A Hot Fire and a Small Department
Fast Burning Blaze Gave Department Little Chance to Check It—Extended in Three Directions at Once
THIS fire is an excellent example of what many of the small city fire departments are up against. Poor construction, exceedingly inflammable contents and limited fire equipment and personnel, can result in but one thing— severe fire loss. The town in which the fire described in this article of the series on administration occurred has a population of approximately 5,000. There are the usual line of stores and commercial buildings, with scattered residences covering an area of possibly a square mile. The severest hazard was located in the neighlxirhood of the fire described in this article.
A fairly satisfactory water supply and sufficient pressure to furnish the engines with all they could handle in this particular part of the city were available.
The department consists of three engine companies; Engine Oi. No. 1 being equipped with a 500-gallon triple combination; Engine Co. No. 2, a 500-gallon triple combination; Engine Co. No. 3, a 750-gallon triple combination.
There is also one ladder company equipped with a city service truck, there being no special need for aerial ladders.
In the neighborhood of the fire there were two 8-inch mains -well supplied by a large feeder.
Four hydrants were within reach of the department, these being placed about as follows: Hydrant A. 200 feet from fire;
As shown in the sketch herewith the fire started in a building -engaged in manufacturing wicker and rustic furniture. This building was a combination of brick and frame, the front portion, 40 x 80 feet, being of two-story brick construction with wood finishing throughout and the rear portion, directly abutting against the rear of the brick building, of frame construction and approximately 60 x 80 feet with a 20 x 40 feet ell cut-away.
Both sections of the building were occupied with similar work, and there was a great quantity of highly inflammable finished articles as well as unfinished articles and materials on both floors of the brick section and the frame section as well.
To the left of the fire building was a row of stores, a meat market admitting the fire building, with a shoe store and other Stores in line. To the right of the fire building was a barber shop which in turn abutted upon a two-storv general store. The general store was on the corner so that the tire department bad the assistance of the width of the street as a fire barrier on this side.
Judg-ng from the only report available, the brick build’ng seemed to take fire all at once. People were passing the building in the evening around 7 o’clock and there was apparently no indication of fire, tint at 7:10 the fire seemed to flash through both floors. An alarm was sent in by telephone to *he fire department and the chief, receiving the mesage, immediately dispatched two engine companies and a ladder company. He arrived with this assignment and noticing the condition of the fire sent in a call for the third engine company.
At the time of the chief’s arrival both floors of the brick section were fully involved with fire, and flames were being blown out over the meat market through the windows in the left side of the brick building.
Engine Co. No. 3 was stationed at Hydrant C and a single line stretched to operate on the fire from the front of the brick building. A 1 1/4 inch nozzle was used. Engine Co. No. 2 was stationed at Hydrant B and a single line was stretched to the roof of the meat market to operate through the second floor windows onto the fire.
Engine Co. No. 3 was stationed at Hydrant C and a single line stretched through the meat market to the rear of the brick building to operate on the fire at this point.
Members of the truck company were assigned to assist in operating lines and also two men were delegated to go to the frame building at the rear of the brick building and close doors connecting the brick section with the frame division.
The three lines operated in these positions for possibly ten minutes when it was found that the fire was rapidly going through the roof of the brick building and making it too hot for the men on the roof of the meat market to operate their line from a near position. This line was therefore backed away and had to operate at a disadvantage from a distance.
The chief ordered a second line stretched from Engine Co. No. 3, this line going to the front of the building to o’crate in covering the barber shop and also aid in controlling fire on the second floor.
But the fire gained in intensity and eventually it entered the cock loft or open space above the ceiling of the stores in the one-story row. So rapidly did the fire spread that the men operating on the roof of these low buildings had to wi’hdraw in a hurry without accomplishing their purpose in wetting down tlie second floor of the brick building. After retreating to the street this line was put in operation at the front of the building and attempted to drive the fire back from the front on the second floor.
It operated in this manner for a few minutes and then was assigned by the chief to operate up into the cockloft or dead space above the stores to the left of the fire buildings.
But the fire in these buildings spread more rapidly than the department had figured on and it was but a few minutes until a row of three stores was fully ablaze.
At this point the fire had reached such proportions in the main building that the building to the rear took fire and soon got beyond the control of the department.
When it was seen that the frame building to the rear was ablaze, efforts were then directed toward covering exposures with a hope that the fire could be confined to the brick building, the frame building to the rear and possibly one or two of the stores to the left of the fire building.
Again the department was to be disappointed, for fire continued to spread and soon involved the barber shop and finally the general store.
Vigorous efforts were made to hold the fire from burning through the barber shop but the frame building burning at the rear of the general store soon set fire to the rear of the general store and once this was ablaze, the destruction of the barber shop could not be prevented.
As it was, the fire before it was finally extinguished or brought under control destroyed the entire group of buildings shown in the sketch, including the three one story stores, the two story factory with frame addition at the rear, the barber shop and the general store.
The Editor’s ideas on the handling of this fire will be given in the next issue of this journal.
Firemen Accused of Being Firebugs—The firemen of the Neptune, N. J., Township Fire Department are offering a reward of fifty dollars to try and locate the one who started the rumor that the firemen have been active as firebugs.
Providence, R. I., Firemen to Get Pay Increase—The aldermen of Providence, R. I., have voted for an increase in the pay of the members of the fire department from the chief down.
Indian Jaded for Setting Fire in Basement—A Mohawk Indian once a member of “Buffalo Bill’s Circus” was sentenced to the workhouse for setting fire to a basement in a New York city tenement When discovered through the odor of smoke, he was found sitting cross legged on the floor with a small fire going, as he said, in order to keep arm.