The March 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Co. factory fire in New York that killed 145 workers prompted new state laws on fire prevention and fire department authority, as well as a regular feature in The American City about fire protection — how to reduce the number of fires and fight them effectively. The feature debuted in August 1911 with a story about the development of the electric fire alarm system, which was first installed in Boston in 1852 and had been adopted by 1,000 other cities by 1911.

In September 1911, Joseph Johnson, fire commissioner of New York City, wrote about the changes that had been occuring following the factory fire, including the expected passage of the Hoey bill. It would give the fire department authority to inspect all buildings and the power to enforce laws that called for building owners to take precautions to prevent fires. The department also had begun replacing horse-drawn and steam-powered fire engines with gasoline motor-propelled apparatus, which were faster and could be equipped with longer ladders.

Property loss from fire in the United States was $250,000,000 annually in 1911. “We burn down one-quarter as much as we build up,” the Committee on Fire Prevention of the Boston Chamber of Commerce wrote in the magazine's November 1911 issue. To reduce fire loss, the committee recommended cities pass building ordinances that prohibit hazardous materials and create bureaus to examine every fire, report on the causes and assign responsibility.

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