IN our issue of December 4, 1886, we published an important an interesting paper on fire boats, by William Cowles, member American Society of Mechanical Engineers. This paper has also found a well deserved reproduction in the January 14 issue of our London contemporary, Engineering. There it has attracted the attention of the well-known English builders of fire appliances, Messrs. Merryweather & Sons, who, in defense of the suitability of the smaller fire boats for London, maintain:

First—That the boat at Chicago is used on a fresh water lake, while in London the tide runs out a considerable distance from the shore, so that to be of much service the boat must draw but very little water, a draught of nearly nine feet, as in the Chicago boat, would frequently prevent its use at London fires.

Second—That at Chicago, presumably, the distance to be traversed is not very great, while in London property has to be protected from Hammersmith to Woolwich, a distance of over fifteen miles.

Third—That owing to fogs, traffic, tide, etc., great speed cannot be always attained on the Thames, so that a number of small boats stationed at various points along the river are more available in case of fire.

Thus Messrs. Merryweather & Sons conclude that for a city like London, on a crowded river, small fire boats having a shallow draft are more suitable, and that the difficulty of small boats not affording accommodation for many men is obviated by providing floating stations to house the boats (W. H. Maw’s patent), with living room for men.

We regret to note that Messrs. Merryweather & Sons do not favor the throwing of fire streams in excess of two inch diameter. Their claim is that a two-inch nozzle is as large as two men can manipulate, and as powerful as it is safe to direct against a building. Both these claims are not well founded, and are denied by the experience in this country. We do not favor giving up the smaller streams, for doubtless it is true, as Messrs. Merryweather & Sons intimate, that the smaller jets can be at work somewhat sooner than the larger, but the larger streams should also be available for doing effective work in breaking up the fire, which the smaller ones can not accomplish. We want both kinds—the large and the small streams—as has been fully demonstrated in this and other cities in this country. The experience of London as regards large fires, is also conclusive in demonstrating that the smaller streams will not always accomplish the work required of the fire departments. Captain Shaw is wedded to the small stream theory and uses many hand engines incapable of throwing any other, but his lack of success in controlling large fires with them has been the cause of bringing much criticism upon his head from those who sustained heavy losses because of the inefficiency of the fire department apparatus.

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