FIRE AND WATER SERVICE OF SOUTH BEND

FIRE AND WATER SERVICE OF SOUTH BEND

After a thorough investigation of the fire hazards at South Bend, Ind., the committee on fire prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters says:

“In the principal mercantile district buildings are nearly all of ordinary joisted brick, with light walls, few parapets, and very little effectual protection to openings in floors, roofs, party walls or external walls. There are a number of excessive areas, and many frame buildings are interspersed. The moderate height of buildings, the strong and efficient fire department and the fairly good width of streets are valuable mitigating features, but are offset by the inadequate water supply and the frequent high winds; the resulting conflagration hazard is high. There are several extensive manufacturing plants and a number of smaller ones. The more important are well equipped with automatic sprinklers and other private fire protection and are not liable to spreading fires. The more congested groups of frame, shingle-roofed dwellings, which comprise the rest of the city, present a serious conflagration hazard.”

The population of South Bend is 54,000, and it covers an area of ten miles, about one-half of which is built upon. The waterworks are owned by the city, Thomas H. Ayers being the superintendent. The supply is taken from artesian wells and pumped at two stations direct to a single system of distribution. Most of the city is level. The elevation is 657 feet above mean sea level. The total capacity of the two pumping units at central station is 5,000,000 gallons. Two of the three 200-horsepower water wheels are ordinarily used to operate both pumps continuously; an auxiliary steam engine and two boilers are used in connection with one of the pumps, in case of emergency. Steam is maintained in one of the boilers continuously. Total rated pumping capacity at north station is 9,000,000 gallons. Pumps are operated intermittently, as needed to meet the varying rates of consumption. Boilers are connected up to a complete loop, steam being furnished from either end; steam is maintained at all times. Southeast of the north station a concrete sub-structure has been recently built around a group of twelve 10-inch wells; deep well pumps, all connected to a 300-horsepower electric motor, are now being installed to pump directly into the mains. A steel standpipe, 5 feet in diameter and 225 feet high, and located close to central pumping station, serves as a pressure equalizer. Base of standpipe at elevation, 44; capacity, 33,000 gallons. In October, 1910. pressure readings were taken by engineers of the National Board between the hours of 8 a. m. and 5.30 p. m. at 68 hydrants well distributed over the system. Pressures ranged from 52 to 85 pounds, with an average, of 70. In the principal mercantile district, the average was 73. In the principal mercantile district the average length of main that it would be necessary to shut off, in case of a single break, is 674 feet; there are 3 sections out of 15 in excess of 1,000 feet, the maximum being 1.270 feet. The average length in a representative residential district is 887 feet, with a maximum of 2.320 feet, and 8 sections out of 36 exceeding 1,000 feet in length. There There were 759 hydrants in service on the distribution system November 1, 1910, exclusive of about 175 private hydrants located around manufacturing plants. All are of the post type, three open to the left. Gates on branch connections are provided where hydrants are connected to mains 10 inches or larger in diameter; only 6 per cent, of the connections are 4-inch, the others being 6-inch. Mathews hydrants with 5 3/4-inch barrels have been installed exclusively for the past six years and now comprise 70 per cent, of the total. The remainder consist of various makes with 4 and 5-inch barrels. Tests at 34 hydrants in seven well distributed groups were made to determine the water supply available for fire protection purposes. The hydrants in a group were opened simultaneously and the discharges measured by means of Pitot tubes; four and five hydrants were included in a group according to the probable quantity of water available. The tests were made at a time when domestic consumption was at a rate of 6,000,000 to 9,000,000 gallons per day in the principal mercantile district. An attempt was made to maintain fire pressures at the pumping stations, but in this test pressure dropped 26 pounds, and in the others it dropped about 8 pounds, as in 5 out of 7 tests the quantites drawn, together with the domestic consumption, exceeded the combined capacity of the pumps. In general, the tests indicate the need of more wells, additional pumping capacity, and a strengthening of the outlying section of the distribution system, if the desired protection is to be obtained at good pressures.

THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.

The lire department was organized on a full paid basis in 1886, and has a membership of 65. Chief Wilfird Grant was appointed in 1902, entered the department in 1884, and is 43 years of age. Assistant Chief William Smith was appointed in 1892, entered the department in 1878, and is 50 years of age. The present officers appear to be experienced, and have served in various grades of the service. There are 2 ladder, 1 chemical and 9 hose companies in service, and two vehicles, which are occasionally used as hose wagons, in reserve. Each company has a captain and lieutenant, one of whom is always on duty. The four companies located at headquarters operate separately. All of the 2 1/2-inch hose is double-jacketed cotton, rubber-lined; it appears to be of fair to good quality, and was purchased under suitable service guarantees. Of the total amount, 7,000 feet is less than four years old; the remainder has been in service from four to nine years. It is never tested. An 8-circuit, Gamewell, automatic, non-interfering repeater, installed in 1893, receives and transmits box signals. It is equipped with a drum with contacts for two gong circuits, used for operating the house instruments in this station, and for Operating a tower bell striker. An 8-circuit, slate panel switchboard, also installed in 1893, provides the usual Gamewell devices for operating and testing circuits and charging storage batteries.

GENERAL SUMMARY.

Water Supply.—Municipal works; organization fair. Direct pumpage from artesian wells; capacity of wells and pumps insufficient. Fire hazards at central pumping station serious. Average consumption rate moderate, with high maximum. Pressures good, but very poorly maintained under heavy domestic draft, at which time they are too low for fire protection. Good system of distribution. Gate valves fairly well spaced and in good condition. Hydrants mainly of satisfactory type and in fair condition; spacing is wide throughout the city.

Fire Department.—Full paid, under the command of experienced officers. Supervision by the hoard of public safety good; methods of appointment and promotion fairly satisfactory. Appropriations fairly liberal. Hose companies well distributed, but slightly undermanned. Chemical and ladder protection weak. Service apparatus, except the chemical engine, in fair to good condition. Hose of reliable makes, well cared for, but some in questionable condition; no 3-inch hose used. No repair shop; local facilities good. A Deluge set is the only appliance for throwing heavy streams. Fire stations in fair to excellent condition and well arranged. Horses well selected, but number in reserve insufficient. Discipline good; drills of little value. Response to alarms satisfactory; fire methods good. Building inspections only fair, too infrequent and reports lacking. Records fairly complete.

Fire Alarm System.—Automatic system; not a part of the fire department; under good supervision and well maintained. Headquarters nonfireproof: circuits exposed to mechanical injury in basement. Headquarters equipment in good condition. Boxes of original installation in poor condition; the remainder in fair to excellent condition; most boxes equipped with inferior shunts and brush break contacts. Boxes generally conspicuous; distribution generally good. Overhead wires mainly bare; generally on poles with signalling wires only. No separate alarm circuits. Batteries of proper type, in good condition, but poorly mounted. Tests of batteries and circuits fairly frequent; tests of boxes unsatisfactory.

The board of health at Shreveport, La., has condemned the source of the city’s water supply as dangerous to the public health.

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