Cleveland Questions and Answers
The following are questions asked by J. E. T., Cleveland, Ohio, and answers thereto, continued front last issue:
4. What precautions would you take and what methods would you use at a church steeple fire?
5. Assuming that you are a captain and in charge of a steamer company that is responding on a still alarm and find a three-story building burning and the whole second floor in flames, with people hanging out of the windows on the third floor, explain your actions from the time that you arrive at same.
6. What do you consider the proper method of taking care of hose when in use, and when not in use.
Answer 4. The chief precautions to take in operating at a church steeple fire is to prevent injury to men through the collapse of the tower and the falling of bells which may be suspended in the tower, Fire travels quickly upward in church steeples due to their hollow construction, and once they are involved it is difficult to extinguish the fire therein. Collapse may be looked for sooner or later. If the fire has started below the bells in the tower then early collapse may be looked for. Use heavy streams with high pressure to secure the range, but keep men out of danger zone in the event that there is likelihood of tower and steeple collapsing.
Answer 5. Question does not give sufficient information to determine the size of the fire or the amount of property at risk. It will be assumed, however, that the extent of the building and the progress of the fire will warrant a third alarm.
Instantly upon rolling into the fire and noting the conditions transmit a second and third alarm, delegating a man to do so.
Stretch in two lines from nearest hydrant on the way in to ore, and get streams in operation on second floor, driving the fire back so that those at the windows of the third floor will not be forced to jump for their lives. Problem does not state nature or type of buildings on either side of fire nor to rear. Therefore no use can be made of such buildings for the rescue of imprisoned occupants.
Immediately upon getting lines in operation encouragement should be given those imprisoned above not to jump, but if any are in the act of jumping or appear to be about to jump then it will he necessary to impress bystanders into service and have them hold horse blankets, waterproof covers or other similar articles to catch those jumping. Due to the fact that an engine company is not equipped with ladders of sufficient length to be of use this is the only resort which can be taken to save life during the first few minutes of the fire.
Have men go to roof at once if possible to open up over stairway so that fire may be drawn out. If there are elevator shafts, vent shafts, or other vertical passages these should be opened at the top as well. It will prevent mushrooming on the top floor and save the occupants of that floor.
Immediately upon the arrival of ladder trucks they should be gotten in position and those within the building rescued.
As noted above no reference is made to rescue by way of adjoining buildings as problem does not give information which would warant such assumption.
The actual operation of fighting the fire would depend upon the nature of contents of building, the exposures, intensity of wind, and other factors not specified in the question.
Answer 6. It is assumed that while hose is in use at a fire it is not feasible to be especially careful in avoiding its damage or injury. After the fire it is generally possible to give attention to the condition of hose, at which time, a number of items should be taken into account, including scorching of the cotton jackets, exposure to hot oils and greases, frozen strands, worn places due to friction on pavements, window or cornice ledges, etc. The ability of hose to sustain internal pressure without bursting is entirely dependent on the cotton jackets, the rubber lining having little or no value in this connection, consequently any damage or injury to the cotton jackets has an immediate bearing on the strength of the hose. When a line of hose is subjected to heat from a fire sufficient to discolor the cotton fabric it is time to investigate closely the extent of the actual weakening of the threads, which, if found to be at all brittle, have entirely lost their strength.
When wet hose is exposed to freezing temperatures so as to stiffen the jacket from ice formation, it should be handled as little as possible until thawed out, as it may occur that the warp threads, or some of them will break when the lengths of hose are bent or folded.
Pump pulsations frequently cause chafing of jackets on cobblestones, curbstone edges and edges of window sills and cornices. If much vibration takes place in hose lying on sharp cinders or frozen ground, a jacket may be entirely worn through in a half hour or less. The weakening of hose from such causes, while of material importance in any case and affecting the length of service received, is very greatly diminished in its first importance if the hose be double-jacketed, since, with the usual qualities of fire department hose, the strength of resisting bursting pressure of the inner jacket alone is ordinarily sufficient for practically all service conditions. The outer jacket, while adding to the strength for resisting bursting pressure to a very material amount while the hose is new, really serves as a scuff plate, shock absorber, or similar device, protecting the inner jacket from fatal injury. This function is believed to be of sufficient importance to overshadow the additional cost and weight, the latter being approximately 25 lbs. per length, and other considerations, except for service in private departments, where infrequent use is the usual case.
Exposure to hot oils and greases or to gasoline, naphtha and other rubber solvents, even if of very short duration, is likely to result in early failure of the rubber lining, which either hardens, perhaps to brittleness, or is loosened from the jackets, swollen and deformed so as to be entirely useless for performing its function.
Other injuries which hose receives in use at fires, in addition to the “natural injuries” from horse caulks, trolley wires, etc., are varied and large in number. In any event, it seems necessary to include the practice of making careful examination of hose for damage done during a fire as soon as possible after it is brought back to the house as a very important feature in the matter of the proper care of hose after purchase. Much of the fire hose in service is in departments where, fortunately, for one reason or another, it is not called into frequent use. Such hose must have special attention over and above that given to hose which is put into service each month, week, or day. This attention is required because of the tendency of all things to return to dust. Cotton, from which the hose jackets are made, is subject to mildew, the favorable conditions for which are continued dampness with poor ventilation. Cotton fabric at its best with respect to its strength and lasting properties if stored under conditions permitting good ventilation and the humidity of a bright June day. The rubber lining in the course of its manufacture is transferred from a plastic, putty-like mass to the condition in which it is found in new hose through a chemical reaction due to sulphur in the rubber compound. The period required for the reaction to take place is shortened by exposing the compound to heat. The reaction would nevertheless have progressed to approximately the same point in due course of time without recourse to artificial heat, and likewise continues at ordinary temperatures for presumably an indefinite length of time. Hence all rubber compounds are continuing the vulcanization process and will in time reach a condition of bone hardness. The rate of this process is speeded up when rubber is exposed to artificial heat, and at an increasingly faster rate with increases in the temperature. We are familiar with the “fountain of youth” effect which takes place when an old rubber band is placed in water for a day or two. While most rubber bands are practically pure rubber gum of high grade, this restoration of youth takes place to a greater or lesser degree with most rubber compounds when treated in this manner. Hose linings may be kept youthful by running water through each length at least every three or four months while the hose is stored ready for service. This should be done not only in the case of hose in service, but with all reserve supplies of new or old hose.
Because of the opposite effect of water, moisture, or dampness on the cotton fabric, care must be used to dry the hose jackets thoroughly and to drain all water from the tube before such reserve supplies are re-stored.