A Smoke Escape for Theatres.
[From the Chicago Tribune.]
An interesting experiment—the first one made in the presence of the general public— was given at Hooley’s Theatre, to test the efficacy of Sues & Karl’s fire and smoke escape. There was a large audience present, including a number of city architects, members of the Fire Department, of the Council, the heads of the Police Department, Superintendent Cleveland, the Board of Underwriters, and several well-known citizens. For an “ off matinee,” it was quite a large and distinguished audience.
This smoke and fire escape has already been described to the public, and it only’remains to record the success of the first practical experiment made. It consists of the construction of a fire-proof ceiling under the roof of the stage, with outlets or shafts proportioned to the cubic contents of the stage and auditorium, and high enough to reach above the nearest building. In case of fire the valve is opened, and the fire is forced up to the upper air by’ the current from the auditorium and the stage. The stage is lined with sheet-iron, having an extra iron ceiling supported by strong rods from the roof, and a funnel in the centre eight feet in diameter, and running twenty-eight feet above the building. In case of fire, the slidingvalve connected with a funnel can be opened by a simple operation—the pulling of the handles which are found throughout the house, or by the mere forcing open of the door—and all the smoke and fire are sucked up through the cylinder, and wafted into the sky. Yesterday they burned powder, sawdust, and everything that could be supposed to set the firebells agoing. The house was filled with smoke, and, on opening the valve, it disappeared in a minute. Marshal Benner wanted a test with the curtain down, and it was performed with the same satisfactory results. The curtain was rolled up, and not a smell of smoke was left after one minute.
Those who were present appeared to be thoroughly convinced of the practicability of the scheme, and signed their name to a cordial endorsement of the same. Fires in theatres rarely begin but on the stage. The adoption of this invention by theatrical managers will relieve audiences from any anxiety in case of an announcement that the stage is burning. People can sit still and look at the blaze without feeling any alarm. Hooley & Quinlan have been the first to adopt the new invention. —
IRON BUILDING Material.—The extensive use of iron as a material of construction is ol recent date. Ffty years ago it was but little used. One of the principal arguments for introducing it was its fire-resisting character. Gwilt. in his Encyclopedia, p. 494, art. 1767 edition of 1842, in speaking of iron, says’ “The security afforded, not only for supporting weight, but against fire, has of late years very much increased the use of it, and may in many cases entirely supersede the use of timber.” The experience of recent years, however, especially at Chicago and Boston, has materially lessened confidence in its fire-resisting character. Indeed, its power to sustain weight when subjected to great heat has been shown to be quite limited. It is capable of sustaining, in an intense fire, neither compressive, tensile, nor traverse strain, to any useful degree. Its untrustworthiness was shown at least two hundred years ago ; for Evelyn says of the great fire of London, in 1666, “The vast yron chaines of the Cittie streets, hinges, bars, and gates of prisons, were many of them mealted and reduced to cinders by ye vehement heate.”