DRY CHEMICALS FOR FIRE EXTINGUISHING.
Chief S. F. Hunter, of Springfield, Ohio, in his paper read before the recent convention of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ association, on “Dry chemicals as against the liquid chemical extinguishers, stated that he did not approve of any powdered chemical known as “Kilfyre,” for he believed the only safe way of extinguishing fire to be by water or liquid chemicals, such as the old reliable acid, soda and water extinguisher. “I have had within the last few months (he continued) calls from canvassers, wanting my indorsement of dry chemical or ‘Kilfyre’ extinguishers. in order that they might use the same among the manufacturers and business men, as an aid in selling their products for extinguishing tire. 1 have in all cases emphatically refused to give my indorsement to any such means of extinguishing tires. 1 believe that every fire chief assembled here has read the newspaper accounts of the Iroquois Theatre tire in Chicago, on December 30, 1903, during a matinee performance where 582 persons lost their lives, the majority of whom were children. This 1 attribute largely to the over-confidence of the management in providing ‘Kilfyre’ powder only, as a tire extinguisher. I will now read you a brief extract from what former Chief Musham, of Chicago, has to say in reference to this particular case. ‘The Iroquois Theatre tire is supposed to have originated from an electric arc lamp upon the stage, with its hood and reflector mounted upon a pedestal. This lamp is what is known in theatrical parlance as a flood-light, being used in the nature of a calcium lamp to project a constant light upon the stage. It was located upon an iron bridge adjoining the proscenium wall, large enough to accommodate the lamp and its operator, and placed 12 ft. above the floor of the stage. One of the overhanging drops which has been identified as the arch drapery, suspended properly about 18 ins. from the lamp, swung nearer the lamp than usual, probably touching it at the opening in the hood, through which the upper carbon passed. This opening is about 2 in. in diameter, just above the arc, and but a fewinches removed from the point of greatest heat, which reaches at the arc about 400° Fahr. The blaze, when First discovered by the operator of the lamp, extended for less than a foot along the edge of the drapery. The house fireman, who before his employment in the theatre, was a member of the Chicago lire department, was upon the stage, and but a few feet from the ladder leading to the bridge upon which the lamp rested. Taking with him two tubes of ‘Kilfyre,’ a chemical fire extinguisher in the form of a powder, he rushed to the bridge, calling as he went for the lowering of the asbestos curtain. His first efforts were directed towards pulling down the burning drapery, and thus preventing the spread of the flames to the great number of canvas drops near by. I11 this he was partially successful. A large piece of canvas was torn away; but the portion which remained and to which the flames had spread, was beyond his reach. The ‘Kilfyre’ was used, but with fittle or no effect, its operation being upon the principle of suffocation of the fire, by surrounding it with a heavy and uninflammable gas, thus excluding oxygen. Had the fire been upon the floor above, where gas could have accumulated, it is probable that the ‘Kilfyre’ might have proved effective.’ I have come to the conclusion that the safest way to extinguish a fire is by water or liquid chemicals, with which effective work can be done, no matter where the fire originates, on hanging draperies, on the ceiling, walls, or on the floor. It is easily demonstrated that powdered chemicals thrown against walls or draperies will fall to the floor, and thus prove inefficient, through the failure of the action necessary to release the gases, which form the basic principle of the dry extinguisher. The safest and most reliable extinguisher is water, except in the case of combustion among oils or greases. No doubt, if the stage of the Irontiois theatre had been equipped with some reliable means of lighting fire, such as hose-connection with standpipes, portable liquid fire-extinguishers, hand-pumps, pike-poles for tearing down burning scenery, etc., the most disastrous conflagration o’f the centuries might have been avoided. Briefly, then, my opinion in the case of the Dry vs. the Liquid fire-extinguisher, is decidedly in favor of the liquid extinguisher.”