AUTOMATIC SPRINKLERS

AUTOMATIC SPRINKLERS

In a report to the Fire Chiefs’ Club of Massachusetts on the above subject the committee gives the following details of their construction and use:

To be effective and reliable at all times automatic sprinklers must have a never-failing supply of water. It is not enough to depend upon one source of supply, no matter how reliable it may be considered. There should be never less than two, but three would be better. The source of water supply best adapted to a sprinkler system is an elevated tank of adequate size, which should never be supported by means of the roof, but on separate piers or structures, a suitable fire pump or a direct connection with the pub’ic water system. Unless the water mains are of sufficient size to supply every demand made upon them without unduly reducing the normal pressure, in supplying hydraulic elevators, water motors, etc., thus causing frequent and severe water hammer, thus bringing an undue strain on the sprinklers frequent and perhaps costly openings of sprinkler heads, are likely to follow, and when this is likely to occur connections to public water mains are not suitable, safe or desirable. A Siamese connection in all sprinkler systems into which one or more fire engines could deliver water to the system in case other sources of water supply were cut off, is a very valuable, and in some cases, a necessary addition to a sprinkler system, but al’ engines supplying water to a sprinkler system in this manner should be supplied with a suitable and reliable automatic relief valve in order to prevent an excess pressure of water in the sprinkler system that would open sprinkler heads in portions of the building remote from or near the fire. Every employee, or at least a number of them, should know the exact location of the va’v?s controling the water supply, and the members of the fire department located nearest the buildings equipped with automatic sprinklers should also know the exact location of the same. A suitable alarm gong should be located in the buildings, which should ring in case one or more sprinkler heads opened. This to be connected with an automatic diaphram valve. The Gamewell Fire Alarm Company have deised a system of sprinkler alarm which has been installed in the cities of Haverhill, Mass . and Augusta, Me., which is described as fo’lows: A separate closed electric circuit is run from the central fire station where the fire alarm system is located, taking in different buildings desiring the connection. At the central station is located the storage batteries and a gong and punching register. The main line is ‘ooped through the various buildings, through an auxiliary fire alarm box of standard make, numbered for that building. The main wires are carried not only through the contact fingers of the box, but” also through, the tripping magnets, which are shunted out bv the closed contact of the valve, so that so long as the valve is in its normal condition, no current can pass through the tripping magnet. Immediately, however, when a sprinkler head is opened, the flow of current relieves the contact and the main current from the storage battery at the central station passes through the box and in goes four rounds of the number of the box for that building. This method obiates the use of local batteries, which at best are unre’iable, the line is under constant test, the batteries are taken care of under the same supervision that is applied to the batteries of the fire alarm system, and the expense of maintenance is divided up among those having the protection, and again it brings at once a portion of the fire department to the building as soon as a sprinkler head opens. There are two systems of automatic sprinkler protection, the wet and dry. Where freezing of the umes o any part of the system is impossible the wet pipe system is to be preferred bv all means, but where freezing cannot be prevented then there is no alternative bill to use the drv pipe system. The advantage of the wet pipe system is that the moment a sprinkler head opens water is turned on to the fire. Not so with the dry pipe system, which is controlled by a differential valve, which is kept closed against the water pressure by a definite amount of air pressure in the sprinkler system within the building, which air pressure is maintained by means of an air pump. This pressure is much below that of the water in the mains, and should it drop sufficiently water would be forced into the sprinkler pipes, and if it were in the winter it would freeze therein and render the system useless, which condition might not be discovered until some one of the pipes burst. Again, should a fire occur under a sprinkler head a long distance from the controlling valve, it would take a considcrab’e time to expel the air from the pipes through a single one-half inch opening in a sprinkler head so that the water could reach the fire’—of course, other heads might open, which would shorten the time. For these reasons the wet pipe sprinkler system is to be preferred where it is possible to use it. The report also gives c’asses of buildings where sprinklers ought to be used.

The report was prepared by the following committee: John P. Doyle, chairman; W. II. Daggett, T. F. Murname, Abner Coleman and William Brophy.

AUTOMATIC SPRINKLERS*

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AUTOMATIC SPRINKLERS*

Mr. President and Members: When your secretary requested me to prepare a paper to be presented to this honorable body, I accepted the task cheerfully and with a light heart. Had I know, however, the great difficulties of the task, I would have asked to be execused or I am sure I would have wanted more time to consider the matter. I am now willing to admit, that, when 1 consented to prepare a paper on the subject, “Automatic Sprin kling,” it was one time at least that I opened my mouth and put my foot in it. The usual sources of knowledge furnished me had very little of an interesting or instructive nature to present to this body, so that 1 was thrown almost entirely on my own experience in my effort to present to you a paper that should prove interesting and instructive and make for progress in the matter of automatic sprinkling. If I succeed in the latter I shall feel that my effort was not in vain. We are all of one mind I am sure as to the general proposition that firefighting is a public duty to which every good citizen should apply himself when the call comes, whether this call comes through a scream in the night, a light in the sky. the sound of a bell, or a tax bill for public firefighting. We would not all agree, perhaps, as to the duty of the citizens in fighting such fires as are fought by the automatic sprinklers. If a building alone is to be rescued from the flames. I would say that the publicduty to save it remains. But once merchandise, especially highly inflammable merchandise, or machinery is endangered, then I hold that a private duty presents itself which should be performed by the individual or corporation, at least in part, owning such merchandise, machinery or equipments. This private duty is acknowledged by every firm or person that places an automatic fire extinguisher in their places of business. No one will, or can, deny that a neglect of this personal or private duty to fully protect the contents of a building against tire becomes a menace to the public safety and the performance of such a duty should be made compulsory by law. There should be no delay, at least, in passing laws requiring all basements, subcellars or other places which are very difficult to enter, to be at once fitted up with efficient automatic sprinklers. The tremendous increase in our National manufacturing and mercantile enterprises is constantly increasing the cost and the difficulty of protecting the contents of all buildings used for such purposes. Then. too. the great cities of our country have exhausted their means and reached the limit in appropriation for firefighting purposes, and they must, for self preservation, seek a larger co-operation in firefighting from those having private risks to protect. In promoting this increased co-operation, nothing will prove more effective than a compulsory use of the automatic sprinkler at least in extra hazardous risks. I have given the matter of compulsory use of automatic sprinklers the right of wav in this paper, because 1 am convinced that it is the most vital topic in connection with the subject. 1 will now turn to less important but perhaps more interesting matters. The very first sprinklers, and the one that gave man his first ideas in sprinkling were the clouds. Thousands of homes and thousands of lives of men and beasts have been saved in prairie or forest fires and even in great city conflagrations by the timely arrival of nature’s own sprinklers, the clouds.

The automatic sprinkler of to-day differs from the clouds in the fact that it is operated by the very fire which it extinguishes. It is at least started bv the fire. It tempts the fire into contmiting suicide. In the matter of automatic sprinklers as in most other inventions. “necessity was the mother of invention.” Manufacturers and merchants found that they could not rely on the fire departments at all times to rescue their stocks and machinery from the flames. They learned to their sorrow that even a successful fighting of the fire often brought them poor satisfaction for the damage by water was frequently very disastrous. They learned that if the fire was general their plant and its contents would at times be abandoned to its fate to save a more important risk. All these things slowly forced the factory, store and warehouse owners to the conclusion that they must provide some other means of protection from fire than that furnished at public expense. Private fire companies were organized, composed of employes. All kinds of devices were introduced; lines of hose, fire buckets, portable tanks of chemically treated water, hand grenades, barrels of water, etc. All of these depended for success, more or less, on the presence, the wakefulness, the sobriety, the watchfulness and intelligence of those to whom they were entrusted and as a consequence were not successful. Then came ceiling sprinklers that were not automatic but were put into use when the fire was discovered. These did, as a rule, too much water damage and were not considered successful. They consisted of long lines of pipes set near the ceilings and were pierced with many holes to let out an abundance of water. Sometimes the holes were filled with dust or rust. Sometimes the policeman was asleep and sometimes the cock to turn on the water was in the midst of the flames. These experiences have all come to men of our own times as well as to men of olden days, for. although automatic sprinklers are nearly three hundred years old. no use, no extensive use was made of them until the past thirty-five or forty years. They were not, perhaps, considered practicable. In 1723 an automatic fire extinguisher was set up successfully in London by a man named Godfrey. The water was released by the explosion of powder enclosed in a pewter box. The powder set tire to a number of fuses which blew out obstructions, liberating a solution which was destructive to tire. In 3806 John Carey came forward with an elevated tank, a system of perforated pipes into which the water was let flow by the burning of weighted cords. In 1812 Sir William Cosgrove took out a patent in England for an automatic fire extinguisher from which the water was set free by the melting of a cement. The melting occurred at 110 degrees. The chances are that the cement did not permanently hold the water in places»or melted too easily and let the water flow before it was needed. Many kinds of sprinklers were tried and found wanting and it was not until 1873 that an automatic sprinkler was put upon the market which proved to be a success when it was carefully placed by high grade mechanics. I’armelee, of New Haven, Conn., was the inventor.

* Paper read at the annual convention of the Internaiiona! Association of Fire Engineers, at Syracuse. N Y

There are to-day. perhaps, a dozen S3>rinklers on the market which are giving more or less satisfaction. Now comes the question. What is an automatic sprinkler and what will it do? It is an extensive equipment to extinguish fires automatically, the initial step being taken by the fire that is subsequently extinguished. A system of pipes, strong and tightly fitted, are placed in position on all ceilings in main rooms, hallways, stairways, ante-rooms, closets and on any ceiling where danger from fire lurks. These v>ipes are never placed more than 10 feet apart, in parallel lines and at a distance of 10 inches, or about 10 inches, from the ceilings. At intervals of 10 feet U-inch brass nozzles; upon these nozzles, which are set on the upper side of the pipes, are placed the sv>rinklers which intercept the yi-inch stream and spray it in such a way that a copious shower of water is caused to fall on 300 square feetof surface and at an equal amount of ceiling surface is drenched with water. The water must be there, however, to flow. It must be present in abundance and under high pressure to insure success. As fire is likely to come at *all times, at all hours, so must the water be ever present in abundance to meet the emergency. It is a situation where, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There are times when the mains of even a very reliable water system in our large’ cities arc without water, therefore it will never do to rely entirely uojm this source of supply to keep the water always present in the pipes. Another source of water supply is needed and is generally provided. Immense tanks are constructed with varying cai>acities in accordance with the necessities of the plant to be protected and the amount of protection required. The floors of such tanks, when placed upon the roofs of the plant to be protected, are on a tower, and should be at least 20 feet above the nearest pipes. Another method of sending the water through the sprinklers with sufficient pressure is the steel pressure tanks. An ordinary iron boiler filled with two-thirds water and one-third compressed air will do for most places. Then, too, a fire pump can be installed to pump water into the pipes and sprinklers. These are arranged so that they begin to pump, automatically, when the fire starts. In iarge cities, some merchants and manufacturers take the precaution of connecting their sprinkler equipments with the mains in two streets, so that if one main is without water they will still have the other. As i^ressure in the pipes in the burning building is of vital importance, a first class equipment generally provides external connections. These are made for the fire department to attach their hose and at once maintain such high pressure when it arrives at the fire. Of vital importance is the automatic fire alarm feature of the automatic sprinkler. It notifies the owners, the superintendents, the night watchman and the fire department of the community in which the fire starts. Very often they have not much to do for the sprinklers have destroyed the fire in its infancy, before it grew large enough to require outside aid to extinguish it. But the water can be turned off before it does unnecessary damage and the alarm is not sounded in vain. So many fires occur and are handled with scarcely any loss, that a person is almost warranted in calling the automatic fire extinguishers “automatic fire preventors.” Judging from the property annually saved by them, we could well refer to them as automatic salvage apparatus. When the automatic sprinkler has been properly and carefully placed, nothing is more satisfactory to all concerned and nothing is more simple in operation. Any fire that will raise the temperature to 155 degrees will release the sprinklers, by melting the soft solder which keeps them closed. Where high temperature already exists, as in boiler rooms, drying rooms, etc., a solder is used which will melt at 200 . 250 or 350 degrees, as the case may require, thus preventing a prematiure flow of water. Where a low temperature exists, as in cold storage plants and exposed warehouses in winter where danger of freezing exists, the pipes are filled with compressed air. The air excludes the water until the sprinklers open, it then rushes out, followed by the water. At the same time an alarm is sounded and sent to as many places as wanted to summon help to complete the work the sprinklers have commenced. or to save the stock from damage by water. The use of automatic sprinklers has proved satisfactory. The merchants and manufacturers find that their business is no longer disturbed by disastrous fires, necessitating long periods of rebuilding and restocking, during which time his competitors secure his business. The merchant and manufacturer finds that his insurance bills are no longer an important item of expense. He finds his banker more willing to risk a loan on his stock and on his plant than before the advent of his automatic sprinkler. These things give full satisfaction and Mr. Merchant and Mr. Manufacturer concludes that the money he placed in his automatic equipment was well invested. The firefighting men are well satisfied at seeing each automatic equipment placed. They know it means less work for them and that they will have more time to devote to saving the homes of the people and other important properties. The insurance companies are so delighted with the placement of automatic s[>rink!ers that they at once drop the rate and increase the size of the risk and seek business in places and industries that before they would not touch. They have found by actual experience that losses in one class of risk averaged for each fire less than three hundred dollars. where previously the average was over seven thousand and no w-onder that rates dropped and risks increased. The taxpayers are well pleased to have the automatic sprinklers placed, for it gives them hope that no increase in the levy for firefighting will have to be made and fuller protection can be given to homes of the people. It can be said of the automatic sprinkler that it is a success. That it is accomplishing all that has ever been claimed for it. The least of its performance is the retarding of fires which prove too strong to be extinguished by the water which it can pour upon it. I can see by the progress made in recent years a great future for the automatic sprinkler. I feel that the time is near at hand when architects and others that have to do with buildings will provide for the automatic sprinkler in their specifications. 1 am sure, too, that legislatures will soon take up and compel by law a compulsory use of automatic sprinklers in many more places than are now equipped with them. It is. 1 think, our duty as firefighters to encourage in every way we can a larger use of this great aid to public safety and if I can feel my humble effort here to-day will result in an increased interest in the development of protection against our common foe through the use of automatic sprinklers. 1 will feel gratefully repaid for any sacrifice 1 have made in preparing this paper. We can do much by merely spreading information about the solitary work of these sprinklers for the advantages are so apparent that the placing of one in any location will soon be followed by the placing of others. 1 thank you for your attention and regret that I could not contribute more largely to the success of your convention.

Old Villa Burned Near Albany.

Fire destroyed the old Dunlop residence located on the road between Albany and Troy, on the morning of October 17. Edward Stodard. a demented man. is believed to have been burned to death. The building was erected seventy years ago on a part colonial and part Italian villa style, and originally cost about $00,000. It was there that Archibald Dunlop brought his bride shortly after the residence was completed. In this also took place the marriage of Mr. Dunlop’s daughter. Jessie, to an English nobleman. After Mr. Dunlop failed in business the residence passed into the hands of Daniel E. Paris, a Troy stove manufacturer, who spent several thousand dollars in fitting up the interior. There were no facilities for lighting the lire and it burned itself out. It is supposed to have caught fire in the room of the demented man who had the habit of burning joss sticks. It was insured for $6,500.

New Auto at Washington.

Recently several new pieces of fire apparatus have been added to the already good equipment of the Washington fire department, but in order to keep abreast of the times the adoption of motor machines has been under consideration by the commissioners. The first automobile ordered was that for the use of Chief Engineer Wagner. It is a fine 40-horsepower machine with a capacity for extinguishers and firemen. It has a guaranteed speed up to 40 miles an hour, which is considered all that will be necessary for ordinary fire service in Washington. The illustration of the auto shown herewith was made by this journal from a photograph kindly furnished by the Washington Star.

Good Work of a Webb Engine.

On the 12th inst., a new Webb motor engine was delivered to New Bedford, Mass., by P. A. Woodhouse, the eastern agent of the Webb Motor Fire Apparatus Company. There was ample opportunity for the engine to display its power and running speed, as in addition to the set test it was subjected to it was taken to a fire on the outskirts of the city which allowed it to demonstrate in a practical manner its ability to make quick time and rapidity in throwing water. A local paper says:

The new Webb auto engine which arrived yesterday morning and appeared in the Red Men’s parade was. given two practical demonstrations of its worth in the afternoon. The first came at an exhibition trial at Buttonwood park,and the second when it was called upon about 15 minutes later to make a long run to a big lire in a sawmill near Turner’s pond on the Plainville road. There was no grandstand playing at the fire: the engine was called upon to do actual work, and although it didn’t equal the pumping capacity of the old steamer, at times it showed that it lias a remarkable capacity for getting to a fire in short time and pumping water without delay. During the hour and a half that the new machine pumped from Turner’s pond into two lengths of hose with a 10-foot suction and using two ljj-inch nozzles, the water thrown was nearly 600 gallons a minute.

At the regular trial the engine connected up with the hydrant about 100 yards west of Reed street, and threw water in I minute and 45 seconds from the start. On the pumping test, the engine showed 66 pounds pressure at the nozzle, pumped 740 gallons of water a minute through two lines of hose 100 feet each and using 11 j-inch tips. The trial of the new No.0, as tlu* Webb engine is known, proved its ability to exceed the guaranteed pumping capacity, which is 700 gallons a minute. The tryout began at 3 o’clock in the presence of several hundred interested spectators, including Chief Dahill and the members of the board of fire engineers and other city officials. This engine was shown at the Board of Fstimatc exhibition in New York City, among other fire apparatus, illustrating the improvement made in engines up to the present time.

Poor Fire Policy at Everett.

A Pacific coast correspondent of this journal describes the poor policy of the authorities at Everett as follows:

“The endeavors to improve the fire department of Everett, Wash., are to end in failure again. Moreover, Chief Taro has reported to the commissioners that the only way to keep expenditures within the scant appropriation will be to close up one of the three stations. It has been heretofore noted in these columns that at headquarters lie has but one team for two pieces of apparatus, and this takes the hook and ladder truck to the fire and then goes back after the engine. Last May, on arriving at a basement fire within two blocks of the station, the people were found hanging out of the upper windows, and there were only firemen enough to put up an extension ladder and get the men and women down. Mean while the fire was burning without hindrance and by tbe time men were available to handle the hose lines it was too late and the valuable block was destroyed. Chief Taro and the commissioners are not to blame. The citizens a year ago defeated a proposition to issue bonds to pav for additional equipment, in spite of the fact that the city had just been in imminent danger through a series of incendiary fires. Two excellent chiefs, Connor and Kingsley, gave up the Everett proposition discouraged, during the past few years, and while the present chief, V. A. Taro, is well liked, the citizens seem to prefer to keep his hands tied. It has been very noticeable during the past ten years that these fire conditions in Everett were a matter of indifference to the underwriters; there was a period of about a year that the city had no chief at all—not even an acting chief— but apparently the fire risk was considered no greater than before. Everett claims about 25.000 population; is Imilt up mostly with frame buildings, ami has one steamer, one truck and three hose wagons at present. The commission stated that most of the hose had outlived its useful

Inspection and Drill at Morristown.

The lire department at Morristown, N. J., had its annual parade and inspection on October 19. hollowing this a series of exhibitions were given. A lively lire was started in a shack and when the building was all ablaze an alarm brought the automomoliile chemical engine. The run was made in 32 seconds and the tire quickly extinguished. A hose laying contest between the W ashington, Humane and hirst Ward companies followed. The W ashingtons made the run in 41 seconds and had water through the hose in 18 seconds. Humane’s time for the run was 45 seconds and got water in 13 seconds. Fite I’irst Ward made the run in 41 seconds and hail water in 22 seconds. The inspecting party included Mayor Theodore Ayres and Aldermen Frederick W. Ford, of the fire committee; Jacob O. Arnold, R. Kallston Reed, John J. (Jill, Henry Cory, Lewis F. Sturgis.

There were many firemen from nearby towns who occupied seats in the reviewing stand with the mayor and aldermen when the parade passed oml during the exhibitions, among them living Chief Robert A. (iranniss, jr., of Morris Plains; Chief George W. Mulford, of the state hospital department: Chief Albert P. Smith, Madison; Chaplain Ralph B Urmy, of Resolute hook and ladder company, Morristown; former Chief David I. Fox, Morristown; Chief William Markwith and hire Commissioner John Reeve, of Fast Orange; Chief V. U. Matline, Fire Commissioners Stephen R. Stetson, A S. V entire! and C. VY. Wilson, of Orange; former Foreman C. C. Lane, Kittatinny hose company, Newton; Foreman J. J. Vreeland, of Protection hook and ladder company, and A. J. Lauenstein and Charles Doeder. of Dover; former Chief Jacob II. Gernert, I’irst Assistant Chief John Gernert. Jr. former Foreman C. S. Gernert, of Lincoln chemical company; David Lorey. of West End hose company, and J. Ross Lake, of Washington engine company, all of Somerville.

Chief McFaddcn. of Memphis. Tenn., has issued orders to every fire company restraining drivers from ringing gongs in passing theatres, churches and public places where large gatherings might be alarmed into a stampede.

NEW AUTO AT WASHINGTON WITH CHIEF WAGNER OPERATINGWEBB ENGINE FOR NEW BEDFORD, MASS. ON EXHIBITION IN NEW YORK.