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The Great Boston Fire Of 1872

2508 words - 10 pages

For thousands of years, the world has managed to survive, and even thrive on fires. Time has shown that fires are a major force driving the development of civilizations and of society. As change arose and governments were formed, their primary duty has been to protect its people. Ever since technology has grown enough to allow humans to control fires to some extent, part of a government’s responsibility is to aid in quenching the fire, and thus protecting the people who would otherwise be threatened by it. The Great Boston Fire of 1872 was one of the nation’s deadliest and most destructive in its history, and it is clear that at the time, the local government had neglected to take the necessary precautions or heed warnings that could have prevented or mitigated the spread of the fire. In the Great Fire, the local government did not fulfill its responsibility to protect and direct both the people and their property, a Constitutional right of the people ever since the Fifth Amendment was instated in the 1900s.
Government is simply the organizing factor within a group of people. Without one, chaos ensues and efficient production is nearly impossible. Any government is responsible for protecting its people. One obvious example of this is shown in warfare. Throughout history, whenever a group of people is attacked, regardless of whether the conflict is internal or external, their government is called upon to intervene and provide military assistance. Just as the both the local and federal governments are responsible for dealing with protecting its citizens and from war, they are equally responsible for providing basic protection from fire.
Fearing a fire like the Chicago fire of 1871 , Chief Damrell of Boston’s fire department had been consistently informing the City Council of the city’s infrastructure weaknesses that would make it prone to fire. For example, Damrell wanted the water system to be expanded to use larger pipes, and as shown in the fire, the existing pipes could not feed the steamers with the water necessary to put out the fire or even for the streams of water to reach the roofs. After the pipes, another issue came up. The hydrants were long outdated, and spaced far apart and had only one outlet for steamers to fasten to. Combined, these significantly reduced the effectiveness of the steamers because only a few steamers could hook up to the water supply and simultaneously be near enough to the fire that they could reach it with their streams of water. Despite his best efforts, the City Council rebutted his fear of a conflagration that would grow as large as the Chicago Fire of 1871. In an interview with Damrell the year after the fire, he reveals that in response to his requests for an improved water supply, the city responded with "Don't try to magnify the wants of your department or of your office so much." and thought his comments were unimportant. Especially after the precedent example shown by East Boston’s Fire where...

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