Louisville Fire Hazard.
The reinspection of the city of Louisville, Ky., by the engineers of the National Board of Fire Underwriters revealed the facts that, since the original investigation in September, 1906, there have been some recent improvements to the water supply by the installation of an additional pump at the new River station, and to the fire department by the addition of a new engine company and a new ladder company. The conflagrationhazard, however, is severe in the congested-value district, on account of the close grouping of blocks compactly built with structually weak buildings. The engineers review their findings as follows:
Water Supply.—Works owned and operated by the municipality. Management good; records and plans incomplete, although considerably improved since 1906. Supply pumped from the Ohio river through four force-mains to Crescent Hill reservoir, holding nearly 5-days’ storage, from which it flow’s to the clear-water basin, holding over one day’s supply, and is repumped directly to the distribution system. A filter plant will shortly be placed in service. Pumping stations are nonlireproof, and the Crescent Hill station is deficient m fire protection. In the latter station, if one pump should break down w’hile another is out of service for repairs, the remaining pump would be unable to maintain a satisfactory fire protection supply, in addition to the domestic consumption; but a total failure of supply is unlikely, as, in emergency, the city may be scupplied under low pressure, direct from the Crescent Hill reservoir. The advantages of the storage and higher pressures from the elevated tank have not been utilised. Distribution in one service. Consumption moderate. Pressures fair to good, but poorly maintained in some sections. Arteries generally of ample capacity; but some important districts are lacking in secondary feeders; minor distributors small. Interior condition of mains being improved. Gate-valves generally well spaced and in good condition. Hydrants or cisterns fairly Svell distributed in important districts; many hydrants in and near the congestedvalue district are too small and have only one small outlet. Considerable damage to hydrants results from their indiscriminate use by street sprinklers and contractors. Since 1906 the installation of an additional pump and boilers in the new River station has considerably improved the reliability of the supply. The equipment at Crescent Hill station has been augmented by the addition of one pump and two boilers. Since the station has been operated, a materially higher pressure is maintained, which, together with the reinforcement of the distribution system by larger mains, has increased the quantities of water available throughout the city; but for satisfactory lire protection in important districts a further increase in pressure and considerable improvement in details of distribution system are necessary. Water supply in most of the important districts fair; but for large quantities it is available at such low pressures as to necessitate the use of fire engines; generally limited by faults of the distribution system.
Fire Department.—Full paid; under satisfactory supervision and commanded by a capable and progressive chief. Financial support inadequate. Companies in service well distributed, but undermanned. Engines mostly of modern type and good capacity; generally in good condition. Department deficient in ladder-service. Chemical service being increased. Department still using small reels, instead of hose wagons: these carry only small amounts of hose and limited minor equipment. Good supply of appliances for throwing powerful streams. Well managed repair shop. Personnel and discipline considerably improved under present administration; political influences lessened. No drill school or regular drill for all members provided. Response to alarms poor in high-value district. Fire methods good, but little advantage taken of increased hydrant pressures. Building inspections of little value; fire records incomplete. Recent improvements include an additional engine company and a ladder company, repairing and rebuilding of several houses and much apparatus purchased and rebuilt. Department, as a whole, efficient for its size, but deficient in ladder service, and most companies are undermanned.
Fire Alarm System.—Manual central office system : insecurely housed. Management competent, but financial support poor. Part of headquarters apparatus and most of fire station apparatus old and of unreliable type. Batteries of good type, properly installed, but charged from 500-voltpower circuit. Fire department telephone system fairly good. Boxes of interfering type and otherw’ise unsatisfactory; over half with unreliable mechanism; two-thirds have keys detached and no key signs provided; all arc inconspicuous. Distribution fair in high-value districts; poor elsewhere. All circuits overhead. Wiring at boxes and older houses generally poor. Wires to be placed underground by December 31, 1910, in a large part of the thickly built-up districts, but no funds now available. Overhead circuits poorly located on poles, partly in bad condition and at many points on poles with electric light and power wires. Box-circuits dangerously overloaded. Duplicate-alarm circuits to firehouses; but gong circuits are of open type. Methods of transmitting alarms not in acocrdance with best practice. Tests infrequent, records incomplete and no box map provided. Since 1906 twentythree boxes have been added, wiring at several houses improved, portions of the overhead lines renewed and the efficiency of the force increased. The system is still unreliable and liable to fail at any time.
Conflagration-Hazard.—Severe in the congested-value district, on account of the close grouping of blocks compactly built with structually weak buildings, mutually exposing across inaccessible interior courts and forming conflagration breeders and the undermanned fire department and unreliable fire alarm system. Outside of the congested-value district there are numerous chances for bad individual and small group fires, but the general hazard is small, except that the warehouse and manufacturing district adjoining the main district on the west offers some exposure thereto.