INDEPENDENT PIPE LINES.
AFTER visiting the fire departments of Detroit, Mich., Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee,Wis., the committee on fire department of the city council of Boston, have come to the conclusion to recommend for adoption in the Hub the independent pipe line system for fire service. They have embodied the results of their investigations on a report of which the following is a summary, so far as concerns the subject of independent pipe lines.
The system in Detroit, Mich., was completed in 1893, and in its general plan and scope is identical with tho«e of Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wis. It consists of fourteen lines of eight-inch steel pipe, such as the Standard Oil Company uses for piping crude oil from the wells to tide water, and which have been subjected to a test of 1,000 pounds hydraulic pressure. They are laid underground at depths varying from four to twenty-two feet, according to grade, and carry water from the Detroit river to hydrants having a sixinch standpipe, with two three-inch, and one four-inch outlet each. These hydrants are seventy-four in number, and are located with more or less regularity over the district covered by the system. Pressure is afforded by the steel sheathed fireboat “Detroiter,” built three years ago at a cost of $40,000. It has two pumps with a maximum power of 250 pounds each, but is usually worked at 180. Speed of twelve miles an hour has been attained by this craft. Connection with the boat is obtained at the river through a three or fiveway Siamese, with three and one-half inch openings and a clock-valve over each, and placed at the harbor terminus of every pipe line. The boat can start its pumps as soon as the first connection is made. Brick manholes are built opposite each hydrant and a wire running alongside the main pipe from the river to each hydrant enables communication by signals between the scene of a fire and the boat. In the manholes are relief-valves set at 250 pounds in case of an excess of pressure, while at the end of each pipe is an air-valve loaded to remain open until the water comes. A blow-off manhole at the lowest point in the pipe is connected with the sewer, and by means of a four-inch gate-valve the pipe can be emptied The pumping capacity of the Detroiter is estimated at 5,000 gallons per minute, working through open butts. There are now 34,581 feet of pipe in use in Detroit, and the district thus covered parallels the river front for about 4,000 feet and extends back at one point to a distance of 4,800 feet, or the length of the longest pipe—the shortest pipe being 371 feet in length. Chief Elliott gave a practical test of the working of the pipe line system. The scene was at the head of Randolph street and the terminus of the longest pipe line in Detroit— Three one and a half inch streams, 100 feet of three-inch hose each,werethrown adistance of 225 feetjtwo one and threequarter inch streams, 100 feet of three-inch hose each, were thrown 250 feet; two two-inch streams, 100 feet of threeinch hose each, 325 feet; one two and one-quarter-inch stream three lengths of fifty feet, three-inch hose, 275 feet; one two and a half-inch stream, three lengths of fifty feet, siamesed into one of fifty feet, 300 feet. The distances to which the water was thrown in these tests, however, is an estimate and not by measurement; but Chief Elliott stated that water had been thrown by the same hydrant 350 feet, or to a point about one mile from the fireboat. The shortest pipeline is 371 feet, and hose can be run and operated from any connection—a twoinch stream having been thrown to the roof of a ten-story building—125 feet is the height-limit of any new building in Boston. Water towers can be operated at any point in the district by the use of Siamese pipe connections, and streams can be run simultaneously from all hydrants on the same pipe line. Chief Elliott cited one instance where seventeen had been in use atone and the same time. It may be added that in the summer the pipe lines are constantly filled with water, but, when frost sets in,they are emptied and so kept, until needed in fire service, during the winter. It requires but four minutes to fill a pipe and throw a stream upon a fire one mile away.
At Cleveland—the city where the pipe line system was first adopted—there are about four miles of pipe in service,covering two different sections of the city—one a lumber and manufacturing section about 1,000 feet deep and running along the river front for three-quarters of a mile; the second—the mercantile district—embracing an area of 600 by 3,000 feet. The system comprises two fireboats and five lines, while water is drawn from six intakes, and the highest elevation served is ninety-six feet—the hydrants numbering thirty-six,all told. At the exhibition of the working of the system given in the [city a stream was thrown 250 feet from a water tower which was set at an elevation of ninety-three feet and at a distance of 2,000 feet from the boat; the pressure being 210 pounds.
In Milwaukee, Wis., where the system has been in use for seven years, two separate districts, a lumber and a mercantile, as in Cleveland, are covered by about four miles of pipe, extending about 1,500 feet along the river front and at the farthest point about 4,800 feet into the heart of the business section. The city has at present two fireboats in service and the total length of pipe laid is 30,634 feet. Here the Boston men saw a stream of water from a two and a h?.lf-inch nozzle, connected with a hydrant located at an elevation of fifty-seven and a half feet above the river.and 2,100 feet from the fireboat, thrown over a statue which is 195 feet above the ground and surmounts the court house, a building crowning a hill. The height attained by this stream was estimated at nearly 260 feet above the fireboat or source of pressure, which was 155 pounds. Chief Foley also made a test at the rear of two elevators on the river front. These buildings were about 150 feet high.and six streams from three-inch nozzles attained the elevation of the roof.
In MiUvaukeeand Cleveland the pipes are not laid “ straight away ” as in Detroit,but curve at points to quite as great an angle as would be necessary in adapting the system in the wholesale business section of Boston. Curvature of pipes, itisstated, results in no appreciable diminution of pressure. One feature of the Detroit system gives it particular interest when considered in connection with the narrow streets in Boston. In case a falling wall demolishes a hydrant.it is not necessary to shut down the pump on the fueboat, dig away the debris,and plug the broken part, for a dividing gate is placed in every manhole, except the one at the end of the line, so that, in the event of such a contingency as is cited, it is pos?ible to cut off any section of the line without any shutting off of pressure. The pipes are laid as nearly on a true grade as possible—the rise in Detroit being about eight and a half feet in 1,000.
The committee likewise visited Chicago, Ill., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Philadelphia, Pa. In Chicago the pipe line system has never been introduced, although it is claimed that Chief Swenie was the first fireman in the United States to suggest (as he still persistently advocates) its adoption.
In Philadelphia the introduction of the pipe line system has often been discussed, and at one time it was proposed to erect two pnmping stations, one on the Schuylkill river, and the other on the Delaware, to afford pressure. The plan, so far as the pumping stations are concerned, is no longer considered; but many Philadelphia officials are still advocating the adoption of the pipe line system in conjunction with fireboats In all cities where the pipe line is in operation fire department officials speak of it in unqualified praise. It is estimated in the West as rendering each fireboat the equal in effectiveness of from six to twelve engines. The cost of its introduction in Detroit was about $7,000a mile; in Cleveland about $6,500 a mile; and in Milwaukee $5,700.