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THE RAILWAY FIRE SITUATION   45

considered advisable to require a different kind of spark-arresting device, on engines using such coals, than the standard screen prescribed in Regulation 2 of General Order No. 107. The replies received indicated the need for further investigation, and, as a result, the situation will be carefully studied during the coming year, in the hope that some solution of the problem may be found that will cause the least possible hardship to all the interests affected. Both the Commission of Conservation and the Mines Branch of the Department of Mines are co-operating in the investigation, the latter having assisted materially by making a number of analyses of samples of coal from the mines in question.

It is fully recognized that the condition of the right-

earinf-way   of-way is a very important factor in determining the Clearing

extent of railway fire hazard. The best evidence indicates that, of locomotive sparks capable of setting fire, a large percentage—though by no means all—fall within a distance of fifty feet from the track, and will thus be within the average railway right-of-way. In many cases where fires burn over lands adjacent to railway rights-ofway, the fires originate in the first place upon the right-of-way, that is, at a distance of fifty feet or less from the track. Dry grass and weeds, bark peelings, or other inflammable matter, if allowed to accumulate upon the right-of-way, enable even very small sparks to start a blaze, which may readily communicate to lands adjacent to the right-of-way containing timber or other property liable to damage or destruction by fire. Fires resulting from cigars and cigarettes thrown from trains, or dropped by pedestrians, as well as fires due to the carelessness of sectionmen, almost invariably start upon the right-of-way.

The importance of rendering the right-of-way as nearly fireproof as practicable thus becomes obvious, not only from the point of view of public policy, but also from a purely selfish interest of the railways themselves, if there be reasonable consideration of potential earnings from passenger and freight traffic, as also of the expense incurred in the litigation and settlement of damage claims.

To maintain the right-of-way reasonably free from inflammable matter, constant attention on the part of railway employees is required. On some railways, or portions of railways, this matter has not received sufficient attention in the past, in part due to the limited staff of sectionmen being fully occupied in keeping the track in order and attending to other duties of an imperative character. In some cases, usually due to crippled financial condition, the debris resulting from the original clearing of right-of-way has never been disposed of. In other cases, provision has been regularly made for the adequate handling of


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