Worcester Needs New Headquarters.
Chief Edwin L. Vaughn of the Worcester (Mass.) Fire Department, in his annual report to the city government, recommends, among other things, that new headquarters be provided for the department. This recommendation should be given serious consideration by the incoming city government for various reasons. In the first place, should the city decide to purchase a large engine and aerial truck of the largest size, there is no place under the present order of things where the apparatus could be stored. The present headquarters are inadequate for the purposes for which they are now used.
The present headquarters in Bigelow court are not only crammed but they are in a dangerous condition, menacing the safety of the ten men who arc permanently stationed there. When the building was first erected the foundation was placed for a two-story building, and it remained a two-story building for years. The foundation is what is known as the soft dry wall. The walls are but eight inches thick, but as long as it remained a two-story building it seemed safe. Formerly two engine companies occupied the building, and a dividing wall of brick separated the two apartments and acted as a substantial support to the upper floor.
In 1872 it was decided to remove the office of the chief from city hall to Bigelow court, and during the fall of 1872 and the spring of 1873 the building was overhauled and carried up another story. The brick dividing wall was removed, and the only support the additional story had was one large and small truss supports with a span of thirty-six feet. The battery which operates the fire alarm telegraph was placed in the east room on the upper floor, and the offices of the chief and deputy chiefs occupied the west side. The battery weighs some 4600 pounds. Some time ago the men stationed in this house noticed a perceptible settling of the upper floors. It was first noticed in the chief’s office, where the floor began to settle in the southeast corner and continued to grow gradually worse until at present there is a settling of the upper floor from six to eight inches. The east wall of tne building is bulged out to a great extent, and while there may be no immediate danger of a collapse, there exists among the firemen a feeling of fear, particularly in windy weather. The building is in such a state that when the hurry and bustle attendant upon responding to a fire alarm is going on it shakes from foundation to roof.
The firemen have long since given up all idea of holding meetings in the building which would call together any considerable number of men, and at the last annual meeting of the Relief Association a unanimous vote was passed not to hold any more meetings in the building unless some extra support of the upper stories was put in. Indeed, so rickety is the entire structure that in a recent high wind the wall clock was stopped.
Members of the committee on fire department for the city government must know that the building is far from being secure. Some time ago the matter of placing a safe in the chief’s office was discussed and the safe was not placed in the office, as it was feared that the extra weight would prove too much for the strength of the building.