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Atkinson and the parties whom he represents, to be used by them as they deem fit. But said Ordway shall not be precluded from a proper use of any points of special scientific interest which may be brought out by the investigation.
It is understood that the investigation shall be completed, if possible, before the first day of October, 1878; and that the liability of said Atkinson to pay money for the necessary apparatus, assistance, and supervision shall not exceed the sum of fifteen hundred dollars.
Thus do we covenant and agree this twenty-fifth day of May, 1878.
In respect to apparatus, it is, of course, desirable for us to avoid requirements involving heavy additional expense; and the next thing to be avoided is, undertaking to impose or advise complicated or difficult methods of putting out fire. The rule that might be stated as most fit among the lesser calls would be to put into your mills, first, pails; second, buckets; third, some more buckets; next, a few more pails, until you get to the end of the chapter; and keep them all full. In respect to adequate provision in other ways, I have caused to be brought here to-day that wooden door, covered with tin, in order that some gentlemen, whose minds are still firm in the conviction. that iron doors must be the best, may, perhaps, see proof conclusive to the contrary. That door possibly saved the Pacific Print Works from a destructive conflagration. That door stood fire an hour and a half; and, while the building on fire was completely destroyed, the door was charred only to the depth of three-eighths of an inch. On the door which was on the other side of the same wall, it being duplicated at that point, — the paint was scarcely blistered. Yet, at this same fire, at less exposed points, very ample iron doors-in rooms where the fire only slightly burned the floors, and was then put out by the neighboring apparatus of the Atlantic Mills-iron doors of extremely good construction were warped and twisted, and were perfectly useless. We submit that evidence for such consideration as you may see fit to give it.
In regard to apparatus, the methods by which the small fires have been stopped, so far as can be ascertained, indicate the adequacy of simple arrangements. I do not care as yet to give the figures as final, because, before the annual meeting of our corporation, I shall doubtless be able to give many more; but, as far as they go, it appears that the larger portion of the small
fires are put out by the use of pails and buckets, some by hose, a large number by the use of the sprinklers, still more by hose and sprinklers combined, a few by steam, seven by the use of what are called "fire-extinguishers," three by the use of chemical engines, one smothered by a woman who was near, and one smothered by an overseer who threw his coat over the fire. I will say here, that we most earnestly desire a statement of every fire that is put out, even when there is no claim. It is evidence of the efficiency of the management when a fire is put out without loss; and it is of the utmost importance that we should know the cause and management of every fire, large and small. Most especially do we urge the importance of this upon the managers of print-works and dye-works, that we may get at the facts in regard to the very obscure question of the spontaneous combustion that occurs in dyed goods, where no oil is present, from the oxidation of the materials used in dyeing. There are certain materials used in dyeing that are, unless properly treated, more dangerous even than oily cotton or wool.
The Board of Government, in order to provide some additional material for this meeting, have requested certain gentlemen to prepare papers to be offered at this meeting. (I speak now, of course, of the Board of Government of last year.) I have in my hand a report from Dr. Hayes, the State Assayer, upon the subject of the oxidation and spontaneous combustion of the materials used in dyeing, which, I suggest, may be submitted to the present Board of Government for publication, if they see fit; and, if by and by there should be time, it may interest you to have it read. I have also a statement drawn up by our Mr. W. B. Whiting, whom you all know so well, in regard to the proper place for steam-pipes for heating, in which he discusses the question whether steam-pipes for heating purposes should be at the side of the room, where, as you well know, they are constant sources of danger, from the tendency of operatives to tuck behind them old rags, waste, brooms, brushes, and every thing of the kind; or whether they should be placed overhead, which is almost the universal custom in Great Britain. I suggest that this also be referred to the Board of Government for the moment, with a view to publication in the report of this meeting, if they see fit; and perhaps, if there is time, you would like to have it taken up and read. Further than that, I may say that I have, after consultation with
one or two members of the Board (not being able to reach the whole number) and the Secretary, suggested to Mr. Grinnell, of the Providence Steam and Gas Pipe Company, to prepare a paper on pumps, pipes, and sprinklers, in regard to which there is a great deal of "rule of thumb," and perhaps not much adequate information. We not infrequently find cases where sprinklers have been put up without much consideration, and where the capacity of the apertures for the delivery of the water is very much larger than the capacity of the pipe to supply it; and they would be, in case of need, but a very poor reliance. As they can never be tried until the time of need, it would seem that that subject should be made one of very careful consideration. Mr. Grinnell has prepared a paper; and at a proper time, if you wish, he will present it.
I have taken this opportunity to bring these matters before you, as we are all partners in this matter, and there is no distinct and separate interest of the underwriters. The point is, to reach the most thorough and complete prevention of fire with the least expenditure, the least annoyance, and the least unreasonable requirement to assure safety.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, this seems to be quite a wide field that is opened. I hope we may hear from other members on this matter.
Mr. ATKINSON. Will you allow me one moment? · I left out one very simple part of the proposition. We find, gentlemen, that broken lanterns have cost, in our office alone, during the last sixteen years, not less than two hundred and twenty thousand dollars; and I think I can say that that indicates a total loss to the combined mutuals of a million dollars in sixteen years from the use of unguarded and unfit lanterns in the hands of careless watchmen or others. How many cases of alleged spontaneous combustion, so called, occurring in the night, may also be attributed to the careless handling of lanterns, no man, except the watchmen themselves, can say; but there is a strong suspicion of more cases. I have been at work two or three months trying to hunt up the best and most adequate lantern that could be made for use in factories. I will also state that we have traced losses to the amount of nearly three millions of dollars from the breaking of lanterns in the hands of watchmen and mechanics, outside of the cotton and woollen mills, in premises not insured by us. The latest was two hundred and odd thousand dollars, over here in Charlestown, at a furniture factory.
I have here a watchman's lantern, to be used with sperm-oil, to be locked up, and the key kept where it is filled. That, I think you will see, could not be broken, except you undertook to break it; and it is made with a view to throwing upon the arm, hanging to the waist-band if you want both hands, tumbling upon it, or otherwise abusing it, as it may happen. have also here an adequate lantern for the use of mechanics doing night-work, where you want a strong, concentrated light to be thrown upon a particular point. There is one, made with reference to being filled and locked. There is nothing to fall out at the bottom. It can be hung up or carried, or used according to the necessities of the case. There is a twelve-hour candle-lantern, that would be very desirable to be hung up in factories that do not allow their watchmen to carry any lanterns. at all, rather than to leave the gas burning; for several heavy losses have occurred from fires that might have been saved had not the gas-pipes been broken, and gas got into the mill; and if the rule were established that the gas should be shut off over night, and something of this kind hung up, there is no question that several heavy losses in the past might have been saved. Here is a lantern for common use, made at a very small expense, - eighteen dollars a dozen. That is very strongly made, and guarded with a heavy globe. The lamp is screwed in; there is nothing to fall out at the bottom; and it can be locked when filled, and used with substantial safety. Here is another of the same kind, without a lock, which is sold at fifteen dollars a dozen, not a very severe requirement for us to make, rather than to permit the continued use of common, unguarded glass lanterns, many of them burning kerosene-oil, with nothing but springs to hold the lamps in, such as are in use to some extent, perhaps not by anybody here present, but certainly among some of your associates. Here is a very admirable candle-lantern, burning four and a half hours, as thoroughly well made as it can be made. This is made with reference to inside or outside work. If you want to drive anywhere at night, you hang it on the dasher; or you can hang it on your waist-band; or you can fold it up, and put it away. This one has a little reflector in it, in case a strong light is required; and there is one without a reflector.
I do not think I have exhausted the lantern question; but I think I have found lanterns, by the use of which future losses
such as have occurred during the last sixteen years may be avoided. I think I have given you evidence, in the losses that have occurred in that period, of the importance of this question. If any one can find better or safer lanterns, we want their help and advice. A million dollars' loss in the mutuals, and three millions' in premises not so insured, in less than twenty years, is a sum worth saving.
The CHAIRMAN. Has any other gentleman any thing to say in regard to the methods and appliances for extinguishing fires? As I said, this opens up a very wide field for thought. If Mr. GRINNELL will give us his views upon the subject, there is now an opportunity.