Keeping Down the Loss at Fires by Careful Salvage Work
How the Fire Department of Fresno, Cal., Performs Covering Work —Trough for Carrying Off Water—Water Damage Kept Down
SALVAGE work at fires is being emphasized more and more in the science of fire-fighting. The least damage consistent with the extinguishing of fires is the order of the day. The methods adopted by the Fresno, Calif., fire department, as described in the following article by Chief Baird, shows efficiency and care and the idea of forming a trough for ladders and tarpaulins to carry off the water and to avoid damage is a particularly practical one.The fire referred to in Chief Baird’s article was fully described in the June 27 issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING on page 1259, being in the three-story building on the southeast corner of Tulare Street and Broadway. Fresno, with a frontage of some 50 feet on Broadway and some 20 feet on Tulare Street. The fire, according to the chief, was of the incendiary origin and for that reason the fire department was very anxious not to allow the water to cause any more damage than it was absolutely necessary. How well they succeeded is told in the article which follows.
The fire started at the end of a narrow corridor in the southeast corner of the third floor directly under an opening into the attic. A quantity of tongue and grooved flooring was stored on end directly under this opening and this served to hasten the spread of the fire to the attic above. The fire was of suspicious origin and one man has already been arrested in connection with the investigation which is still under way.
Water Damage Kept Down
No lines were operated at any time excepting those which could actually reach the fire and this procedure, of course, helped materially in keeping the water damage so low.
As is the regular procedure in this department now, special attention was paid to salvage work which includes covering the stock with tarpaulins and in this particular case practically every tarpaulin in the department was used, those in service with companies not responding to this alarm being sent for and placed in service. That this work was effective is clearly indicated by the fact that with a stock valuation in the first floor and basement of some $53,000 but $1,000 was allowed by the adjusters. On the second floor the valuation was $8,000 while the claim allowed was $1,856. On the third floor, the valuation was $4,200 and the amount allowed was less than $1,500. On the building, the valuation was $45,000 and the amount allowed was $12,000.
Novel Method Disposing of Surplus Water
In connection with the salvage work which was carried on at this fire, what we believe to be a rather unusual method of controlling the flow of water from the upper floors was tried out and proved to be a success. The idea was suggested by Assistant Chief Berkholtz, who requested permission to try it out. Two ladders were set up on the first floor from a position inside of the door on the Tulare Street side to the ceiling about the center of the building. The upper ends of the ladders were rested against one of the ceiling girders while the lower ends were securely braced to prevent slipping. Then tarpaulins were stretched between these two ladders forming a trough from the ceiling to the sidewalk. Holes were then cut through the second and third floors directly over this point and as much water as possible was swept through these holes to the trough below. We are sending you photographs showing the extent of the covering job and the trough arrangement as previously outlined.
Off-Platoon Officers and Men Assist
Chief officers in service at this fire were Chief of Department Thomas Baird, First Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal W. R. Williams, Third Assistant Chief F. W. Walsh in charge of “B” Platoon on duty. Second Assistant Chief W. C. Berkholtz and a large number of the men of the “A” platoon off-duty came in later and worked as long as their services were required.
Too much credit cannot be given the men of the department who were in service at this fire as every man was trying hard every minute to make every move count and they thoroughly deserve the praise which has been freely given them by the local newspapers and the citizens generally.