During Two Years’ Operation of Fair, 177 Alarms Were Transmitted With a Fire Loss for the Term Aggregating $2,500

THE Century of Progress, Chicago, has closed its gates I after two years’ operation, but it has left a fire loss record which proves that the fire prevention and fire fighting features of the fair were well planned and regulated.

Summarized in a recent communication from the Chicago Board of Underwriters, the figures show that 177 alarms of fire were recorded in the two years of operation, aggregating in an estimated loss of about $2,500. Not included in this total is the damage to a spectroscope machine which caught fire in the General Motors Building in June, 1933, in which case the outbreak was confined to its point of origin with no damage to the building. The alarm in this instance was transmitted automatically and the Century of Progress Fire Department was on the way three minutes before a manual box was pulled by an eye witness to the blaze!

Approximately eighty per cent of the loss figure reported was accounted for by a single fire: that in the Ford Industrial Barn on August 9, 1934. Caused by sparks from a workman’s blowtorch and fed by quantities of soy bean oil, the outbreak was nevertheless brought quickly under control by the fair’s own department supported by several Chicago companies. The bulk of the damage comprised “sentimental values” and machinery. In this case also, the alarm was transmitted automatically by the Aero sy stem.

The good judgment of the authorities in placing Chief J. C. McDonnell in charge of the private fire brigade was more than confirmed by the performance of the force in the numerous emergencies which arose. I hief McDonnell, widely known as the father of Chicago’s Fire Prevention Bureau which he organized in 1912 as a hirst Deputy Chief, had full play for his preventive skill as well as for his ability in the extinguishment field. His establishment of every human precaution, backed by rigid inspections, minimized the risk to the lowest possible limit, and bis intelligent organization and training never failed when emergencies did arise.

In keeping with the spirit of the Century of Progress, the hire Department was kept in close touch with conditions by an elaborate telegraph system in which automatic devices were important. The entire 425 acres of grounds were covered by a network of A. D. T. services including 250 Aero automatic alarm circuits and 240 watchman’s compulsory tour stations and manual fire alarm boxes. An ADT squad car and crew were maintained on the grounds, and all signals were cleared through the LaSalle Street central station to the municipal fire and police departments as well as to the exposition’s private forces. All of the important buildings were covered by Aero and in several instances— notably in the case of an outbreak in the Agricultural Building last July—the system proved so speedy in operation that Chief McDonnell’s men were on the scene and at work even before any manual box was pulled. In other cases the Aero signal was received anywhere from a minute to three minutes ahead of the manual alarm. With the single exception of a concession stand which was unprotected, every building fire was under control within three minutes after the alarm was sounded.

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