COURSE OF INSTRUCTION IN FIRE PROTECTION

COURSE OF INSTRUCTION IN FIRE PROTECTION

As GIVEN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

WATERWORKS AND PIPING

IN this thirty-sixth and concluding installment of the University of Illinois Course in Fire Prevention, Mr. Goldsmith gives some important hints as to the cooperation between the fire and water departments, and the maintenance of hydrants and valves:

The Need for Pumpers

Where you have a pumper you can perform lots more efficient work. You may have sixty pounds pressure in your mercantile district and say you have a 350-gallon pumper. I would not buy a hose wagon without a pump of at least 350 gallons capacity, although I might have sixty or seventy pounds pressure, for there is always some place where the pressure does not hold up and you will need that pump to give one good stream. When you get on the end of a four-inch main, suppose you can get only 180 gallons of water, put your pumper on, and select your nozzle with a three-quarter inch or seven-eighths inch tip so you will get a good stiff stream. We are going to show you later how you can utilize such small quantities of water and develop one good stream.

In a city south of the Ohio river last year the mayor got into a considerable discussion about a loss they had on the edge of town. They had two pumpers each of 350-gallons capacity. I got them to lay out the hose as it was laid out at the time of the fire, and they were not able to throw water over the sill of the window on the first floor of the brick building destroyed. We found out how much water we could get from the hydrant, we put on the proper nozzles, and got two very nice streams. The mayor was very much surprised. The chief was a new appointee, and at previous fires he had been able to get fair streams direct from hydrants, but it just happened at this place it could not be done.

Firemen Should Study Distribution System

You men ought to study the water distribution system. Where you have a volunteer department, if you practice, go to some of the weak places and find whether you can get one good stream or two good streams, or if you cannot get any at all. Find out what you can do with your pumper and what size nozzle to use.

We talk about the hydraulics of fire streams, and it is very true we can make some close calculations on the pressure and quantity of water discharged through hose lines, but fire-fighting, as yet, is not an exact science. In actual practice we don’t know within ten per cent of how much water we need to extinguish fire in any given building, and we cannot tell the friction loss in the hose lines within a few pounds, but you can make rough estimates of the pressure you ought to carry at the pumper to get moderately efficient fire streams. It does not make much difference whether you get sixty or seventy pounds on an outside line, and you don’t want as much on an inside line, but it is well to know how to get a fairly satisfactory stream. The best way to do is to make experimental layouts and actually see the result yourself.

Should be Prepared for Water System Failure

There is alway the chance of a failure of the water system. Particularly for our smaller water systems a fireman ought to consider what he would do in case of a failure, before it happens. If you cannot work the thing out when it is quiet, and there is no emergency, you surely cannot do as good a job if it comes on you like a thief in the night. Each of you should imagine that the water system in your home town failed for an hour or even for a half a day. What steps are you going to take? How are you going to utilize what water may be around and wdiat are you going to plan to do, so if the emergency arises you are going to be able to devote your entire energy in directing your department and using the equipment you have and not having to think out some scheme to handle the situation?

I was up at Sandusky, Ohio, immediately after the cyclone which swept through there last year. The chief of the fire department had thought more or less of the subject and he immediately stationed his apparatus so he could get water from the lake into about half of the city and he got about 5,000 feet of hose from Toledo and then he could get some water in practically all parts of the city. Here was the emergency, but he had it all figured out beforehand, and the companies went where they were supposed to go, and 1 think the fire loss was practically nil, except in that portion swept by the tornado.

Some of our larger cities are giving thought to what might result in case an earthquake should rupture the pipes in their water systems. The water department and the fire department in the city of Detroit are considering this question. It will not do you any harm to figure such things out beforehand, particularly because smaller plants are more unreliable than larger ones, although their service record is very good on the whole. Be prepared for the emergency so you can do the best you can with the equipment you have.

COURSE OF INSTRUCTION IN FIRE PROTECTION

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COURSE OF INSTRUCTION IN FIRE PROTECTION

As GIVEN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

WATERWORKS AND PIPING

IN this thirty-fifth installment of the University of Illinois Course in Fire Prevention, Mr. Goldsmith gives some important hints as to the cooperation between the fire and water departments, and the maintenance of hydrants and valves:

Should Carry Independent Gates

We always believe it is desirable where we have two-outlet hydrants for the firemen to carry independent gates and put one gate on each outlet. One gate should be carried on the hose line, and the other gate tied with a strap to the first gate so that those two gates can be readily available to put on the hydrant. In case you want to lay in a second line, you can lay it in without shutting the hydrant down. Where you have a relatively low pressure, thirty or forty pounds, you may start out and think you can catch that fire without a large line, but if the fire gets away, you can drop your chemical line, come hack, and put your pumper on the gated outlet and then the only delay you have in delivering water is to shut down the gate valve on the hose line and shift the line over to the pump, which will not take cover a half a minute.

The cpiestion of putting gates on the hydrants is discussed: sometimes they tell me that it takes too much time. Stop and analyze it. Why should we economize in a place that does not do any particular good? In most fires the hydrant man can get off. take the two caps off, and put the gate on the hose line and get his hydrant open before they arc ready for water at the other end of the line. If it is some old woodshed at the back of a house, and you have no entrance to make, you might have to wait two or three seconds for your hydrant man. This question of the time required is unimportant as you will find if you analyze the maneuver.

Does Not Believe in Utility of the Soft Suction

Along the same line, we do not believe that the soft suction is a desirable thing to use on pumpers. If it is carried on the pumper at all, you are going to use it, as it is a little easier from the manual standpoint to put the soft suction on. Even in the larger cities we are liable to get a fire where we have to concentrate large quantities of water and pull the pressure down on the mains to zero or below, and then the soft suction will collapse. In outlying districts you are liable to get on dead ends where you will pull the pressure down to zero. There are very few times when the operator, if the work of the company is properly allocated, cannot get the stiff suction on the hydrant, without loss of time, and then he can suck the water out of the mains as long as there is any to suck out. So stick to the hard suction because that is not, as I say, a governing feature for determining the time.

In our inspections we run every engine company out of its house, let it take the nearest hydrant, take of the hydrant caps, put on the hard suction, lay 200 feet of hose, attach a nozzle, and raise the pressure to 100 pounds on the pump, and any company that is well trained can do this in just about sixty seconds. So you are not losing very much time and you would not save any time if you did not have to make your connection to the hydrant with a hard suction.

Try to Cut Down Time of Operations

Analyze all fire department maneuvers in this way and find what is the particular portion of the maneuver taking the longest time, then see if you can divide up your men differently so as to cut down the time. We know this can be done from the records of city departments. The city of Milwaukee has a hoard of six engineers review their standard maneuvers and change them from year to year, so the time may be cut down.

Some man in the company or some captain or some officer finds a little easier way to do some particular thing. We can perform all these fire department maneuvers wiih a minimum amount of exertion if we pay attention and study them.

Firemen Must Know Capacity of Water System

There is one thing that is very important for the fireman to remember, because the fireman is in supreme command at the time of a fire, he is boss of everything, and that is the capacity of the water system from which water is being drawn. I don’t know that this particular subject was ever more forcibly broughth to one’s attention than it was about ten years ago at Cones Island, when a sweeping fire occurred. They had a separate tire main system of a capacity of some 4,000 or 5,000 gallons. The capacity, however, is immaterial, for they put on hose lines to take about twice the capacity of the system. The result was there was no stream from that system that was of any effect at all, they were all so weak. It is better to have one good stream than two poor streams, or two good streams than four poor streams. The onlooker may see the water coming lit the nozzle, but it is not putting the fire out, so don’t try to overload your system.

You can determine, or correctly find out, what the capacity of your system is in the mercantile district, where the greatest values are. Today, the Illinois Inspection Bureau classifies the protection in all protected towns in the state, and in the course of that classification, they measure the water they can get out of the hydrants. The engineer who is doing that work secures his information from the members of the fire department and the water department. In your town if they find that they can get 750 gallons at sixty pounds pressure, if that’s the pressure you need, don’t try to use more than three one and one-eighth inch streams. If yon do, you will draw the pressure in the mains down and not get the powerful streams you may need.

You may have a four inch dead end and you can get one good one-inch stream, but don’t try to get two streams.

I used to run with a volunteer department about thirty years ago, and we used to borrow horses from a close-by machine shop. We had a fire one night and had to run up a long hill. One of the fellows named Steve said, “Boys, put on two collars on those horses, that’s a steep hill.” You are going to do as much good trying to get two streams where there is not pressure enough to supply them as Steve did by putting two collars on the horses. It will not work.

(To be continued)