Emphasizes Advantages of Fire Pumper
Superintendent D. W. French, of the Hackensack Water Company, of New Jersey, recently emphasized the advantages accruing from the use of the motor pumping fire engine, especially in d.stricts where pressure in the mains is not very high. The plan, he said, would reduce greatly fire damage in outlying districts. Mr. French continued:
“It is not uncommon for us to receive complaints about low water pressure when fires occur in outlying parts of our territory where mains have not been laid or even applied for.
“In such cases, direct pressure from the nearest fire hydrant, which is perhaps 800 or 1,000 feet away is the only source of relief, and in practically all of such cases the building is lost. Well informed fire chiefs and their men know enough about hydraulics to realize that long lines of hose with the accompanying friction loss spells defeat for the service, cuts the pressure down rapidly, and is the reason for the frequently used statement: ‘We had no pressure.’ The layman who
knows little concerning such matters is easily persuaded to criticize the Water Company for the loss of his property. It is for this reason that we wish to make it clear to water users that there is a loss of practically eleven pounds pressure for every 100 feet of the best brand of rubber lined linen hose when using a one-inch nozzle.
“This loss is even greater when a nozzle of larger diameter is used. If, for example, the pressure at a hydrant is 100 pounds per square inch and 600 feet of hose is used, then the pressure at the hose nozzle will be reduced to 34 pounds, which is insufficient for good results by direct pressure. This condition is entirely overcome by the introduction of a pumping engine.
“There are other causes over which the Company has no control, which result in partial failures of the service at first. A few of these causes should be brought to public attention. In a number of fires which have occurred, and where the pressure was criticized, we had the good fortune to have a water company representative on the ground, and an examination of the hydrants revealed the fact that they were only partly open. Upon being fully opened, good service immediately followed. It takes from thirteen to sixteen turns of the hydrant key to fully open a hydrant, and this is oiten overlooked in the haste and excitement of the moment. Such handling of hydrants is admittedly not intentional, but is emphatically inexcusable and rings with inexperience. It is fair to assume that this opening was not made by an experienced or well seasoned fireman.
“I am not exaggerating when I say that during a year there are a score or more hydrants rendered inoperative at fires by men trying to open them by turning in the wrong direction and breaking some of the interior working parts. This is also inexcusable, as every hydrant has an arrow cast on its top, showing the direction of movement to make an opening.
“Occasionally we have seen a long single line of hose led from a hydrant to a point near a burning building, and there divided into two lines with nozzles. This invariably defeats the purpose, which was to secure more water, because the long single hose line ‘kills’ the hydrant pressure. The proper procedure is to bring two lines from the hydrant to the building and, if a heavy stream is desired, then to bring the two lines together into a single nozzle.
“The proper spacing of fire hydrants deserves careful consideration, and it is well to keep in mind that the Board of Fire Underwriters quote their lowest rates on fire insurance when hydrants are spaced not more than 500 feet apart.”