been established. ih.n within a brief space of time typhoid fever has made its appearance, often to a truly alarming extent, is simply a demons’ration of the fact that thete is scarcely a river in the United States which does not carry the typhoid germs.

Dr. Lee, would, therefore, have a lw passed which should give the State board of health control over all water supplies, and appropriate for its purposes a sufficient amount of money to allow if a proper sanitary suivey being made ol eveiy important stream in the State, and to authorize the appontnient of a river warden or wardens for every large river, who should patrol every foot of such streams, and report to the board of health the condition in which he found them. He adds that Altoona and Reading

have, with the most praiseworthy public spirit and consideration for the lives and health of the population living at points lower down on the streams on which they aresituated, esiablished purification plants lor their sewge. In both cast s these plants, although entirely different in their construction and manner of purification, aff md ample dt monstiation o’ tue fact that purification of the sewage I large towns, is a matter of not the slightest difficulty. The new legislature should, therefore, insist that all cities and boroughs which introduce or at present possess public water supplies, should *iso introduce sewage purification plants.

The report of Dr. Lee combats the prevailing impression as to the county districts being naturally so healthy s not to stand in need of any law to prevent disease. He insists that there can be

no greater mistake than this. Typhoid fever has long been known to be a disease of the country, village, and farm. All of the contagious disease peculiar to children, such as scarlet fever, diphiheria and measles, run riot in the chiidten who attend public schools.

A special investigation was instituted of the source of the pollution of the Schuylkill river. The result was to show that of corporations, firms, or individuals, who were in any way contributing to the contamination of the river, there were in Berks county, twenty five such cases; in Ches er county ten, and in Montgomery county, seventy-six—a total of tit. Orders for abatement have been issued, and all parties tailing to obey the same will be prosecuted, both for maintaining a nuisance, and for failing to obey an order of the board.

EWAGE is neither wasted m Baris nor turned into the Seme to render that river a stream of reeking fi th. ‘Such a course does not commend it –elf to the thrifty French mind. On the contrary, the discharge from the sewers is conveyed by gravity to Clichy, where it is distributed over a farm of 2,471 acres. An a-ea of some 12 000 acres would be required to deal with the »ffluent of 17 660,000 cubic feet, which has dailv to be pumped and got rid of. Grass is the crop that will stand the greatest quantity of sewage—taking 3,430,000 cubic f’-et on an acre year.v; lucerne will thrive on 1.790.000 cubic feet. Beet roots, from which sugar is made, will taxe only 200,000 cubic feet.

EFORE the commissioner appointed by the F.deral Government to investigate the charges of mismanagement and neglect on the part of those who were charged with the conduct of the w’ar with Spain and the handling of the troops Major George l’. Lorigan, of the Ninth New York infantry tn testifying. ske of the condition of affairs at Chickatnauga. He said t at at that place no preparations had been mtde for the reception of the regiment, nor wore an) sinks dug until after it had been ten days in camp there. The san’tary arrangements wete very bad for some time. He himself had not oidered sinks to be dug because Co’. Greene had told him that officers of the regular army would attend to such matters. As t.» the water: There was a pipe from Chickatnauga creek ; but he and his men were told the water was not fit to drink. But, when they were thirsty, they drank it all the same. He himself drank it several times. As to the sinks : When these were dug, they were put within ten feet of the tents, and inside of the pipe line that brought water from Chick imauga creek. This water was for washing put poses; but the men would drink it when thirsty, as drinking water had to be brought four or five miles from the spring. The drainage from the sinks flawed directly into the trenches round the tents.

the Pacific c ast. lip to O tober 31 of this year, the losses by fire were about $1,300,000 greater than for the corresponding nine months of 181)7. This year’s total includes only the small part of the recent conflagration loss at New Westminster piid through San Francisco departments. Of the large increase in losses, California is responsible f r five thirteenths, or half amill’on. All this California increase was incurred in the interior. The city of San Francisco has been very fortunate in the matter of fites and losses. The estimate of a possible sixty five per cent, coast loss ratio, advanced with some hesitation two months ago, now seems not at all improbable. Underwriters, as a whole, will make little or no money on the coast this year. All ‘’epends on what the remaining months ol 1898 show.

YOR VAN WYCK’S action in removing the members of the aqueduct board of this city has been sustained by the Appellate division of the Supteme court of this State. The removal of the old board was effected by Mayor Van Wyck without charges being preferred or an opportunity to lie heard being afforded to its members, and without the approval of the governor, which, it was claimed was contrary to section 37 of the act of 1880 under which they were appointed and also to section 108 of the Consolidation act, which limits the power of removal by the mavor to a removal for Cause and after an opportunity to be heard, and makes such removal subject to the approval of the governor. On the part of the rnayor.it was claimed that the law of 1895 giving the mayor at any time within six months after the commencement of his term the power at pleasure to remove from office “any public officer now or hereafter holding office by appointment from the mayor,” gave him the right to remove the aqueduct commissioner*. The court held (Justice Ramsey dissenting) that, in accordance with section 1,608 of the new charter repealing the New York City Consolidation act of 1882 and acts amendatory thereof and supplemental thereto, the Consolidation act was a continuation of that act and others quoted, and was intended to apply the provisions thereof as therein modified to the city of New York.as constituted under the new charter. The power of removal within six months of his appointment was thus continued in the mayor of the new city. Furthermore, the words “term of office of the e mmission appointed and existing under the aforesaid act shall cease and determine on the 1st day of January, 1891” did not (it was ruled) iff -ct the mayor’s power of remova’ given by section 1 of the act of 1895. and sec i’n 95 of the charter. The language used was the “ter n of ffi e of the commission,” not of the individu rl co n nLsioners. The provision implied that upon a date fixed the commission itself should be abolished, and did not relate to the appointment or removal of the individual commissioners or limit the power of the mayor expte-siy conferred by tne act of 1895 and section 95 of the new charter to remove the commissioners. The language used in section 95 is very broad, including every public officer holding office by appointment from the mayor with the excepti’n of the members of the school boards and judicial officers, and we do not think that the legis attire intended to restrict this duty impose 1 upon the mayor bv anotner section which did not in terms refer to the appointment or removal of officers.

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TOWN TOPICS.

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TOWN TOPICS.

AT New Britain. Conn, the water from Roaring brook has been turned into Shuttle Meadow lake. The brook pipe line consists of about six miles of two twenty-inch mains, which run parallel and are jointed by twenty-inch cross connections. A thirty inch mam takes the water from the intake of Roaring brook to the two twenty-inch mains, and another thirty inch main receives it and empties into an open canal, leading into Shuttle Meadow. The pipes are equipped with twenty-nine twenty-inch valves, two thirty-inch, and twenty-four eight-inch valves. The water may be shut off from either section of pine, or both, and one may be continued in permanent use while the other is shut off. The mains also are equipped with air valves, for letting air in or out when necessary, and with valve whistles, which indicate the pressure of air in any section of the main. The two mains have a carrying capac’ty, for twenty-four hours, of fourteen million gallons. The intake at the Roaring brook end is built of stone and has a capacity of half a millicn gallons. It faces Wolcott mountain and is situated about two miles below the source of the brook. It is about 150 feet above the mouth of the pipe line at Shuttle Meadow. The overflow ot the intake is thirty feet in width, and is arranged so that the water will flow in its natural course when the leservoir is full. From two iron bridges the twenty.inch mains are suspended over the Eight-Mile and Quinnipiac rivers. The gatehouses one at the intake, and one at the mouth of the mains are of brick, with stone trimmings. The capacity of Shuttle Meadow lake is a billion and a half gallons, and the daily consumption of water about three million grllons. The entire cost of the Roaring brook pipe line complete is about $300 000. The city water is at present used in 2,960 buildings including factories and there is a main in every important street in the city. The management of the water department for some years has been economic and for the best interests of the city, and the work just completed by the present water commissioners and advisory board is worthy of the highest commendation. The pipe line was constructed under the supervision of Enginetr Percy Blake.

THE Newark. N. J., board of health has won a suit to prevent pollution of the Pequannock watershed. Justice Howard Little, of Newton, has found John Ferguson, of Stockholm, guilty of maintaining a nuisance and source of pollution to a stream which empties into the Oak Ridge reservoir. Ferguson was sentenced to pay a $20 fine and costs.with an additional fine of $20 for each day on which the nuisance may continue unabated. The prosecution was conducted under the act of 1897. The complaint against Mr. Ferguson was that he kept a pig-pen almost directly over the raceway of a mill stream which empties into the Oak Ridge reservoir. The defence was merely technical. The case is to be appealed; but the appeal savors of the forlorn hope. The Newark board of health has won a distinct victory.

OBILE, Ala., and the Bienville Water Works Company, which owns and operates the city’s water system, are engaged in litigation. Some time ago a popular vote was cast in favor of authorizing the issue of $75,000 worth of bonds for the consttuction of municipal water works and sewer systems. In 1888 the Mobile Water Works Company, which was built in 1840 by a private person, brought suit against the Bienville Company, claiming exclusive rights. The former compan) had obtained a twentyyear contract with the city, which was to buy the plant at the expiration of that time ; but. as no settlement was made, the works were kept on under private management and ownership. The Bienville Company system was built in 1886-88. with rates subject to regulation by the city; it is not exempt from local taxes; and the city pays $50 annually for each hydrant. There was also entered into a supplementary contract for twelve years. The exclusive right of the Mobile Water Works Company to supply the city was decided adversely by the Supreme court, and so disposed of. The company now apparently denies the right of the city to inteifere with its rights or to petition the legislature to allow the bon is to be issued, and asks for an injunction against the city, which desires to send a delegation to the State capital to have the matter brought before the legislature. How the matter will be decided seems a doubtful potut.

CHICAGO’S Public library buildings seem amply proregirdsthe invideof the building there is little danger from that source; but from the outside there is considerable risk. Part of the structute faces on Garland place—a very narrow street. As a protective measure therefore, there has been arranged a system of half-inch pipes round the cornice on the south, west, and north sides. This system has been connected with a large main which is fed by two large steampumps in the basement of the building. In case of fire on either of these sides of the library, the water can be turned on immediately, and the side of the building will then he protected by a solid sheet of water. The main is so ordered that the water can be turned on to protect any one of the sides of the building away from the fire. Chief Swenie ts thoroughly satisfied with the arrangement and claims that, in case of fire in any of these buildings near the library, water can be turned on immediately and the ‘‘ walls of the Pudding will never even become warm.” He adds that, if there had been similar arrangements on many a building about which he has fought fire, the department wou’d not have had so much hard work, and there would have been much more property saved.

DOMESTIC filters may or may not be sufficient to safe1*1 guard a household against water-borne diseases. Sometimes they are simply culture-beds for bacteria as is proved by the investigation of the Maryland State board of healih. O: e example teported by that body is worth quoting — that of a citizen of Baltimore This man fir^t sends the whole water supply of his house through a large filter, and then filters the drinking water in a small domestic filter. A test showed that on a day when the city taps we e running 510 bacteria to the cubic centimetre, the large niter was delivering 9 900 bacteria in the same quantity of water. When the large filter was repacked, only nine bacteria per centimetre got through it, but this same water,when passed through the small filter came out with seventy-one bacteria i*»r centimetre. Another Baltimorean made use of a filter of high reputation; hut its effectiveness was so doubtful that its owner continued to observe the precaution of boiling the water after it had been filtered. The State board report, however, does not say whether or not the owners of these filters had exercised a proper amount of care in keeping them cleansed from the accumu atioti of impurities which must collect after a certain length of time, especially when the filters are in constant use and the water Is by no means free from suspicious elements. As a rule, the use of dourest c filters is to be encouraged, unless the water supply has been already filtered by some reliable process.

JUSTICE PRYOR in the Supreme court has refused to 7 I vacate the judgments aggregating $700 000, obtained by consent of termer Co-poration Counsel Francis M. Scott by Walston II. Brown as receiver of the firm of Brown, Howard & Co., and by others, against the city, in settlement of claims for work done in the construction of the Croton ; qneduct. Over $6 000.000 was involved in a number of suits brought for the recovery of money for the work done. Justice Pryor, in his decision, says:

The settlement, being valid and obligatory upon the parties, is b yond the jurisdiction of the court to disturb. It results that the merits of the compromise are not for my consideration, and that I have no alternative but to deny the motion.

The application was based upon the ground that the cases should not have been compromised when the court of Appeals had held that the city of New Yotk was liable for no more than $20,000.

JN August, 1880. Canyon City. Grant county. Ore., was entirely destroyed by fire It then had no means of fire * protection. Since that time the inhabitantsof the rebuilt city have slumbered on in a fancied security, apparently based on the theory that, as lightning is supposed never to strike twice in the same place, the same rule obtains with respect to fire. Their confidence in that theory must have been rudely broken on Sunday last, when a disastrous coriflagration swept away the entire business portion of the town, thereby inflicting a loss of $100,000 upon the inhabitants. 1 he city is still guiltless of fire protec’ion and seemingly has no faith in fire insurance or water works. Will a tl i d fiery visitation be needed before its citizens shall be convinced of their folly ?

LECTRICITY has now so largely supplanted the older methods of illumination that people have almost forgotten lha’ this year is the centenary of gas lighting— coal gas having been first applied to economic uses by William Munloch in 1798, although it was not introduced into London until 1807. In 1825, when meter reckoning came into general use, the rate charged was fifteen shillings per 1.000 cubic feet, subject to a discount of fiv** per cent, for prompt payment. At a later date twelve shillings was charged, and in 1814 three years before Queen Victoria ascended the throne, a further reduction was made, the price becoming ten shillings per 1,000 cubic feet. It is now as low as two shillings and six pence (s xty two and a half cents) per 1,000 feet in some parts of the United Kingdom.

ANONSRURG, PA., has had fully one-third of its I * business section swept away bv fi’e. Two of the principal hotels and many residences were also destroyed—all the damage done being on Pike street and Jefferson avenue. The blaze broke out in a private dwelling house, and, as all the buildings were frame and a strong wind was blowing, they burned like tinder. The town was altogether unprepared for such a cot flagratlon; for, although it has a population of some 3.000,and its buildings are n arly all frame, its fire department, which is altogether volunteer, is equipped only with two chemical fire extinguishers, one hook and ladder truck, gum buckets, and ladders, with no water works to depend up >n for a proper supply of water. Assistance was sent for to Washington and Pittsburgh; but immediately after doing so the telephone operator was obliged to fly for safety out of the burning building It were full time that every small town should realize that, with frame buildings predominating, a bucket brigade and no water works form a burlesque upon fire protection.

S illustrating the danger of the contamination of wells by sewage, even in sparsely settled districts. Dr. * * Stokes told a striking incident at a meeting of the

Maryland • oard of health. On July 4 last the water works machinery of a Maryland town of 300 people broke down, and for oned.y w*ter from an old well was used. Ten days later there was an outbreak of inflammatory intestinal disorders, and three cases of typhoid fever resulted. I he w’ater was tested and found to contain 4.100 bacilli in a CLbic centimetre —about fifteen drops. The tegular water supply contained eighty bacilli in a centimetre. Dr. Charles L. Mattfeldt, a member of the board and also a health officer, cxp’cssed the belief that ninety percent, of all water taken from dug wells is contaminated by sewage more or less.

The construction of such wells, if not prohibited, should be regulated by law (he said). No one will doubt thatrveiy town ought to provide water from a reliable source f r its inhabitants, in every respect fit for domestic use, and should in every way discourage the use of shallow wells, which we know to be the most fruitful source of disease.