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All things considered, I do not think that there is any very great preference, from the fire hazard viewpoint, between the use of gas and electricity for lighting.
The Chronicle Tables show that by far the greater number of fires are caused by defective chimneys, but there are a large number of fires really chargeable to defective wiring. No doubt it would be advisable to rate every risk according to its own inherent hazard, but this is in many cases impracticable. The installation and use of gas when compared with proper use of electricity would call for a somewhat higher rate; in fact, the use of gasolene is one of the greatest hazards in manufacturing at the present time.
The tables referred to are misleading, being based on the fact that the percentage of lighting by electricity is very small in proportion to the percentage of other methods.
I do not consider the tables published in any way a criterion or measure of the hazard of electricity. No charge in rate is made for use of gasolene excepting in the case of gasolene gas machines having outside generators, and no charge is made for the use of electricity. If it is your idea either to charge for the use of city gas or make a reduction for the use of electricity, the latter would undoubtedly be of benefit to the electric-lighting interests, but I am strongly of the opinion that there is no difference in hazard warranting such action.
The difference on dwellings and risks of that kind would be too small to make much impression, and would probably be impracticable of application. Does not the universal schedule do this for mercantile risks?
I do not believe that it is the province of the National Electric Light Association, or of any body other than the underwriting body, to take up the question of graded rates of insurance for any hazard any more than it is the province of any excepting the central-station interests to take up the question of graded rates for the sale of current; but I am glad to indicate to you the position taken by certain underwriting rating organizations on this subject, which is as follows:
"Gas is used in practically every risk, and it is therefore not advisable to recognize such a hazard by an
addition to the rate. Kerosene is a similar risk and must be included in the base rate. In the majority of risks all the hazards of gas, kerosene and electricity are present, no matter which one is the principal means of illumination, and the underwriters have no assurance how much they will be used.”
"In all schedule-rated manufacturing risks, a distinct and separate charge is made if kerosene is used, and this charge is made just the same if the kerosene lamps are present—whether they are used or not-and charge is also made for open gas flames on swinging brackets, unless they are protected by guards."
“No charge is made for electric lights properly installed.”
"A charge is made for power boilers if they are not cut off by standard fire-walls from the main plant.'
"No charge is made for electric power properly installed.”
"A charge is made for the use of gasolene lamps, so much per lamp, in all risks—whether schedule rated or not-and this charge is very materially increased per lamp if the lamp happens not to be on the permitted list, as published from tests by the Chicago Laboratories.”
"A charge used to be made for gasolene stoves, but these became so general in dwelling properties that this charge was finally rescinded; but I am glad to state that I believe the use of gasolene for lighting and heating has decreased—thanks to the increasing use of this material for automobiles.”
“A very considerable charge is made for automobile permits because of the gasolene hazard.”
"In this district the following is now the permit which may be attached to all policies, without additional
charge: 'Permission is granted for the use of electricity
"While our permits for the use of gasolene for any purpose, even if no charge is made, contain numerous guarantees as to the method of its use and installation, we think you will perceive that it is much better for the public to have an unrestricted form like that for electricity, which the underwriting interests safeguard by inspection, rather than a permit such as is used for gasolene devices, containing warrantees which may, if violated, void the policy itself; and these violations frequently occur because the assured either does not read it or does not understand the terms of the permit.”
This question is not entirely clear, as it is not brought out to whom the benefit is to accrue, but it is customary in many sections to charge additionally for the use of gasolene for lights, although it is never done in the case of oil lamps or gas.
In our territory a charge is made for the use of gasolene and other petroleum products wherever used in quantities above certain amounts; and, unless proper precautions are taken, where any amount is found on premises. There is also a charge made when electricity is used on defective equipments.
The question of rate is a large one. Some of the brightest men in the country are studying and have been studying this problem for years. There has always been an earnest effort to arrange rates to properly take care of different hazards.
So far as rating in this part of the country is concerned, there is no question but that the system of graded rates for insurance against the hazard of gasolene and gasolene gas is much
greater than that for electricity, and, wherever the system of rating by schedule is in force, I feel sure that these systems are always classified as more hazardous and therefore to be charged for higher than electric lighting or power. (5) In your opinion is the inspection of installations of gas,
gasolene, and so forth, less rigid than that of electrical installations?
Ten answers: Yes.
Faulty construction in gas and gasolene is much more easily detected at any time by the inexperienced, while electricity newer and requires an expert for inspection at the time of installation. Even if the effort were made to give equal service, the variety and multiple uses of gas, kerosene and gasolene devices are such that they can not be examined in detail and with the same care accorded electrical installations. Periodical examinations of electrical installations are made with some assurance of uniformity as to condition between examinations. On the other hand, gas, kerosene and gasolene devices are hard to keep track of, as they don't "stay put."
Electrical installations will work for a time with faults of construction which none would tolerate in a gas or gasolene equipment.
A large amount of money is being spent all over the country by the underwriters, but no doubt additional inspection in the construction of buildings and attention from the underwriters would produce improvements.
Statute laws and municipal ordinances in relation to gas and gasolene are much more general and strict than those in relation to electrical installations, and the use of electricity is far more general than of gasolene. The amount of gasolene apparatus would not justify a corps of inspectors being maintained to look after it, and, when installations are found to be defective, rates are advanced.
Three answers: No.
There is no question that we, pay far greater attention to the hazard of gas and gasolene than to the hazard of electricity. and we make much higher charges for their use.
The inspections of gas, gasolene, and so forth, are simple as compared with proper inspection of electrical installations.
The number of large loss or total loss fires from electric wires in proportion to the total number of fires caused by electric wires is twenty times as large as the percentage of large total losses started from gas, gasolene, sparks from stoves, or other
The electric-wire fire is liable to start in garret between ceiling and roof, and, the roof being waterproof, it is difficult to reach the fire-which results in a heavy loss.
The next most dangerous place for an electric fire to start is in the basement, where wires are strung along the ceiling, out of the way and where they can not be inspected. Here they are liable to set fire to barrels, boxes, and so forth, stored in the basement, starting a large blaze which is not easily reached by firemen--resulting in a large loss.
Wires strung between joists, studding and other out-ofsight places only give notice of fire when the same has a good start in darkness and breaks through the floor, walls or ceilings.
Fires from gas jets, sparks, gasolene or other causesexcept defective flues-usually start in the open, are soon discovered, and do not on an average result in five per cent of the loss that is suffered from electric fires starting in garrets, base. ments, and so forth.
Gas brackets, gasolene equipments, and other fire-loss producers, can be inspected, but electric wires in garrets, and so forth, can not be reached; and, while such wires may be installed in accordance with the past methods born of experience, the wires will rust and wear out, rats and mice creating shortcircuits, and the insurance companies will pay the loss.
As a general thing there is no inspection of gas installations. Gasolene installations, however, are very carefully inspected and