WAUKEE’S FIRE DEPARTMENT.
MILLWAUKEE’S twenty fourth annual report of its paid fire department is at hand. It forms also the twelfth annual report of Chief James Foley, and is directly a work of art and incidentally a tribute to the excellent executive ability displayed by the chief and the promptness and pluck of his fire fighting force. These qualities were painfully put to the test at the disastrous fire in April 1804., when Davidson’s hotel and theatre were burned and the era-ahing walls caused the death of nine brave firemen, including August Janssen, third assistant chief engineer, two captains, two lieutenants, live pipemen and grievous injuries to nearly a score more, heroes all, who fell at their posts with at least as great nohilltv in their taking off and hurts as accompanies the death or wounding of these soldier “I’ tb’ imminent deadly breach.” Yet their brave men went down into the valley of the shadow of death almost unnoticed, and save by their fellow citizens in Milwaukee their very names are now forgotten. In 1804 there was a small decrease in the .number of fire alarms, 7(11 as against 830 in 1803. The actual working dies numbered 686; and of these there were but eight in which the loss exceeded $500,000. Incendiarism is not rampunt, but In Milwaukee, as elsewhere the firebug is always in evidence. In the city there are 5,433 brick and stone buildings, and 44,445 of wood. In brick or stone buildings there were 144 fires and in wooden, 303; other than building tires 01—Total, 598. Five hundred and nineteen fires were confined to the buildings in which they originated, aud 501 of these to the floor or place of starting. U.iiy two tires spread to ad joining property anil there were no conflagrations. Total value of property involved, etc., as follows: Buildings, $4,661,899, contents, $9,006,274—Total, $13,668,173; total loss thereon, $127,917.38, $286,936.84—Total $674,792.03; total Insurance thereon, $3,482,715.08, $2,992,077—Total, $6,474,792.03; total insurance loss thereon, $124,179.38, $234,066.84—Total, $858,246.22. Additions were made to the department in the shape of three engine companies and one truck company; to the service have been added 14,923 feet of 8 inch ahd 10-incli pipe in various lines, one, 3,811 feet long running to the Pabst brewery, having connections at the river for the use of the fireboats, with most satisfactory results when tested, one line throwing a stream from all-2 inch nozzle right over the Pabst elevator, which is 185 feet in height, the rise of this line from the river to the farther end being 85 feet. Another test at the end of a line 2,299 feet from the river, two leads of 31-2 inch hose 100 feet in length were siamesed into one 25 foot lead of 4-inch with a 2 1-2 inch nozzle, with which the Goddess of Liberty on the top of the court house, 198 feet above the ground was washed by a solid stream of water. Nine new pipe lines for the use of the fireboats were put in during the past season, making a total of twenty now in service. Twenty-one new fire cisterns have been added to the service, making a total of 122. Chief Foley cries out for an annual appropriation for the building of at least ten of these fire-cisterns to be made, “owing to the ever increasing number of large buildings which are being put up in the city.” The fire apparatus Includes two steam f.re engines with hose wagons, two being the fireboats “ Cataract” and “James Foley.” Eight hook and ladder trucks whose companies have likewise attached to them six chemical engines; 57,050 feet of hose (cotton and rubber) in service and stock; and 2,061 hydrants (137 set during the year); 314 men, including, Chief, 1, assistants, 4, secretary,!, captains, 29, lieutenants, 29; 817 fire boxes in service with 211 Tooker keyless doors; 39 sets of telephones; 14,231 feet of 20-inch steel pipe conduit were laid with the fireboat pipe lines; 12 tin boxes to signal the fireboats were attached to the pipe line hydrants; 28,545 feet of steel pipe conduits were laid during the year; 135 manholes were built. The department has also 151 horses, with a veterinary surgeon to look after them.
It may not be amiss to give our readers an idea of the construction of Davidson’s theatre, whose burning caused the death and wounding of so many brave firemen. Chief Foley describes it thus: 80×200, 6 story brick and stone; annex to hotel, 100×50 3 story brick. None of the lumber used in the construction of the upper portion of the theatre was protected by tire-proof material, except, possibly, the fire-proof lathing on the side walls and ceiling of the auditorium. The height was eighty-five feet. The upper floor and roof over the large theatre part was carried by seven Howe wooden trusses, five over the auditorium and two over the stages. These trusses, over eighty feet in length, were constructed of thirteen boards bolted together, each board being one inch thick and sixteen inches wide. The three centre boards were placed close together, while the remaining ones were bolted on at a distance of one-quarter of an inch apart. The trusses were 16×16 inches, and the ends were fitted into the walls of the building twenty-three feet below the roof. Three feet below the trusses was the ceiling of the theatre, studded throughout with many electric lights and held up by wooden arch work, which was fastened to the trusses by means of 2×4 studding, so that the entire weight of the ceiling was borne by the trusses, on which rested 2×10 joists running crosswise, on which was built the floor of the upperstory about ten feet in height where were all the firemen who lost their lives by the fall. Thirteen feet inside the walls the size of the upper portion of the truss was reduced to 6×6 inches. The upper and lower portions of the truss were connected by means of four holes grooved into each and slauting at an angle of about 450. Between or within the truss were 2×4 vertical studdings dividing the. rooms on the upper floor. Upon the upper portion of the truss were laid 2×10 ceiling joists, four feet above which the roof was built, being held up by studding resting on the joists. The cause of the fire was a kitchen range placed directly over one of the main trusses, which gave way, making a clean sharp break with absolutely no warning whatever, and of course carrying all the others with it, together with the floors, ceiling, roof,and supports, something like 250,000 feet of lumber, and unfortunately twenty-five men, one of whom was saved only after six hours of continuous hard and dangerous work. To keep him from drowning it was necessary to have two engines take suction near him, in order to lower the water which had to be put on the fire in the burning debris. The airpump was also used to save him from suffocation. The accompanying detail of roof truss will give some idea of the construction of the building.