FIRE AND WATER CONDITIONS AT COVINGTON
After enquiring into the fire hazard of Covington, Ky., the fire prevention committee of the National Board of Fire Underwriters reaches these conclusions: “The principal mercantile district is decidedly weak structurally, and streets are narrow, but accessibility is in general good. The fire department is fairly efficient, but is not equipped for handling a large fire, the water supply is dependent on an unreliable supply main and high winds are frequent. The district is subject to serious and spreading tires, but the conflagration hazard for the district is low under normal conditions, owing largely to the readily available and powerful outside aid. In the minor mercantile districts had tires are probable, threatening the principal mercantile district, and in the manufacturing districts individual tires are probable. The compactly built dwelling sections present the hazard due to Hying brands.”
Covington, with a population of VI,000, covers an area of fi.fi square miles, a little more than half of which is built upon. Elevations above the mean sea level, range from 440, the normal Ohio river level, to 800 feet at the western city limits. The waterworks, owned and operated by the municipality, supply all built-up parts of the city, Ludlow, upper portions of Hellevuc and Dayton, United States barracks at Fort Thomas, and, in times of emergency, to Newport through a 10-inch connection. The distribution system of Latonia, recently annexed to the city, is owned and maintained by the Kenton Water Company. The works are under the general supervision of a board of water commissioners, consisting of three members. Robert Welling has been superintendent for the past six years; he is a member of the American Waterworks Association. Alarms of fire are received at the main office, hut there are no regulations w ith regard to employes attending fires. Telephones connected to the public exchange are installed in the main office, pumping station and in the residences of the reservoir keeper, superintendent, foreman and two employees. Supply is taken from the Ohio river, pumped through a single force main to sedimentation basins at Fort Thomas; thence flows by gravity through a single supply main to one system of distribution. Elevations within the city range from 440 to 800. The present supply works were built in 1888. The Ohio river furnishes an inexhaustible supply. Low water, elevation 415.5; high water mark in 1881, at elevation 485.5. The intake is formed by a tunnel 158 feet long and 4 feet in diameter, cut in bed rock and brick lined with cement covering. A substantial masonry casing at the river end contains grooves for an iron grating, which may he replaced by a timber bulkhead when cleaning or repairs are necessary. Elevation of top of aqueduct is 412; the bottom is 4 feet above the river bed. The tunnel terminates in a pump well under pump room, averaging 76.5 by 10 feet in plan, with masonry side walls and bottom lined with concrete; elevation of bottom 406.6. The pumping station built in 1880 and located on the hank of the Ohio river, about 3.5 miles east of the principal mercantile district; pump and boiler room flbors, at elevation 485.0, are slightly above the highest known river stage The pumps have been in service for the past 22 years, but have been recently overhauled and arc in good condition; they are run alternately from three to four months at a time. Each pump takes suction through two 20-inch screened pipes; maximum lift is 15 feet, with a head on the pumps during high water. The screens may be flushed out by jets from the force main without shutting down the pumps. Each unit discharges through a 20-inch connection into a 30-inch force main against a pressure of 142 pounds, (hie of the two large boilers, or the two small boilers arc sufficient to operate one unit; steam piping is not in duplicate. The pumping station is a high, one-story building, with 17-inch brick walls; divided by a 13-inch wall, with unprotected openings and extending to roof only, into boiler room. 40 by 80 feet, and pump room, 50 by 80 feet. The pump room has a pitched, and boiler room a flat, wooden roof, supported on wooden and iron trusses and covered with composition roofing; each roof contains a small plain glass monitor. A 30-inch cast iron force main, laid with a minimum cover of 3 feet, extends westerly from the pumping station, ascending to elevation 793.5, at the entrance to the Fort Thomas tunnel, which is 300 feet long; thence descending a short distance to the reservoir, 3,800 feet from the pumping station. At the tunnel extrance an open standpipe is provided for the escape of air, and serves as an emergeno relict for me pumps in case of the accidental closing of tile reservoir valves. Pipe is of three weights, classified according to the head. 1 he reservoir consists of one lower and two upper basins, with capacities of 34,000,000, -35,000,000 and -⅜ 1,000,000 gallons, respectively; they are formed by earth dams at the fork of a ravine. High water elevation of the upper basins 786.5, of the lower, 761.5. After settling in the upper basins, water flows to the lower basin through floating tubes and interconnecting mains; they are so piped and gated that any may he cut lor cleaning or repairs. The basins were completed in 1889; they have side slopes and bottom lined with stone and concrete, and are in excellent condition. The minimum combined storage in the basins in the last five years has been 59,000,000 gallons. Erom the culvert under the dam of the lower basin, a 30-inch pipe line follows a westerly direction on Alexandria Pike; thence along the side slope of a branch of Three Mile Creek and Buddes road, where it reaches a summit 10,900 feet from the basin, and 76 feet below low water level; the calculated capacity of the main is over 20,000,000 gallons per 24 hours. Crossing the Licking river, where the main is suspended from the C. & O. R. R. bridge, 623 feet long, it enters Covington at Byrd street, and continues to the intersection of Greenup and 13th streets, a total length of 3.8 miles. Pipe is of three weights, varying in thickness from 1 to 1⅛ inches, and laid with a minimum depth of cover of 3 feet. Spare lengths and sleeves are located at various points along the line to facilitate repairs. The average daily putnpage last year w*as 3,022,880 gallons, the daily per capita consumption being 56 gallons; there are 7,742 services and 6,973 meters. The maximum consumption reaches about 4,000,000 gallons per day in summer. There are 32 elevator services, main’y 3 inches in diameter, and six private fire lines, with 4 or 6-inch connections. Controlling valves are in all cases located between the main and the curb line. AH taps are metered, hut in many cases one meter serves several consumers. The 30-inch supply main terminates in a 20-inch and a 24-inch branch. The former extends northerly, passing the eastern limits of the principal mercantile district, while the latter continues westerly four blocks and, reduced to 20 inches, extends northerly by the western limits one block; north of the principal mercantile district these main arteries are cross-connected by a 16-inch main. The main arteries have very few cross-connections to the small intersecting mains, and these connections are mainly 4-inch. A 10-inch line, extending south from the 16-inch, furnishes the main feed to the principal mercantile district. Latonia is supplied by a 10-inch line, laid south from the 21-inch main. A 12-inch feeder, provided with meter on a 6-inch by-pass, supplies Ludlow. Secondary feeders are practically lacking. Minor distributors consist largely of 4 and 6-inch pipe, with a moderate amount of 8-inch and a small percentage of 10-inch pipe. Dead ends around the outer limits are numerous. There were 430 public hydrants of the post type in service May 1, 1911; with a very few exceptions they open to the right; all have gate on connection to main. About 80 per cent, are Bourbons, the remainder being of the Holly and Williamson makes. Hydrants have two 244-inch outlets and a few have steamer connections, which, however, are not used; branches and barrels are 4 inches in diameter, with the exception of several recently Installer., which have 6-inch barrels and branches. Locations of hydrants are determined by the chief of the fire department and the waterworks superintendent. The average linear spacing of hydrants in the principal mercantile districts is 300 feet, and the area served by each is 94.280 feet. In residential districts the average spacing is 110 feet, and the area served by each hydrant is 113,000 square feet. There are 43 cisterns, one being of 30,000 gallons’ capacity, eight are of 12.000, and the remainder of 7,000 gallons’ capacity. In the fire flow tests sufficient quantities were obtained in the principal mercantile district, Test No. 1. and in Tests Nos. 2, 5, 7 and 9, hut in three out of the five, at pressures much too low for effective direct hydrant streams. The other tests gave quantities insufficient for reasonable protection and at very low pressures; in Latonia, only enough water for one good fire stream was obtained, owing to the long feeder of insufficient capacity and the undersized distributing pipes. Considering the low losses in the supply main and the high static pressure, results were in general, poor, owing to the lack of secondary feeders, the large percentage of 4-inch and 6inch pipe and the small size hydrant barrels and branches. The distribution system supplying Latonia, which contains a sman mercantile district, but is chiefly residential in character, is fed by the supply works of the city of Covington, and owned and operated by the Kenton Water Company, which was incorporated under the state laws of Kentucky in 1893; the construction of the original works was started the same year. Upon the annexation of Latonia, the contract with the company was assumed by the city of Covington. F. O. Sheridan, formerly connected with the Covington waterworks for 21 years, has been superintendent for the past four years. The 10-inch main from Covington is reduced to 8 inches, leading to the mercantile district, and the simply further distributed by 6 and 4-inch mains. Practically all taps are metered, and the per capita consumption is low. Static pressures are fair; for details see Table No. 3. There are 8.9 miles of pipe in the system; 7 per cent, is 8-inch, 35 per cent. 6-inch, and 58 per cent. 4-inch. Dead ends are frequent. The system contains 60 gate valves and 69 Bourbon hydrants, with two 2V6-inch hose outlets, 4-inch barrels and 4-inch gated branch connections to mains.
THE COVINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT.
The fire department, consisting of 51 men under Chief E. A. Griffith, and Assistant Chief Thomas Davis, is full paid. The cost of maintenance is $58,000 annually, aside from purchases of new apparatus. There are two engine, one ladder, one chemical and six hose companies in service, and all fairly well distributed. The engines in service include one first size of the modern, double-acting, reciprocating type, and one third size of the single pumo type. A third size single pump engine is held in reserve at Station No. 3. Each engine is provided with one or two lengths of 4 or 5inch hard suction, with basket, a double female coupling, a suction Siamese, and a reducer for connecting to 2½-⅛⅛ hydrant outlets. One engine carries two play pipes with ITS to l%-inch nozzles. None is provided with rubber tires, automatic relief valve, nor compound gage on the suction side of the pump. The engines were tested by engineers of the national board to ascertain their condition and the ability of the operating crews. The speed of the single pump engines were restricted, because of excessive vibration. Engines were well handled by the operating crews, who were familiar with operating at capacity. Stoking, with one exception, was good. Engines were found to be in good to excellent condition. The hose wagons are in fair to good condition, but are mostly of light construction. The chemical tanks of the two combination wagons are provided with 2-inch hose connections. Each combination wagon carries an extra chemical charge. Minor equipment carried by wagons does not include shut-off nozzles. Only four of the wagons are provided with two-horse hitches. The truck in service carries a 60, a 35 and a 30-foot rope extension, and seven other ladders, including two with roof hooks. It is in fair condition, and is provided with rubber tires. The chemical engine appears to be in good condition, but chemical tanks are not equipped with 2%-incli hose connections. It is provided with rubber tires and carries extra chemical charges. All 2½-⅛⅛ hose is 3-ply cotton, rubber-lined, is purchased under service guarantees. Hose is tested once a year from hydrants with a static pressure of 100 to 110 pounds per square inch, and at the first indication of failure, is replaced by new. It was stated that all hose included in the recent purchases would he tested according to specifications just prior to the expiration of the service contract. Of the total amount in service, 6.000 feet is said to be less than four years old; the remainder, some of which is in questionable condition. has been in service four to 10 years. Seven stations arc provided with towers for drying hose, one of which, however, is in poor condition. The amount on hand allows about 1,600 feet to each hose wagon in service. One-inch rubber hose is used with chemical apparatus, and appears to he in good condition. Fire stations are twostorv brick hui’dings, and, with the exception of Station No. 8, which is in poor condition, are in fair to good repair. Except headquarters, which is rather cramped, they are well arranged for the service. Stall trips ami lighting switches, with one exception, operate automatically; engine heaters are provided.
GENERAL SI’MM ARY.
Water Supply —Municipal ownership. Organization only lair: records incomplete. Ample river supply with well constructed intake. Pumping station of good construction with mild exposures; protection somewhat deficient; equipment in good condition and of sufficient capacity. Single force main adequate. Reservoir of ample capacity and in excellent condition. Single supply main unreliable ; secondary feeders lacking. Consumption low. Domestic pressure excellent, but poorly maintained under fire draft. Very large percentage of 1 and 6-inch pipe. Old mains in very poor condition. Valves well spaced and in good condition. Hydrants of unsatisfactory type; spacing wide in the business district.
Fire Department.—Full paid, under supervision of board of police and tire commissioners. Financial support weak. Companies well distributed, but mostly undermanned. Chemical service weak; ladder protection poor. Engines in good to excellent condition; crews experienced in operating at capacity. Other apparatus in fair to good condition. Department weak in appliances for heavy streams. Discipline good. Training insufficient. No regular drills. Response to alarms well arranged; many streets, including most in business district, in poor condition. Fire methods fair. Inspection of buildings quite satisfactory. Records fairly complete.
Conflagration Hazard.—In the principal mercantile district construction is weak, streets are narrow and high winds are not infrequent. The fire department is fairly efficient, although not equipped for fighting large fires, outside aid is readily available, the water supply is ample, but at low pressure, and the conflagration hazard is low. In the minor mercantile districts construction is weak and congested, and the hazard is high locally. In the manufacturing district individual or group fires only are probable. In the residential district there are many shingle roofs presenting the danger of spreading fires.