FIRE PROTECTION IN FOUNDRIES AND STEEL PLANTS
What Fire Inspectors Should Look for in Nooks and Corners—Private Plant Fire Department—Call City Department in Case of Fire
THE following paper will, of course, be primarily of value to those of the readers of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING who are plant fire chiefs. It also, however, will be found of value to municipal fire chiefs, especially those who have large plants in their cities whose fire-fighting systems are capable of improvement. The Youngstown fire brigade is one of the most efficient, and under the leadership of Mr. Woltz and Chief Phillip J. Harty, has attained a high degree of efficiency. The ideas contained in the following paper are, therefore, of great value along the line of private fire protection:
We were asked a few months ago by a man who had recently become associated with one of our large steel plants, why it was necessary to have such elaborate fire protection in our mills, pointing out that most of the construction was steel, concrete and brick. He expressed surprise when told that in our East Youngstown works alone we frequently receive from 75 to 100 alarms a month, and each of these called from one to three companies into action. It is due to the ability of our firemen and the almost instant response to calls of small fires that we are saved serious conflagrations. When asked by my friend what there was to burn, it was pointed out that accumulations of oil and dirt in pits, wood lockers, (where they still exist), wood piles, oil dipping and spraying tanks, oil soaked floors, flashes from rolls, motors and trolley bars, hot steel set too close to buildings or in cars of wood construction and railroad ties are all serious fire hazards. Oil, benzol and other inflammable materials sometimes spill and are set on fire by locomotive sparks and infrequently you get a hot metal spill that is grief for every one concerned.
Maps and Inspection Important
The first matter that one should be familiar with and have in the starting of fire prevention work is an accurate, drawnto-scale map of the plant and its structures. The fire underwriters all have such maps of risks. Then a personal inspection of the nooks and corners of the cellars, attics, pits and floors of every building should be made. First, to see that the map is correct. Second, to see what the fire hazards may be. Third, to plan your location of extinguishers, hydrants and hose racks or reels. Fourth, to see that ample aisle space is provided at all times, to permit the unimpeded use of the fire fighting equipment. Let us consider these four items briefly.
Maps a Necessity
First. Maps are helpful and a necessity, but only helpful if accurate and up-to-date. When the organization is large and the executive offices may be located many miles away or quite often in a distant city, the map is usually the only source of information as to local conditions available at a moment’s notice. It should show, or separate maps should show, water lines whether high or low pressure, sprinkler systems, valves, gates, drains, cut-outs, pumps, hydrants and other hose connections, hose reels, risers, fire houses and special equipment. Fire extinguishers whether hand or on wheels, size and kind should be spotted.
Fire boxes and the fire alarm lines should be shown also, and the various zones should be definitely and accurately indicated. It is just as important to have all these things for a small plant as a large one; of course, many mills would not have a very elaborate out-lay to record on a map. but whatever there is, should be shown in detail.
Fire Survey of Building Is Essential
Second. A careful survey of each building, shack, shanty, pit, cellar, floor and garret is essential to get an idea of the fire hazards, no place is too small, too much out of the way, little used or well protected to be overlooked in such a survey. Then an effort should be made to have the obvious hazards cleaned up, methods changed or discontinued. Wiping rags, oily waste, greasy overalls and working clothes are hazards. Dust of any kind is explosive when properly mixed with air. Paper and old files have made many bad fires. Electrical equipment, wiring, switches and connections should be gone over with minute care. Storage and use of wood, coal, oils, gas, gasoline, benzine, benzol, zylol, etc., should be carefully checked and regulated. No open fires, lights, cigars, pipes or cigarettes should be permitted where gases, oil or vapor is used, stored or issued, in rooms or in close proximity to them, even in the open. The location of steam and hot water pipes should be gone over to check against the chance of wood, paper or other inflammable material being or coming in contact with them. Heating apparatus, stoves, electric, coal or gas should be examined and connections checked. Proper protection under and on all sides should be provided. Chemicals and compounds should be checked as to proper storage, containers and use. Paper or card board shades for lamps of any description should not be permitted. All openings through which steam, hot air or stove pipes issue. should be properly protected by fire resistant material. This is particularly important if structures are of wood.
Waste and its disposal is an important matter. These are a few, very few of the obvious hazards. Hundreds of others
just as dangerous, perhaps, are familiar to many of you and should be sought for as assiduously as those mentioned.
Proper Distribution of Fire Apparatus
Third. If your fire fighting apparatus is not distributed to advantage and where it is easily of access it is a wilful and criminal waste of money. A few moments between the inception of a fire and its extinguishment may mean a serious conflagration, perhaps heavy property and life loss, or no damage at all. So when you locate your hose, extinguishers, reels, etc., confer with your operative department as well as your engineering. Fire doors should be checked daily as the only safe proposition, as these inspections frequently indicate a defect sufficiently serious to prevent their automatic action.
In order to care for fires at inaccessible places it is necessary to arrange special facilities. At each of our blast furnaces we ran a 2j4-inch water line along the stairway leading to the top of the stoves and along the platforms to which is attached a hundred foot length of lj^-inch rubber, wire wrapped hose with regular nozzle having j^-inch tip. On an alarm from Gamewell Box 317 which-indicates, “Fire on Top of Furnaces” two firemen hasten to the boiler house and speed up the pump attached to the special risers, raising the pressure from the normal (110 lbs.) to 250. The hosemcn and nozzlemen, along with the captain rush up the flight of steps and stretch the line, going anywhere around the top of the furnace. Fires at this point usually arise from the lighted gas igniting the oil soaked dust, as well as the oil on the cable and wheel of the hoist.
Inspection and Maintenance of Equipment
Fourth. Space should be provided to operate your fire fighting equipment. Do not permit material to be piled in front of, over or around the reels, and hose houses. Aisles with ample passages to haul the carts and extinguishers mounted on wheels and transport them through the building and yards should be provided and always kept clear of obstructions.
I he inspection and maintainance of your equipment is just as important an item as its installation, perhaps more so, for if you have equipment installed, naturally you look to its being a protection in case of need, and if it should not be in first class working condition or not in its proper place there may arise a serious situation. So that frequent and thorough inspection of all equipment should be made. Forms and records must be provided as a proper check on such work. You cannot afford to take a chance in such a matter. Systematic and careful attention to every detail is essential.
These are, as I recognize this work, the fundamentals. Next we must consider organization, training and records.
Organization of Fire Brigade
Organization. This, of course, depends entirely upon the plant, its size, product, location as to surrounding hazards, installed fire fighting equipment, hours operated and protection available from outside sources.
The careful selection of a head for your fire brigade is as important as any other executive, for upon him and his lieutenants and their efficiency, may rest the future success or failure (by destruction from fire) of the plant. He must be a diplomat, as he will be in more or less constant contact with the operating end, and, of course, will have intimate association with the entire force of employees. He should know what is safe to use on the classes of fires that he will have to handle and be equally familiar with material that is difficult and dangerous to handle. His familiarity with the power lines, water supply, exits, fire escapes, etc., will as a matter of fact come with his work. When a fire exists his authority should be supreme in the threatened district, superseding all operating officials.
If the plant is large enough there should be an assistant for night duty, perhaps, also for day relief.
Composition of Units
Companies may be composed of from six to twelve men. A foreman, or captain, lieutenant, one hydrantman, two to four nozzlemen and the rest hosemen. In some plants salvage corps, ladder truck companies and other special organizations may be required.
From your companies you make up your battalions, and from these your brigade. The number of companies in a battalion will depend entirely upon the arbitrary divisions you make in your works. We have as few as two companies in several of our battalions and the largest has ten. There are a total of 524 employees in our Youngstown District Fire Brigades.
Each battalion has its Chief or Commander. One of the company captains is usually designated as assistant. Companies are composed of workmen who can, as a rule be best spared from ordinary operations, but should have a considerable number of mechanical men, such as electricians, pipe fitters, etc., as these men are, as a rule, scattered throughout your plant, know its electrical hazards, where power can be cut off from affected areas without disturbing others, know the water lines, gates, and valves. It’s a highly important matter to know if its safe to throw water on a power line or not.
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Fire Protection in Foundries
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Location of Headquarters
Fire headquarters should be located as centrally as possible. There should be space enough to house wheeled or motor equipment, work and repair shops should be made at this place. All repairs to fire equipment should be made here. Hose should be inspected, repaired and dried here and all used equipment should cither be cleaned, inspected or refilled at this place or from materials kept there. Here all records should be kept and reports made. To do this requires certain inspectors, repairmen, operators and clerks.
Inspection of Equipment
In our plant we require a twice daily inspection of all fire equipment. This is done by our patrolmen on their regular rounds, and a written report of the condition or irregularities, if any, is made at the end of each turn. In case used or empty equipment is found by a patrolman, he at once uses the phone to notify fire headquarters and a man is sent out to bring in the equipment or refill it and replace it in its proper station. A report of this is made by the fire inspector and this is recorded on a card, and in case an extinguisher is refilled the metal tag on the apparatus is punched with the month, day and year. A check set of cards are made up with the record of each extinguisher showing location, number, make, size, and last date filled. These are filed by months, and when any soda and acid extinguisher has been unused for twelve months, it is discharged and refilled, proper record made on metal tag and the card. The card is then set bark for twelve months, and when that time elapses it automatically comes up to action again, provided, of course, it has not been used and refilled in the meantime.
Equipmment Used for Fire Purposes Only
Hose is tested at stated intervals. Each section is recorded on a card and repairs, inspection and station is noted. It is taken from its station water run through it, outside casing washed, drained and dried, twice yearly. All hose houses have a red lamp in front that is lighted at night. They are also provided with an electric lamp inside the house that lights automatically when the doors are opened.
All hose houses and boxes are kept sealed. If a seal is found broken by the patrolmen as he makes his rounds he reports it at once to fire headquarters. An inspector visits the station, checks up the contents, replaces what may he missing and reseals it.
Hose and all other fire equipment, ihcluding hydrants should be used for fire purposes only. This should be a hard and fast rule, the fire chief being the only person who can in case of emergency permit use of fire equipment for other purposes. When our fire hose becomes worn or old it is turned over to the operating departments, a band of red about a foot wide painted around each end of the discarded hose and it can then be used for cleaning, opening sewers, etc.
System of Report
When a fire alarm is received at police headquarters (this is where our board, switches, etc., are located as we have an operator on duty here covering the 24 hours) he fills in a card form addressed to the superintendent of the department front which the alarm was sent, and incloses a blank form upon which the superintendent reports to the safety department the cause of the fire and damage sustained. This then goes to our engineering department. Here the engineer in charge of our insurance gets in touch with the underwriters’ adjusters and the damage is estimated. All of our insurance is carried by outside old line fire insurance companies. In case of actual damage to insured property the safety department and district superintendent are notified by phone by both police headquarters and department superintendents, so that immediate investigations and inventories can be made with the insurance adjusters.
On the first of the month a form is sent to each head of a department upon which he makes a report of new buildings, material, and equipment added in his department, also of buildings torn down, abandoned machinery scrapped or moved and material or stock covered by insurance used, moved or discarded. This is sent to the insurance bureau of the engineering department, to check against their records. This report has been the means of turning up some rather surprising facts.
Call City Department on Slightest Need
We have a city alarm box in police headquarters that is used to call the city department when a fire has the appearance of being at all dangerous. We consider our department as a sort of first aid measure and do not hesitate to ask for help if there is any apparent need for it. When the city apparatus responds the officials of it assume full control and direction of the work of putting out the blaze and our aim is to co-operate as ordered.
(From paper delivered at National Safety Council Congress at Buffalo, N. Y.