HIGH BUILDINGS AND LARGE STREAMS.
AN article in these columns on “The Perils of High Buildings” has excited marked attention, having been extensively co_____ed in various journals. The moral it attempted to convey was that high buildings being conceded to be necessary to the commercial demands of the age, the owners of such buildings should be compelled to equip them with fire extinguishing appliances of a nature that would meet the approval of the officials of the Fire Departments. We cited the Mills building in this city, whose roof is 145 feet above the curb, an ! said that with proper standpipes, there would be no difficulty in forcing a serviceable stream to that height. The American Architect, and one or two other scientific papers, copied the article by way of commending it to architects and builders. The Investigator and The Western Fireman, both of Chicago, however, fall into the idea of the Chicago underwriters, and would limit the height of buildings to 75 or 80 .feet, saying that no combination of engine power can force an effective stream to a greater height than this. Referring to the standpipes, these papers say that they do not furnish additional power, and hence are of no special value. The reason wiry streams cannot be forced to a greater height in the open air is because of the resistance presented by the atmosphere. The moment a stream leaves the nozzle it meets the atmospheric resistance and, in a short distance, begins to spray and lose its effectiveness. Hose or standpipes are simply conductors, that serve to keep the water together; a stream may be forced a long distance through such a conduit and to a great height, and then be projected vertically 75 or 80 feet after it leaves the nozzle. Standpipes, when properly constructed, are better than hose for this purpose, for there is more solidity and less friction in them, and very little danger of their bursting,
As an instance in point of what may be done by a single engine, we cite the official test of a Silsby (rotary) engine recently purchased for Orange, N. Y. Among other tests, a line of 2700 feet of 2 inch hose was run out from the engine and up an elevation till the nozzle was 200 feet higher than the engine. A one-inch nozzle was attached, and the engine started. There were many in the crowd of spectators who thought the engine could not force water out of the nozzle, but in a moment the stream appeared and was projected 156 feet. Of course, it was not a stream of solid water for that distance, but it would have been effective at any distance under 100 feet. This was the work of a single engine. To show what may be done by a skillful “combination of engine power,” we cpiote the following from the Aw York Daily Times of April 27th :
Various experiments made with Fire Engines Nos. 7 am! 33 (piston),made l,y Clapp & Jones, were tried last evening. to the delight of a largo crowd, in Mercer street, between Third and Fourth streets. The expeiiinents were principally to test the value ofi|tiadruple or “ four-way ” and double or “two-way” Siamese butts or connecting joints, by which four or two streams of water can be connected with a fire nozzle, and the capacity of the two powerful engines referred to to use them. Among those who witnessed the experiments were Commissioners Van Colt and Gorman, Chief Bates, Assistant Chief Shay, Battalion Commander Uresnan, Foremen Golden and Jones, Chief McCabe, of the Construction Department, and Capt. Brogan, of the Fifteenth Precinct. Explanatory of the trials, it should be said that various devices have been tried to force a powerful stream of water into the upper floors of tall buildings. Tho “ four-way” butt was introduced and appeared to be what was necessary. It required, however, the use of four engines, one at each of the hose connecting with the butt. Then Commissioner Van Cott designed the ” two-way ” butt, which has been worked by two engines. The hose attached to the ” four way ” butt was 2’/i inches in diameter, that of the “ two-way” butt 3% inches. It was expected that a gain in power would be had with the 3j^-inclt hose, as the friction would be reduced. Former experiments had proved the correctness of this. About 6 r. M. the engines were attached to hydrants by 4-inch suction hose, No. 33 near the corner of Third street, and No. 7 at the corner of Fourth street. A 3% inch hose from each ran to the “two-way ” butt. The engines were started, and the nozzle, which had an iron support, was manned by the Firemen. The nozzle was held at an angle of 30 degrees, and a stream was driven through a 2-inch nozzle 285 feet. When the nozzle was held perpendicularly it threw a stream 35 to 40 feet higher titan the roof of the Grand Central Hotel, which is toO’A feet above the street. At the hydrants was a water pressure of about 12 pounds to the square inch. At the engine the water pressure was 135 pounds to the square inch, and the steam pressure was 105 pounds. At the indicator beyond the junction of the hose at the butt the pressure was from 78 to 85 pounds, showing a loss of from 45 to 50 per cent of power by friction. It should be stated that the distance of No. 7 from the nozzle was 200 feet, and the hose from No. 33 was so arranged that it was of the same length. This explains the friction. Then two lines of 2^-inch hose, each 200 feet long, were attached to each engine and were led to the “four-way ” butt. When the water was started the stream was ” sprayey,” and fell short of that thrown by tin; “two-way”—25 feet horizontally and 30 feet perpendicularly. Then three 2j£-inch hose were attached to the Engine No. 33, and were led to the “ four-way “ butt, which can boused in this manner, as tae valves close on the hose when the water is turned on. This experiment, which was entirely satisfactory, fully demonstrated the superority of the “ two-way “butt and the 3jif-inch ltese.
The last experiment was to ascertain if two engines close together could draw water from the same hydrant and work independent or com| bined by means of an artificial reservoir, which can bo carried on any engine. A round canvas well, 4 feet wide and 20inches high, was placed j near No. 33’s hydrant, and a 4^ inch suction hose was attached to the ! hydrant, and the end was placed in the well. Then the suction hose from the engines were led to the well and the machinery was started. The experiment was a complete success, as both engines had plenty of water. Engines Nos. 7 and 33 are on the line of Broadway, and will meet at every large fire there is in the “ dry goods district.” It is believed that they will find few fires that they cannot control when they work on a “ two-way ” butt through a 3-inch hose. At least another engine of the power of Nos. 7 and 33 will be placed in one of the engine houses near Broadway and below Twenty-third street, so that the presence of two of them will be insured at every large fire along Broadway.
The streams referred to above were thrown from the street ; had there been a three or three and a half inch standpipe on the Grand Central Hotel, this “combination of engine power” would have projected a vertical stream at least 100 feet above the roof.
The points we have desired to make in this connection are, 1st. That the commercial necessities of the times demand high buildings; 2d. That the owners of such buildings should be compelled to equip them with such fire extinguishing appliances as will meet the approval of the Fire Department authorities; 3d. That by the adoption of standpipes, iron balconies, permanent ladders, etc., these high buildings can be made accessible to Firemen, and that when so equipped they are less perilous than buildings of lesser height but of greater surface area. But buildings of either class, especially when the occupancy is numerous and varied, should be constructed as nearly fireproof as possible, and means provided whereby the Firemen can obtain ready access to every part of them. It matters little how high they tower above their neighbors, provided they carry their own approved means of fire protection so arranged that the Firemen can get at them.