FIRE WALL OF WATER.
An interesting experiment has been begun at the Ocean Steamship Company’s wharves, at Savannah, Ga. The object is to provide a fire wall of water, by means of pipes suspended 25 feet above the ground, set at intervals with sprinklers, by which a wall of water will be formed, so that the wharf will be divided in Case of fire. The Ocean Steamship wharves form one of the largest fire-risks to be found In the South. Besides the wharves and the large amount of goods of every description always on them In course of shipment, there are thousands of bales of cotton close together in the open air and with no means of separation in case fire should break out in one portion of the wharf. On account of the unstable soil, as well as the arrangement of the wharves, brick fire-walls are out of the question. If the experiment just tried is successful (and there is every appearance that it will be successful), the risk can be greatly reduced by separating the wharves into sections, so that in case of fire the burning section can be separated from the rest of the property by a wall of water.
The apparatus now being constructed will look like an elongated telescope upheld by tall poles.The pipe is erected in graduated lengths, “the first section being flinches in diameter; the second 5;the third 4: the next 3. and so on. Sprinklers are placed along the lower side of the pipe, at intervals of 8 feet.When the water is turned on, each sprinkler will throw a stream, expanding as it falls, so that a few feet below the pipe a wall of water will be formed, which, it is believed, will prove an effectual bartothe progress of fire beyond it. The experimental line of pipe was consttucted for a distance of 300 feet on River street, opposite the freight sheds of the Boston steamers, separating these sheds from the cotton wharf.
The first trials were disappointing, owing to a lack of water pressure. As soon as that was secured, however, and the regular fire pressure had been applied to the mains, the great utility of the apparatus was at once patent to all the onlookers. The general verdict of those present was that, while the plant is susceptible of improvements suggested by experience, the practicability of the plan was established beyond question.
The improvements proposed comprehend the use of large pipes of uniform size, fed at each end of each section, and supplied with sprinkler heads 6 feet apart, instead of 8 feet, as at present; It is believed that, with these changes,which do not depart materially from the original scheme, the vast area of the Ocean Steamship Company’s wharves can be absolutely segregated into sections, with any one of which the Savannah fire department can deal readily.
The credit of this substantial reform is due primarily to Mr. C. M. Benjamin, chief inspector Xor Mr. Clarence Knowles, of Atlanta. Mr. Knowles has for several years been interested in the fire insurance of the Central Railway system. In its rough and initial stage the system was submitted to several of the most expert hydraulic engineers in the United States, and it met with their cordial approval. Apparently it will be successful in converting the huge docks of the Ocean Steamship Company from one great hazard into many small ones. It can also be applied to lumber and naval store yards, open court warehouses, and other large risks, which are now subject to one fire.
This fire water wall, it appears, has already been tried at Williamsport, I’a., where there is a large lumber shipping business, and it is said to have proved effectual in preventing the spread of a conflagration to the yards protected by it.