WASHINGTON, D. C.
Chief Robert W. Dutton, of the fire department of Washington, D. C., states that the fire loss for 1901-1902 was less than for during the past twelve years and less than one-half of that of the previous year. There were extra alarms as follows: Five second; three third; one fourth; one fifth; and one sixth, preceded by a third for a had fire on the river front, which showed the inadequacy of the department, or what would have been its weakness, had the fires starting from it through the burning embers being carried by the wind to distant squares occurred in different parts of the city. The same thing took place at another third alarm fire on the evening of the same day, and may happen again at any moment, only with more disastrous consequences. The department could not handle two big fires at the same time—not even one large, and one small fire. A reserve at least as large as the department of today should, therefore, be always on hand and the department strengthened just so far. The department is weak in steamer companies, of which there are only fourteen—by no means enough, considering the amount of territory to he covered, embracing not only the District of Columbia, but also the large United States military post at Fort Myer, Va., besides the places outside the District, to which aid could not be refused in case of need. The department was strengthened last year by the introduction of a number of modern and improved appliances. The three powerful steamers now being built will very materially increase its efficiency. An appropriation of $439.220—an increase of $82,230 over last year’s appropriation—is asked for, to be devoted to increasing salaries, adding to the uniformed force an assistant chief engineer, a foreman, a driver, nineteen privates, a watchman, and a stableman, increasing by three the number of houses and engine companies. the purchase of five combination chemical engine and hose wagons, a sixty-five-foot aerial truck, and addition to the fife alarm system. It would seem fitting that, with the substitution of three new extra firstelass steamers for service in the business districts, the salaries in the department should be raised to the level of that in the large cities of the country —and this all the more that the fire department of this city protects government as well as private property, whereby a greater than ordinary responsibility rests upon the firemen. This will one dav be vividly and objectively brought home to Congress if a big fire breaks out in one of the executive department buildings. And just as Washington averages within one of the lowest in the matter of salary payments, so, with the exception of Atlanta, Ga., where the interests to be protected are very far below those calling for fire protection in the capital of the United States she comes lowest in the list with respect to apparatus, Louisville, Ky., having three more steamers than Washington, while Milwaukee, Wis., between whose population and that of the capital there is no very great difference, has six steamers more, with two additional hook and ladder towers and four chemical engines—the fire department of the Wisconsin city being almost onethird larger than that of the other, without any approach in number or importance to its public buildings. What there is, however, of a uniformed force in Washington is thoroughly efficient, and that is the greater reason for encouraging members to work by paying and equipping them better.