WORK OF SUPERIOR FIRE DEPARTMENT
A Creditable Showing of Losses for Twelve Months
Superior, Wis., a city of 45,000 inhabitants, had a moderate fire loss last year—averaging $214 per fire, although the number of alarms was greater by eight than in the previous year. The department, under Chief Olaf Johnson, answered 2:59 alarms, of which 16 were false; 2 were special calls for apparatus; and 1 was a third alarm. Of fires in brick and stone buildings there were 20; in wooden buildings, 159; other than building fires, 43 Two hundred and twenty-one were confined to buildings or places of origin, and only 1 got away from the firemen and extended to immediately adjoining property, while 214 were confined to the floor on which they originated. The total value of buildings at risk was $882,810; of contents, $172,545—total property at risk, $1,010,355. The total insurance at risk amounted to $563,050, of which $485,450 was on buildings and $77,600 on contents. The total insurance loss was $37,215.55, of which $26,439.16 was on buildings, and $10,776.39 on contents; total loss, insured and uninsured, was $47,633.77, of which $32,044 was on buildings. $15,589.23 on contents; losses on contents and buildings in which the fires originated. $47,434.82; in which the tires did not originate, $198.95. No fires were directly traceable to incendiarism; but 4 were from unknown causes’; 3 from spontaneous combustion and 2, “miscellaneous.” Of the actual tires 64 were extinguished by chemical apparatus; 9, by water through hose lines and chemicals; 54 by water through hose lines; the rest by buckets of water and other means. The force of the department is as follows: Chief; assistant chief; captains, 7; lieutenants, 6; master mechanic; stokers, 3; pipemen and truckmen. 15; electrician; blacksmith; call man: engineers, 2; drivers, 10. There are also two volunteer hose companies of twenty men each. There are 7 department buildings—3 large brick buildings: 2 large frame buildings; 2 small frame buildings for the volunteer companies, all of which are in good condition. All improvements and repairs are made to all the buildings, except those which the department is not in position to do, by members of the department. The apparatus in service is as under: Steam fire engines, 3; aerial truck; com bination chemical and city-service truck; combination chemical and hose “wagons, 4; hose wagon; 50-gal. 2-wheeled chemical engine; hose reels, 3: chief’s buggies, 2; fuel wagon with 3-way Manion turret-nozzle; village trucks in reserve, 2: exercise wagons, 6; supply wagon; cutters, and sleighs; hook and ladder truck on sleighs are also in service. Except one of the steam fire engines, all of the apparatus is in good condition, and is being continuously improved to keep pace with modern methods, and kept in good repair at all times to prevent accidents. Several pieces have been provided with rubber tires during the past year. Of hose the following is in service: 2 1/2-in., 13,500 tt.. of which amount 10,000 ft. is reliable for high-pressure service. The rest is used by the volunteer companies and is not subjected to high pressure. The system adopted of buying a certain amount of hose every year, of the very best grade, placing the new hose in service where the work is the hardest and the older hose where the work is light, has proved very satisfactory, and there is no trouble from bursting hose at fires. All hose is tested regularly and well cared for. Of horses there are 25 in service and 1 in reserve. They are nearly all young and of good size and build, and form a collection hard to excel. The credit for this is due principally to the drivers, who are all experienced, careful and industrious men. The repair shop is a most useful institution and is the backbone of the department. The principal work has been to equip the different hose wagons with chemical tanks and ladders to conform with the recommendations of the inspectors of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The fire alarm system was almost wholly rebuilt during the year. Instead of 3 outside circuits, there are now 5—2 new ones having been built. Thirteen fire alarm boxes of the successive type were added, and all boxes on Tower avenue were placed upon neat cast iron posts, the wires leading to them being placed under ground. All fire alarm boxes were taken off the light poles and placed upon the department’s own poles, so as to prevent burnouts to the system. Lightning-arresters have been placed on the lines, where necessary, and electro-mechanical breakers have been placed upon the circuits to protect the instruments at fire alarm headquarters. The old and worn-out 3-circuit repeater was replaced with a new 10circuit instrument, which will be large enough for a number of years. Fourteen boxes were sent to the factory to be rebuilt and the remainder have all been overhauled by the department. All this work has cost a considerable amount of money; but it has been done comparatively cheaply, as there was very little outside help employed, and all the work was of the department’s own design. Three thousand six hundred feet of underground cable was laid. The electrician made 1,130 inspections and issued 270 permits for electrical installations during the year. The department also did a lot of work on the police alarm system by putting wires underground, and changing the location of alarm boxes. Two of these hoxes were rebuilt in the department’s shop and placed upon iron posts to conform to the wishes of property owners who objected to the old wooden boxes in iront of their buildings. Chief Johnson makes the following recommendations: That the water company be induced to lay an additional large main from its pumping station along Ritchie avenue to Tower avenue and connect the same to the distributing system at the West End; that the Tower avenue main be extended to the South End; that additional hydrants be installed on important corners; that the No. 4 steam fire engine be replaced by a new engine of approved make; and that the old engine be placed in reserve to be used at coal fires on the docks; that one man be added to each of the three engine companies; that arrangements be made with The Duluth, Missabe and Northern company so that its new fireboat, which will be put in service early in the spring, may be secured in case of fire on the bay-front; that a building department be established by ordinance, providing for the appointment of a suitable qualified building inspector, and that a building code, conforming as closely as possible to that of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, be adopted. It may be added that the above mentioned fireboat will be one of the best in the country, and will be the only marine firefighter at the head of the lakes.