FIRE CONDITIONS IN SPRINGFIELD
The following information concerning the fire department of Springfield, Ill., is contained in a report on conditions in that city issued by the Fire Prevention Committee of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The city has a population of about 55,000 and the surface of the city is practically level. About forty per cent, of the streets arc paved. Unpaved streets are bad in wet weather. The insurance loss for the past five years, as given in the fire department records, amounted to $709,901, varying between $93,864 in 1914 and $318,149 in 1913. The annual number of fires varied between 272 in 1911 and 336 in 1910, with an average loss per fire of $515, a moderate figure. Based on an average population of 55,000, the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 5.58, and the average loss per capita was $2.88.
The water works are owned by the municipality and the organization and management arc capable. Supply from water-bearing strata with a small emergency connection with the Sangamon river; pumped directly into the distribution system. Quantity available insufficient for maximum consumption and fire flow, but equal to capacity of force mains. Consumption moderate, considering large commercial use. Flydrants in good condition; those outside the congested value district too small; spacing fair in the principal mercantile district.
Fire Department Organization.
The fire department is under the supervision of the Superintendent of Public Health and Safety, Roy R. Reece. The chief, known as fire marshal, has full control, subject to approval of the Superintendent, and may suspend members pending action of the Civil Service Commission. The chief is elected by the city council for a four-year term. Chief, or F’ire Marshal, Peter Jacobs, age 50 years, joined the department in 1901, served as chief from 1904 to 1909 and was again elected in May, 1915. Assistant Fire Marshal. Matt. Cullen, age 58, joined the department in 1883 and was appointed to his present position in 1912; he was acting assistant chief for a number of years previous. The total membership is 85; fire force, 77; an increase of 14 in the total membership and of 15 in the fire force since the 1908 report. The expenses of the department in the fiscal year ending February 28, 1915, were: Salaries and pensions, $67,196; general expenses, $9,874; total maintenance, $77,070; improvements, $7,711. There was also expended $8,200 for a motor pumping engine in 1915. Members of the department, except the chief, are under civil service regulations and can be removed only for cause after trial.
There are three hose, two chemical, one ladder and five engine companies in service, in eight stations. Each company has a captain and a member designated as lieutenant, who acts in the captain’s absence; each engine company has an engineer and assistant engineer. Both ladder trucks are assigned to the one ladder company. Members are allowed about 3 3/4 hours daily for meals, one day off in four and ten days’ annual vacation. The engines consist of an automobile, with triplex single-acting pump, received during the inspection, two steamers of double pump reciprocating type, one steamer with a single, double-acting pump and one steamer of unreliable rotary type. The steamers arc 21 to 34 years old and have had new boilers within 11 to 17 years. F.ach engine has an automatic and a hand relief valve and suction strainer; two have two 10-foot sections and two have one 20-foot section each of 4or 4FS-inch stiff suction and one has a 20-foot section of 3$4-inch stiff suction; two engines have reducers and double female connections to connect to cither size of hydrant outlets; the three remaining engines can only connect to the small outlets. The steamers are connected to heaters while standing in quarters. The steam engines have iron tires and plain bearings; the automobile has cushion rubber tires. The two ladder trucks are in service with one company, at headquarters. One is a Babcock, with a 65-foot manually raised aerial, with a 10-foot fly and eight other ladders, including a 45-foot extension and two short ladders with roof hooks. The second is a service truck with a 45-foot extension and eight other ladders, including two with roof hooks; it is provided with rubber tires. The trucks are in fair condition. One hose wagon is an automobile with two 35-gallon chemical tanks and cushion rubber tires; the others are reels, three of which are fitted with 45-gallon chemical tanks; the automobile and one reel have 2j4-inch connections to chemical tanks. The combination reels carrying short ladders, are located with the hose companies. Five of the reels have recently been repainted and are now in fair condition. The chemical engines are of the Babcock type. The chemical tanks do not have connections for 2J^-inch hose; they are in fair condition. The chief is provided with a 4-passenger automobile and the assistant with a rubber-tired buggy, which is used only in emergency; a buggy in good condition is in reserve. A 2-horse fuel wagon in good condition, loaded with J4 ton of gas coal, is located at headquarters. Couplings in this and neighboring cities are of the usual screw type. Flose is double-jacketed cotton, rubber-lined, purchased by the city council under the usual trade guarantees. Up to the present it has not been the practice to make any tests, but in future the chief plans to test all hose at 250 to 300 pounds at time of delivery. The entire supply of hose has been purchased since 1908. Hose is dried at one house in an unheated tower, at the other houses by hanging over a rounded stick, or on the sidewalk during good weather. The hose wagons carry an equipment consisting for the most part of 1 to 3 shut-off nozzles with to lJ4-inch tips, 1 or 2 open nozzles, axe, monkey wrench, 1 to 4 hose straps, torches, lanterns and hydrant reducer; from 1 to 5 have extra chemical charges, distributing nozzles, plaster hooks, door-opener, crowbar, shovel and burst-hose jacket. The chemical engines carry axes, plaster hooks, rope and lanterns. Siamese couplings, nozzle holders, door-openers, hydrant hose gates and extra chemical charges are few or lacking. The chief’s car carries three extinguishers, an axe, crowbar and door-opener. The ladder trucks have a fair equipment, consisting of nozzle holder, axes, plaster hooks, door-opener, crowbar, sledge hammer, shovels, brooms, pitchforks, bale hooks, wire cutters, rope, hose straps, burst-hose jackets and lanterns; the aerial truck also carries a Siamese coupling, battering ram, two hose hoists, wrecking hook and poles, and life belt; the city truck carries a cellar pipe. Equipment for handling heavy streams consists of a turret pipe, ladder pipe, cellar pipe, a Siamese coupling and a deluge set without lead hose.
Seven of the houses are two stories of joisted brick construction; one is a one-story, part brick and part frame, affording very poor accommodations for the men. The two-story houses are generally well arranged. The hose houses have room for an engine or additional apparatus. Only Engine 3 has a hose tower. Some of the rules governing the department were prepared by a former board of fire and olice commissioners and others were issued y the present chief in May, 1915. Special cases are covered by written or verbal orders from the chief or superintendent. Charges may be preferred by a captain through the chief to the. civil service commissioners. The chief plans to have weekly drills with the aerial truck, the hose companies alternating in the use of the truck. A third alarm is general and calls out the entire department. There is no running card provided, each company having only verbal instructions regarding the territory it is to cover.
Chemicals are extensively used and the chief endeavors to keep the water damage low. If fire is seen by first company arriving a 2J4inch hose line is laid to back up the chemical line, otherwise the laying of hose is left to the second company. In residential sections, ¾or ⅝-inch shut-off nozzles are used for direct hydrant streams; elsewhere engine streams with 1to lJ4-mch shut-off or open nozzles are used. The chief states that he would use the turret pipe, distributing nozzles, cellar pipe and ladder pipe as occasion demanded. The rules of the department require that standpipes and automatic sprinkler connections be used when provided. Hose is carried up stairways and ladders and hoisted to the roof by hose hoist. Engine fires are lighted by automatic gas lighters as the engines leave quarters. Members of the fire department have not made regular inspections of buildings. Occasional inspections are made when conditions are suspected of being bad or upon complaint. During August and September, 1915, nine men were detailed for building inspection in the mercantile district. These inspections will be continued two or three times annually. The chief, building inspector and electrician inspect moving picture establishments twice annually.
Since the report of the National Board in 1908 the following changes and improvements have been made: A joisted brick station built in place of a frame station burned; one hose company changed to an engine company; entire new supply of hose purchased; an automobile pumping engine, an automobile combination chemical and hose wagon and the chief’s car purchased. Two steamers were overhauled in 1915; the reels have been painted. New wheels and axles have been ordered for Engine 4. The manual strength of the department increased by 15 men.
Fire Alarm System.
The fire alarm system is a part of the Department of Public Health and Safety and is maintained by City Electrician J. D. Valentine. He served ‘in 1908 and 1909 and was again appointed in June, 1915. He has one assistant, one clerk and three operators; the last are under the jurisdiction of the police department. The apparatus at headquarters is a combined fire alarm and police signaling system of Gamewell make, installed in 1894-6 and moved from the city hall in 1909, consists of the following: A 6-circuit slate operating and charging board with the usual devices for operating and charging storage batteries; a 10-circuit wooden plug board used to bridge two or more circuits together on one register; four punch registers; a single-dial, interfering manual transmitter with Break-wheels corresponding to each box number and to 44 assigned locations to transmit signals over the gong and indicator circuit, a telephone switchboard, a watch desk and one telephone and four telephone keys on the telephone circuit to the boxes and four keys for opening circuits for tests; the watch desk is covered with trash. There is a second transmitter in reserve, like the one in use. The total number of boxes is 68. One is of the ordinary messenger call type; the remainder are interfering, brush break, sector pull, 5-call police signaling system boxes, manufactured by the Police Telegraph and Signal Company. There are 47 street boxes and 21 private boxes, inaccessible.
State Fire Marshal.
A State fire marshal law was enacted in 1909 and put in operation in 1911. Walter H. Bennett is fire marshal; term expires in March, 1917. He is assisted by four deputies and 24 field deputy State fire marshals. In addition, 200 citizens skilled in fire insurance or building inspection have been appointed special deputy inspectors. The law requires the chief of the fire department to investigate the cause of every fire and report to the State fire marshal’s office within one week of the occurrence; usually fires of suspicious origin arc reported immediately. The State fire marshal has ample authority and proper organization to investigate and prosecute arson, to inspect buildings, order their repair when they endanger adjoining property and cause abatement of serious hazards.
The recommendations made in the report include: Install a new 10,000,000-gallon pump in the pumping station, capable of working with the present pump of the same size, to be followed within a reasonable time by another, so that the reserve capacity necessary to a direct pumping system may be provided. That a new 36-inch force main be installed from the pumping station to North Grand avenue, cross-connected with the present mains, but along a route well separated from them. That dead ends be eliminated wherever practicable, 4-inch mains replaced, large mains frequently connected to distributors at intersections, and long, unsupported lines of pipe cross-connected, so that not more than one hydrant will be on a 6-inch main between intersecting lines, and not more than two hydrants on an 8-inch main between intersecting lines. That additional hydrants be installed where necessary so that there shall be: a. In the congested value and lumber and manufacturing districts, one at each street intersection and one midway between intersections where the distance exceeds 300 feet. b. In other districts, one at each intersection and, where blocks are over 400 teet long, one at an intermediate point. I hat the chief be appointed for an indefinite term with removal only for cause after public trial. I hat sufficient men be appointed to companies so that the least number present at all times, including vacations, days off and meal hours, will be as follows: Six men for Engine Companies 1 and 2 and Ladder Company 1. Four men for other engine companies. Three men for hose companies. Eight men for the combined engine and ladder companies. That the following changes and additions be made: Provide an automobile pump and hose wagon and an automobile combination chemical and hose wagon for Engine Company 2. Provide automobile pump and hose wagons for Engine Companies 3 and 4. Provide automobile combination pump, chemical and hose wagons for Companies 5 and 7. Provide automobile service ladder trucks with chemical tanks for the proposed ladder companies. Provide an automobile quick-raising 75-foot aerial truck for Ladder Company 1. That companies be established and removed as follows: Install ladder companies with Engine Companies 4 and 5. Move Hose Company 5 to Cook and East Grand, lot now owned by city. Discontinue Chemical Companies 1 and 2 and assign men to other companies. That each hose wagon have divided body and carry about 800 feet of 2 1/2and 200 feet of 3-inch hose, with a total of at least 1,000 feet, and that a complete shift be provided for each* wagon; 3-inch hose to be fitted with 2 1/2-inch couplings properly beveled. That a drill tower and school be established. That a more modern fire alarm telegraph system be provided. This system may be operated in conjunction with the present system, with the same operators on duty, but is to replace the present system in so far as fire alarm functions are concerned. That additional apparatus at headquarters be provided as follows: a. A nonmterfering repeater, with contacts for 10 box and 4 closed alarm circuits, b. A 14-circuit lottery charging and testing switchboard, c. Relay board, operating punch registers and “me stamp through closed local circuits, to indicate receipt and transmission of alarms. 1 hat boxes be of successive type, with silver break contacts, internal mechanism protected against abnormal currents, outer cases and lightning arresters adequately grounded, and with keyless, self-acting or glass panel doors, or with key attached. That boxes be installed so that a fire alarm box, distinct from a police box, shall be within 500 feet of every building in mercantile and manufacturing districts, and in all other sections within 800 feet of every valuable group of buildings.