This new proposed fire code is complete and comprehensive, including almost five hundred sections, and conforms, as nearly as the peculiar characteristics of Portland will permit, to the requirements of the National Board of Fire Underwriters and the National Fire Protection Association. The ordinance covers every known means of fire prevention and regulations for fire safety over which it is possible to legislate (68, 71).
The effect of prudent ordinances and fire prevention propaganda in decreasing fire waste is greatly lessened each year by public indifference. One of the most flagrant examples of this is smokers’ carelessness. According to the Fire Marshal’s report for 1937, of the ninety-two listed causes for 3,480 Portland fires during the year, smokers’ carelessness was second both in the number of fires per cause and the amount of loss per cause with 287 fires resulting in a $48,618.97 loss (71).
Notices reading “THINK, a false alarm may cost a human life” are posted on all alarm boxes. Such admonitions have little effect upon children, drunken persons and the plain garden variety of fool. One of the latter class had the fire department running around in circles a short time ago when he made it his pleasure to ride around town pulling alarm boxes in different sections of the city. An arrest which netted a jail sentence finally brought an end to his entertainment (68).
Portland has reason to be proud of the position attained in fire prevention through the work carried on by the fire department. The efficiency of the Fire Prevention Division was recognized nationally in 1925 when Portland placed first in the Inter-chamber Fire Waste Contest conducted by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Since that time the city has always ranked among the first ten places. Awards, made yearly to the cities of 250,000 population or more, are given in recognition of fire prevention activities and reduction of fire losses. The city must also give factors responsible for this reduction in fire loss to be eligible for the award. Recognition of merit for fire prevention activities from the National Fire Protection Association has been awarded to the Fire Prevention Division of Portland for the past several years. Local recognition of valuable service in fire prevention has also come from the State Fire Marshal’s department.
Since 1914, Portland has advanced from one of the poorest fire risks in the United States to one of the best. The continued and intensive work of the Fire Prevention Division and the efficiency of the entire Portland Fire Department are responsible for this distinction for reduced fire insurance rates and increased safety to life and property throughout the entire city.