SALVAGE CORPS. The London Salvage Corps is maintained by the fire offices of London. The corps was first formed in 1865 and began operations in March 1866. The staff of the corps when first formed consisted of 64. Since that time, owing to the many improvements that have taken place in the system of dealing with salvage, and the increase in the work to be done, the corps has necessarily been strengthened, and the staff now numbers over 100. The various stations of the corps are well placed, and the Metropolis has been mapped out so that when a fire takes place it may be attended to at the earliest possible moment. The headquarters are situated at Watling Street, which is called the No. i station, and this station protects the City of London enclosed by the Euston Road, Tottenham Court Road, City Road and the river Thames; this is known as the " B " district. No. 2 station is at Commercial Road, and attends to the whole of the E. and N.E. portion of London to the N. of the Thames, and is known as the " C " district. No. 3 station, opposite the headquarters of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Station in the Southwark Bridge Road, protects the whole of S. London, and is known as the " D " district. No. 4 station, at Shaftesbury Avenue, is called the " A " district, and covers the West End and Kensington. Finally, No. 5 station, in Upper Street, Islington, guards the parish of Islington. The working staff, which is mainly recruited from the royal navy, consists of the chief officer and a superintendent, foreman and crew of men at each station. The stations of the corps are connected by telephone with the fire brigade stations from whence the " calls " are received. In addition to the home staff, there is also a staff constantly employed during the day time in inspecting docks, wharves, Manchester goods and uptown warehouses, and reports are made weekly to the committee.
Generally speaking, the work of the Corps may be divided into two distinct classes (i) services at fires; (2) watching and working salvage.
(i) Services at Fires form the most important feature of the work. Much depends upon the method of dealing with the salvage. If, for instance, a large Manchester goods warehouse was on fire in the top part, it would be very little advantage to the offices interested in the risk if the 'men were set to work removing the stock off the ground floor. The best method would be to cover up with tarpaulin all goods there, and prevent the water from collecting on the lower floors. It will be gathered that the most important work of the corps is to prevent damage to goods, and that water is mostly looked after. The damage from fire is left almost entirely to the fire brigade. The traps, which immediately on receipt of an alarm proceed to the scene of the fire with their crew of men, carry every kind of appliance for the saving of goods from destruction by fire or damage by water, as well as lime-light apparatus for use in working after the fire has been extinguished, thus enabling the men to note the position of dangerous walls, etc.; and a portable coal-gas apparatus, which can be employed in the interior of buildings when the ordinary means of illumination has failed; in addition to ambulance appliances for emergencies.
(2) Working Salvage. When a fire takes place, a man is left behind in charge of the salvage if the property is insured; or if that fact cannot be ascertained, but it appears probable that itis,a man is left until the information is obtained later. Theduty, if an important one, is divided into a day and night duty. This enables an experienced man to be sent on day duty to meet the surveyor, and to carry out his instructions regarding the working out of the salvage; and a junior man at night. The day man, if working out salvage, would employ a number of men called strangers, over whom he acts as a kind of foreman. The " working out " may take the form of dividing up damaged goods into lots ready for a sale to be held by the surveyor, or of sifting over the debris to find remains of certain articles claimed for. If, for instance, a large fire occurred at a pianoforte manufacturer's, and the debris was all in one common heap, the London Salvage Corps might have to arrange certain quantities of pegs and wires in order to give an idea of the number of pianos before the fire. The watching continues until the loss is settled, when the charge of the premises is given over to the assured.
There are also salvage corps on similar lines, but on a smaller scale, in Liverpool and Glasgow. (C. J. F.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)