Protecting a Big Steel Works from Fire

All industrial plants, regardless of size should for more than one reason safeguard themselves against fire. Each plant according to its size and nature should afford itself adequate facilities to cope with the incipient blaze so as to be able to hold it in check until the arrival of the municipal department if not extinguishing it entirely.

It is all very well to say “The City Department takes care oi our fires,” but what assurance have we that our fire will happen when the city apparatus is in their respective stations? Might it not be that all the equipment and the whole force of fire fighters will be engaged in combating a conflagration in the center of our business district, which certainly would give us considerable time for reflection on our failure to provide private protection.

Typical Hose House, Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company

During the course of installation of private equipment the very best people that I know of who can be of the most assistance to one is the Ohio Inspection Bureau. These men trained in the protection of property can give the most practical advice, and are always willing and ready to convince you of your requirements as well as appreciate your suggestions. In my position as Chief of the Hire Brigade of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, I have had considerable dealings with the Bureau and have always found them courteous and congenial.

Our company having its main holdings outside the corporation limits, early in its career, saw the necessity of an effective organization to care for fire hazards. Prior to the advent of James M. Woltz as Safety Director, fire hose and connections along with chemical extinguishers of that day had been provided and was looked after by the Police Department. Mr. Woltz very shortly after his arrival saw that the Police Department had enough to do without trying to keep up the fire equipment as it should be kept and fighting the fires of the various Departments, so he organized the “Eire Bureau” with a Chief in charge whom he instructed to get together a volunteer Fire Brigade from among the various employees of the different Departments and organize them into hose companies under the direction of a captain and lieutenant, and to drill them semimonthly in the efficient use of the chemical equipment and laying of fire lines for which they were to be paid extra.

In the early days, the department call whistle was used to assemble the firemen. Keeping pace with the growth of the plant, however, has caused the installation of a Gamewell Fire Alarm System far surpassing many large municipalities for fire signaling.

The Youngstown Plant is divided into ten zones each having its own alarm system, and calling only the volunteers of its own territory. Assistance from neighboring zones is summoned by the Operator at Headquarters on receipt of second alarm. The Brigade is divided into two divisions, The Youngstown Works and Brier Hill Plants of six battalions each. The Battalion Chief appointed from among the volunteers looks after the work of the Hose Companies in his District and assists in keeping them up to the full complement. The entire brigade consists of fifty-five hose companies and two salvage corps, in all 480 officers and men. This looks like a large force of fire fighters, but when we consider the miles of territory covered and the fact that this number is divided into three shifts it is not so large.

Each fire hazard is fortified with the proper fire fighting agents whether it be Carbon Tetrachloride (1 quart. 1 gallon Physter, 10 gallon Oceo) Soda and Acid (2 1/2 gal., 5 gal., 20 gal., 40 gal.) Foamite (2 1/2 gal., 40 gallon) or 2 1/2″ D. J. rubber

lined hose (35,000) feet distributed in the various hose stations on the ground and on the roofs of buildings wherever practical. For roof stations we have risers from the ground (2 1/2″ iron pipe) running parallel with the safety back ladder. The riser is either attached permanently to the nozzle of a high pressure hydrant or located so that connection can easily be made with one or two sections of hose. This installation eliminates the dragging of hose to the roof when that is an advantageous point from which to fight the fire.

A high pressure fire line built in loops surrounds the East Youngstown Plant, and Coke Works, connected with two steam driven and one electrical pump of 1,000 G. P. M. and delivering water to the nozzle of the hydrant at 125 pounds pressure.

The upkeep of all this fire equipment is one of the principal concerns of the F’ire Bureau, and it keeps six Inspectors busy recharging, inspecting, washing and testing hose, keeping everything in readiness so that when it is needed the equipment will function as originally intended when installed.

An American-LaFrance Combination No. 75 is located just outside the plant and upon second alarm responds to calls within the plant carrying rubber goods and extraordinary equipment to the fire fighters. Three drivers on 8-hour shifts look after the apparatus. This machine responds on first alarms to all fires outside the plant, (Camp Office, Laboratory, and Residential Districts). This territory is Zone No. 8 on the Gamewell circuit and during the daytime is looked after by the Office Company, while during the night season “The Plant Company” comprised of residents of Loveland Farms respond. Each man on this Company has a six-inch turtle gong in his residence and is provided with “Night Rigging” so that in less than a minute he is on his way to the fire station close by.

Roof Hose House and Riser, Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company

The cooperation of municipal and private plant departments work to the advantage of both sides. The municipal departments feel more secure on entering a plant knowing they will meet trained men who are thoroughly familiar with the location of extra hazards and on whom they can rely for effective assistance.

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