Baltimore Training School Incorporates Modern Fire Hose Testing Facilities
—Photo courtesy Worthington Corp.
INCLUDED IN THE MODERN EQUIPMENT of the City of Baltimore’s Fire Training School (as reported in the August 1957 issue of FIRE ENGINEERING) is a special hose test facility. By use of this new installation, all of the department’s hose is now subjected to the same rigid and controlled test standards. Simultaneously or individually, the device is capable of testing six sections of hose without deactivating the system. By incorporating the installation as a unit of the instructional facilities of the new fire school, the mechanics of hose testing may be taught currently with other elements which involve hose operation and maintenance.
By its use, too, hose inspection time has been kept to a minimum and testing can be done almost as fast as the hose can be coupled to the manifold. When a new shipment of 5,000 feet or more is to be inspected, this may mean the saving of many valuable man-hours.
To insure a maximum of safety, Baltimore tests all new hose before it is placed in service. Previously when a shipment of hose was received it was distributed to each individual fire company for inspection. This involved many tedious as well as strenuous man hours on the part of the firemen because it was necessary to haul the now obsolete testing unit to each company. This was a hand-operated plunger pump powered by four firemen and capable of developing a maximum pressure of 400 psi. It could test two 50-foot sections of hose at one time.
The piping diagram shown in Fig. 1, briefly illustrates the simplicity of the new system. High pressure is developed by a Worthington 1 1/2 x 2-inch vertical triplex piston pump and is controlled at the test stand by means of a relief valve normally set for 600 psi, the present fire department standard.
When the system is activated, the operator may set the pressure to any desired condition, should a change be required, and inspect at will the hose on test for any flaws which might have occurred from long use or wear. Water from the pump is piped to a manifold which is situated behind a plexiglas shield; individual gate valves control each hose line and the shield offers protection to the operators in case of hose burst. The stand itself is constructed of concrete and is pitched to permit drainage of the waste water.
The facility was built under the direction and guidance of Chief Engineer Michael H. Lotz of the city’s fire department and the offices of Thomas S. George, Consulting Engineers, of Baltimore. The entire installation was considered a good investment both from the viewpoint of its low initial cost, and its ability to provide the necessary safety factor with speed in inspecting hose under high pressures.
Originally the system was constructed with just the essentials of the test stand. Future plans contemplate an enclosure to permit more convenient year-round inspection.