Jan. 13, 1908 (Monday)
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -- THE PARKER BUILDING FIRE EXPOSES POTENTIALLY SCANDALOUS PROBLEMS AMONG FIRE FIGHTERS: The New York Times points out today that there were numerous problems that contributed to the disastrous Friday-night fire that destroyed the Parker Building. The disaster "gave such striking illustration of faults in our building laws, in our water supply system, and in the equipment of our Fire Department." (The illustration above shows a fireman rushing to the scene of a fire in New York about 1900.) Firefighters, despite the incredible courage displayed at the fire, have some explaining to do, the paper says. For one thing, two water towers brought to the scene could not be lifted to a height necessary to combat the fire, which started near the sixth floor of the 12-story building. Then there was a noted LACK OF WATER PRESSURE and the "wretched quality of the hose which the firemen had to use." The Times says,
Length after length of hose burst as soon as it was subjected to pressure, and the firemen do not hesitate to say that for some time past their efforts have been handicapped by this equally needless and outrageous difficulty."
The Times' editorial points out that the fire was discoverd quickly and equipment and firefights arrived promptly -- in time to minimize the damage. However, the best work seemed to be in merely protecting the adjoining properties. The editorial closes with this sobering statement:
Even heroism is helpless in the conditions that confronted these firemen, and their courage was the undoing of some of them.