Fire Extinguishment by Carbonic Acid Gas.
With regard to the plan so often suggested of storing in each room of a building a supply of carbonic acid gas sufficient to displace, in case of fire, all the air, and thus smother the fire, it may not he out of the way to quote so eminent an authority as C. J. H. Woodbury of Boston, who, writing to a contemporary, says : “ Suppose we should have a supply of carbonic acid gas sufficient to displace the air in the rooms of the building. The gas must he kept under as great pressure as may be feasible ; and suppose that canisters should be used for the purpose, in the form familiar in connection with the lime light used for projecting pictures on a screen with the stereopticon, and also for theatrical purposes. These canisters, measuring 15 inches in diameter, have a capacity of 1.23 cubic feet for each lineal foot, and if they were made strong enough to sustain a pressure of 285 pounds above that of the atmosphere, the gas would be condensed to one-twentieth of its volume. It the rooms were 15 feet high, the cans lying horizontally would require 0.61 lineal feet of can for every square feet of floor, or 0.81 square feet of can space for 1 foot of floor. This would about cover the ceiling with cans, allowing enough room for hanging strips coming down from the timber above. It is unnecessary to allude to any devices by which such apparatus should be put into service at a fire. The liberation of a volume of gas equal to that of the air would impose great strains on the structure if closed tightly, that on a window 4×7 feet being three tons. I have at some length applied the logic of figures to prove by the reductio ad absurdum the fallacy of a chemc which is as preposterous as that of the mice to bell the cat; yet the result of laboratory experiments with carbonic acid gas has made such a strong impression that the opinion is widely prevalent that it can in like manner be applied for practical purposes in the extinguishment of fires without the aid of water to furnish the necessary reduction of the temperature, when the mass is too large to cool by radiation as the heat of combustion ceases.”