Turkish Firemen.

Turkish Firemen.


The accompanying illustration of Turking Firemen at work is engraved from a photograph kindly loaned us by Assistant Engineer John Lindsey, of St. Louis. With such apparatus, it is no wonder that destructive fires are numerous throughout Turkey. Constantinople has been almost entirely destroyed six or eight times during the last century. Recently, however, a Fire Brigade has been organized and equipped with modern Fire apparatus. Colonel W. J. Coope, of Her Majesty service, recently published a book entitled “A Prisoner of War in Russia,” in which occurs the following: 1 To say that I witnessed several considerable1 conflagrations while in Constantinople, is only to say that I remained there more than a few days; for fires, and on a large scale, are of much more frequent than weekly occurrence. On the top of Seraskier’s Tower, which soars high above Stamboul, and at the Tower of Galata, on the opposite side of the’ GoFden Horn, watchmen are on the look-out night and day. At the first puff of dark smoke, or gleam of flame, they exhibit in the dark hours a lantern, or if it be in the daytime a basket, which is no sooner descried at Top’hane than a cannon-shot announces to the city at large the calamity which is in progress. Except the mosques and some of the public buildings, the European quarter of Pera, some of the old Genoese houses in Galata, and the solid mansions of the richor Greek families in the Fanar, all the habitations and struc tures in Constantinople, including many palaces are of wood. With such odds in its favor a fire hat fine scope—especially as nearly all the machiner; for its suppression is of the most primitive kind Constantinople now, however, boasts a Fire Brigadi on the London pattern. This has been organizet and is commanded by a Hungarian Baron, a pupi of our own redoubtable Captain Shaw—the Baroi having spent some time in London on purpose tc learn his trade from the best master. The Turkisl Government has built barracks for this Brigade a Taksim, a suburb of Pera, where they may be seer any day going through their exercises. They weai the conventional brass helmet and a neat blue uni form, and appear to have the tame zest for warfari with their ruthless enemy as is observable with our own men. A few seconds after the cry ‘ Yartkinvar’ —‘ There is fire *—is heard issuing from the powerful lungs of the runner~who, with wand of authority in his hand, legs bare, and loins girt, flies with the news of the quarter of the city in which the fire has been seen to break out by the watchers in the Tower of Galata, the rumble and shout, so familiar to London ears, attending an Engine en route are heard ; and a party of this Brigade, perfectly drilled and disciplined, with Engines of the latest pattern, and drawn by horses, issues from the gate of the Pompier’s barrack, and tears along the narrow streets of Pera at reckless speed in the direction of the fire.

In a wooden city conflagrations are as easy to kindle as difficult to extinguish ; and, numerous as they are, the wonder is that they are not more so. It is, however, the firm persuasion of the vulgar that the innumerable fires which devastate the city are by no means to be attributed to carelessness and the inflammable materials of which the habitations are constructed. It is matter of history that the Janizaries, before their extermination by Mahmoud, instead of at once proclaiming their indignation at some innovation which displeased them by the extreme measure of upsetting their camp-nettles, were accustomed to giving a more gentle indication of their dissatisfaction by setting fire to a whole quarter or so of the town. Public opinion will have it that the same form of protest obtains now. If a great fire has taken place, consuming a few hundred dwellings, and you ask how it is supposed to have originated, the answer, given in a mysterious tone, will probably be that it was occasioned by such and such an obnoxious order, issued by such an such an official. Or you will be assured that the incendiarism came from above and not from below—that it was not due to popular discontent, but to the enthusiasm of some Turkish Ilaussmann for metropolitan improvement—in other words, that the fire was deliberately kindled by authority, to provide the opportunity for widening the road or beautifying the locality.”

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