How the Albany, Ga., Department Keeps Down Fire Losses

How the Albany, Ga., Department Keeps Down Fire Losses

Under the Able Managership of Chief D. W. Brosnan the Citizens Are Taught to Be Fire Conscious—How It is Done

Chief D. W. Brosnan

ALEBANY is a city of approximately 20,000 population and is about three miles square, located in southwest Georgia. It has a mild climate, with prevailing southwest winds from the Gulf of Mexico and is protected from fire as follows:

Fire Prevention First Line of Defense

Fire prevention is the first fire defense and is practiced by schooling the citizens on the hazards of fire. School children listen to two lectures on fire prevention each year. All civic clubs hear at least one talk annually on the subject. Newspaper advertisements, news items and editorials carry the story of prevention of fire and through these efforts we have made the people fire conscious.

This is followed up, first, by the adoption and enforcement of the National Board building code. Second, by the adoption and enforcement of the fire waste code of the National Board, together with some stricter ordinances than the code would demand. Next, uniformed firemen inspect monthly every mercantile establishment and factory, together with schools, churches and all other places of public assembly. All dwellings are inspected annually.

Mercantile District Covered by Night Patrol

A fire patrol of uniformed firemen covers the mercantile and warehouse section at night. A complete patrol is made each hour. By this means we discover incipient fires and also make it a risky job for crooks to perpetrate arson. One man is detailed from each company to perform this service and the results have been so gratifying that the men engaged in this work have become sold on it and try to make the patrols better and better. This one service saves us thousands of dollars annually in losses, for the fire is discovered promptly and the loss is held to a minimum.

The result of this intensive effort in fire prevention speaks for itself. We have fewer fires in buildings today than we had 20 years ago, in spite of the fact that the population has doubled and the property under protection of the department has quadrupled.

The Fire Alarm Telegraph System

The city is protected by a fire alarm telegraph system of 101 street stations. We have a box a block and the boxes are located on pedestals where they can be seen. Wires leading to all boxes are underground and protected by lightning arrestors. The result is that we receive 70 per cent of our alarms over the box circuits.

Central Fire Station and Equipment

We have one central fire station, located in the center of the territory. The manual force consists of 20 men, divided into two platoons. Privates receive $136.50 monthly, besides two uniforms a year, coats, boots and helmets; a vacation each year; are not docked for sick time and the city carries $5,000 compensation on each man.

The fire-fighing equipment is as follows: Two 1,000-gallon triple combination pumpers; one 750-gallon triple pumper; one combination wagon; one 65-foot hydraulically operated, all metal aerial ladder, together with 250 feet of other ladders; one city service truck, with booster pump, carrying 400 feet of ladders, and one Chief’s car, Packard master eight.

Hose, Nozzles and Pipes

The trucks carry 7,200 feet of the best quality of fire hose that money can purchase. Hose is tested semiannually at 200 pounds and any lengths that are found to sweat are thrown out. We have not had a length burst at a fire in the past 25 years. Three thousand feet of hose is carried in reserve. All pumpers carry booster tanks and 200 feet of 11/2-inch hose. Two wagons carry turret pipes, one carries a deluge set and the aerial ladder is equipped with a ladder pipe. (We don’t have to use these, but they are handy if we should need them.) Each wagon carries four tarpaulin covers and the ladder truck carries fifty “tarps.” (We use them.) Complete salvage equipment is carried on the ladder wagons, together with roofing material. The department is equipped with cellar pipes, all types of nozzles —including fog nozzles—foam generation equipment, and a sufficient amount of foam powder is present at every fire. Lights for night fires are provided for by six-volt storage batteries, enclosed in a metal case and equipped with an automobile headlight, mounted on top of the case. They are efficient, economical and can be placed in any point of vantage.

Subsequent to the appearance of an article in FIRE ENGINEERING under the head of “Bill Brosnan, Chief Extraordinary,” readers requested some information as to the Fire Department of Albany, Ga., its equipment and methods. The following article is the result of a request to Chief Brosnan for this information.

Firemen Well Trained

Firemen are trained for their job. Every member of the department drills with the equipment (under fire conditions, operating on buildings) once a week. All-Service masks are used and two self contained oxygen helmets serve for protection against gasses. Inhalators are carried to every fire, the men are drilled in the use of them and every member of the department has his first aid certificate from the American Red Cross.

We have every modern tool for life saving, including life nets.

Salvage plays a most important part of departmental work. The men are trained to make forcible entry, with a minimum of damage, spread the “tarps,” mop up, clean up and dozens of other operations that make for a reduction of the loss. Water losses are reduced to a minimum.

Albany’s Three Records

Albany has three records of which any city might be justly proud: No loss of life or injury to a citizen in a fire in 26 years. During this time no fire has extended from one mercantile establishment to another, and no two dwellings have been burned in a single fire. In our humble opinion this is made possible, first, by strict enforcement of fire regulations in places of public gathering and in sleeping quarters of every nature, and second, by properly laying in hose lines at fires. Hose lines seldom ever cross each other and with this system we are always in position to wet down and protect exposures. There is plenty of slack hose, without having to add to the line.

Excellent Water Supply and Pressure

We have good police protection. There is an ample water supply, domestic pressure of 60 pounds and fire pressure of 125 pounds. Engine pressure is very rarely necessary. In this way all of our man power is available for operation of streams. Water works pumping capacity is ample, mains are ample in size in every section of the city and fire hydrants are available at the city line on all four sides. We had capacity of 16 fire streams at 125 pounds pressure available, but are now installing two new pumps that will increase this fire flow by an additional 8,000 gallons per minute. (Of course this might seem unnecessary, when we do not have large fires, but I am not so foolish as not to know that we can have a large fire and our idea is to prepare for war in time of peace, just as the navy maintains its ships.)

We protect millions of dollars of lumber industries, cotton mills, cotton oil mills, one of the “Big Four” main packing plants, silk hosiery mills, large peanut plants and fertilizer industries.

Secret of Fire Prevention Success

Summed up in a very few words, this is the secret of our success:

There are no politics in the Fire Department.

We prevent fires.

We have telegraph equipment to promptly transmit alarms.

We have plenty of equipment, in the best of condition.

The men are trained for their job.

Salvage and conservation of property during and after fires.

We have plenty of water, but use just as little as possible. Lowest of losses.

All of this makes for the lowest rate of fire insurance in the south. It makes the department pay its cost back to the taxpayer.

The total department operating costs are $41,000 plus this year.

Annual insurance saving since starting our program has been $140,000 per year.

Our job is to determine the cause of every fire. This close check curtails arson and schools us in the adoption of remedial measures to safeguard against like occurrences in the future, which might be due to construction defects of any nature.

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