FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING – Fire engineering: training for firefighters and news from the fire department, rescue


If in every month of this year the same abnormal fire losses are to be chronic, as has been the case since January 1, the outlook does not bode well for insurance companies, the community in general or the citizen in particular. We may not have been visited by a catastrophe like the one that befell San Francisco last April, nor, perhaps, by widespread conflagrations like those in Baltimore, Toronto or Rochester. But setting aside the San Francisco disaster and judging only by the experiences of the last year and those which ushered in the first weeks of 1907, there seems no reason to doubt that unless ‘much greater care is exercised in the construction and layout of buildings, keeping the fire services up to the mark in equipment and personnel, replacing paid fire services in large cities and towns by the existing volunteer, or at best only partially paid services, by making permanent at least the office of Chief Engineer, instead of changing it, so as to suit the political party which happens to be in power , the number of small fires that become conflagrations can be expected to increase, with a corresponding loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unless, also, a proper fire alarm system is installed and fire stations are equipped with the quickest means of getting to a fire, the same adverse results can be expected. If, also, in crowded or congested areas, the authorities do not see to it that pipes of sufficient size are laid, with fire hydrants of the most modern type, the same old complaint as to the impossibility of stopping the fire one at a time in its incipient phase will continue to be heard – and with good reason. Likewise, too, as long as firefighters are allowed to dictate to the chief or commissioner how many hours they must work, or how many days off they must enjoy, that is. if they be allowed to forget that while they are in the fire department they are subject to practically the same rules as army or navy men and not to their own masters, except when their free time arrives – so much time we find fire departments ineffective, and stop wondering when, week after week, we see the city that suffers from such conditions to exist at the top of the list of destructive and disastrous fires, each of which will swell the huge sum of money that is irretrievably sacrificed every year on the altar of the fire demon.

Regardless of what may have been the causes of the recent terrible accident (if it is correct to call by that name what was in reality a butchery perpetrated by the New York Central Railway Company) in the immediate vicinity of Wi 11iamsbridge, county of Westchester, there was one feature which admits of special mention in these columns, namely, the fire which broke out in the wreck, owing to the non-combustible material of which the cars were made. It is true that the fire was quickly extinguished; but that was more luck than good management on the part of the railroad company. The possibilities were quite another way, especially when you remember that only a few days before a passenger car of the same brand was set on fire by the trucks – fortunately, without any loss of life. In each case, the third rail was the immediate cause of the fire. These most recent examples of the danger associated with electric means of transport, added to those which have occurred and continue to occur in the New York subway, not to mention the horror of the Paris subway of a few years ago and of the many other fatal occurrences from the burning of the dying and maimed victims of railroad neglect, are set for our example, and call on the people of the United States to insist on the use of non-combustible cars for traffic road and rail, the constant inspection of rolling stock by competent and trustworthy inspectors, a categorical denial of permission to any existing transport company to use cars that are not as absolutely fireproof as science can make them , and to refuse a franchise to any company that does not agree to comply with the same conditions. If it was (alone at every opportunity, without fear or favor, we shouldn’t hear of weak city officials caving in to the demands of a company like Brooklyn Rapid Transit to run their lightweight wooden cars through the underground loop proposed city line in Manhattan, or see New York’s Interborough company which deliberately violates its pact every day and runs passenger cars which would catch fire and burn, as they have done before, if a serious collision occurred .

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