Handling Small Fires with Least Possible Damage

Handling Small Fires with Least Possible Damage

Modern Teaching Is to Avoid Damage by Water Wherever Possible —When Occasion Warrants Use Chemicals—Officers’ Responsibility

MODERN progress has done much to tear down old standards and to revolutionize methods of procedure that heretofore had been considered established and unchangeable. Research, invention and experience obtained from actual practice&###italicOpen—#italicClose##;which sometimes, but not always, is at variance with the teachings of theory—have changed ways and means of accomplishment in nearly every line of endeavor throughout the civilized world.

Old Theory Was to Drown the Fire

This is particularly true of the science of firefighting. Time was, in the early days of the fight against the destroying element, when water and plenty of it—the more the better to drown out the blaze as quickly as might be—was the order of the day. At the first alarm the volunteers hooked up their hand engines and poured the water on the fire, regardless of damage to other portions of the building involved. The thing was to drown out the blaze; after this was done, then it was the province of the owner of the property to size up the damage from water by which the firemen had put out his fire. They had saved his building from destruction, and if in so doing, they had ruined its contents by water, well, he must see the insurance companies about that and be thankful the structure was not burned down!

Revolution in Fire-Fighting Methods

But now all that is changed. With the discovery that, through the use of certain chemicals, incipient or small fires could be smothered by the simple expedient of the cutting off of oxygen necessary to the life of the flames, came chemical fire-fighting. This method, it was found, made it possible in the incipient stages of the fire, or in the case of small fires, to avoid by the use of these chemicals the wholesale destruction which the indiscriminate use of water in drowning out the fire necessitated. This discovery brought about an entire reversal of procedure on the part of the fire fighters.

“The first teaching that is instilled in the mind of the rookie in the modern fire department school is the use of as little water as possible and only where necessity dictates.”

Use As Little Water As Possible

The first teaching that is instilled into the mind of the rookie in the modern fire department school is the use of as little water as possible and only where necessity dictates.

Of course, this does not mean that in a large or threatening fire, the use of water should be restricted. Quite the contrary. The increase in the establishment of extensive and expensive high pressure systems in the high value districts of cities shows that the reverse is the case. Water and plenty of it under high pressure is needed for a fire that has gained headway.

Small Fires Controlled by Chemicals

But it does mean that in the beginnings of a blaze, in the first few moments, the first officer on the scene should be prepared to handle the fire by the use of chemicals, and if water is resorted to, must use it sparingly and avoid scattering the stream indiscriminately over valuable property.

Responsibility of First Alarm Officer

The captain of the first alarm company, or the first deputy or battalion chief on the scene, has considerable responsibility in this respect. He must be a quick and accurate thinker and must thoroughly know his business, for an error in judgment at the early stage of a fire may mean the destruction of the property. He must size up the seriousness of the situation and be able to see at a glance whether the chemical stream will handle the fire or whether the water must at once be turned on. Often, his quick decision means the saving of a valuable building from destruction, as it is a well-established axiom in fire-fighting that the first few moments of a fire are the crucial ones.

“The captain of the first alarm company, or the first deputy or battalion chief on the scene, has considerable responsibility. He must be a quick and accurate thinker and must thoroughly know his business, for an error in judgment at the early stage of a fire may mean the destruction of the property. He must size up the seriousness of the situation and be able to see at a glance whether the chemical stream will handle the fire or whether the water must at once be turned on.”

“Of course, this does not mean that in a large or threatening fire the use of water should be restricted. Water and plenty of it, under high pressure is needed for a fire that has gained headway.”

On the other hand, if he is over-apprehensive and nervous and orders water turned on when chemicals could handle the blaze as easily, the responsibility for unnecessary destruction of much valuable property rests upon him and consequently upon the department to which he belongs.

Procedure in Various Cities

In this connection, the practice in several cities is well illustrated by recent reports issued by the National Board of Fire Underwriters following investigations of the fire-fighting facilities of these cities by the engineers of the board. The conclusions of the engineers as regards the handling of fires in the very early stages and the use of chemicals is shown in the following excerpts, the names of the cities being omitted. It is notable how generally the use of chemicals and small streams in tackling incipient fires has become the standard practice.

The fire department records show that for 1922, 64 per cent, of the fires were extinguished by chemicals or without the use of a water line; the remainder were extinguished by chemicals and a water line or by water line alone; engines were used at only 9 fires during the year; their use under the present method of raising pressures is restricted to serious fires or where the water supply is weak. Engines are set for service only when ordered by officers. Chemical lines are not always backed up by a 2 1/2-inch hose line, but the second company due has orders to remain near a hydrant to be available in case a water line is required. Fires are generally fought from the inside; shut-off nozzles with 1 to 1 1/4-inch tips are used except that open tips are provided for engine streams. The deluge set and ladder pipe are used when necessary.

Fire department records do not show, in every case, how fires were extinguished, but it is believed that chemicals are used largely; and chief officers estimate that about 85 per cent, of fires requiring apparatus are extinguished by chemicals on small water lines. Lines of large hose are laid to back up chemical streams if signs of fire are seen. Hydrant streams are used whenever possible, but engines connect to hydrants in readiness. Nozzles with 1 1/8 or 1 1/4-inch tips are used at ordinary fires; heavy stream appliances have been used frequently at more serious fires.

The fire department records show that during the past five years an average of 75 per cent. of fires requiring the use of apparatus were extinguished with chemicals. At least two pieces of fire apparatus carrying large chemical tanks respond to every box alarm. A hose line is usually laid to back up chemical streams; the hose line is frequently connected to the chemical tank and water used through the chemical hose. Single hose lines, from a gated Y-connection attached to the hydrant, are used at ordinary fires with 1 1/8-inch shut-off nozzles. For serious fires, engine streams are always used, and considerable use is made of the turret pipes. The water tower is occasionally used at large fires; no 3-inch hose is in service. For serious cellar fires, cellar pipes and distributing nozzles are generally used.

The fire department records show that during the past year an average of about 80 per cent. of fires requiring the use of apparatus were extinguished with chemicals or small water lines. A hose line is usually laid to back up chemical lines; the hose line is frequently connected to the chemical tank and water used through the chemical hose or the chemical hose is connected to shut-off nozzle. Direct hydrant streams are not used on account of low water pressure. For ordinary fires requiring water, engine streams through 1 1/4-inch shut-off nozzles are used, and for serious fires 1 1/2-inch open nozzles, deluge sets and turret pipes. For serious cellar fires, cellar pipes and distributing nozzle are generally used.

Department records do not show how fires are extinguished, but it is estimated that about 70 per cent. of all fires are extinguished by chemicals or other small appliances. Chemicals are used wherever practicable; a small extinguisher is first taken in followed by the larger chemical line, and chemical lines are always backed up by hose lines. Water is sometimes run through the chemical line in wetting down. The engine company lays its line from the fire to the hydrant and hose companies vice versa. Shut-off nozzles with 1-inch tips are used on most fires as only the engine company is supplied with open nozzles. No hydrant hose gates are provided. The deluge set is rarely used as the village is mainly residential in character and large volumes of water are seldom required. Care is used to minimize water damage, good use being made of the waterproof covers by the ladder company; and the department frees buildings of water before leaving.

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Handling Small Fires with Least Damage

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During 1921 about 65 per cent. of all fires were extinguished by the use of chemicals. Chemical lines are not usually backed by large hose lines, unless fire is seen by first company arriving. Direct hydrant streams are depended on in most locations, the pumpers being used for large or extensive fires and in a few localities where the water distribution system is veryweak. Shut-off nozzles with tips up to 1 1/4-inch are used on single lines. One deluge set, a Siamese connection and the ladder pipe on the aerial truck are the only heavy stream appliances available.

Response to alarms is adequate. Unimproved streets offer severe hindrance to the movement of apparatus in wet weather. Fire methods are good and such as prevent excessive water damage.

The records of the fire department for 1922 show that, of the 4,326 fires requiring the use of apparatus, 1.013 were extinguished with engine streams, 37 with hydrant streams, 2,515 with chemicals, 687 with pails of water, 60 with brooms, 3 with automatic sprinklers, 1 with high-pressure streams, and 10 with miscellaneous appliances. Chemicals and buckets of water are used wherever possible: a hose line is always used to back up the chemicals. The hose line is frequently connected to the chemical tank and water used through the chemical hose, or a section of 1-inch hose may be attached to the shut-off nozzles. Shut-off nozzles with 1 1/4-inch tips are used exclusively on single lines for ordinary fires. For serious fires the ladder pipes and turret pipes are placed in service; occasionally lines are siamesed into the deluge sets with 1 1/2-inch nozzles. Engines supply all streams, except where the highpressure system and fire boat mains are available. A rule of the department requires the first engine company to connect to the sprinkler system where outside connections are available; outside standpipes are used when available.

Records of the fire department for 1921 show that about 56 per cent. of fires requiring the response of apparatus were extinguished by chemicals; pumpers were seldom used. Chemicals are used whenever possible, and if signs of fire are seen, the first company lays a hose line, which is frequently attached to chemical tanks or small hose is attached to shut-off nozzles. Gate valves are carried attached to lines and one is always placed on the second line without interfering with the first. The department has made frequent and effective use of the salvage covers carried. For ordinary fires, direct hydrant streams with shut-off nozzles with 1 to 1 1/4-inch tips are used; tips down to 1/2 to inches are used on long lines or where water pressure is low, engines being used only where pressure is extremely low or for high buildings. Deluge sets, turret and ladder pipes have been used on large fires. For fires in sprinklered buildings, the first company due locates the fire and then shuts off the sprinkler system; fires are then fought with hose lines. Companies do not attach lines to outside sprinkler connections.

“The first officer on the scene of a fire should be prepared to handle the fire by the use of chemicals and if water is resorted to, must use it sparingly and avoid scattering the stream indiscriminately over valuable property.”

The records of the department for the year 1922 show that of the 116 working fires, 69 were extinguished with chemicals and 47 with water; in addition, 20 were extinguished by occupants. Chemicals are used wherever possible, and a 2 1/2-inch hose line is laid when smoke or fire is seen. The small line is frequently connected to the large hose.

The records of the department show that about 40 per cent, of the fires handled are extinguished by chemicals. A hose line is always laid to back up chemical streams. For small fires direct hydrant streams are generally depended upon, engine streams being used for all serious fires and where long lines are necessary; single 2 1/2-inch lines with 1-inch shut-off nozzles are used almost universally. Heavy stream appliances are lacking. No waterproof covers are in service, but efforts are made to keep down water damage. Overhead wires would interfere with fire fighting in many of the streets.

Fire department records for 1921 show that 66 per cent. of fires requiring the use of apparatus were extinguished by chemicals or small water line. Lines of 2 1/2-inch hose are usually laid to back up chemical lines and large lines are frequently connected through the chemical tank booster pump to chemical lines. Single lines with 1 1/8 or 1 1/4-inch shut-off nozzles are used at ordinary fires. Engine companies ordinarily lay hydrant lines, the pumper going to the next nearest hydrant and connecting in readiness. Pumpers are infrequently used at fires. Turret and cellar pipes have been used at large fires in the past, but more frequent use is made of deluge sets. The water tower has not been used at a fire for three years. Ladder companies perform the usual duties and assist on hose lines. Little salvage work is attempted. Overhead wires would interfere with fire department operations in many places. Engines do not attach to outside sprinkler connections; inside standpipes are used whenever available, the department using its own hose. Watch is usually left to police or property owners.

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Handling Small Fires with Least Damage

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The fire department records show that during the past two years about 75 per cent. of the working fires were extinguished with chemicals. At least one piece of fire apparatus carrying a large chemical tank responded to every alarm and, in most cases, two pieces. Lines of 2 1/2-inch hose are usually laid to back up chemical streams. Sections of chemical hose arc carried on pumpers and hose wagons, and connected to shut-off nozzles on large hose for use after fires are under control. Shut-off nozzles with 1 to 1 1/4-inch tips are used on single lines for all fires of ordinary proportions. First lines laid are taken direct from hydrants, the hose carriers stretching from the hydrant to the fire; a hose gate is attached to hydrants with more than one 2 1/2-inch outlet so that additional lines may be connected.

Fire department records for 1921 show that of the 275 fires requiring the use of apparatus to extinguish, 43 were extinguished with direct hydrant lines, 25 with hydrant lines and chemicals, 67 with chemicals alone, 126 with buckets of water and other small appliances and 14 were out on arrival. Chemicals are used wherever possible, and the large hose is laid to back up the chemicals whenever smoke is seen and at all times in the business district. The small hose is frequently attached to the large hose. The use of small appliances and prevention of excess water damage is well understood. Hydrant streams with 1 1/8-inch shut-off nozzles are generally used; the engines are seldom used at fires. A hydrant hose gate is attached to one 2 1/2-dnch hydrant outlet and the hose to another, so that a second line may be connected without shutting down the hydrant. When used, the engines are placed at draft and open pipes used.

Fire department officials estimate that during 1921, 85 per cent. of fires requiring the use of apparatus were extinguished by chemicals. Lines of 2 1/2-inch hose are laid to back up chemical streams if fire is seen, and small hose is frequently connected to water lines, through shut-off nozzles, for wetting down. For ordinary fires, single lines with 1 1/4-inch shut-off nozzles are used. A hydrant hose gate is carried connected to the first section of each line. Engines are seldom used at fires, but connect to hydrants at once in sections where pressure is lowest, using two 2 1/2-inch soft suctions. Hose is carried to upper floors on ladders or fire escapes and hoisted to roofs by ropes. Little use is made of standpipes or outside connections to sprinkler systems; hose lines are used in buildings only when sprinklers are not controlling fire.

Fire department records show that during 1921, 77 per cent. of fires requiring the use of apparatus were extinguished by chemicals. Lines of 2 1/2-inch hose are always laid to back up chemical streams, and water lines are frequently used through chemical lines by means of a 2 1/2-inch connection to each chemical tank. Single lines with 1 1/8-inch shut-off nozzles arc used directly from hydrants at ordinary fires; engines always connect to Hemlock hydrants but are seldom used, except at large fires and where water pressure is low. When Holly hydrants are available, hose lines are connected directly to them. A hose-gate is carried attached to the hose and a second gate is placed on another hydrant outlet so that a second line may be laid without shutting down hydrant.

Records of the fire department show that during 1921, 34 per cent. of the fires were extinguished by chemicals, 28 per cent. by hydrant or engine streams, and the remainder were out on arrival of apparatus or extinguished by citizens or automatic sprinklers. Chemicals are used wherever possible, and frequently the 2 1/2-inch hose is connected to the chemical tank and water used through the chemical hose. When fire is seen, and in doubtful cases, a 2 1/2-inch hose line is laid to back up the chemioals. Shut-off nozzles, usually with 1 1/4-inch tips, are used on first lines and open nozzles on outside lines. Outside connections to standpipes and automatic sprinklers have never been used.

The records of the fire department do not show the method of extinguishing fires, but it is estimated that about 75 per cent, are put out by chemicals. Chemical lines are not always backed up by hose lines, the company normally waiting at the hydrant until directed to lay in. Hose is laid from the fire to hydrant and a hose gate is placed on one outlet for the attaching of a second line. The pumper is rarely connected to a hydrant although pressure in some sections is not satisfactory for direct hose streams. Shut-off nozzles are used altogether with tips of the adjustable type, the size of the streams varying from 54 to 1 1/4-inch; open nozzles are not provided.

Devastation of Plant After Rochester Oil Fire

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