Get Streams Under Pier to Check Fire
Time Lost in Cutting Through Heavy Plank Flooring Responsible for Spread of Fire—Suggested Method of Handling It
THE fire described in the last issue of FIRE ENGINEERING featured a type of structure which has figured in many fires during the past year.
The chief difficulty with this type of fire is the large open channels through which fire may spread and the great difficulty encountered in getting streams directly on the fire. To this must be added the usual condition of wooden spiles, which are coated with oil and grease.
As described in the original account of this fire, the pier building and shed were of frame construction with the exception that the pier shed was covered with sheet iron.
The contents of the pier shed included turpentine in wooden barrels, cotton and some finished pine lumber.
As noted in the previous article the fire department in the city in which this fire occurred included seven engine companies all motorized, two ladder companies and one combination chemical and hose car.
The response to alarms is as follows at this particular location: First alarm, engine companies Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and ladder Co. No. 1; second alarm engine companies Nos. 4 and 5 and ladder Co. No. 2; third alarm engine companies Nos. 6 and 7 and combination chemical and hose car. The water supply was satisfactory, there being plenty of hydrants and good pressure at all times.
As noted in the original article, the fire started shortly after noon on a Saturday, after the pier sheds had been locked. A small motor launch had been moored beneath the pier and the owner was working on the engine. From some unknown cause the motor boat took fire and the owner jumped into the water, swam to the shore and transmitted a first alarm bringing out the assignment noted above. Only one line was stretched, that from engine Co. No. 1 and this line was held in readiness while members of the truck company were cutting holes through the heavy plank flooring which at this point was at least four inches thick. While this was going on the chief arrived, surveyed the fire, and noting that the spiles beneath the pier were burning, transmitted a second call, and at the same time assigned additional men to cutting holes in the pier flooring within the shed.
Fire continued to spread until it was seen that the pier was well ablaze beneath the area of the far end of the pier shed, when a third alarm was transmitted. From this point on the fire continued to increase in intensity, eventually passing through the flooring into the sheds and involving the contents thereof.
Suggested Method of Handling Fire
Suggested method of handling this fire is as follows: Engine Co. No. 1 with assistance of members of ladder Co. No. 1, immediately upon arriving and noting location of the fire get a ladder in position from the pier into the water. A 25 foot ladder will answer the purpose.
As soon as this ladder is put into position so that men can climb down and operate from it, engine Co. No. 2 should pass down a line which they have already been ordered to lay, and assist the men on the ladder in getting it into position. Line should be secured to ladder with ladder rope and after everything is in order the water should be turned on. This stream will likely be able to hold the fire if not extinguish it.
If there is available a row boat, this should be pressed into service to take a second line beneath the pier.
The hose, when charged with water and resting in the water beneath the pier, will have very little weight and will not encumber the boat seriously in its operation.
A row boat is very satisfactory for this purpose, if nothing else can be had, and it can be tied to one of the spiles and a line operated from it onto the fire.
If a row boat is not available then a second ladder should be dropped into position, if necessary, at the far side of the pier.
To this, engine Co. No. 3 should stretch another line and with members of the other companies on hand get the line in operation.
It will require more men to keep a line in operation because men must tend the ladder and assist the others operating on it.
By the time these two lines arc in position and operation, it will be quite evident or not whether they can hold the fire. If they can, then no additional help wall be required.
If there is any possibility of the fire getting beyond their control a second or third alarm should be transmitted at once, depending upon conditions.
The second alarm will bring out the other ladder company and it is not likely that a third alarm will help much in operating from beneath the pier.
While lines are operating beneath the pier, men should patrol the pier shed to make sure that none of the contents of the pier is endangered by fire coming through openings in the pier floor. Due to the great thickness of the pier floor it is not likely that fire will come through very readily and in the meantime the men will have a good opportunity to operate on the fire and bring it under control, through working from ladders.
It seems that the chief faults made by the department in operating at this fire was in attempting to cut through the heavy plank flooring in order to get at the small fire in the motor boat. Valuable time could have been saved and possibly the fire held to the boat and very likely one or two of the spiles if men had operated at the start from a ladder placed in the water.
As the pier building is only 75 feet wide, it is not likely that a stream would have to carry more than 50 feet to do satis factory work. Fires have been fought in this manner very successfully and where it is so necessary to get a stream on the fire in its early stages this method should have been followed.
Another point which was overlooked by the fire department is the fact that an ordinary cellar pipe would not satisfactorily clear the deep beams beneath the floor and as a result it was impossible to get streams onto the fire by means of an ordinary cellar pipe. Had the department had bent cellar pipes or subcellar pipes the story would have been different. All of these points fit into the handling of the fire and neglect of them tended to make the work of the department inefficient.