Fire Protection in the Smaller Community

Fire Protection in the Smaller Community

From the Viewpoint of an Underwriters’ Engineer

This is the twenty-fifth installment of an important series of articles appearing regularly in FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING covering fire protection in all its phases for the guidance of fire officials in the smaller towns and villages.

(Continued from last issue)


Public Buildings

Principal hazards are stoves, furnaces, boilers, and their pipes; electricity; defective chimneys and flues; spontaneous combustion; and matches—smoking. Janitors’ store rooms and the furnace room should be kept clean and the storage of oily mops and sweeping compounds should be in fireproof rooms or metal containers. Install soda and acid or foam extinguishers.

Oil Distributing Stations—Oil Tanks

Premises should be enclosed in tight fences to exclude windblown trash; premises should be kept clear of weeds and grass; smoking should be prohibited and no open lights or fire should be permitted. Large tanks should have earth dikes around them to keep burning oil from spreading in case of fire. Foam extinguishers should be installed and plenty of sand in buckets with scoops.

Paint Stores

Be especially careful of the disposal of oily or paint covered rags. Paint is usually found in sealed containers and there seems to be no practical method of handling except to keep the principal stock in separate fireproof or incombustible warehouses. Keep the retail stocks down to the minimum. Many mixtures contain liquids as explosive as gasoline. Install foam extinguishers.


Spontaneous combustion; matches—smoking; electricity; stoves, furnaces, boilers and their pipes; and gas are principal causes. Printers’ ink, gasoline used in cleaning and lead heaters all contribute heavily to the above causes. Trash, especially paper, is always present to aid in making a quick spreading fire. Safety cans for gasoline and oily rags are needed. Install foam or soda and acid extinguishers.


Nearly all of the hazards are in the kitchen. Ranges should be set on a double layer of ventilated brick or tile and all combustible material should be carefully protected with metal shields having air spaces between the wood and metal. The floor for some distance on all sides should be protected with metal over asbestos to prevent ignition from spilled greases. The range should have a metal hood connected through a metal ventpipe to a standard siove flue not used for other purposes. Grease on walls and hoods is probably the most frequent cause of fire and if properly installed a hood so arranged will minimize the danger. Provide foam extinguishers. Ordinarybaking soda is sometimes very effective against grease fires.

Shoe Stores

Electricity; stoves, furnaces, boilers and their pipes; matches— smoking; and open lights are the principal known causes. Cements, polishes, cleaning fluids and solvents are highly inflammable. Polishing and other rags used should be kept in metal safety cans. Leather dust should be removed daily. Install soda and acid or foam extinguishers together with carbon tetrachloride for electric motors.


Matches—smoking; spontaneous combustion of hay and grain; open lights; electricity; stoves and stovepipes, and defective flues and chimneys are chiefly to be guarded against. Prohibit smoking and the use of lanterns. Electric wiring should be in conduit. Install soda and acid extinguishers or water barrels and buckets. Safeguard against freezing.


See Motion Picture Theatres.

Warehouses, General Storage

Spontaneous combustion; matches—smoking; sparks from fires (not on roofs); electricity; stoves, furnaces, boilers and their pipes; and open lights lead the list of known causes. Install soda and acid or foam extinguishers or water barrels and buckets. Safeguard against freezing. Water damage generally is heavy.

Woodworking Risks

Flammable dust is the chief hazard with shavings and large amounts of combustible material to spread the fire. Install wiring in conduit; prohibit smoking and be watchful of hot bearings; oil soaked sawdust and timbers, open fires and sparks from stacks. Boilers should be in separate fireproof buildings and conveyors, if used, should be all metal and not enclosed between the boiler house and the mill. Install spark arresters on all stacks. Refuse burners, if used, should be at least 300 feet distant from all lumber, sawdust piles and buildings and should be completely enclosed, either in pits or with sheet iron walls. Install plenty of water barrels and buckets, and soda and acid extinguishers, safeguarded from freezing.


Lightning heads the list of farm hazards, followed by defective chimneys and flues; sparks on wood shingle roofs; matches —smoking; petroleum and its products; and stoves, furnaces, boilers and their pipes. Lack of effective lightning rods causes the lightning total to be first and the wide use of oil stoves contributes heavily to the unusual position of petroleum products. Wire fences should be grounded at frequent intervals to protect from lightning.


Matches—smoking and campfires are almost entirely responsible for forest destruction by men. Lightning is the unpreventable chief cause but proper fire breaks and adequate supervision will do much to cut down the loss now threatening the complete destruction of our forests. Incendarism in forests is hardly understandable but many fires are attributed to this cause. Sparks from railroads, lumbering operations, and brush burning complete the list of causes. Observe the rules of the forest. Extinguish campfires with water and then bury them. Do not build fires in leaf mould or against trees or logs, and never leave fires unguarded.

(To be continued)

New Childs-Graham combination chemical and hose car recently delivered to Richford, Vt., for its fire department. The apparatus, which is mounted on a one and a half ton chassis has been tested and placed in service.

Ahrens-Fox Issues Interesting Bulletin—A new bulletin— No. 133—has just been issued by the Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, which is one of the most complete and useful ever issued by the concern. Besides dealing with the entire Ahrens-Fox line of apparatus, and especially with the thousand gallon pumping units and their pumps, the bulletin presents several important and useful tables and charts, giving results in height and pressure of fire streams, etc.

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