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But to regard the value of proper construction and fire preventive appliances in this light only is a short-sighted policy. Although not netting a full interest return on the capital invested, most owners should nevertheless be willing to introduce improved methods. They should aim to avoid that great loss, so frequently overlooked, which consists of the inconvenience, the loss of time, and the loss of business to competitors so inseparably connected with every large fire. To many owners the avoidance of such losses often represents a cash value of far greater importance than a mere good investment return on the money expended. Too often business men hold to the fallacy that full insurance against the loss of the property, as well as its use and occupancy, means that they do not stand to lose much. Yet even use and occupancy insurance cannot indemnify the insured fully against all loss connected with a period of business interruption. There is still, in the overwhelming number of cases, the danger of the permanent loss of customers, who, during the period of business interruption, are served by competitors. The best and only type of insurance against this kind of loss is fire prevention.

Carelessness and Thoughtless Indifference as a Factor in Increasing Fire Loss.-The greatest cause of fire is gross carelessness and thoughtless failure to observe ordinary precautions in the avoidance of fires easily preventable. Certain conditions, especially inferior construction, take many years to correct. But the serious causes of fire, occasioning probably 75 per cent of all fires reported, can be removed at once if owners and tenants will only coöperate in the effort, and at extremely small expense and trouble.

That most fires are preventable can be demonstrated by statistics. An investigation of the approximately 500,000 fires occuring annually in the United States by the Actuarial Bureau of the National Board of Fire Underwriters

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indicates that about 22 per cent of the fire loss is traceable to strictly preventable causes, and nearly another 38 per cent to causes that are partly preventable. Slightly over 40 per cent of the loss is due to unknown causes which there is good reason, however, to believe, are probably largely preventable. In the case of dwelling house losses, as shown by the accompanying diagram (see p. 298), preventable causes play an even more important rôle. Here 43 per cent of the loss in 1918 is traceable to strictly preventable causes, 34 per cent to partly preventable causes, and 23 per cent to unknown causes which, however, are probably largely preventable.

With respect to the number of dwelling fires traceable to easily preventable causes, the statistics for a large city like Philadelphia, compiled from the published records of the Fire Insurance Patrol of that city, are interesting. During 1919, 2,085 dwelling fires, of known origin, were reported as having occurred in that city. Of this large number 37.26 per cent were traceable to matches. Another 8.30 per cent were attributable to smoking and cigar and cigarette stumps, 7.29 per cent to lamps and candles, 8.58 per cent to gas and gasoline and their appliances, 7 per cent to chimneys and defective flues, and 8.87 per cent to heaters, hot ashes, open grates, ovens, ranges, stoves and rubbish. In other words, these six types of causes occasioned 77.30 per cent, or over three-fourths of all dwelling fires in Philadelphia, of known origin, during 1919. Such statistics clearly indicate that the overwhelming number of fires reported annually are due to carelessness and could easily be prevented.

But an analysis of the causes of fire should do more than call attention to the importance of eliminating indifference and carelessness with respect to the saving of property values. Emphasis should be placed on the danger of loss of life involved in the occurrence of so many fires. Sta

tistics show that 15,000 lives, 75 per cent of whom are women and children, are burned to death annually in the United States and that several times this number suffer painful injuries from this cause. Moreover, all of the great conflagrations which have taken place in the United States during the last twenty years, have, with only two exceptions, originated from small preventable causes. Emphasis should also be given to the fact that fires-averaging 1,500 a day in the United States-destroy not merely property that is actually burned but result in much inconvenience, loss of profits and customers, and numerous other indirect costs, which in the aggregate probably equal the direct loss itself.

The Essential Factors in Fire Prevention.-The chapter on "Underwriters' Associations" called attention to the numerous ways in which insurance companies are attempting to reduce the nation's fire waste, and these need not be repeated.1 In fact, the insurance companies' participation in fire prevention is so great that the premium may be regarded in part as payment for expert service in the cause of loss prevention. "It is altogether possible," as reported by a group of experts, 2 "that in time the premiums will become predominately a price paid for expert prevention of fire." This is as it should be. As observed by the Fire Prevention and Insurance Committee of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce: "Very large amounts are freely spent for fire departments, but pitifully small emphasis is given both by way of expenditure and education, to the prevention of the very hazard which occasions such huge public expenditures for fire fighting facilities. It is high time to change our emphasis in this respect. We believe that it is much more efficacious in the long run,

1See pages 285 to 287.


Report of Special Committee on Fire Waste and Insurance of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

from the standpoint of saving property and life, as well as from the viewpoint of public expenditures, to fight the cause of fire rather than merely to fight fire itself after it has started on its course of destruction."

But underlying any real effort at improvement, there must be a substantial coöperation on the part of property owners. Specific attention should be given by them to the following factors:

Management or house-keeping.-Since so many fires are attributable to easily preventable causes, i.e., to carelessness and indifference, the importance of good house-keeping cannot be overemphasized. Our previous statistical explanation clearly shows the importance of having the owner exercise due care with respect to matches, smoking, lamps, gas and gasoline and their appliances, electrical appliances, steam and hot water piping, chimneys and flues, furnaces, ovens and open grates, rubbish, hot ashes, oily waste, the location of dangerous articles, and general cleanliness.

Equipment. Closely allied to good house-keeping is the installation of good equipment in business establishments and its proper upkeep. Practically every business building must be heated, lighted, ventilated, and equipped with special machinery and apparatus. All of these factors usually involve a fire hazard. It is, therefore, important that the owner should inquire into their quality from a fire standpoint before purchasing, and that he should keep them in a state of proper efficiency at all times. If fire preventive appliances have been installed, it is important that they be cared for properly so that they will work when the emergency arises, i.e., chemical extinguishers should be recharged, fire pails should be filled, fire doors and fire pumps should be tested, and fire hose should be examined periodically.

Construction. The prevention of the spread of fire, after it has once obtained a good start, depends primarily upon

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