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FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING


FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING

It seems inexplicable that another serious fire should destroy the piers of the Delaware & Lackawanna Railway company at Hoboken, N. J., while the horror of a few years ago, which wrought such terrible havoc on piers and shipping, and caused great damage and sacrifice of life in the same neighborhood, is still fresh in the minds of the people. It would have cost a trifle, in comparison to that caused by this recent conflagration, to have covered the piers with iron sheeting, and to place nozzles of the Judge pattern in places where it would be almost impossible for a fire to gain headway with the torrent of water they are able to throw in a radius of 4,000 feet by ordinary pressure from standpipe or hydrant. In rebuilding the piers and freightsheds, these precautions ought to be taken. If this is done, the companies owning property on the waterfront may expect to avoid a recurrence of the destructive fire of last Sunday week.

Yazoo City, Minn., seems to have courted destruction by fire. Although a city that could not plead poverty, it had for years tolerated the existence in its midst of an apology for a waterworks system that was not only obsolete, but in a state of scandalous disrepair. So far back as 1901 the inspection of the National Board of Underwriters reported of the system that all its mains and lateral distributing pipes were of wood, coated with tar composition and bound with metal hoops. The pipes had rotted; the connecting-joint-ends had split; and the iron-hoop binding had in many places burst, owing to its having been eaten away by rust. A large leakage of water had resulted, with consequent considerable loss of pressure. When small repairs were being made, the water was cut off, and whole sections of the city were thus left without fire protection. Notwithstanding the fact that all this was commonly known, no steps were taken to remedy the evil conditions till eighteen months ago, and then only because of the screw being put upon the business men by the insurance agents. The town was the bonded, but it was not until the other day that steps to change the system were begun in earnest. The work had barely been inaugurated when the conflagration of last week broke out, and whatever obsolete wooden mains could be found to hold water burst under the pressure, and only a little water was available. It was pretty much the same with the fire department. Although Yazoo is situated five miles from Jackson—the nearest city with any approach to a decent fire department—not only is that of Yazoo City so equipped as to be utterly insufficient for the due protection of a fire area of 640 acres, thickly studded with wooden buildings, but its organisation seems to be as poor as its equipment is defective, with little or no interest taken in it either by its members or the municipal authorities. Apparently it was left to the principal manufacturing concerns in the city to provide their own fire protection in the way both of equipment and water supply. It need not be any surprise, therefore, that such a disastrous fire speedily got beyond control: the real wonder is that any of the city was left at all. For all this there was no excuse. Some towns and cities might be able to plead debt and poverty as an excuse for defective fire protection. But Yazoo City could offer no such plea. It is one of the richest towns in the State of Mississippi, situated on the edge of the delta, and, as the receiver of much long staple cotton, was peculiarly liable to danger from fire, for which reason it ought to have been all the more prepared for the inevitable. We fear, how ever, that the fire-swept city is only the type of many others, and that the conflagration of last week is liable to be duplicated any moment in the cotton belt.

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FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING