How Can Costly Fires Be Avoided*

THE following is a continuation of the article that appeared in the February 9 issue:

The Importance of the Maintenance Department

The maintenance department is an important link in the fire fighting organization because its men are most familiar with the various service systems in the plant. In case of fire, for instance, the gas supply should be shut off, exhaust fans should be stopped, electric motor switches should be thrown out. and the entire sprinkler system should be checked up to see that it is operating perfectly. As soon as possible after the fire is mastered, fused sprinklers should be replaced and the fire-protection system should be put in working order. Many cases are on record where it was supposed the fire was out but where before protection was restored the fire rekindled and did much damage. Later, the maintenance department can clean tip.

The Watchman’s Part in Fire-Protection

Each watchman should be given instruction books and several lectures on the location and operation of fire valves. He should be familiar with the fire system in general. Especially he should know how to turn off the water and how to drain the system in case of water damage. He should be familiar with the location of fire-extinguishers, hose, hose wagons, fire-alarms, valves, pumps, and similar equipment. Many times a watchman has been able to save a serious fire by quick action in operating a hand fire-extinguisher.

Removing the Dangerous Fumes An exhaust cabinet in the finishing room at the Simmons Company, Kenosha, Wis. Wherever volatile solvents are used, special care must be taken to prevent the collection of explosive fumes.

Some companies insist that all watchmen carry a small fireextinguisher at their belt at all times. This may seem like an unnecessary protection, but it has saved some plants from serious difficulties.

Cooperation with the municipal fire department is one of the most important functions of any private-plant organization. The local fire department should be made familiar with the location of all valves and fire-fighting equipment. It should understand the organization which has been built up in the plant, together with its personnel. The private fire chief should immediately turn over the entire responsibility as soon as the municipal chief arrives on the ground. The municipal chief is the man of wider experience.

The settlement of claims after fire and water damage often involves serious disputes, especially where there are many policies involved and where various companies are interested in the risk. Where an accurate inventory can be maintained and reasonable figures can be established as to the loss, the settlement is comparatively easy. There have been cases, however, where it has been impossible to determine a loss without considerable litigation and investigation. The placing of the responsibility is one which ferquently cannot be determined.

*Reprinted from “Factory.”

In closing, let me emphasize again that owners who arc unfortunate enough to have fires do not compensate themselves by the receipt of full insurance. They have lost their customers, equipment, records, and labor. They must start all over again to reestablish their businesses.

Although the cost of adequate fire protection may seem large, it is a small item compared with a fire loss.

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