DESTRUCTION OF AN ENGLISH “ FIREPROOF ” MILL.
The new Hall Spinning Company’s factory at Burnley, Eng., was supposed to be fireproof. It was built entirely of iron, brick,and cement—the only timber used being the boards for the flooring and the window frames. The factory was five stories high. 210 feet long by 120 feet wide, divided into bays of about ten feet, six inches by heavy cast iron girders of the section known as ” Hodgkinson’s,” which spanned the whole width of the mill in practically one continuous girder, formed by bolting together twenty-foot lengths, the ends of which were made to grip round the necks of five columns, which formed the immediate supports for the girder. The extreme ends of this long, spanning girder rested upon, and were built into, the walls. T he bays themselves consisted of wrought iron joists of the ordinary II section, placed at distances of about three feet apart, and supported by small brackets cast upon the web of the main girders. The spaces were filled in by brick arches springing from the wrought iron joists, and thus completing the structure of the floors. The roof was formed by running wrought-iron main girders across the mill, each resting upon the five intermediate columns. The ten feet, six inches space was spanned by angle iron, which carried a solid eight inches of concrete covered with asphalt, so as to form a reservoir for the collection of rain water. The fue spread quickly and the floors soon collapsed. This is ascribed to one of three things ora combination of all three as follows:
First.—T hat the cast iron columns expanded by heat, and when water was played upon them from the hydrants, there was sudden contraction,causing them to snap—a phenomenon well known to fire experts. Second.—That the cast iron main girders on their expansion through heat, were prevented from traveling in a straight line by being built into the walls, and in consequence began to lift up in the middle (just as railway rails do in hot weather), thus displacing the brick arches, and providing a funnel for the passage of the fire to the upper floors. An increase of nine inches is a very moderate estimate of the expansion of the main girders in the Burnley fire,which would be further increased by the expansion of the columns.
T hird.—That the wrought iron girders spanning the ten feet, six-inch bays, which formed the sprinkling for the brick arches, became weakened by the increased temperature, and were thus unable to sustain the combined weight of the brick arches and the heavy mule headstocks. Those conversant with the arrangement of mule-rooms know that the headstocks never stand upon the main girders when the mules are arranged (as in the present case) with the creels jrarallel to the main girders, thus throwing the greatest weight on the weakest part.
This is the second cotton mill of so-called fireproof construction which, within seven years, has collapsed through the effects of internal fires—the first being that of Messrs. W. Holland & Sons, of Manchester, which was destroyed on August 17, 1890. The Burnley collapse is somewhat different, because the Holland’s property was covered with a roof of wooden trusses, spar, and slates, whereas at Burnley the roof was of concrete, carried upon iron girders. Further, it is stated, that, if the mill had been constructed on the commonsense plan of slow-burning construction, it would have stood a very good chance of being saved. Given a solid ceiling, consisting of five inches, of planks, which present a flat surface to the flames, and are supported on stout wooden beams, and without such abominations as joists or ceilings, that only serve to make concealed spaces for the collection of dust and dirt, and there is a construction that will withstand more fire and heat than any of those iron shells which have become so fashionable of late.