Population estimated at 138,000; the 1920 United States census showed 132,358. Youngstown is essentially a city of iron and steel production, in which its interests are extensive. Other industries include the manufacture of rubber products, fire proofing materials, engines and pumps, incandescent lamps and air products. Excellent transportation facilities are provided by four trunk line steam railroads and three interurban lines.
The gross fire loss for the five fiscal years ending December 31, 1919, as given in the fire department records, amounted to $760,104, the annual losses varying from $92,753 in 1915 to $213,672 in 1917. The annual number of fires varied from 375 in 1915 to 505 in 1917, with an average loss per fire of $343, a low figure. The average number of fires per 1,000 population, based on an average population of 118,695, was 3.7, a moderate figure, and the average loss per capita was $1.28, a low figure.
In the congested value district, weak construction and lack of window protection make serious individual and group fires probable. The water supply, while adequate, is not fully reliable; the fire department is an efficient force but is undermanned; and there are frequent high winds. Fires beyond control are probable and such fires would readily spread across the narrow streets, but on account of the two wide streets and open space at their intersection, and the moderate amount of fireproof and sprinklered construction, such fires should not, under normal conditions, involve any considerable portion of the district. In the minor mercantile districts, individual or group fires only are probable. Buildings in the manufacturing districts are mainly of incombustible construction or equipped with automatic sprinklers, so that there is generally no conflagration hazard. Residential districts present only a normally mild hazard of sweeping fires as very few buildings have combustible roof coverings.
The fire department is a well organized, paid force under good supervision and experienced officers. The personnel of the force is good and discipline well enforced. Appointments and promotions are under satisfactory civil service regulations. All members would be benefited by properly conducted drills, individual instruction and practice at a drill tower and school, including practice in heavy duty operation of engines.
Companies are well located with respect to the congested value district and well distributed in the outlying districts, but those in high value districts are undermanned, particularly at night, with no provisions for maintaining their strength with trained men during sick or vacation periods. The available fire force, including the off-shift, would be mainly ample for large fires, but the arrangement for calling the men is inadequate and has not been tried out, so that little credit can be allowed for the extra men. The running card provides for too great a response to many boxes, thus allowing an insufficient response to a second fire. Sufficient chemical equipment is provided and ladder protection is generally adequate. Minor equipment on trucks is good. The engines in service are modern and generally of good size, but some of the older equipment was found by test to be in poor condition.
Most of the present supply of hose is unreliable for use with heavy pressures, and the amount is inadequate; a large amount of hdse is equipped with Fehy couplings. New hose is purchased under suitable specifications and is tested upon delivery, but not regularly thereafter. With the exception of headquarters, which is crowded and on a too narrow street, and Station 3, the fire stations are well arranged and in fairly good repair.
Fire methods are generally good, except for lack of salvage work. Inspections of buildings by company members have been discontinued because of undermanning of companies, inspections being made by one inspector, which does not permit the department generally to become familiar with conditions existing in buildings. Company journals are,well kept and headquarters records are fairly complete. Annual reports are complete and comprehensive, but are not printed. Improvements made since the previous report have materially strengthened the department.
Fire Alarm System
The system is under experienced management; the maintenance and operating force is adequate. Maintenance is fair, but presents unreliable features in the installation of circuits on poles with high potential lines, in the improper construction of leads down poles, the failure to connect ground plate and the poor wiring at fire stations. Equipment at headquarters is mainly complete and satisfactory, and would permit of semimanual operation, which should be resorted to to properly handle the number of alarms being received. Batteries are of good type but give evidence of lack of care; and the charging circuit is undesirably high. The instruments at fire stations are in good condition but registers are preferable to visual indicators. Boxes are non-interfering and 71 have the successive feature; but all are dingy and inconspicuous from lack of cleaning, painting and red bands on supporting poles and red lights indicating locations. The distribution is fairly good except in the outlying districts, but could be improved by a relocation of boxes. Circuits are under ground only in the congested value district. Separate gong circuits should be extended to all fire stations; this would insure reliability, and permit increased speed, in the transmission of alarms. Tests of boxes are unsatisfactory and no records are kept. Telephone alarms are telephoned to all companies simultaneously, and without confirmation of box number to fire stations.