OCR Interpretation

The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, October 26, 1915, LAST EDITION, Image 3

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1915-10-26/ed-1/seq-3/

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What Is the value of a human life,
expressed in d pilars and cents?
The Illinois Manufacturers' ass'n
thinks so little of human lives that it
threw the great influence of the mil
lions in money of its members to get
killed, in court, a law which would
have required the expenditure of
''about $500 perfactory as a perpetual
insurance against the loss of lives of
hundreds"bf girls who worked in each
factory. This was the accusation
made at Woman's City club last night
by C. J. Hejda, chief inspector of the
fire prevention bureau. '
A few years ago the fire prevention
bureau was established in Chicago
and told to go about doing good. Rec
ords show that it has done good in
reducing the annual fire loss of the
city,. It benefited property, which
mightily pleased the 111. Mfg. Ass'n.
Then it started a campaign to safe
guard lives.
After the Triangle Shirt fire in
New York, where it was proven thaw
the loss of fives was not purely the
result of lack of a fire drill, the Wom
an's Trade Union league prodded the
city council into 'giving Chicago an
ordinance requiring a fire signal sys
tem and fire drill in every factory.
. The fire prevention bureau got
busy and got 285 factory owners to
contract to install signal syste'ms and
to hold daily drills. The signal sys
tems were to cost an average of $500
each and the drills required five min
utes once a month. All went fine un
til the inspectors reached the Petti
bone Printing Co.
' According to Miss Mary McDowell,
president of the Woman's City club,
the Pettibone Printing Co. was locat
ed in such a wretched buDding that
it would be hard for it to comply
with the fire safety law. It had pow
erful connections, so forced the issue
into court The supreme court de
cided against the fire prevention bu-
"Nearly all of the 285 factory own
ers who had given contracts' for the
installation of the signal system then
canceled their contracts," said C. J.
Hejda, chief inspector. "Chicago
factories are, many of them, in the
same shape as was the Triangle shirt
factory before its fire. The buildings
are often as fireproof as possible, but
the girl workers are not trained to be
foolproof in case of a fire.
"Now the fire sprinkler law is in
danger. It is in the supreme court
Instead of demanding sprinklers on
all 'floors of factories, the law re
quires them only in the basement,
where 72 per cent of the fires start
This moBt important safety measure
would cost about $1,000 to $1,200 for
a factory t54xlOO feet in ground area,
but the manufacturers seem unwil
ling to spend that much to insure the
safety of their workers."
Both Hejda and Miss McDowell
made accusations against the HL M.
At, and Miss McDowell used John
Glenn's name.
"In Mandel Bros.' department
store basement," said Miss Harriet
Vittum, "I saw a torch applied to a
sprinkler head of the store's touted
fire safety sprinkler system. Though
held there for perhaps several min
utes the blazing flame of the torch
did not set ofil the sprinkler head."
"A match would set ofE an effi
cient sprinkler head," answered
The University of Chicago was
named by one as being the owner of
a building that is fighting enforce
ment of the sprinkler fire prevention
law for factories where girls are em
ployed. "If Mayor Thompson cares any
thing about home rule for Chicago
he can prove it by saving the 'sprin
kler law, for he has the power to cave
it if he chooses," said G. G. Wheat,
Boston national authority oh fire
.- AafaA!Aaaaiiii

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