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LIFE HAZARD OF ELECTRICITY
The committee has incidentally come into possession of figures for a few large cities, showing the relative life házard of electricity and gas. These are given below, and need no further comment. The cities in question are among the largest
in the United States. No case of electrical suicide has been reported to us.
In conclusion, your committee wishes to emphasize the following specific recommendations, which have come largely from members of the association or from the underwriters, or from both:
First-We recommend that the association take action looking to systematic and uniform inspection throughout the country, this inspection to be based on the National Electrical Code.
Second-We recommend that each member company appoint some individual, a part of whose duties it shall be to follow up all fires in the company's district that may be attributed to electrical causes; to see that, if possible, the exact facts are ascertained and published, and that no statement be allowed to stand that fire was supposed to have been caused by electricity unless this is proven to be the case.
Third-We recommend that it shall be the duty of the secretary's office to collect and distribute information relative to the fire hazard situation. This should include the collection and editing of information furnished by the member companies which will be of value to the members of the association in general; the collection and distribution of information relative to the installation and inspection of apparatus in accordance with recognized standard methods; the collection of statistics covering the general insurance situation; and, through the proper committee or officer appointed by the association, to bring before the Underwriters' National Electric Association such suggestions for changes and modifications of the Code as may be found necessary or advisable through the work carried on as above.
As stated earlier in the report, the committee has received such a large mass of valuable information that it has been almost impossible in the time at its disposal properly to condense and edit the material so that it can be digested by the members of the association in a short time, but it is believed that the information given will, in a measure, cover the points which the committee endeavored to take up this year. In the event that the association elects to carry out the work as above indicated, this committee may be discontinued, or the duty of the committee may be that of overlooking and directing the work in a general way, thus increasing the efficiency of the work done and very materially lightening the labor imposed on the individual members of the committee.
C. E. SKINNER, Chairman,
H. R. SARGENT.
During the reading of the report Mr. Skinner said: The sending out of these circulars was in a measure to get the association thinking upon this subject. We thought you would take more interest in the report if you had a hand in making it up; those of you that replied to the circular letters would be interested to know what the other fellow had to say. We hoped by that means to get a larger reading of the report and more interest from the association as a whole.
A study of the table of answers to questions from 1 to 7, inclusive, will show the necessity for more general reading, particularly in reference to the question as to what regular reports the members of the association received. It was quite surprising to the committee to find that with the exception of the quarterly fire reports of electrical fires most of the members receive no publications whatever on this subject, and it was this quarterly fire report that started the work of this committee.
Finally, I wish to say that if no one else receives any benefit from this work, the members of the committee feel that they have received a liberal education.
Two or three days ago a letter bearing on this situation was received at the headquarters of the association, in New York,
and it gives a specific example of the desirability of following up the so-called mysterious fires. With your permission I will read this letter. It was sent from Boisé, Idaho, and is as follows:
"BOISE, Idaho, May 24, 1907.
"MR. W. C. L. EGLIN, Secretary
"National Electric Light Association,
"29 West Thirty-ninth street, New York.
"Dear Sir-I have just had an experience that is so entirely new and startling to me that I beg to ask that you report it to the members at the Washington convention, which I shall be unable to attend.
"Yesterday afternoon the owners of one of our largest office buildings came to me with a complaint that there was fire under one of the floors in the operating-room of a physician.
"I hastened to the room, and upon examination found that a small space on the floor was quite hot, and I could notice the smell of burning lumber.
"A carpenter was called in to open up the flooring, and while he was doing so I had not the remotest idea that he would not disclose a piece of bad work on the part of those who wired the building. As the floor was opened up, however, the electric wiring appeared to be in good condition and there was no wire within a foot of the charred timbers that were exposed.
"The floor rested against a gas pipe, and the fire had occurred at a point of contact with this pipe. The wood was considerably burned away, indicating that it lacked only a supply of air to have developed into a real fire.
"I was puzzled to know the origin of this fire, and after a careful examination it was found that the physician, using his high-tension static machine, had placed a metal stand (one of those with the hood attachment) on a fibre mat and directly over this gas pipe and not more than three inches from the pipe, which was separated and its location not apparent from the outside. It is certain that the discharge from this stand to the gas pipe set fire to the wood. The wood was badly charred, and part of it had been consumed, though it had never broken into a flame, owing to the lack of ventilation.
"I should like to know if this is more common than it seems
to me it must be, and particularly if other members of the association have had experiences in any way similar.
"It is startling to think, or to know, for that matter, how, had this fire gained sufficient headway to have destroyed the evidence of its origin, everybody including myself, would have been convinced that the fire had resulted from faulty connection of the wires.
"Yours very truly,
"J. W. CUNNINGHAM,
With following-up such as we have recommended, we believe every one of you can cut out some of these fires from the list of electrical fires and do a very great service to yourselves and the other members of the association by bringing these cases before the association in a systematic and regular way.
THE PRESIDENT: The report of this committee at the Atlantic City convention was one of the most valuable papers presented at that time. We afterward found that it not only gave a great deal of important information to our members, but the insurance interests of the country were pleased to think that our association was sufficiently interested in this subject to go to such trouble to collect data upon it. We are indebted to this committee for the work of this year as we have been for the work of other years. The report is before you if you care to discuss it. If not, we shall have time to go into executive session, which is open only to Class A and Class B members.
The convention then went into executive session and received the reports of the committee on amendments to the constitution and by-laws, Mr. Samuel Scovil, chairman, and of the committee on membership dues, Mr. W. H. Gardiner, New York, chairman.
Messrs. Ernest H. Davis, George R. Stetson and Paul Spencer were appointed a committee on resolutions.
Messrs. Louis A. Ferguson, Samuel Scovil and W. W. Freeman were appointed a committee on the president's address. The meeting then adjourned until Tuesday evening.
President Williams called the meeting to order at eight o'clock Tuesday evening.
Secretary Eglin announced that the Bell Telephone Company extended the courtesy of its lines to the delegates, for the transmission of long-distance messages, between the hours of six o'clock at night and nine o'clock in the morning, and the Washington Telephone Company extended the courtesy of its lines for twenty-four hours a day. The Postal Telegraph Company also extended the courtesy of its lines at all times during the convention.
THE PRESIDENT: We are to institute an innovation this evening. Our committees hold meetings and discuss subjects to the last degree, and become thoroughly imbued with them, then, when the convention is in session, the work of the committees is sometimes transmitted through the medium of a presiding officer who has not been in close touch with it. It has occurred to us that the best, results would be obtained if we could get the men who have presided at the meetings to preside also at the sessions of the convention when the committee report is presented. In this way the largest measure of good might be secured. The intention was to ask Mr. H. M. Edwards, of New York, the chairman of the committee on electric light accounting, to preside during the entire presentation of the committee's report, but I understand that he has been left alone by the other members of his committee in the matter of presenting the report. Mr. Edwards will therefore read the report, and will then occupy the chair during the discussion.