Extra Water for Fire Fighting
Open Bodies of Wafer, Essential in Rural Protection, Can also be Used to Supplement Hydrant Protection in Towns and Cities.
ANY accessible open body of water, such as a pond, river, or canal, furnishes an excellent suction supply for fire department pumpers. In rural sections such bodies of water are generally the only supply; in built-up sections they can and often should be used to supplement the public mains, as they provide a
valuable, practically inexhaustible, additional supply of water for fire fighting.
Providing Artificial Suction Supplies
In rural sections, much valuable work has been done in recent years in providing artificial suction supplies where none existed. Starting ten years ago, Brunswick, Me., has built eighty-four suction places protecting 420 buildings valued at over $600,000. Several methods were used: damming brooks, excavating spring holes, digging pools in clay soil which retains rainfall, laying suction pipes to inaccessible swamps and ponds, and providing pumper locations at low tide along the seashore.
In parts of Massachusetts, CWA funds have been used in small communities to build water holes and cisterns, to provide suction sumps in brooks, to construct pumper approaches to shallow ponds, and so to provide water supplies which make pumper protection available to 10,000 buildings with ail assessed value of $17,000,000. Nearly 500 of these pumper locations have been constructed in five months at a cost of $115,000, and already this protection has saved $140,000 worth of property in actual fires.
Illustrations. Courtesy. Factory Mutual Record
Even where hydrant protection is available nearby ponds, rivers, or canals provide additional sources of water for fighting fires, and their value should be more generally recognized. The amount which hydrants can deliver is limited by such factors as the size and condition of the mains, the distance back to the reservoir or pumps, domestic consumption, and the pressure. When serious fires occur, the mains may not be able to supply the heavy demand, and some of the pumpers can then be most effectively used by taking suction from any available open water. In fires where sprinklers are a factor, pumpers should use natural supplies wherever possible and connect to hydrants only after such supplies are fully utilized.
A few years ago, a serious fire in an automobile assembly plant resulted in a loss of $330,OCX), largely because firemen connected their five pumpers to private yard hydrants and used the water which should have supplied the sprinklers. Instead, the pumpers should have started drawing at once from a nearby river, in which case the sprinklers supplied by the private system, hacked by good hose streams from the pumpers, could have quickly controlled the fire.
Failed to Take Suction from Nearby Lake
Similarly, firemen failed to use a nearby lake when they were called to fight a serious fire in the pumping station at Paris, 111., last winter. Instead, they drove to a hydrant a half-mile away, to which this same lake water was being forced by pumps in the burning station. They laid a line of hose a half-mile hack to the station, hut did not have quite enough to reach the fire, liven if the hose had reached, friction loss in such a long line would have seriously cut down i t s effectiveness. Besides, the water supply would have proved unreliable because the fire soon put the pumps out of service. If the pumper had taken suction from the lake at first, several good streams would have been available immediately, and the fire very likely would have soon been controlled. As it was, the station was completely destroyed and the town was without water for thirty-five hours.
Industrial Plants Provide Pumper Suction
A number of industrial plants have improved their fire protection by providing pumper suction facilities at neighboring bodies of water. A textile machinery plant installed underground pipes from a pond to two hydrants to which pum]K-rs can connect. A food products plant has provided connections so that pumpers can draw from a 100,000-gallon mill-use reservoir and pump directly into the fire system. Several paper mills have built docks at river banks for pumpers. A small, isolated clothworking plant with a limited water supply installed a suction well for pumpers at a river bank 650 feet away. Another suction well was constructed by a large lumber yard near the shore of a lake, with an intake pipe extending 100 feet out into deep water. A Pennsylvania city has provided several connections permitting pumpers to draw from a creek which runs through the city.
Added Protection, with Small Cost
Arrangements of this kind give added protection and the cost is very small. Other plants with sources of water available should provide similar facilities. A suction supply for pumpers is particularly important for plants under construction where fire protection or private water supplies have not yet been provided, for isolated plants where water supplies are limited, and for properties having lumber yards or log piles, fires in which would require large volumes of water.
It is an excellent idea for plant executives to invite Fire Department officers on both day and night duty to visit their factory in order to make definite plans in advance as to how pumpers are to be placed most advantageously in case of fire.—Factory Mutual Record.