GRAND RAPIDS AND ITS FIRE PROTECTION.
The report on the fire-protective conditions of Grand Rapids, Mich., made by the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters is as follows: Population about 102,000. Streets of fair width, majority improved and generally in good condition. Number of fires and average loss per capita moderate.
Water Supply.—Works owned and operated by the municipality; management good. Supply from the Grand river ample. Distribution is by direct pumpage at one station in two services; low-service has connection to equalising distributing reservoir, holding less than one day’s supply for that service; high-service is connected to two equalising standpipes, one of which is not yet in service. Pumping station non-fireproof; contains serious electrical hazards and is exposed by adjoining frame buildings. Insufficient reserve pumping capacity; maximum cot, sumption has frequently approximated total rated capacity of pumps. Consumption large. Pressures generally satisfactory and well maintained; sufficient for the operation of individual fire-protection devices in the congested-value district. Main arteries and secondary feeders of good size and generally well arranged, but lacking in some sections. A considerable number of minor distributors too small, and poorly gridironed in most localities. Gate-valve spacing generally good; but gates are too far apart in some cases. Hydrantspacing good, type fairly satisfactory; condition good. Fire Department.—Full paid, under command of a competent chief. Financial support adequate. Department recently enlarged, but slightly undermanned. Methods of appointment and promotion good. Companies well distributed. Apparatus in generally good condition. Engines mostly of large size and well maintained. Ladder service good, except that no short ladders are carried on hose wagons. Chemical service deficient. Hose supoly adequate and properlv cared for. Good equipment for fighting serious fires; but the city is of sufficient size to require a water tower, which is not provided. Fuel good; large supply on hand, and proper facilities provided for carrying it to fires. Minor equipment fair. Discipline good; drills fair, except training of engine crews. Few engines respond to alarms in the congested-value district. Response otherwise good. Fire methods good except for small fires. Building inspections regularly made, but supervision of explosives and inflammables lax. Service, as a whole, efficient.
Fire-Alarm System.—Automatic system; insecurely housed. Management satisfactory: under supervision of fire chief. Department telephone facilities limited. Boxes of undesirable type, hut well maintained: many have brush-break mechanism. No red lights provided to show box locations and many boxes inconspicuous. Boxdistribution fair in high-value districts; elsewhere poor. Circuits well interlaced; underground in the business district; elsewhere overhead, of bare wire. Grounds frequently occur on overhead lines. Circuits partly on poles carrying high-tension circuits. Duplicate-alarm circuit provided; but gongs operated on box-circuits. Batteries good, but improperly installed. Suitable maps and records provided. Methods of testing good. Service fairly reliable, but inadequate for a city of this size.
Fire Department Auxiliaries.—Fire marshal’s duties fairly well performed hy fire and police departments . Police and public-service corpora tions render proper aid at fires. Telephone service is prompt and extensively used: exchanges poorly protected. Auxiliary-alarm system much used and faily well installed; central station watch service extensive; exhibits serious defects. Private fire apparatus of value only to individual risks. Powerful outside aid is remote.
Building Department.—Laws contain some good provisions from a fire protection standpoint, hut omit many important subjects and are not up to the modern standard. Building inspector efficient, hut inspection force very inadequate.
Explosives and Inflammables.—No department in charge. Laws inadequate and poorly enforced, due to division of resnonsibility for their enforcement. Some hazardous conditions noted, although they are, in general, fairly good, due to inspections of the lire marshal.
Electricity.—Municipal inspection department fairly well organised, but inspection force is too small. The laws are good; the National Electrical code of 1903 has been adopted, but not its amendments, which, however, are being enforced. Fairly good supervision over new inside work. Practically no supervision over outside and old inside work. Old work defective and frequently hazardous, especially in the larger equipments. Overhead wires offer obstruction to fire department operations. Considerable trouble from electrolysis, but no systematic investigation.
Conflagration-Hazard.—A conflagration should not involve the entire congested-value district, although serious block-fires are probable in many places. The hazard is very severe in some localities, particularly in the centre, due mainly to ordinary construction, lack of protection to vertical and horizontal openings and mutual exposures, the many large and frequently excessive areas, hazardous centres of high combustibility in weak surroundings, grouping of bad blocks, the mainly narrow streets, and bad overhead wire obstructions in block interiors and along some streets. The good widths of Canal and Monroe streets, however, give the fire department, which is efficient and strong, a good chance to confine a fire to a small section; this, with the good water supply, fairly reliable firealarm system and the private protection in a number of large risks, materially reduces the hazard. Henry Lemoin is the efficient chief of the department.