A Fire Well Handled by Volunteers

A Fire Well Handled by Volunteers

Small Department Uses Metropolitan Tactics in Checking Blaze in Bakery Store—Fire Promptly Handled—Ventilation Helpful

IN past articles in this series devoted to Administration at Fires, it has been the plan to print the story of the fire as the first installment and in the subsequent issue offer a suggested method of handling the fire.

In this installment the plan has been changed. Both the description of the fire as handled and the suggested method of handling it appear in the one article. This is made possible by the simplified operations employed in a department of such limited apparatus and at a fire of this size.

It is hoped that this article will be of real interest to the readers of FIRE ENGINEERING for it show what a small department can do under proper guidance.

The fire, as described by our correspondent is as follows :

We are a volunteer fire department of sixteen members, comprising one chemical and two hose companies.

The alarm for the fire described below came in at about five A. M. and upon our arrival we found the fire to be in the bakery. The front room of the bakery was also used as a confectionery store. The confectionery store, baking room and store room to the rear were all filled with smoke, as was the attic. There was no blaze visible and due to the density of the smoke we were unable to determine the location of the fire; smoke even came from between the cement blocks of which the sides of the building were constructed.

We entered the front door with a chemical line and one hose line, while a second line went to the rear, being in readiness to enter either the store room or go to the roof. There was a wooden partition between the bakery and barber shop which did not extend into the attic, that being all in one open space and there being no way to enter except through a small hole in the ceiling of the barber shop and through the cockloft of the bakery. At first we did not open this cockloft on account of the draft but after a few minutes of trying to locate the fire, finally decided to get rid of as much smoke as possible. (Two hose lines are now in readiness for use with enough hose to lay a line from hydrant No. 3.

When a little of the smoke had cleared away we found the oven to be down through the floor in the rear and at once began operations with the chemical line and hose stream from hydrant No. 1.


This article is of particular interest to members of volunteer departments. It shows how the modern small department can operate at fires with thoroughly modernized methods.

Readers are invited to send in descriptions of fires, which their departments have fought, for treatment in these columns.


The fire was located in the attic over the oven upon which we began to work from the roof after cutting a small hole. The floor and walls of the harbcr shop were very hot and it seemed as though fire was between the studding but we could not locate it. After gaining control of the fires mentioned we were unable to locate any connecting link between the two fires. The rear wall was made of cement blocks and the ceiling was metal. The rafters and studding in the attic were burned very badly while the lath and studding in the partition which was between the bakery and the barber shop were not even charred. The electric light wires entered the building through the rear of the attic near where the fire was located but the lights were in service until we broke the wire.

Do you think it possible that the metal ceiling could become so hot from the floor fire that it would cause the woodwork above to become ignited? We were unable to find any trace of the fire being of incendiary origin and are at a loss to understand just how it reached the attic. The bakers had banked their fire and gone home at about eleven o’clock as near as we are able to learn.

Any pointers which you are able to give us relative to the manner in which we should have bandied the above fire will be greatly appreciated.—R. G. Burns, Kans.

Suggested Method of Handling the Fire

For a volunteer company this fire was very well handled.

There are one or two points on which, however, action was not quite as prompt as it might have been.

But let us analyze the problem.

The department upon rolling in wafaced with a very smoky condition in the building which handicapped the men in their operations.

Then the very first thing to have done would have been to ventilate, which was not accomplished by the fire department until a little later.

Ventilation would draw smoke from te cockloft as well as from the store floor and make possible the operation of the meit at close range.

The laying in of lines was satisfactory as carried out. It will be noted that both front and rear was covered, two lines going to the front and one to the rear.

A third water line might have been laid, had it been needed, by stretching hose on hand to one of the hydrants.

Note also that the volunteer department made sure that fire had not entered the cockloft above the barber shop, having made a thorough inspection of this from the roof above. Also observe that they were careful to make sure that fire had not entered between the studding and plastering of the partition between bakery shop and barber shop.

All these points show a mighty fine grasp of the essentials in operating at fires.

In other words the department covered exposures and made sure that fire was not extending. It ventilated, although a little tardily, and then proceeded to put the fire out.

Had the fire extended to greater proportions at the time the department arrived it is still likely that the Burns Volunteer Department would have been able to handle it.

As to the connection lietween the two fires, that burning around the oven and that burning up in the cockloft, little can he said.

If there were no vents through which the fire could pass, nor if there were no concealed spaces by which fire might rise, then the only assumption to make is that the heat of the fire in the oven caused the metal ceiling to be heated to such a point as to ignite the combustible materials above it.

This would seem the only solution, and the fact that the fire may have been burning for some time before discovery,—the bakers having left at eleven o’clock at night,—would make such solution seem feasible.

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