Losses, Hazards and Fire Department Conditions in Various Cities

Losses, Hazards and Fire Department Conditions in Various Cities

Extracts from Reports of Committee on Fire Prevention and Engineering Standard, National Board of Fire Underwriters

CANTON, OHIO

Population estimated to be 90,800; the 1920 United State Census showed 87,091, an increase of 73 per cent in the last decade. The rapid growth of the city has been due to the developments of its industries, which include foundries, machine shops, brick, tile and iron works, the manufacture of watches, safes, locks, roller bearings, metal ceilings, iron novelties, structural steel work, automobiles and rubber products. Three railroads and three interurban lines afford good transportation facilities.

Conflagration Hazard

In the principal mercantile district weak construction and lack of window protection make serious individual or group fires probable. While the wide streets and the open space at the intersection of the two principal streets form valuable fire breaks, fires could readily cross the narrow streets and involve considerable portions of the district especially as the fire-fighting facilities are deficient; this, however, will be improved with the changes in the water supply under way and contemplated. In the manufacturing districts, on account of the generally inadequate water supply severe local or group fires are probable. Residential districts present only a normally mild hazard of sweeping fires as very few buildings have combustible roof coverings.

Fire Department

The fire department is a fairly efficient and well organized force, under the supervision of a single director and is commanded by an experienced chief. The personnel is good and discipline fairly well enforced. Appointments and promotions are nominally made under civil service rules. The expenditures for permanent improvements have done much to increase the mechanical strength, but the financial support for maintenance is somewhat less than for cities of similar size. Provision is made for pensions, but no age limit is prescribed for compulsory retirement. Companies practice regularly, but there is no drill tower. The department would be benefited by properly conducted drills, individual instruction and practice in a drill school, including practice in heavy duty operation of engines.

Companies are well located with respect to the principal mercantile district, but distribution in some of the outlying districts is only fair; and companies are undermanned, with no provision for maintaining their strength with trained men during sick or vacation periods. The available fire force is mainly sufficient for large fires, but the arrangement for calling the offshift men is inadequate; definite arrangements for the response of off-shift men and provisions for some of them to sleep at stations would be of great assistance. Provision is made for sufficient response in all districts; but there is no running card and companies are moved in to cover headquarters only. Sufficient chemical equipment is provided; but ladder protection is inadequate and a reserve ladder should be provided for the contingency of a regular ladder being out of service for repairs. Minor equipment on trucks is good. The total engine capacity is inadequate; and the engines were found in poor condition and had to be overhauled before testing. Facilities for repair work are insufficient.

The amount of hose on hand is sufficient but most of it is unreliable for use with heavy pressure. New hose is purchased under specifications and is tested upon delivery but not regularly thereafter. Fire stations are generally well arranged, but arc in fair condition only.

Fire methods are generally modern, and such as prevent excessive water damage at fires, but little salvage work is done. Inspections of buildings for rubbish and other hazards accomplish much good. Records are fairly good, but poorly kept and somewhat incomplete; and annual reports are not printed. Improvements made since the previous report have considerably strengthened the department.

Fire Alarm System

The present system is under experienced management but the permanent force employed is inadequate. Maintenance is good but presents unreliable features in the installation of circuits on some poles with high potential lines, in the improper construction of leads down poles, and the failure to properly ground boxes. The location of headquarters in a building of nonfireproof construction containing the hazards of automobile apparatus, a large amount of woodwork and without window protection to serious exposures, jeopardize the system. Batteries are of good type and in good condition. The instruments at fire stations are in good condition. Speed of alarms is slow, due to the number of large gongs and the tower bell. Boxes are non-interfering; 64 per cent have the succession features; all are dingy and inconspicuous from lack of cleaning and painting, and bands on supporting poles and red lights indicating location. The distribution is fairly good except in the outlying districts. Circuits are only partly underground in the principal mercantile district and elsewhere mostly overhead. Separate gong circuits should be extended to all fire stations so that speed of transmitting alarms can be increased. Tests of boxes are unsatisfactory and with the exception of a map in convenient form no records are kept. Stations are connected direct to public telephone exchanges; telephone alarms are transmitted as box alarms, and nearest company is first notified by telephone. Many of the defective and unsatisfactory features of the fire alarm service noted in the 1912 report which still exist will be removed upon the installation of the proposed new system.

Losses, Hazards and Fire Department Conditions in Various Cities

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Losses, Hazards and Fire Department Conditions in Various Cities

Extracts from Reports of Committee on Fire Prevention and Engineering Standard, National Board of Fire Underwriters

SAVANNAH, GA.

Population estimated at 84,000; the 1920 United States census showed 83,252. The city is an important seaport. Principal industries are in cottonseed oil and commercial fertilizer works, wood working establishments, foundries, cigar factories and diversified industries. Seven railway systems and several steamship lines afford excellent shipping facilities.

Conflagration Hazard

The mainly weak construction and some serious exposures in the congested value district make serious fires probable, even though heights and areas are mostly moderate; however the fairly strong and efficient fire department, provided with adequate quantities of water, should prevent a fire from assuming conflagration proportions. In the water-front district serious fires are probable, especially at the western end; the hazard of this district would be very greatly reduced by the installation of a fire boat. Non-combustible roofs throughout the city reduce the flyingbrand hazard, but in some sections very flimsy construction, closely spaced, introduces a serious hazard.

Fire Department

The fire department is a well equipped paid force under experienced and competent officers. The lack of proper tenure of office provisions for all members of the department, permitting the introduction of political influence into departmental affairs, and resulting, as in the past, in whqlesale changes of personnel with changes in city administration, tends to prevent efficiency and demoralize the department. Financial support in recent years has been low. Pension provisions are adequate, but an age limit for compulsory retirement is lacking.

Companies are well distributed. Ladder and chemical service is generally adequate. Engine companies are fairly well manned; manning of ladder companies is seriously deficient. Response is prompt and generally adequate, except in some sections of the congested value district and to telephone alarms. Waterfront protection would be very materially increased by a fireboat. Fire stations are mainly in fair condition, except headquarters, which is in poor repair and unsanitary, and should he replaced as soon as possible.

Drills are frequent and generally effective; instruction and training of all would he greatly facilitated by regular schools and driMs at a suitable drill tower. Individual efficiency is mainly of high order. Discipline appears to be good and there are few infractions of rules.

Engine capacity is slightly inadequate. Engine tests indicated that pumpers were mainly in fair condition; motors ran well but pumps showed considerable slip. Operations generally were good. Departmental repair facilities are fairly adequate. Apparatus is wall standardized and spare parts are quickly procured locally.

Hose supply is ample and well cared for. The advantages of the use of 3-inch hose have not been recognized, as none is provided. Minor equipment is fairly complete; hut heavy stream appliances are seriously deficient.

Fire methods are generally effective and such as prevent excessive water damage at smajll fires; little attempt is made at salvage work. The inspections of buildings by department officials is thorough and effective. Reports and records are complete and accessible, hut annual reports have not been printed or published in recent years.

Fire Alarm System

The fire alarm system is well maintained by a competent electrician. Headquarters is well located in a fireproof building, but with unprotected openings. Apparatus at headquarters is in good condition, but does not include proper equipment for manual operation, which is needed to furnish adequate fire alarm protection to this city. Overhead and underground construction is in good condition except for the use of paper insulated cables; the running of circuits on poles or in duct systems or manholes with high tension lines jeopardizes the entire system. The policy of extending underground construction as rapidly as appropriations permit is excellent. Circuits are well protected. Boxes are of the non-interferring type and are mainly in good condition; one-third of the boxes lack the succession feature and one-third still have unreliable brush break contacts. Box distribution is mainly good but the inconspicuousness of boxes, due to the lack of distinctive markings of locations, may cause serious delay in sending in alarms. Apparatus at fire stations is incomplete and dependence for receipt of alarms is still partly placed on unreliable visual indicators. The installation of separate alarm circuits or duplicate means of sending alarms to fire stations would remove one of the most serious defects in the system. Batteries are of satisfactory type and are well maintained. Tests, except of boxes, are satisfactory and frequent. Records are few.

The provisions for and method of handling telephone alarms are poor.

MANSFIELD, OHIO

Population estimated to be 28,500: the United States census of 1920 showed 27.824. The city has large plants devoted to the manufacture of agricultural machinery. Among the leading industrial plants are steel and brass works; stove, electrical apparatus, plumbing and sanitary device factories; cigar factories; also numerous diversified industries. Three railroads and two interurban electrics afford transportation facilities.

Conflagration Hazard

In the principal mercantile district weak structural conditions, in connection with the frequent high winds and seriously inadequate fire fighting facilities, create a probability of group fires at many points; such fires, however, should ordinarily be confined to the group, or to the block of origin, as the 60-foot streets in connection with the moderate heights are of fair width and accessibility is good. Nothing more serious than small group fires is probable elsewhere.

Fire Department

The fire department is a well-organized force under the command of experienced officers, but is considerably undermanned; this deficiency is somewhat offset by the good provisions for the response of the off-shift to second alarms. The methods of general supervision, appointment and promotion are satisfactory; provisions for retirement and pension are lacking. There are sufficient companies in service; the aerial ladder truck, with ladders on hose wagons, renders ladder service fairly adequate. There is no apparatus in reserve. Distribution is fair, but pumping capacity is less than half that required. Powerful and special stream appliances are inadequate; chemical apparatus is sufficient. The quantity of 2 1/2-inch hose in service is sufficient, but much is in an unreliable condition due to age and lack of proper tests and three-inch hose is not provided. Repair facilities are poor. Fire stations are in fair condition, but show serious fire hazards.

Discipline appears to be well maintained. There is no drill tower and such drills as are held appear only fairly effective. The response to alarms is inadequate in the principal mercantile district, but is satisfactory elsewhere; the deficiency due to the insufficient companies responding is intensified by their weak manual strength. The methods used in handling small fires are good, but the apparatus, equipment and fire force are inadequate to handle any but incipient fires to good advantage. Building inspections are frequent and appear fairly effective, but are not general enough to keep company members familiar with local conditions; complete inspection records are not kept. The fire record is not kept in form available for ready reference and lacks some useful information; records of apparatus, hose and minor equipment are lacking.

The fire alarm system, operating as a single circuit system, is inadequate and unreliable, but the authorized headquarters equipment will provide most of the essential features of a proper system. The general condition shows fairly satisfactory maintenance, hut an improvement in number and frequency of tests and more complete records are desirable.

The headquarters building is unsuitable. Batteries are in only fair condition, the charging current is not adapted to the service and no duplicate source is provided. Apparatus at fire stations includes unreliable visual indicators. Many boxes are of poor design; distribution is fair. Boxes need painting: and red lights and bands are not provided.

The entire circuit is aerial; mainly well installed but the use of bare wire is not good practice. Protection is only fair and the proximity of high voltage circuits is liable to cause trouble. The arrangement for the receipt of telephone alarms is poor since no trunk from the public exchange is reserved for fire calls: the practice of sending telephone alarms out over the telegraph system is commendable.