Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/640

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and, in subjecting them to heat of different intensities to see how much they could withstand before breaking up, there was no perceptible difference observed in the tendency to fracture, whether the bricks were exposed to a gradual or rapid heating. Not one of them broke when subjected to a white heat. Several were heated to a bright-red heat, and then plunged into a bath of cold water. They withstood this test without showing a decidedly damaging fracture, and one of the bricks was exposed to an alternate heating and cooling three times before breaking up.

These results were a surprise, and they suggest the advantage of using such a material for the walls of buildings, as a sure defense against uncontrollable conflagrations. The facts that appear to be established by the line of experiments are:

1. That a system of iron beams re-enforced with béton can be made to sustain weights many times greater than the iron beams alone can bear without re-enforcing.
2. That floors and roofs can be economically made of béton re-enforced with iron rods, capable of sustaining heavier loads, with a less number of supporting beams, than any other system of flooring and roofing, of equal cost, now in use.
3. That the system of re-enforced beams and béton floors affords advantages for a more perfect method of heating buildings uniformly than by the steam or hot-water system.
4. That the sanitary requirements of complete ventilation are plainly within the reach of this system of construction.
5. That it affords a perfect defense against the interior destruction of buildings by fire.

The intrinsic worth of béton construction appears most valuable in furnishing the elements of fire-proof construction, and thus inaugurating a reform in the prevailing system of building based on the principle that safety can be more economically realized through reformation than by exclusive dependence on insurance indemnities for losses by fire. The amount of capital destroyed by fire appears almost fabulous, and has been estimated by insurance authorities to be over one hundred million dollars annually in this country. This enormous estimate takes no cognizance of the losses due to the disturbance of business relations and labor by such enforced interruptions of industry, but the sum of the losses accounted for seems to be enough to awaken an interest in the discovery of some effective remedy for reducing them.

Yet, if the remedy is only to be found in building more thoroughly, its adoption may remain doubtful so long as the hazardous method of building, and the rates for insuring hazardous property, occupy their present relations to each other. Such radical departures from conservative ideas of building as are herein described must necessarily find a slow recognition.