MOTOR APPARATUS AND EQUIPMENT
Bright Prospects for a Brisk Demand Advantages of Triple Combination Combination Chemical and Hose also Popular for Departments that Rely on Gravity or Water Works Pressure
THE past two years has been a chaotic period for motor fire apparatus manufacturers. The first shock came when American municipalities, almost as a body, tightened up on purchasing of new apparatus. A reaction soon followed, instituted by the more progressive cities, which believed that participation in war produced a greater need for additional fire equipment than ever. Then came a complexity of conditions difficult to analyze. Cities showed a willingness to buy but the heavy enlistment of firemen into federal service was already depleting tire departments of their personnel, and incidentally, making it useless to add to the already undermanned equipment. On top of this came the embargo on materials for fire trucks and also for machines complete, (but which was eventually removed), and finally the heavy priority orders from the government departments and establishments doing work for the government for tire equipment.
The urgent government demands kept matters quite lively, and by the time they began to ease up the restrictions referred to above had been removed. Motor fire apparatus factories, as the result of embargo removals, are today well prepared and equipped to handle the heavy requirements forthcoming during the next few months.
What motor apparatus has done for the small town, and will continue to do on a larger scale, is one of the features of the development of this line of fire equipment. Prior to the time motor apparatus secured a hold in the fire department field the purchase of a steam fire engine by a town of 2,000 population or under was never dreamed of. In the first place, one familiar with steam boilers and engines would be required to operate it, and secondly, such a bulky machine could not be drawn to a fire by hand, and a team of horses would be entirely out of the question on account of the expense of their keep. The hand-drawn hand engine remained, therefore, the chief reliance of the town and village. The motor pumper, on the other hand, presented a solution to both these questions; anyone who operated an automobile could run it, and it propelled itself to the fire. Then, too, its initial cost was almost its only cost, there being practically no upkeep expense. The triple combination is proving an efficient and complete fire department in a growing number of towns and w ill, doubtlessly, increase in favor for such service; this applies to the lighter types of machines.
Motor Apparatus This Year
The future of the straight motor pumper is not particularly bright, with the exception of a self-contained pumping unit capable of being towed by a motor hose truck to a tire and left at a hydrant while the truck finishes the work of laying hose and getting the lines in shape for operation. The desirability of apparatus wherein the hose reaches the tire with the engine is becoming daily more apparent. As far as the pumps themselves are concerned, all have their distinctive and advantageous points, as well as their supporters. There is no reason to believe there will be a stampede to any particular type, but instead, it is quite certain that centrifugal, piston and rotary lire pumps will continue to have a market, and enthusiastic advocates, too, as they have in the past.
The straight hose wagon has a much better claim to existence than the straight pumper, for there are a large number of cities which depend upon fire pressure at pumping stations producing sufficient pressure in mains to supply fire streams. In these cases the pumpers .are merely held in reserve for emergency or are brought to fires to be in readiness should water main pressure break down. In the high value districts of big cities where separate high pressure systems are provided, the straight hose truck with wagon or turret pipe mounted thereon is the chief apparatus employed.
Rut better than the straight hose truck for general city service is the combination chemical and hose car which is the decided favorite where the water system provides the fire pressure. The future will see its extended use for this service.
While it is probably true that ninety per cent, of all fires in the medium sized city are extinguished by means of chemicals only, this should be no argument for increased use of the straight chemical truck. And it is not surprising, even in spite of these figures, that so few cities buv the straight truck, for when water is needed at a fire it is needed badly. A single fire gaining headway may do more damage than a hundred caught in their incipiency with the chemicals. Unless there is a surplus of personnel and apparatus it is not likely that a department can send two trucks to a fire to do what one combination chemical and hose car can perform. There are. however, particular instances in which a light chemical car can reach a burning dwelling much quicker than a heavier machine and it just for such duty that the straight chemical excels—to get to the fire and hold it until the larger apparatus arrives. There will be a continued, but probablv limited, market for straight chemical trucks, but where departments have plenty of money they are useful acquisitions.
The triple combination will more than hold its own. As stated above, to the small town it is a complete department, and to medium sized cities is proportionately valuable. Everything at the fire at one time is getting to be the modern idea of efficient fire fighting, and a triple combination going to a fire is much like the caipcntci going to a job with a full kit of tools: he can pick out the tools he needs and do a quicker and better job. Even the little village can find a triple combination to suit its needs and purse, for there are Ford chassis rigged up with small pumps, chemical tank and hose body for village use and which have proven themselves wonderfully efficient.
Motor propelled ladder trucks will continue to fill a definite need, and many cities which formerly hesitated buying them except when their need was urgent, on account of the appreciable increase in overhead expense of the department due to upkeep of horses, will place them in residential sections where they will improve the department’s effectiveness. Then, too, the rapid spread of the ventilation theory in connection with fire fighting will result in cities providing their departments with apparatus whereby they can get to the top of a burning building with the least delay and danger and produce proper ventilation of the building.
One of the results to which the increasing attention being given by large cities to scientific fire fighting will lead will be the formulation and adoption of maximum angles at which fire streams thrown into buildings may be considered effective. The old idea that as long as a stream enters a window and vanishes it is doing its duty is quickly disappearing, and instead progressive chiefs are giving more and more attention to proper stream direction. The problem of getting a stream from the street into a window above the seventh floor and at the same time getting penetration is a new one with some departments while others have managed it by making use of ladder pipes and extension ladders. However, where heavy streams are required through high windows the water tower has no equal. Its capacity, its ease of control. and the ability to take care of heavy pressures have made it a favorite apparatus in large cities. There is never a fire in the high value district of New York C ity at which one or two water towers do not appear. The use of water towers will keep pace with the improvement in fire fighting efficiency.
The early motorization of insurance Salvage Corps trucks was prompt recognition of the usefulness of motor trucks for this branch of fire fighting. A few minutes saved in getting tarpaulins spread over materials that would be damaged by water meant an appreciable reduction in water damage at fires, and the insurance interests were not slow to make use of this advantage. New salvage corps trucks will invariably be motor propelled.
While there are likely to be no immediate changes of a radical nature in fire apparatus design, rearrangements in equipment layout may be expected from time to time, particularly where apparatus is built to lire department specifications. There are two pieces of motor apparatus which mav be expected to appear on the market later on: the searchlight truck and the salvage motor pump.
A searchlight truck with connection between the truck power plant and a generator mounted on the body of the truck, somewhat along the design of the army searchlight equipment, but equipped with lights having floodlight lenses, would be of great value at waterfront fires and at fires in large factory buildings where it is necessary for the men to work high above the street removing shutters or handling streams. Such a truck could carry, in addition to the lighting equipment, wrecking apparatus and repair tools and appliances. The salvage pump will be of low lift and large capacity for removing water from basements after fires, or when basements are filled with water from other causes. For instance, if a sewer backs up during a heavy storm and threatens to flood the basement of a building where valuable material is likely to be ruined, the fire department salvage pump could he called and would be able to give very useful service.
Motor Apparatus Accessories
Variations in design of bodies for motor fire apparatus, while influenced appreciably by individual specifications of fire departments, will be of but a minor nature, for apparatus in its present shape seems to answer all the needs of the average department. The several leading motor apparatus body specialists have, by weighing up the merits of different suggestions made to them from time to time by progressive lire chiefs and others engaged in lire fighting, been able to approach standard styles of bodies for the different types of apparatus. The standard body must be suitable for mounting on any one of the scores of different makes of motor truck chassis, for many fire departments persist in designating the make of chassis on which they want the body equipment mounted. It must be light, it must be strong, and every fitting must be firmly mounted, for in racing to fires the men on the truck are apt to hold on to any available handle whether it be a lantern hook or axe rack.
Truck equipment will, as heretofore, vary in each installation, but there will be a few appliances standard on each type of truck; for instance, the triple combination will always include lanterns, hand extinguishers, axes, etc. Where the triple combination is used in smaller cities and the tendency is really to have the entire department in one truck, a much more complete outfit may be expected, including even smoke helmets. One chemical tank on the triple combination and one or two tanks on the combination chemical and hose truck is getting to be the arrangement of chemical equipment most used, but neither the chemical hose reel or chemical hose basket is gaining favor to the exclusion of the other. A carrying capacity of 2,000 feet of hose will probably remain the standard hose body size for both the triple combination and the combination chemical and hose truck. Ladder truck outfits will experience little change outside of those on which the arrangement and outlay of equipment are in line with special recommendations. Straight chemical trucks, in addition to the soda and acid tanks and extinguishers, may include one or more of the small carbon tetrachloride hand extinguishers for electric, gasoline or calcium carbide fires. It is likely that the desire to have the chief’s car one which is intended to carry only the officer and not equipment to the fire will prevail, so that no change may be expected in this line.
In the early days of motor fire apparatus the determination of chiefs and fire commissioners to incorporate in new fire apparatus only motors which they felt were unquestionably good led many to specify a certain make of motor in new trucks being purchased. The large manufacturers of motors were not slow to recognize the possibilities of the field and a number made special effort to develop this line of work. As a result several manufacturers still use motors in accordance with fire department specifications. It is not unlikely that a certain amount of good was attached to this practice for the success of motor fire apparatus from the start in American fire departments depended primarily on the reliability of the motor used. At present four and six-cylinder motors are used on fire apparatus with the six-cylinder the favorite. The only application of eight cylinder motors to fire apparatus known up-to-date is the product of a Canadian motor fire apparatus plant. Should multi-cylinder motors prove pronouncedly successful for driving fire pumps the near future may see a lively move toward its adoption.
One of the motor accessories which has been given deserved attention by both the large departments and also the manufacturers, is the motor starter. It is an exceedingly difficult matter to “turn over” the motor on one of the large triple combination trucks by hand, and particularly in cold weather where the apparatus has been standing idle at a fire. A starter which will do its work quickly and positively is an absolute essential. Several starters have been adopted for fire apparatus work but though they have proved quite satisfactory in one or two sizes and types of machines, they are not particularly adaptable to the small truck as well as the very large.
Unusually strong and reliable lighting apparatus is needed on fire trucks for the rougher the road they travel the better they must operate. The first-class makes of lighting systems and lamps have shown themselves remarkably durable and have given all-around satisfaction in the fire service.
Two or three of the better known types of carbureters have quite monopolized the fire apparatus field, with the exception of those trucks built up of standard commercial truck chassis and special fire truck bodies. Xo particular troubles have developed which would appear to make necessary any radical change in design. Tt is possible, however, that the experience in carburetting in connection with aeroplane engine work may be used to improve the operation of high powered motor fire engines when working under heavy load.
The latest departure in fire truck tire equipment is the result of the development of the giant pneumatic tire. ‘1’he necessity of speeding over even the roughest of roads and carrying a heavy load makes it essential that the most resilient of tire equipment be employed. So now pneumatic tires are finding their place on fire apparatus. The large diameters of the giant pneumatic tires will make it impracticable to place dual tires on rear wheels so to provide the necessary safety factor it is probable that oversize tires will be employed on the rear wheels.
Whether or not the large pneumatic tires will completely supplant solid tires remains to be seen, but it is hardlv likely that they will. Solid tires with cushion wheels have proven so uniformly satisfactory on the heavier tvpes of equipment that it will require more advantages than the giant pneumatics now present to wean away the users of cushion wheels with solid tires who know no such thing as bursting tires due to brushing corner curbstones when racing to fires. The airless type of tire is also particularly adapted to tire apparatus and is giving excellent satisfaction.
Tire chains are now a part of every fire truck tire equipment, and as tires in tire service age before they wear out from usage, the damage done by chains is not appreciable nor can they be said to shorten the life of the tires to a noticeable extent. Non-skid equipment must be kept ready for use, not only for the snow and ice covered streets during winter, but for wet and muddy streets in other seasons of the year.