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.