“ AN AUXILIARY FIRE PLANT.”
MR. GUGGENHEIMER, president of the municipal council of New York city, introduced a resolution before the council on February 7, providing for an auxiliary fire plant. The New York Times, in its issue of October 15, dwells upon the alleged advantages which would obtain if it were adopted. Among them comes this first of all: “It would lessen the drain upon the supply of drinking water.” Mr. Guggenheimer seems to be of the opinion that, if the suggestions embodied in his resolution were adopted, the problem of meeting the existing deficiencies would be overcome. It may be true that the present fireboat capacity is equal to throwing 30,000 gallons of water per minute, but to force it through miles of pipe, and thence to elevations of from 150 to 200 feet involves an expenditure of mechanical energy and an outlay of money not justifiable, owing to the perilous risks attending the efforts of fireboats to make proper connections expeditiously at the docks of the city. These risks way be illustrated by the fact that docks where influx pipe connections are made must not only he kept free from shipping that may obstruct the easy access of fireboats, but also from the ice which clogp the docks during the winter. The city authorities, in order to treat all alike, would need to provide proper connections for the fireboats from the Battery to the Harlem river on both sides of the city, to avoid the charge of failing to provide proper means to suppress fires by salt water in all parts of the city. The source of supply would be salt water polluted with the filth of the sewers which now empty into the North and East rivers, and, in addition thereto,would be filled with the silt and mud from the street washings, which would choke the pipes as well as the water cylinders of the fireboats. Each of the lines of salt water pipe, if of any great length and laid to the grade of the streets, would be difficult to drain and soon be laid oft’for frequent repairs. To use these pipes for sprinkling streets and flushing sewers is impracticable for two reasons (1.) Fireboats would have to be constantly employed day and night to provide pressure to flush the sewers and supply sprinkling carts with water through the summer months; (2) foul salt water would be an abominable nuisance when thrown upon the stree s for sprinkling purposes, and by its stench, when used for flushing sewers, would create a loathsome condition of affairs. The water used for extinguishing fires is insignificant in amount, and for the entire year eqyals only about one-seventh of one day’s average consumption for the whole twelve months. But it will he said, that the statistics from other cities are in evidence, and favor the building of such lines. To this is the reply : It is misleading to institute comparisons with those lake cities which use lake water, which, by the way, is fresh, and have besides to encounter in winter the risk of delay occasioned by ioe which hinders the fireboats from making rapid connections. Close and critical investigation of this methpd of extinguishing fires will reveal the fact that in but few, if any cases can it be relied upon for any and every emergency. Fireboats do well enough for shore fires and for protecting wharves and shipping, but to depend upon them for water for xtinguishlng fires in the heart of the city under the conditions and environments which invest New York—conditions which are further associated with the mechanical infirmities of pipes and the machinery necessary to carry out the plan contemplated—is simply nonsense, and unworthy of consideration by the municipal authorities who have in charge the important responsibility of providing permanent, adequate, and substantial fire protection to every part of the borough of Manhattan.