CONNECTED with the subject of chimney sweeping is which attracts far less of the attention of the legislature and the public than its importance would seem to demand: I mean the fires in the metropolis, with their long train of calamities, such as the loss of life and of property. These calamities, too, especially as regards the loss of property, are almost all endured by the poor, the destruction of whose furniture is often the destruction of their whole property, as insurances are rarely effected by them; while the wealthier classes, in the case of fires, are not exposed to the evils of houselessness, and may be actually gainers by the conflagration, through the sum for which the property was insured.
"The daily occurrence of fires in the metropolis," say the Board of Health, "their extent, the number of persons who perish by them, the enormous loss of property they occasion, the prevalence of incendiarism, the apparent apathy with which such calamities are regarded, and the rapidity with which they are forgotten, will hereafter be referred to as evidence of a very low social condition and defective administrative organization. These fires, it was shown nearly a century ago, when the subject of insurance was debated in Parliament, were frequently caused from
|not having chimneys swept in proper time." I am informed that a chimney may be on fire for many days, unknown to the inmates of the house, and finally break out in the body of the building by its getting into contact with some beam or wood-work. The recent burning of Church was occasioned by the soot collected in the flue taking fire, and becoming red hot, when it ignited the wood-work in the roof. The flue, or pipe, was of iron.|
From a return made by Mr. Braidwood of the houses and properties destroyed in the metropolis in the years ending in inclusive, it appears that the total number was : of contents destroyed (which, being generally insured separately, should be kept distinct) there were . The subjoined table gives the particulars as to the proportion insured and uninsured:—
"The proportion per cent. of the uninsured to the insured, would be—
The following table gives the total number of fires in the metropolis during a series of years:
Here, then, we perceive that there are, upon an average of years, no less than "fires" per annum, that is to say, houses in every are discovered to be on fire every year; and about - of these are uninsured. In the year the total number of fires was only , or in every inhabited houses, whilst, in , the number had gradually progressed to , or in every houses.
We have here, however, to deal more particularly with the causes of these fires, of which the following table gives the result of many years' valuable experience:—
Thus we perceive that, out of an average of fires per annum, the information being derived from years' experience, the following were the number of fires produced by different causes:—
Here, then, we find that while the greatest proportion of fires are caused by accidents with candles, about - of the fires above mentioned arise from foul flues, or out of , a circumstance which teaches us the usefulness of the class of labourers of whom we have been lately treating.
It would seem that a much larger proportion of the fires are wilfully produced than appear in the above table.
The Board of Health, in speaking of incendiarism in connection with insurance, report:—
Mr. Braidwood has expressed his opinion that only -half of the property in the metropolis is insured, not as to numbers of property, but as to value; but the proportion of insured and uninsured houses could not be ascertained.
Mr. Baddeley, the inspector to the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, who had given attention to the subject for the last years, gave the Board the following account of the increase of fires:—
During this period there has been a great increase in the number of dwellings, but this has been chiefly in suburban places, where fires rarely occur.
The at once mean and reckless criminality of arson, by which a man exposes his neighbours to the risk of a dreadful death, which he himself takes measures to avoid, has long, and on many occasions, gone unpunished in London. The insurance companies, when a demand is made upon them for a loss through fire, institute an inquiry, carried on quietly by their own people. The claimant is informed, if sufficient reasons for such a step appear, that from suspicious circumstances, which had come to the knowledge of the company, the demand would not be complied with, and that the company would resist any action for the recovery of the money. The criminal becomes alarmed, he is afraid of committing himself, and so the matter drops, and the insurance companies, not being required to pay the indemnification, are satisfied to save their money, and let the incendiarism remain unnoticed or unpunished. Mr. Payne, the coroner, has on some occasions strongly commented on this practice as which showed the want of a public prosecutor.
A few words as regards the means of extinction and help at fires.
Upwards of years ago the Commissioners of Police instructed their officers to note the time which elapsed between the earliest alarm of fire and the arrival of the engine. fires were noted, and the average duration of time before the fire-brigade or any parochial or local fire-engine, reached the spot, was minutes. or of these fires were in the suburbs; so that in this crowded city, so densely packed with houses and people, fires raged unchecked for more than half-an-hour.
There are in the metropolis, not including the more distant suburbs, public fire stations, with engines provided under the management of the parochial authorities. The fire-brigade has but stations on land, and on the river, which are, indeed, floating engines, being usually moored near Southwark-bridge, the other having no stated place, being changed in its locality, as may be considered best. In the course of years, the term of the official inquiry, the engines of the fire-brigade reached on the average the place where a fire was raging times as the earliest means of assistance, when the parochial engines did the same only in the proportion of to the .
Mr. Braidwood, the director of the fire-brigade, stated, when questioned on the subject with a view to a report to be laid before Parliament, that "the average time of an engine turning out with horses was from to minutes." The engines are driven at the rate of miles an hour along the streets, which, in the old coaching days, was considered the "best royal mail pace." Indeed, there have been frequent complaints of the rapidity with which the fire-engines are driven, and if the drivers were not skilful and alert, it would really amount to recklessness.
The average distance of the occurring fires from a brigade station were, however, during a period of years, terminating in , upwards of a mile. was miles, several miles, more were miles, and a mile and a half, while the most destructive fires were at an average distance of a mile and quarters. Thus it was impossible for a fire-brigade to give assistance as soon as assistance was needed, and, under other circumstances, might have been rendered. And all this damage may and does very often result from what seems so trifling a neglect as the non-sweeping of a chimney.
Mr. W. Baddeley, an engineer, and a high authority on this subject, has stated that he had attended fires for years in London, and that, of fires which took place in , -thirds might have been easily extinguished had there been an immediate application of water. In some places, he said, delay originated from the turncocks being at wide intervals, and some of the
|companies objecting to let any but their own servants have the command of the main-cocks.|
The Board of Health have recommended the formation of a series of street-water plugs within short distances of each other, the water to be constantly on at high pressure night and day, and the whole to be under the charge of a trained body of men such as compose the present fire-brigade, provided at appointed stations with every necessary appliance in the way of hose, pipes, ladders, &c. "The hose should be within the reach," it is urged in the report, "fixed, and applied on an average of not more than minutes from the time of the alarm being given; that is to say, in less than - of the time within which fireengines are brought to bear under existing arrangements, and with a still greater proportionate diminution of risks and serious accidents."
Nor is this mode of extinguishing fires a mere experiment. It is successfully practised in some of the American cities, Philadelphia among the number, and in some of our own manufacturing towns. Mr. Emmott, the engineer and manager of the Oldham Water-works, has described the practice in that town on the occurrence of fires:—
When the city of Hamburgh was rebuilt or years back, after its destruction by fire, it was rebuilt chiefly under the direction of Mr. W. Lindley, the engineer, and, as far as Mr. Lindley could accomplish, on sanitary principles, such as the abolition of cesspools. The arrangements for the surface cleansing of the streets by means of the hose and jet and the water-plugs, are made available for the extinction of fires, and with the following results, as communicated by Mr. Lindley:—
The following statement was given by Mr. Quick, an engineer, on this subject:—
The system of roof-cisterns, which was at time popular as a means of extinction, has been found, it appears, on account of their leakage and diffusion of damp, to be but sorry contrivances, and have very generally been discontinued. Mr. , a builder in Liverpool, gives the following, even under the circumstances, amusing account of a fire where such a cistern was provided:—
The necessity of almost immediate help is
|shown in the following statement by Mr. Braidwood, when consulted on the subject of fireescapes, which under the present system are not considered sufficiently effective:—|
The engines of the fire-brigade throw up about gallons a minute. Their number is about . The cost of a fire-engine is from to , and the hose, buckets, and general apparatus, cost nearly the same amount.
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|Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles|
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Metal Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Metal Trays, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Linen, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Curtains
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Carpeting, Flannels, Stocking-Legs, &c., &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Bed-Ticking, Sacking, Fringe, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Glass and Crockery
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Miscellaneous Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Musical Instruments
Of the Music 'Duffers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Weapons
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Curiosities
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Telescopes and Pocket Glasses
Of the Street-Sellers of Other Miscellaneous Second-Hand Articles
Of Second-Hand Store Shops
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Apparel
Of the Old Clothes Exchange
Of the Wholesale Business at the Old Clothes Exchange
Of the Uses of Second-Hand Garments
Of the Street-Sellers of Petticoat and Rosemary-Lanes
Of the Street-Sellers of Men's Second-Hand Clothes
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Boots and Shoes
Of the Street-Sellers of Old Hats
Of the Street-Sellers of Women's Second-Hand Apparel
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Furs
Of the Second-Hand Sellers of Smithfield- Market
|Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals|
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Former Street-Sellers, 'Finders,' Stealers, and Restorers of Dogs
Of a Dog-'Finder' -- A 'Lurker's' Career
Of the Present Street-Sellers of Dogs.
Of the Street-Sellers of Sporting Dogs
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Birds
Of the Bird-Catchers Who are Street- Sellers
Of the Crippled Street Bird-Seller
Of the Tricks of the Bird-Duffers
Of the Street-Sellers of Foreign Birds
Of the Street-Sellers of Birds'--Nests
Of the Street-Sellers of Squirrels
Of the Street-Sellers of Leverets, Wild Rabbits, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Gold and Silver Fish
Of the Street-Sellers of Tortoises
Of the Street-Sellers of Snails, Frogs, Worms, Snakes, Hedgehogs, Etc.
|Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities|
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Coals
Of the Street-Sellers of Coke
Of the Street-Sellers of Tan-Turf
Of the Street-Sellers of Salt
Of the Street-Sellers of Sand
Of the Street-Sellers of Shells
Of the River Beer-Sellers, or Purl-Men
Of the Numbers, Capital, and income of the Street- Sellers of Second-Hand Articles, Live Animals, Mineral Producions, Etc.
Income, or 'Takinags' of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
|Of the Street-Buyers|
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Buyers of Rags, Broken Metal, Bottles, Glass, and Bones
Of the 'Rag-and-Bottle,' and the 'Marine-Store' Shops
Of the Buyers of Kitchen-Stuff, Grease, and Dripping
Of the Street-Buyers of Hare and Rabbit Skins
Of the Street-Buyers of Waste (Paper)
Of the Street-Buyers of Umbrellas and Parasols
|Of the Street-Jews|
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Trades and Localities of the Street-Jews
Of the Jew Old-Clothes Men
Of a Jew Street-Seller
Of the Jew-Boy Street-Sellers
Of the Pursuits, Dwellings, Traffic, Etc., of the Jew-Boy Street-Sellers
Of the Street Jewesses and Street Jew-Girls
Of the Synagogues and the Religion of the Street and Other Jews
Of the Politics, Literature, and Amusements of the Jews
Of the Charities, Schools, and Education of the Jews
Of the Funeral Ceremonies, Fasts, and Customs of the Jews
Of the Jew Street-Sellers of Accordions, and of their Street Musical Pursuits
Of the Street-Buyers of Hogs'--Wash
Of the Street-Buyers of Tea-Leaves
|Of the Street-Finders or Collectors|
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Bone-Grubbers and Rag-Gatherers
Of the 'Pure'-Finders
Of the Cigar-End Finders
Of the Old Wood Gatherers
Of the Dredgers, or River Finders
Of the Sewer-Hunters
Of the Mud-Larks
Of the London Dustmen, Nightmen, Sweeps, and Scavengers
Of the Dustmen of London
Of the London Sewerage and Scavengery
|Of the Streets of London|
Of the Streets of London
Of the Traffic of London
Of the Dust and Dirt of the Streets of London
Of the Street-Dust of London, and the Loss and injury Occasioned by it
Of the Horse-Dung of the Streets of London
Of Street 'Mac' and Other Mud
Of the Mud of the Streets
Of the Surface-Water of the Streets of London
Of the Master Scavengers in Former Times
Of the Several Modes and Characteristics of Street-Cleansing
Of the Contractors For Scavengery
Of the Contractors' (or Employers') Premises, &c.
Of the Working Scavengers Under the Contractors
Of the 'Casual Hands' Among the Scavagers
Of the Influence of Free Trade on the Earnings of the Scavagers
Of the Worse Paid Scavagers, or Those Working For Scurf Employers
Of the Street-Sweeping Machine, and the Street-Sweepers Employed With it
Of the Cleansing of the Streets by Pauper Labour
Of the Street-Orderlies
Street Orderlies -- City Surveyor's Report
Of the 'Jet and Hose' System of Scavaging
Of the Cost and Traffic of the Streets of London
Of the Rubbish Carters
Of Casual Labour in General, and That of the Rubbish-Carters in Particular
Of the Casual Labourers among the Rubbish-Carters
The Effects of Casual Labour in General
Of the Scurf Trade Among the Rubbish- Carters
|Of the London Chimney-Sweepers|
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work