Car Barn Fire Gets Away After Good Start
One Car Fully Ablaze and Three Others Partly Afire When Blaze Was Discovered—Large Open Area Makes Difficult Problem
DURING the past few years there have been quite a number of trolly car barn fires and in each case the story is about the same: fire gets a start and, aided by the highly inflammable nature of the cars, spreads through the large open area and usually results in complete destruction of the building and contents.
The fire described in this article of the series on Administration deals with a typical case.
The fire occurred a few years ago in an eastern city. Getting beyond the original building, the fire entered buildings both to the right and left and before it was finally wet down it bad destroyed all buildings on the block.
The layout of the car barn and adjacent buildings is shown in Figs. 1 and 2.
Fig. 3 shows the interior of the car barn after the fire and also the buildings to the left which were comppletely gutted.
The occupancy of the various buildings is indicated on Fig. 2.
To the left of the car barn was a rivet works—a building two stories in height and running the full depth of the car barn.
This building was occupied by rivet cutting and shaping machinery on the first and second floors and the basement was filled with stock.
There was a great deal of rivet stock on tbe first and second floors and quite a quantity of rivets packed in cases and in bins.
This building was of brick construction with joists and heavy plank floors. The floors were thoroughly oil-soaked which probably increased the intensity of the fire once it reached this building.
To tbe left of the rivet works was a four-story metal stamping mill employed in manufacturing household utensils. As in the case of the rivet works the machinery on the various floors was of a heavy nature and the quantity of stock made tbe loads on the various floors excessive. This latter building was of the same type as the rivet works, namely, brick with wood joists. In both of these buildings there was an open stairway and open hoistwavs connecting the different floors.
To the right of the car barn was a two-story building occupied on the ground floor at the front as a restaurant and the balance of the building being used as a rooming house with apartments on the second floor at the Callan Street side.
To the rear of the plants on this block were vacant lots. The buildings on the surrounding lots are indicated in Fig. 2.
At the time of the fire the car barn was filled with empty cars, some undergoing repair.
The fire apparently originated around 3 o’clock in the morning before tbe morning crew arrived and after the shop had been closed for the night.
Outside of an assortment of chemical extinguishers the car barn had no fire equipment.
The Fire Department
The fire department in the city in which this fire occurred consists of the following:
Engine Co. Xo. 1, a 1,000 gallon triple combination; Engine Co. Xo. 2, a 1,000 gallon pumjr and hose wagon combines!; Engine Co. Xo. 3. a 750 gallon triple combination; Engine Co. Xo. t. a 750 gallon triple combination; Engine Co. No 5, 750 gallon triple Combination; Engine Co. No. 6, 750 gallon triple combination; Ladder Co. Xo. 1. Ml toot service ladder.
There was one steam fire engine in reserve in this department. The response to alarms at the locality of this fire was as follows: First alarm. Engine Companies Xo. 1 and 2 and Ladder Co. Xo. 1.
Second alarm. Engine Companies Xo. 3 and 4 and third alarm. Engine Companies Xo. 5 and 6.
The water supply was satisfactory, there being no shortage in supply of water although the pressure did not run above 40 pounds in the neighborhood of the tire.
Four hydrants on a ten-inch main and three hydrants on an eight-inch main were available. The mains were not dead ended so that all hydrants could be used. Location of hydrants shown on Fig. 2.
As noted above fire originated about 3 o’clock in the morning. Apparently it started in some waste left beneath a car which was undergoing repair. Eire from this waste spread to the bottom of tbe car, fully involving this car. From this car tiro spread to three adjacent, cars which were burning at tbe time tbe fire was discovered.
Alarm was transmitted by telephone and Engine Co. No. 1 was sent to the fire as a still alarm assignment.
When it reached the blaze the fire had extended to the roofs of several cars in the neighborhood of tbe ear in which the tire originated and the beat was banking beneath the roof and up over the cars throughout the barn.
No means of ventilating the structure were provided so that the heat rapidly accumulated.
Engine Co. No. 1 on rolling in stretched in two lines from hydrant No. 2. Men operating one of the lines struck a charged portion of electrical equipment at close range causing them to drop the line, putting this line out of commission for a few minutes. The other line, as a matter of precaution, operated very charily until the power was shut off which was fully five minutes after the arrival of the apparatus.
However, the two streams employed—both using 1 1/8-inch nozzles—were not capable of covering the large area under the car barn roof with tbe result that fire continued to spread rapidly.
The lieutenant in charge of this company, upon noting tbe fire spreading, transmitted a call for additional apparatus. Instead of calling a first and second alarm, only the first alarm assignment was called which brought to the fire one additional engine company—Engine Co. No. 2 and one ladder company.
This additional apparatus arrived within a few minutes. Engine Co. No. 2 was stationed at hydrant No. 3 and stretched a single line to the car barn. Fire at this point was well beyond the power of the three streams employed.
After operating for 4 or 5 minutes the Assistant Chief, who followed the first alarm assignment in, transmitted a call for additional help—transmitting a second alarm and then a third.
The three lines already in operation from Engine Nos. 1 and 2 continued to operate from the Callan Street side of the car barn, making little progress.
In the meantime fire had entered the rivet works from the ear barn through a rear window and apparently spread very quickly through both floors of this plant.
The apparatus on the second and third alarms, having to travel a much greater distance, responded after some little delay Upon arrival at the fire the chief found the following conditions: ar barn fully involved, rivet works involved on both floors through their entire length, and fire entering metal stamping mill by fire passing through the roof of th; rivet Works.
Fire also entering appartment house to the left of the car barn.
Assignment of lines upon arrival of second and third alarm apparatus follows: Engine Co. N’o. 3 at hydrant No. 6 and fwo lines stretched, one going to the rear of the rivet works and one going to the rear of the metal stamping mill.
Engine Co. No. 4 at hydrant No. 5 and a single line stretched to operate on the car barn and the rear of the apartment bouse to the left of the car harn.
Engine Co. No. 5 at hydrant No. 1 and two lines stretched: one to metal stamping mill at Callan Street side and the other to the rivet works.
Engine Co. No. 6 at hydrant No. 7 and a single line stretched to the car barn.
But before any of these lines were in operation the fire had entered all four buildings shown on the block. The rivet works Was burning to such an extent that streams from Engine Co’s. No. 3 and 5 when they did get in service, were unable to check the fire.
The metal stamping mill fire rapidly gained in proportion and soon got beyond the scope of the department.
When it was found that the car barn, rivet works and metal stamping mill were beyond saving, attention was directed to holding the fire from entering the apartment house on the corner of Callan and Smith Streets and also to prevent fire from spreading across Laughlin and Callan Streets.
In these operations the department was successful.
Fire was confined to the car harn, rivet works and metal stamping mill, and what fire there was that was burning in the apartment house was extinguished without very serious loss to this building.
Fire did not get beyond the block in which it originated.
The department did good work, considering the equipment and the lateness in arriving at the fire, and the fact that the fire was checked from spreading across Callan Street in the direction in which a strong wind was blowing, speaks volumes for the efficient work of the department in covering exposures. The Editor’s ideas on the handling of this fire will he given in the next issue of FIRE ENGINEERING.
New London, Conn., Purchases Apparatus—New London, Conn., purchased a 750 gallon triple combination Ahrens-Eox pumper which will be delivered about June 1.
Blames N. Y., Fire Damage on Rusty Pipe -As a defense to the critisism of the five alarm fire in the R. Dunn building in New ork city, made by Chief Kenton, an executive of the company stated that the reason that the firemen were hampered in their fight was because of a rusty valve in a standpipe on the street. The chief of the lire prevention bureau stated that the building owners were responsible for the standpipe within the Walls, and if investigations proves that they were defective, the company would be held responsible.