A MODERN FIREPROOF HOUSE.
The new hotel Astor in Manhattan, New York, affords, perhaps, the best example of as nearly as possible an absolutely fireproof structure. As if to make assurance doubly sure, however, arrangements have been made to fight whatever incipient fire may start in the building from whatever cause and in whatever part. The stairways and exits have been planned as carefully as if the hotel were one of the oldfashioned non-fireproof type, and it seems as if the architects had borrowed the idea of the watertight compartments of an ocean steamer or a modern battleship in the system they have adopted for isolating any such incipient blaze. The elevators, passenger and freight, are inclosed in terra-cotta shafts. The former have doors of iron and wireglass; the latter, of kalamined (metal-covered) wood. The electric conduits are in shafts of the same material, with kalamined doors at each floor—as have all the other shafts in the building. All shafts have ventilated shafts, with thin glass at the top. The stairways are inclosed in terra-cotta shafts, with kalamined doors, and doors of the same kind divide the corridors into sections, These doors open on the stairways, and the corridors are also open, as a rule. But, in case of fire being announced by any of the alarms, those in the office on the street floor are at once warned that a fire has broken out. l’he clerk has then only to turn a crank alongside of him, and immediately all the doors swing noiselessly shut. They do not lock, but can be pushed open for people to pass through, after which they instantly close again. In this way no panic can be caused by the spread of smoke throughout the building. As to the fire alarm system: If a careless guest on leaving a room and locking the door after him, drops a lighted cigar or cigarette butt, and thereby sets tire to the curtains or any other drapery, a thermostat, with an attachment consisting of a small ammonia diaphragm, airtight and filled with ammonia. One is fixed in the ceiling of each room, and is connected by wires with an annunciator in the hotel office. As soon as the heat reaches 130° Fahr. the boiling ammonia expands the diaphragm and closes an electric current. An automatic alarm is instantly given and a red light in a small bulb in the annunciator shows the number of the room. An electric gong is also rung in an elevator in the engine room, which summons the house fire brigade; electric bells are set ringing in the hallways and in the servants’ quarters on the floor on which the fire has broken out: All over the building are electric fire gongs, each operated from the office. Red lights show the location of the stairways, and all are lit by both gas and electric lights. The building is equipped with three four-inch standpipes, with outlets on each floor, the cellar and the roof. At each outlet are too feet of linen hose, nozzles, hooks, and auxiliary fire extinguishers. A header is fixed in a hanging ceiling on the roof, and into it the lire lines are connected, the header itself being connected to the three roof-tanks, whose capacity is about JS.ooo gallons. A gate and check-valve control each tank outlet of this supply, which is only an emergency supply until the tire pumps can be operated. They are connected in the cellar to an underwriters’ fire pump, and cross-connected with the four house pumps. In the cellar they are connected i’ to a header, with four Siamese connections on the street for fire engine connections. In accordance with the rules of the city fire department check-valves are so fitted that steamers on the street can pump direct into the fire without injuring the pumps or overflowing the roof-tanks. The. hose at the outlets is looped from an iron bar in such a way that not a moment is lost in bringing it into service. The private house brigade consists of ten men specially drilled for fire service. They are always in waiting as is the special fire elevator. The special brigade is drilled by itself twice a month, and besides these men ail employees in the house, whether male or female, are drilled once a week, and in that way learn exactly what part each has to play in case of emergency. It may be added, also, that there is no fooling over these drills; they are carried on with as thorough exactness as they are on board an ocean liner or a battleship. Each menther of the hotel staff has his or her own position to take and duty to do in case of emergency. The qhamliermaids, for instance, are instructed to stand near stairways and elevators, in case of an alarm, to inform the guests as to the quickest way out. The maids are taught more than this, and each of these young women knows how to handle a fire extinguisher. There are other hotels in the city—all of the modern fireproof type, whose construction is on the same lines and probably as nearly fireproof as the Astor, but, on the whole, the latter may be looked upon as the most completely equipped for firefighting purposes.