Galveston’s New Fire Tug
A fire tug has long been needed at Galveston, Tex., and. although the State authorities urged its acqusition. only now have their endeavors been rewarded. A conflagration has been expected every cotton season. Galveston handles over 4,000,000 bales of cotton each season besides great quantities of cotton seed products and cargoes in and out. A fire on the wharf front would have meant heavy losses. The Charles Clarke has been tested and found to do good work as a fireboat. It is equipped with Morse-Fairbanks pumps and the entire cost was $65,000. A reduction in insurance rates was promised by the State board upon the fireboat being placed in commission and the promise will likely be made good. The boat will pump 4,000 gallons of water per minute and the force will tear off any roof or wooden structure on the wharf front. It has a monitor on the afterdeck weighing 3,000 pounds giving an outlet of 1¾ inches with 350 pounds pressure. It has a smaller monitor forward and 11 fire hose connections.
The boilers of the boat are said to be capable of developing 350 pounds of steam and it is estimated that in actual use approximately 150 pounds will be carried. In a test, however, the highest that the gauge registered was 95 pounds. The first test called for the boat in full action. The two monitors, mounted on the fore and aft deckhouses, and six hose leads were used. On the monitors were nozzle tips of 2 inches each, the hose pipes being two of 1¼ inches, two of 1½ inches, one of 1 3/4 inches and one of 1 5/8 inches, and for half an hour there was pumped from the slip and discharged in flying streams approximately 4,000 gallons of water a minute. Due to the fact that the steam steering gear of the boat is not in place, the test was conducted while the boat was tied up alongside the wharf. The passing of vessels in and out of the slip and the close proximity of several fishing schooners and the steamer Fish Hawk interfered to some extent with seeing what the boat could do. It was apparent, however, that water could be thrown, even with the low steam pressure, a distance of 300 to 350 feet from the boat. This, according to officials, is a greater distance than the boat will ever be called upon to work, for, constructed as she is of steel, and with her monitors stationary, she will be able to ram her nose right into a wharf fire and work at close range. It is on the monitors that a considerable part of the effectiveness of the boat will depend. In addition, there can be led from the main standpipe, without interfering with the main battery, nine leads of hose. She also has a steam pipe for smothering flames in close quarters.
The second test was by using only the monitors and one lead of hose. The size of the nozzles on the monitors was increased to 2½ inches and the hose lead from the main standpipe to 1⅛ inch. When steam was given the pumps there shot from the nozzles three streams of water that carried approximately 400 feet. Despite the size of the streams and the force behind them, they are easily controlled through gears operated by hand wheels. According to present plans, the boat will be stationed at pier 23, where a shelter house will be erected for her crew and an auxiliary fire alarm signal station established. It is also probable that a lookout tower will be built in connection, to detect possible fires along the water front and on craft running up and down the channel. The boat will be kept under steam at all times and ready for action on the intsant of the call.