AUTOMOBILE FIRE APPARATUS.
In a paper read before the members of the Massachusetts State Firemen’s association at New Haven in September last, Chief Mullen, of the Boston fire department, treated of the “Advantages, if any, of automobiles over horse-drawn vehicles for use in fire departments in large cities, and in small cities and towns covering large areas,” of which the following is an abstract:
Boston was the first city to adopt a horseless vehicle for practical fire department work, when, in 1867, the Amoskeag Fire Engine company sent one to that city for trial. It was in service for about three months at that time ; but, later on, in 1872, after having performed excellent service at the big fire, it was purchased and placed in service. As a prejudice existed at that time against such apparatus, it was changed to a horse-drawn engine after three years’ service, and no further experiments were made in that line, until, in 1897, the late Colonel Henry S. Russell, then fire commissioner, ordered and placed in commission a duplicate of the selfpropelling engine at Hartford, Conti where two horseless engines were in service, and did well in time of deep snow, when engines drawn by five horses have been stalled in the drifts. Other advantages of these engines are ease of control, speed, endurance and greater pumping capacity—easily pumping over 250 gals, per minute more than Boston’s largest horsedrawn engines. On assuming office the present lire commissioner, Benjamin W. Wells, at once purchased an electric runabout for his own use while making inspections of tile several houses, apparatus and men of the department. This answered so well that lie purchased another, a small gasoline runabout, so that he might be able at all times to start on a tour of inspection, as well as to decide which type of vehicle was most adaptable for tire department work. They proved so successful that a two-cylinder, 18 horsepower, gasoline touring car was purchased for the use of the chief of the department. The touring-car model was chosen on account of its large seating capacity, it being n icessary for the chief to have a chauffeur with him at all times, and to be accompanied by his aide, So this necessitated the use of a large car, which choice was many times afterward proven to be of advantage, as in one afternoon he can now accomplish what formerly took a much longer time and involved the use of many horses. After one year’s service this car was remodeled into a runabout for use of the second deputy chief, who covers a large and hilly section of the city, and, besides carrying the fire clothing of the chief and his t-hauffeur, it accommodates two pony-extinguishers and a medicine-chest. F’or the chief of the department a powerful steam car was provided, which proved to be far superior to a gasoline car for the exacting service required of it in the crowded streets of a congested city and in tinhilly sections. It has a touring body and was built from specifications furnished by the tire commissioner. It not only can reach a speed of about a mile a minute, but, owing to the strength of construction, can be relied upon to withstand the wear, tear and shocks attendant on speeding through the city streets day and night. This strength is the prime factor to he sought for in the selection of a car for fire department use. Its advantages for the use of the chief officers of Boston’s fire department can hardly be expressed in words; they are infinitely above those of a horse -drawn vehicl -. As to its disadvantages: Chief Mullen could think only of one— namely, the first cost and maintenance. These are entirely overcome by the excellent results obtained, permitting of the arrival of the chief at the scene of a fire generally before the tirst piece of apparatus—allowing him to plan an attack upon the fire, thereby preventing much loss, which, in all probability, would not be prevented in the event of his late arrival, as heretofore, when using a horse-drawn vehicle. In emergencies this automobile has repaid itself one-hundred fold, not only by the most excellent results obtained, but because it has replaced an ambulance, often carrying members of the department to the hospital before the last pieces of apparatus due to arrive upon the first alarm were in sight. Upon a great many occasions injured members of the department and victims at fires have thus received attention many minutes sooner than they would, if they had been obliged to await the arrival of an ambulance. Again referring to apparatus: Chief Mullen’s experience is limited to the use of an automobile chemical engine, which was lent tv the city of Boston fire department for trial, and was in service in the busiest sections of the city and the hilly sections, alternately, for nearly four months. It was a four-cylinder, 30horsepower touring car, converted into a chemical engine, with two 35-gal. tanks, horizontally placed, and carrying 350 ft. of chemical hose and accommodations for five men. Its weight going to a fire was about 5,000 lbs., and it would reach and maintain a speed of about thirty miles per hour on level road, climbing the steepest hills at a satisfactory speed. It was always on the scene promptly, and, when required, gave very efficient service. Owing to its great cost, Boston could not afford to purchase it, although Chief Mullen believed it could have been maintained more economically than a two-horse chemical engine of the same capacity. The advantages of automobiles over horse-drawn vehicles for fire-depart ment service are as follows : (1) They are more easily controled; (2) more speedy; (3) more economical after first cost; (4) better adapted for long and hard runs.