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Squads of firemen on their nights off, members of the police department, and other city

agents as well as outside individuals worked together to trap the

many as twenty-five apprehended one night

worked together. in February, 1925,

Through

this mass

as he was

setting fire

fire bug. Sometimes as effort, the culprit was to a private garage. He

made a full confession. loss of about $500.000.

It was estimated he had set more than sixty-five fires entailing a The court judged the man a pyromaniac and assigned him to the

state 65).

hospital

for

treatment.

Thence

forward

the

city’s

fire

losses

began

to

decrease

(49

&

Firetraps Must Go

Fire Marshal Grenfell carried on an intensive campaign against old and dilapidated buildings which, having passed their usefulness constituted fire hazards (72). Beginning in 1922 and up to and including 1927 an average of two hundred and fifty such buildings were wrecked yearly. Fire Marshal Roberts has continued this work and the average has become even higher, the greatest number being wrecked in 1930 when 640 old buildings were razed. During the past ten years over 4,000 old, unsightly and unsafe buildings have been removed and the lots cleared of debris (1).

1928 ---------- $841,252.75

1929 ----------

911,813.45

1930 ----------

915,574.64

1931 ----------

929.433.70

1932 ----------

672.340.59

1933 ----------

662.340.59

1934 ----------

631,072.05

1935 ----------

499,842.02

1936 ----------

433,040.20

1937 ----------

367,316.25

Battalion Chief Roberts, long associated with the Portland Fire Department, and a member of the arson squad that gave such invaluable service in apprehending Portland’s arsonists, became the head of the Fire Prevention Bureau in 1928. Results of his indefatigable efforts to reduce Portland’s fire losses are shown in the following table:

(1)

Fire losses in Portland for the first six months of 1938 have set a new low record of $100,000, a per capita loss of 27 ½ cents. If this record holds throughout the year Fire Marshal Roberts will have realized his ambition of an annual fire loss of less than a dollar per capita. In ten and a half years not a single person has lost his life by being trapped in a building (1 & 68).

Fire Marshal Roberts inaugurated a new system of building inspection in 1930, thereby relieving the company of captains and lieutenants of work which, up to that time, had been carried on by them. Under the new plan thirteen men, who have had five years or more experience in the fire department and who have made a study of fire prevention are

16

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