Cover Exposures—Let Fire Burn
Insufficient Streams Available to Extinguish It—Best Move Is to Cover Exposures Alone
THERE are times at fires where good judgment dictates the covering of exposures alone, and neglecting the buiding or materials which are ablaze. This would seem to be the situation in the fire described in the last issue of this journal.
This fire occurred in a city of approximately 35,000 population, having a department made up of four engine companies and one truck company. Three of the engine companies were equipped with 750 gallon pumpers while the fourth was equipped with a 500 gallon quadruple combination, including chemical tank, hose body and city service ladder equipment.
Response to Alarm
Response to alarms in this city is as follows:
First alarm Engine Cos. Nos. 1 and 2 and truck Co. No. 1.
General alarm, Engine Cos. Nos. 3 and 4, the latter benig the quadruple combination truck.
The water supply in the neighborhood of the fire was deficient, there being but one long eight-inch main and one six-inch main supplying three available hydrants. At the time of the fire a strong wind was blowing from the east.
The Property Involved
The property involved in this fire, as well as surrounding buildings, is shown in the diagram herewith. The property directly affected by the fire included a lumber yard, three dwellings and a motor bus factory. The latter establishment was made up of several buildings in a group. The first of them, occupied as a warehouse, was of wooden construction throughout and four stories in height. It was occupied by storage of wood and metal parts used in the manufacture of automobile buses.
The large building, a four story affair, was occupied on the top floor by miscellaneous storage, including patterns and blue prints. Other floors were used for crating and storage of automobiles as well as offices. A portion of the ground floor was employed as a wood working room for manufacturing bodies for buses.
The fire started in a grass plot to the rear of the dwelling shown in the sketch, and just west of the plant. Fire reached the lumber pile which was soon ablaze and was extending to the adjacent dwelling when the alarm was transmitted. By the time the fire department arrived all three dwellings were ablaze and the lumber piles were burning fiercely.
The department concentrated its first two lines on the fire, one being operated with a 1 1/4-inch nozzle on the lumber piles and the other with a 1 1/8-inch nozzle on the dwellings. No headway was made but instead fire reached the warehouse at the time the general alarm apparatus was put into service, and from this point on spread rapidly, involving the entire plant.
Suggested Method of Handling Fire
Probably the one mistake in operating at this fire was the attempt to extinguish the fire in the lumber piles and the dwellings with such limited streams.
Even with all of the apparatus on its hands and the three hydrants being used to the maximum, it is very doubtful, in view of the wind blowing from the east, whether or not the fire could have been held with the very best of fire fighting.
For a department the size of that in this city and having such limited equipment and water supply, it would have been a much better and safer policy to let the lumber piles burn as well as the three dwellings, and concentrate all efforts toward covering the exposure to the west, which is the plant in question.
It is along this line that the suggested method of handling the fire will be directed. An eight-inch main should be good for four fair size streams even though the pressure were low, while the six-inch main should satisfactorily serve two streams, even if this main is dead-ended and of considerable length. No hydrant streams are to be employed, and three pumpers can be utilized on the three hydrants.
Assuming the fire is in the condition as stated in the description upon the arrival of the first company, immediately transmit a general alarm.
In the meantime place Engine Co. No. 1 at hydrant No. 1 and stretch two lines, each with 1 1/4-inch nozzles to a position on the street just north of the dwelling adjacent to the warehouse. One of these lines is to wet down the dwelling while the other is to assist and cover the exposure of the warehouse as well.
Place the second engine at hydrant No. 3 and stretch two lines with the assistance of members of the truck company on the first alarm. Each of these lines to be equipped with 1 1/4-inch nozzles.
By taking a position behind the small shed shown south of the second dwelling involved, these two lines can operate effectively in covering the warehouse and preventing its ignition.
If necessary, but such seems unlikely considering the direction of the wind, one of these lines may be diverted to covering the lumber piles south of the burning piles. Members of truck companies can be utili. ed in patrolling these piles to see that they do not become involved.
Engine Co. No. 3, the first rolling in on the general alarm should be placed at hydrant No. 2 and two lines stretched, with the assistance of members of Engine Co. No. 4. Both of these lines should be equipped with 1 1/4 nozzles and should assist those lines operating on the dwelling adjacent to the warehouse as well as covering the warehouse. Send one of the lines to the roof of the warehouse to make sure that embers dropping thereon are not starting fire anew. This line may also wet down the roofs of the buildings to the west, from the point of advantage.
Have members of the Engine Co. No. 4 and of the truck company as well, if they are available, proceed through the warehouse and he on the alert for fire entering any of the windows. If the windows are open they should he closed at once, though it is very unlikely that they will be open due to the fact that the warehouse does not usually house any great body of workmen.
This layout of apparatus will give six lines of good caliber on the fire and allow sufficient men to manage each line. It is likely that the six lines can hold the fire from entering the warehouse as they have a good start in this work and have satisfactory pressure provided by the three engines.