BALTIMORE AND ITS MODEL FIRE DEPARTMENT
The Manual Force, Modern Equipment and Recently Installed High Pressure Water System
The force of men who protect the city of Baltimore, Md., from flames stand so well in the eyes of the whole western world that no praise bestowed here can add to their well-earned laurels. But as this fire department, like those of other cities, is constantly undergoing changes, both in executive officers and in apparatus, the Baltimore fire organization deserves reference at this time. Executive ability and superb generalship are required to handle the entire department when called out on a general alarm. Mow Chief Horton fought the fire of 1904, with all the odd against him, with a strong wind driving the blaze through the serried lines of buildings, the majority of which were nothing but firetraps, and with only half the apparatus the department now has. is a story that brightens Baltimore’s history. The second time when the “three nines” set every wheel a-moving Deputy Chief Emrich was in command. Chief Horton being off on leave. That occasion the Sharp street fire—made for Emrich the reputation for generalship and efficiency that Horton won in the conflagration, and showed Baltimoreans that the men in command of the fire department rank with the greatest fire chiefs of the country. The first alarm of the Sharp street fire came from an automatic box, bringing out the salvage corps, one engine company and a truck company. These boxes are supposed to discover a fire in its infancy, for the thermostat that operates them is extremely sensitive to heat. But while the apparatus that responds to one of these boxes was on its way the first street alarm came in. District Chief Burkhardt was less than a minute getting to the fire from his headquarters at No. 15 house, on Lombard street, near Eutaw. The dangerous locality of the neighborhood—practically where the conflagration of 1904 started—was immediately recognized by him. The deputy chief, who also uses a high-speed automobile, responds to first alarms in the congested business section, and he was right behind Burkhardt. He, too, recognized the danger, and the first street alarm was followed by the “four twos,” bringing out at once the apparatus that would respond to second and third alarms. “Curbstone chiefs” and knockers of a similar breed took great delight at that fire in criticising the work of the department. They thought the firemen went at their work too slowly They declared that the firemen entered a dark building and immediately it was ablaze. They did not take into consideration the fact that those firemen had to grope their way through choking smoke to find the blaze and that getting rid of that smoke and giving them a chance to work might have developed the fire, nor did they consider that a high wind was steadily blowing and that the fire had gained a big start. Yet that blaze was fought with the stubbornness and courage of desperation. Against it was used every resource at the command of the city—muscle and nerve backing steam and water—and if it had not been for that heroic light there would have been a repetition of the holocaust of 1904. The majority of the people of Baltimore knew that the lire department had not idled at that task. District Chiefs Burkhardt and Kahl were stationed in the rear of the buildings afire. That was the forefront of the fire and in narrow alleys filled with suffocating smoke the firemen of two districts held their own against heat that blistered them and smoke that filled their lungs to bursting. The curbstone spectators didn’t see this phase of tinbattle. Finally Chief Burkhardt saw that in spite of the light he and Kahl and their men were putting up the fire was gaining on them. He reported to Chief Emrich that they couldn’t hold the fire, and he was ordered to send in additional first and second alarms. This brought more water to play against the seething furnace, but in time this was seen to be inadequate Kahl then reported to Emrich that the tire was getting beyond control, and the third alarm was pulled. Steadily, though, the fire held its own. and, driving the firemen hack, spread to the Sutton building. Elaines burst from the roof and the windows and with the high wind the companies fighting the rest of the fire found their hands more than full. That decided Emrich. Without hesitation he ordered the general alarm, and in engine houses clear out to the outskirts of the city the “three nines” crashed out on the gong. From Forest Park, from Waverly, from Irvington, from Hampden, the last of the apparatus hurried to the fire. Everything on wheels was in service. Sparks and embers from the fire were being carried by the wind to the roofs of houses blocks beyond, and the deputy chief saw that some protection would have to be afforded those houses. So he ordered No. 22 company to take station at No. 15 house. The movement was like an outpost intercepting the enemy’s scouts. The value of this maneuver was shown in the fact that No. 22 responded to three calls to extinguish incipient fires caused by sparks. When everything in the department was at the fire grounds Emrich decided to scatter a reserve force in the downtown section to guard against any other fires that might break out. Accordingly three provisional companies were recruited on the grounds front all the other companies, and with each under the command of a lieutenant sent to quarters in other downtown districts. The five combination trucks, which carry 800 feet of hose to be used with hydrant pressure, were also stationed at vacant downtown quarters, and these, with the three companies and No. 22, made nine units in reserve. The city was not without protection.
In addition to the thorough protection afforded now by the fire department, Baltimore has its pipe line completed. This line is laid in the business streets, running from Saratoga and Gay streets to Baltimore, and out that street to South It then runs down South street to Pratt. The district between Saratoga and Pratt streets, out to Eutaw street, is covered by the pipe line, and it also extends up Eutaw and Howard streets to Franklin. The pumping station is on South street, near Pratt. The pipe line will relieve many engine companies, for the pressure that can be gotten from the hydrants will equal that of a powerful steamer. It is estimated that the system will equal 20 new engine companies. The equipment consists of three Allis-Chalmers horizontal, Corliss, twin, simple, non-condensing crank and flywheel pumps, with a capacity of 7,000 gallons per minute each, and one horizontal duplex directacting compound, non-condensing pump, with a capacity of 1,000 gallons per minute. There are three Edgemoor boilers of the inclined watertube type. The pumps have a discharge capacity of 22,000 gallons of water per minute, with fileboat connections of 16,000 gallons additional, if desirable. A working pressure will he maintained on the system at all times so as to be ready for instant service, and increased as the occasion demands. The station as planned is a substantial, fireproof, reinforced concrete building, covering an area of 10,000 square feet, comprising boiler and engine room adjoining, with quarters for station force on second story. Elevated monitor nozzles are placed one at each front corner of the roof, over quarters and at either end over boiler room; perforated 4-inch dry pipes, connected to the city water mains, are laid on the roof along the front and rear walls. The hose to be used with the pipe line will he 3 inches in diameter and will be carried in two automobile wagons capable of carrying 2,000 feet of it. These wagons will be stationed in the big triple house on Gay street, just south of Baltimore. In the fire department now there are forty engine companies, one of which is an automobile company to be stationed at Forest Park. The company has been assembled and its automobile engine is capable of pumping nearly as many gallons as a steam engine. The engines now’ in use are able to throw 1,000 gallons of water a minute, and can connect with four lines of hose. The hose wagons carry 1,000 feet of fabric hose of 2 1/2 inches diameter, together with nozzles and a deluge set, a heavy nozzle that connects two hose lines, fwo 35-gallon chemical tanks are also carried. There are seventeen truck companies. Five of them are combination trucks used principally in the suburbs. The trucks are equipped with an 85-foot extension ladder, raised by compressed air. and so easily are they operated that one man can raise the tall ladder. All of the hook and ladder trucks are equipped with a length of hose fitted to the extension ladder in such a way that it can be operated as a water tower. A double line of hose from an engine is connected to the ladder pipe by a “Siamese” connection, and with the pipe operated from the turntable of the truck a healthy stream can be directed into the window of a burning building. Also included in the equipment of trucks is a life gun— a sawed-off Springfield rifle—that can throw a light line over any tall building in Baltimore. With this line—light but strong—a heavy rope, with a strong lifebelt attached, can he hauled up to the place where it is needed. All trucks also carry a big burglar’s jimmy for forcing doors, axes, hooks, hand extinguishers and buckets. No. 1 truck, on South Gay street, is the only Baltimore built truck in the department. On this puck, as an experiment, arc two small searchlights. fitted to the end of the extension ladder. These lights, fed from a storage battery on the body of the truck, cast a powerful light against the wall of a building, and it is possible that all Pucks will be equipped with them in time. The depart rent has two boats for the protection of he harbor. The old Cataract paid for herself ovp and over, and at the Bay Line pier tire recently it was the powerful streams from her deck title and hose lines that kept the blaze from spreading southward. The Cataract, built in 1891, carries a main deck pipe 4 inches in diameter, prounted to ward something like a gun. In adadition to this she has connections for fourteen lines of hose, and her total throwing capacity is 4,080 gallons a minute. The Cataract crew numbers thirteen. Supplementing the Cataract is the Deluge. This vessel carries four 4-inch deck pipes—one forward, one on the pilot house. another mounted on a steel lattice-work tower resembling the new military mast, and another nlaced aft. There are openings for twenty-four lines of hose, and the capacity a minute is 10.000 gallons. Twenty men man the Deluge. The firelighting equipment, besides the two water towers, includes several fuel tenders, a supply wagon and the aut mobiles in which the chief and deputy chief race to the big fires. One of the most moden adjuncts of the department is the ambulance. and its presence on the fire grounds has increased the efficiency of the force to a remarkable extent. Before there was an ambulance a fireman knocked, out by the smoke groped his way front the front, and if he couldn’t find the surgeon he recovered as best he could. Sometimes they would get back into the tight half groggy.
Now. though, the ambulance takes its position as near as possible to the fire, and when a man is sent to the rear for recuperation he has no difficulty in finding it. In a few minutes he is brought around and back on the line as fit as ever. The equipment of the ambulance includes two stretchers, a medicine and surgical chest, oxygen tanks for the revival of those overcome by smoke and accommodations for four injured men.
Nearly all of the engine houses are new and thoroughly modern in their arrangement. I he largest house in the city is the one on Gay street, just south of Baltimore street. Here are quartered No. 32 engine company, No. 1 truck company. No. 1 water tower and the deputy chief engineer. With the completion of the pipe line the two automobile hose wagons will be kept there. A precaution in addition to the alarm system is observed throughout the department in the detection of fires At intervals the man on watch at night in the quarters patrols in front of the buildings to note any suspicious lights. On a number of occasions these watchers have discovered fires late at night before the policeman on the post saw them. There is no “four-flushing” aliom the men who make up the personnel of the department. The one thing they hate to be called is “gallant fire laddies.” and all talk of their heroism and courage is looked upon by them as “hot air.” To praise of a particularly risky bit of work that involved plenty of nerve they reply “That’s what we’re paid for.” The department has a roll of honor, but the names on it are few. To got his name on the roll a man must save life under circumstances calling for exceptional gallantry and courage. The chance to save life under such circumstances does not present itself often, but the men of the fire department never reckon the danger when there is somthing definite to do. Among those now in the fire department who are on the roll of honor are Chief Engineer August Emrich. who. on September 11, 1900, as second district engineer, rescued a boy. William Hunter, from a burning building on South street. T he hoy was carried to safety through smoke and heat almost unbearable. Captain Frederick W. Johnston, No. 2 truck company, who on June 5, 1901, as tillerman of the same truck, risked his life to rescue Thomas Cooper and Alonzo T. Scott, electrical commission employes, who were overcome by gas in a manhole at Baca and Fayette streets; Lieutenant James H. Wentz, No. 10 engine company, who as a ladderman of No. T truck company, on June 17, 1001, carried Mrs. Diantie Dames down a 16-foot ladder from a room at 739 West Mulberry street, where she was overcome by smoke and heat; District Chief Levin H. Burkhardt, who. in Philadelphia, on April 25. 1002, prevented a train wreck and saved hundreds of people on a station platform from death and injury by hurling a plow from the track when an approaching train was almost on him; Lieutenant Peter J. Lynch, No. 82 engine company, who, as a pipeman of No. 5 engine company, extricated Howard Hinkleman, 1884 Gough street, from a live electric wire; Lieutenant George Hanauer. No. 5 truck company, who, as tillerman of No. 2 truck, on March 13, 1908, brought to safety Lieutenant George E. McNeil. No. 1 truck, after he had been overcome by smoke and fallen to the bottom of an elevator shaft at 048 West Baltimore street. The reward of bravery is usually a mention in the general orders of the department. This is terse and to the point, and there is nothing fulsome about it. but the Baltimore firemen who have risked their lives in the performance of their duty think it a quite sufficient recognition.
Firemen are on duty twenty-four hours a day. but one hour for each meal is allowed them. They are Riven four days’ holidays a month, except in the summer months, when they receive three days a month and ten days’ continuous leave of absence. In quarters each man has some duty assigned him. To some is given the care of the harness, others look to the cleanliness of the floors and dormitory, another must keep the windows clean and all must keep the bright work on the apparatus shining. One man. dubbed the “chambermaid” sees that the beds in the sleeping room are kept straight. The pay for the service a fireman renders is small. It is much below that of the police department, and there are fewer firemen than police. Besides the executive officers there are 851 men in the department, including fifty substitutes. Heading the department are the three commissioners, Richard H. Johns, president; Col. I. Rosenfeld and S. T. Manning, with Pinkney W. Wilkinson as secretary to the board; Chief Engineer August Emrich; engine company No. 32, Captain James J. Reynolds; truck company No. 1. Captain James
V. McCarron; water tower No. 2, Lieutenant Bankard B. Guthrie; high-pressure service hose company No. 1, Lieutenant Peter J. Lynch; Dep uty Chief Engineer Levin H. Burkhardt; engine company No. 23, Captain Edward Tauber; Fifth District Engineer James A. Campbell; engine company No. 15. Captain William J. McDonald; water tower No. 2, Lieutenant Joint G. Rahe; truck company No. 2, Captain J. Walter Bradley; high-pressure service hose company No. 2, Lieutenant William T. Newell; fireboat Deluge, Captain James N. Robb.
FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING is indebted to P. W. Wilkinson, Secretary of the Baltimore Board of Fire Commissioners, for the use of the cuts accompanying this sketch.