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Category: History

Ensuring fire safety on railway transport in Russia in the second half of the 19th century

n. Yu. Novichkova, edging. east. sciences, associate professor FGBOU VPO the Ivanovo institute of GPS Emercom of Russia, Ivanovo, Russia

of UDC 614.84


Is considered by

a condition of fire protection on Russian Railways in the second half of the 19th century. The conclusion is drawn on imperfection of the fire legislation in the field of ensuring fire safety on railway transport. The main shortcomings of the organization of fire protection of railway objects are revealed.

the Fires on Russian Railways in the second half of the 19th century were not a rarity and, as a rule, led to substantial damages. The grandness of the station fires was caused by the fact that at stations on limited space a large number of various cargoes which were in cars, in warehouses focused on platforms, etc. These riches were not always insured from fire, and the fire turned into losses not only for railway department, but also for owners of the transported goods.

Should be noted also that railway stations represented fire-dangerous objects. Except deliberate arsons and careless handling of fire of the station servants who day and night were in workplaces on the railroad there were special risk factors of emergence of the fires: sparks from engines, continuous night-time lighting oil lamps, self-ignition of warehouses of coal in the conditions of its long storage. Besides, in warehouse of stations and in cars of freight trains there could be flammable liquids, for example kerosene, oil, alcohol and also ammunition (fig. 1).

Taking into account all these circumstances becomes obvious that fight against fire on the railroad demanded the skillful management from the fire captain knowing the business and this work it was impossible to trust station employees, far from fire business. They could pay for the inexperience and inability not only with mutilations, but also life.

So, extinguishing of fire which broke out at night on November 11, 1897 in the building of turning workshops at depot Ryazan and Ural

© NovichkovaN tragically ended with


>. Yu., 2012

of the railroad in Kozlov. Because of density of constructions and bad access roads the city team could not arrive to the place of ignition in time therefore suppression of fire was carried out by forces of workers. As a result two of them died, and one person remained a disabled person. The fire continuing up to 5 o'clock in the morning caused stations a huge loss [1]. The similar tragedy could be avoided if the help of experts arrived on time.

At first sight, the station-master who did not provide protection of the object entrusted to it had to be responsible for the incident, but the valid responsible should be considered the Russian legislation. The railway charter demanded to supply only stations with necessary quantity of fire stock, and it was optional to have at the same time a professional fire brigade. This gap was complemented with the order according to which the stock undersigned between station employees [2]. Them it is conditional

of Fig. 1. Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod railroad. The station in Vladimir


also considered

staff of the railway teams formed according to administration orders. Such, in fact fictitious, teams existed at most the railway stations, and their nonprofessionalism had an adverse effect on results of fight against fire.

the Organization of fire protection on the railroads in many respects depended on a position of the persons performing management of transport transportations. For example, the Nikolaev railroad, oldest in the country, allocated funds for maintenance of fire protection and had the special instruction for taking measures of fire safety. In St. Petersburg at the Nikolaev station there was a permanent fire brigade consisting of professionals. Well organized, i.e. real, fire forces were teams of the Varshavo-Vensky railroad. The management of the road obliged all chiefs of stations not less than two times a month to organize exercises for station teams and to monthly announce educational fire alarm. The important factor promoting increase in fighting capacity of teams was their complete set from the persons living at stations, but not from station employees as it was accepted almost everywhere [2]. Regular firefighters had an opportunity to constantly improve the professional skills while service staff of the station picked up fire tools only when there was a fire.

as a result of the thought-over approach to the organization of fire business on the article of Sosnovitsa of the Varshavo-Vensky railroad the fire which broke out in 1893 on the load platform was put out within 3 hours by forces of a local station fire brigade. The director of the railroad allocated 1000 rub for rewarding of the caused a stir firefighters [3]. Thanks to their dedicated operations and skillful use of the fire fighting equipment, fire was not thrown on other objects, and the station property was saved (fig. 2). Unfortunately, the management of most offices of the railroads was not so far-sighted and did not pay due attention to fire safety.

Still in the seventies 19th century the government paid attention to an unsatisfactory condition of fire protection on railway transport. In 1872 the fire figure E.V. Bogdanovich carried out an inspection of fire extinguishing means on 10 lines of Russian Railways. Reporting at a railway congress on its results, he noted that fire protection is in a deplorable state and & #34; at stations there are no quite satisfactory firefighters снарядов" [4]. Meaning full

of Fig. 2. Preparation of the fire pump for work (Russia, the second half of the 19th century)


vulnerability of stations from the fires, E.V. Bogdanovich suggested to allocate 1.5 million rubles for providing all stations with fire wagon trains. Besides, he advised not to be limited only to acquisition of fire extinguishing tools, and to organize fire artels at all stations, and the area of actions of these teams had not to be limited to the station territory, and extend to vicinities for assistance to the population living there.

the Last offer was important as, as we know, even small railway stations attracted to themselves the mass of different people of classes (innkeepers, shopkeepers, workmen, etc.) and quickly became settlements. In this regard not only the railway property, but also the property of inhabitants which activity was connected with the station needed fire protection.

Most likely, owing to notorious Russian inertness this address did not get support from delegates of a congress, and for the next decade practically any of Bogdanovich's proposals was not realized. The results received by the government commission which was created in the late seventies 19th century for a research of a condition of fire protection on Russian Railways can serve as the proof of it.

the Commission came to a conclusion that the system of fire fighting existing on railway transport is far from perfect as as it was written in the report, & #34; means of suppression of fire in case of sudden emergence of a flame are in unsatisfactory situation. Measures against the fires at stations, in warehouses and warehouses in the majority of points are unsatisfactory. In the best situation there is this business at stations, pakgau18


of Fig. 3. The Moscow firefighters


and warehouses in the big cities having city satisfactory and organized firefighters команды" [4]. It meant that the real help in suppression of fire at stations rendered generally city fire (fig. 3).

Members of the commission established to

the reasons of numerous shortcomings which were available in the organization of protection of the railroads against the fires. First of all incompetence in fire business of the railway inspectorate designed to exercise supervision at the request of Ministry of Railways was noted. Further it was indicated weak training of station servants for work with fire tools and absence of the professional fire captains capable to train people in skills of fire business. One of the reasons was also insufficient financing of this kind of activity. By data for 1889-1890. The Ryazan railroad spent for fire protection 4 thousand rubles, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod — 5 thousand rubles, Nikolaev — btys. rub [4].Posrav-neniyu with income which was gained by railway department these sums were is insignificant are small.

in conclusion of the work the commission actually repeated the recommendations made earlier by E.V. Bogdanovich of need of formation of the special station teams really capable to fight against the fires, taking into account specifics

of arrangement of station objects. As elimination of the revealed shortcomings required not only time, but also means, this process accepted long character.

Proceeding from the actual material stated above, it is possible to draw a conclusion that at most the railway stations, small, remote from industrial centers, practice of suppression of fire & #34 was applied; than придется" and & #34; whom придется". In the large cities the situation was saved by existence in the necessary number of the fire-fighting equipment and efficiency of city fire brigades which were helped by station personnel. In general the organization of fire protection on the railroads demanded both financial investments from Ministry of Railways, and participation of professionals in formation of fire brigades and the management them of activity.

Now the level of fire protection of objects of railway transport immeasurably increased in Russia. Nevertheless the railroads bearing a huge transport load and railway stations in view of large volumes of a passenger traffic and goods turnover remain objects of the increased fire hazard. Forces of modern specialists in fire safety developed fire fighting techniques on locomotives, the motor - the carriage rolling stock, in passenger, refrigerator and freight cars and also in railway tunnels. Ensuring fire safety on the railroads continues to be improved. With the advent of the automatic installations of gas and powder suppression having high efficiency of suppression, and supply with modern sensors of detection of the fire of the protected objects, the level of fire protection on rail transport considerably increased. The fire fighting equipment for work on fire extinguishing on objects of railway transport continues to develop and be improved, and this work is directed to the solution of the main objective — protection of life and health of the Russian citizens against fiery elements.


1. Exchange sheets. — 1897. — No. 313. — Page 4.
2. Jordan To. Fire matter in Russia//Fire business. — 1898. — No. 1. — Page 16, 17.
3. Firefighter. — 1893. — No. 14. — Page 3.
4. Jordan To. Fire matter in Russia//Fire business. — 1898. — No. 2. — Page 79, 81, 82.

Material came to edition on April 12, 2012. E-mail address of the author:


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