Explains Poor Fire Streams to Public
In order to counteract the fallacy of the layman in laying the blame for poor fire streams on the shoulders of the water department, Superintendent D. W. French of the Hackensack, N. J., Water Company has made use of the newspaper columns to lay the details of the situation before the public in order to create a better feeling of cooperation. Many of the arguments as advanced by Mr. French are applicable to many municipalities, for the problems that are encountered in that section of New Jersey are not local but universal. The story as told to the public is as follows:
Fire losses in Northeastern New Jersey can be cut down by simple application of the facts which govern pressure, according to D. W. French, superintendent of the Hackensack Water Company.
Destruction of property through the ineffective use of long lines of fire hose should be avoided, declares Mr. French, who points out why water facilities sometimes fall short at fires occurring within the area embracing forty-five communities, served by the company in Bergen County and North Hudson.
Use of Pumping Engines
Employment of a pumping engine is one way of reducing fire damage, asserts Mr. French, warning that improper handling of hydrants is another source of avoidable fire waste.
“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, and where the expense of a pumping engine is greater than the municipality can stand,” says Mr. French, whose experience covers more than forty years.
“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 spells defeat for the service, cuts the pressure down rapidly, and is the reason for the frequently used statement: ‘We had no pressure.’
Failing of Laymen
“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 nose when using a one-inch nozzle.
“This loss is even greater when a nozzle of larger diameter is used. It, 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 nose 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 arc other causes over which the company has no control, which result in partial failures of the service at fires. A few of these causesshould be brought to public attention.
Fault at Hydrants
“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 often 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.
“At a fire which occurred recentlv two sections of fire hose burst, and while the fire was raging the water had to be shut off to replace these sec-
Defeats the Purpose
“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.”