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schools. The preservation of democracy rests upon the teachers; to that end all their efforts should be bent.
Miss Haley is an organizer of marked ability. She has by her leadership won several important victories for the teachers of Chicago, of whom she is one. Only recently, in union with Miss Goggin, she secured from the Cook County court an injunction against the Chicago Board of Education. The Board had tried, upon the flimsiest kind of a pretence, to justify on a legal basis its cut of the teachers' pay in the midst of the school year. The claim was made that while the teachers were engaged for the school year, the salaries were fixed for the fiscal year. In other words, teachers might be engaged upon a certain salary schedule in June for the year beginning September 1, and could then have their pay cut down without warning on or after the first of January following. This contention was never regarded as an honest one by anybody. It was a mere club with which the Board hoped to defeat the teachers. The court has decided that it had no right to cut the teachers' pay in February, 1900. It is to be hoped that the fight will now be ended. A board of education struggling to defeat the ends of common justice is not a very edifying spectacle. The teachers have earned their pay, and ought to have it at the earliest possible moment.
The National Educational Association missed one grand opportunity of making itself useful to the world in general and the teaching profession in particular by failing to appoint an expert commission to report upon the educational exhibits collected at St. Louis. It might well have appropriated five to ten thousand dollars for such a purpose. There never was a better opportunity for the comparative study of educational systems than was exemplified in the Education Building. Making all due allowances for show work, the seeing eye of the expert could have drawn valuable lessons from the Exposition. A commission of one hundred would have been required to do full justice to the undertaking. OSSIAN H. LANG.
PROTECTION AGAINST FIRES AND FAULTY CONSTRUCTION.
CONFLAGRATIONS are apt to remind us that fire insurance companies and protective associations furnish by their policies a foundation for the establishment and maintenance of mercantile and individual credit.1 The tribute we pay in the shape of premiums is measured by conditions and justified by circumstances. The distress of small companies after every large fire makes it painfully evident that often they have to return all and sometimes more than they have been able to earn and accumulate during years of prosperity. If a history of our most successful companies were written, and losses by conflagrations on which, by laws of averages, they could not reckon were taken into consideration, it would appear that their income was chiefly derived from investments of their capital.
When 1,700 buildings, covering 2,000 acres of ground, were destroyed in Chicago, in 1871, and $185,000,000 worth of property was annihilated, 68 insurance companies, with $25,000,000 assets, were forced into bankruptcy. Nevertheless, merchants were able to recover a large part of their losses from companies that remained solvent. Such indemnity enabled the insured to retrieve their wavering fortunes and to rejuvenate their demolished city; and the latter rose like a phoenix from the plain covered with ashes to become the metropolis of our great West. A year later Boston had a similar experience. Eight hundred buildings, representing $70,000,000 of property, were consumed and local companies again failed; but the city was rebuilt and improved with money furnished by the underwriters who were able to withstand this renewed strain on their resources.
A remedy against a repetition of such disasters can only be found by learning the means of prevention. The origin of such great calamities as those just mentioned is generally shrouded in mystery. When evidence as to cause is obliterated, the accessory malefactors are unwill
'During the first six months of the current year, fire losses far exceeded the average of any ordinary year, having amounted to more than $180,000,000.
ing to incriminate themselves. Underwriters, however, are convinced that most of the great fires could have been prevented if a more liberal supply of water and a more efficient fire department had been available. In order to assure an adequate flow and sufficient pressure of water, the latter should be supplied in separate service pipes to hydrants maintained exclusively for the purpose of extinguishing fires; and the most modern equipment of all kinds should be at the command of the fire fighters at a moment's notice. Some firemen whose appointment or promotion has been secured through favoritism, rather than through merit or experience, have shown their incompetence on the first emergency. Half a million of property was consumed on April 20, 1904, in the Cadillac factory, Detroit, because, aside from other shortcomings, it had taken twenty minutes to get the fire-engines working, although the engine-house adjoined the factory. When compared with the efficiency of private corporations, such incompetence becomes painfully apparent. Careful attention to construction and other improvements have enabled railroads to reduce the cost of transporting merchandise from the West to a seaport to one-tenth of what it was thirty years ago. But fire insurance costs as much to-day as it did thirty years ago. It has become less expensive in those countries only where fires have become less frequent.'
While in Europe houses are built for permanent occupancy, in our cities they are frequently erected to serve the purpose of greedy speculators. A house that has been utilized here by several generations is shown as a curiosity. The houses in Nüremberg and Augsburg, in which Dürer became famous by his art and Fugger by the lavish entertainment of his emperor, are in good condition still. So are the walls of the gymnasium in Münster, where the writer was educated, and which was erected more than a thousand years ago. In Europe the construction of houses is conscientiously begun and carried through to completion according to approved plans and specifications. In our country, on the other hand, we often leave it to irresponsible brokers or unscrupulous builders who care more for the money they make by their contract than for the safety of future tenants.
In February, 1904, another fire destroyed some sixty millions of property in Baltimore. With a sufficient supply of water and the prompt attention of a competent fire department, this fire could have
1 Rates in German cities vary from one-half to three-quarters per mill for residential risks, and from three-quarters to one-and-one-quarter per mill for mercantile risks.
been checked in time; and it never would have extended as it did had it not been fed by merchandise placed in unprotected antique edifices which should never have been tolerated in the business centre of a great city. When the heat increased to three thousand degrees, almost all buildings, the best of them included, had to succumb; terra cotta parted from steel, granite split, sandstone crumbled, and marble calcined. Well-baked brick and steel encased in concrete were the only materials that successfully resisted the caloric test. Among the dismal ruins, visible as far as the eye could reach, the fireproof home of the Continental Trust Company, built of concreted steel, loomed up in solitary splendor to teach Baltimorians the lesson of a better construction of their future "monumental" city. The floor joists in the ordinary old buildings measure three by ten inches and are sixteen inches apart. Bridging provided for their stiffening makes each tier a conductor of flames. Similar construction prevails in Toronto, where seven millions were consumed on April 19, 1904; and it continues to predominate in almost every city in our country. It may be difficult to remove at once all these old-fashioned structures; but the underwriters have it in their power to compel owners and tenants to provide them with protection.
Many "department" stores in the heart of our populous cities can make no pretence to safety. Covering a large area, sometimes an entire square, they are a serious menace to their surroundings. Not only should they be made fireproof, but, as required by law in Massachusetts, they should be partitioned into as many small sections as practicable, the various sections being separated by automatic sliding fireproof doors, which are closed at night. These compartments should be divided by solid brick fire walls, containing no more openings than necessary. Until such rules are observed, we may at any time hear of other calamities. The Baltimore fire which has crippled several American companies, has forced the old and reputable "Greenwich" to liquidate, and has caused some foreign companies to withdraw originated in a large dry-goods store. Further disasters may render it still more difficult to safeguard property by adequate insurance.
Skeleton construction has begun to change the aspect and to improve the character of American cities. It is well adapted to embellish our architecture; but above all we should make the new steel buildings safer than the old-fashioned houses, especially where the height exceeds five stories. With engines and pressure such as firemen can command, no stream of water can be thrown higher than sixty feet. Windows of
skyscrapers should be glazed with wire glass set in metal-covered frames. Automatic water screens should be placed under the main cornices of high buildings, to guard them against outside fires. Elevators should be encased in fireproof partitions, reaching from cellar to roof; boilers should be placed inside heavy brick walls; and concrete should extend to the floor boards to prevent the circulation of air between them. Only steel furniture should be used, and the presence of merchandise should be prohibited above the fifth story; samples of celluloid recently exploded in an upper story of the "Flatiron" Building, New York, creating no small panic.
During the erection of the stanchest of the Baltimore buildings rigid rules had been observed; and their efficacy was demonstrated during the recent fire when heat that annihilated destructible contents, melting even the iron typewriters, could not materially injure the walls of such structures. If our modern steel houses were built with equal care, they could not collapse like the Darlington in Forty-sixth Street, New York, which, while in course of erection, in March, 1904, fell through the weight of its own displaced material. The pillars were found to be hollow and to be made of soft cast iron, while the weak steel beams had been insufficiently riveted. This accident recalls the breakdown of a row of Harlem tenements some years ago, when a corpulent friend of the contractor, in the course of a conversation, heedlessly leaned against one of the side walls.
In Europe every house, as long as it is in course of erection, remains under the surveillance of a building police; and even after completion occupancy is not allowed until the department has made a final inspection. The chief of this police then issues a certificate of construction and a permit for occupation. As long as our edifices are in course of erection, they should likewise be supervised by employees of a competent building department. Experienced and practical inspectors, sufficiently remunerated to make them independent of bribes, should be engaged by civil service commissioners for the better protection of the public. They should have legal authority and be compelled to arrest and bring to justice whomsoever they might discover in the act of deviating from the approved plans. Architects and contractors should be licensed and not permitted to erect any important structures unless they could be held liable for the faithful performance of their undertakings. The authorities of New York had been warned against the material used in the "Darlington"; and had these warnings been heeded, twenty souls and the reputation of some builders might have been spared. Before any