National Geographic : 1918 May
"Go try it some time and see! Ha-ha-ha ha-ha! Take a piece of oily waste and light it with your precious match and throw it into that room full of kindling and see what happens! "In about half a minute you will have a cheerful blaze about the size of a barrel, but there will be a little click up near the ceiling and your nice little fire will be deluged with a drenching downpour of rain, the alarm bells will be ringing all over the plant auto matically, and the Fire Department will be coming on the run!!" "Is that what happened over there when that crazy little Austrian-" "Yes," chuckled Johnson. "When Simp son started in on Government orders, that little Austrian conceived it to be his loyal Austrian duty to burn the place up. He started two lively fires-and automatic sprinklers nabbed both of them on the spot." "Yes, I can see that Simpson would have to have sprinklers in his plant because it is full of fire-hazards. But here in this plant of mine there isn't a fire-hazard to be found anywhere !" Again Johnson laughed. "I'm afraid you couldn't get a job as an inspector of fire risks. You don't know a fire-hazard when you see one." "But tell me-just tell me: how can this reinforced-concrete building burn down?" "It can't; but what of it? Neither can a stove burn down. But you can have a lovely hot fire in a stove and you can have a lovely hot fire in this concrete grate of yours. Why it is called a "Risk" "To begin with, consider your neighbors: This man to the west of you keeps his oil tank close to the boundary-line; on the north there's a fellow with an old wooden mill; on the east is the railroad with its sparks and embers and all kinds of cargoes; across the street is a row of tenements with all kinds of tenants, and rubbish in every cellar Such exposure-hazards account for 28 per cent of all the fires. "Then comes friction-hot bearings, over heated belts in the presence of oil. And you've got lubricating oil and oily waste, a favorite cause of spontaneous combus tion. Risk, Risker, Riske't "You've got hot steam-pipes and radiators and you can't be sure that garments or inflammable goods will not be placed next to them. Then there's lightning and sparks, which are responsible for 7 per cent of the fire-loss in America. Matches and tobacco, of course. Gasoline and paint. Defective or worn-out electric wiring. "And finally the unknown causes, which are more than 25 per cent of them all. "There's nothing in this world that will prevent fires from occurring, even in the best-regulated property." "You make it seem rather hopeless," said Quinn. "No, not at all: While there's no infallible protection against fires starting, there is absolute protection against fires spreading. "You must adopt the remedy. With this fine building your rate will be about 12 cents, if you put in sprinklers. The average fire-loss under sprinklers is negligible." "They cost too much," ventured Quinn. Johnson looked at him shrewdly. "Don't theorize-get the figures," he said. "Why, man, sprinklers will earn money for you! You can't afford to be without them, and you can't afford to get any but the best. Send for a copy of the Grinnell Exemption Blanks and let them tell you how much sprinklers will save you in cash each year." Now, Mr. Reader, to write to the General Company, 293 West Providence, R. I. get the figures, just Fire Extinguisher Exchange Street, GRINNELL AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER SYSTEM Tho Factory-Assembled System "Mention the Geographic-It identifies you."