NEW MADISON SQUARE GARDEN HAS UNUSUAL FIRE PROTECTION
How This Largest Indoor Arena in New York City Is Guarded from Fire— Protection of Life Also Taken Care Of
FOR the enlightenment of the fire fighting profession, FIRE ENGINEERING presents in this article, information about the newest and the largest structure for public assemblages in the city of New York, the New Madison Square Garden.
The New Madison Square Garden, although not located near Madison Square, in the city of New York, is a four story structure, of concrete, steel and yellow brick, trimmed with limestone, with a solid roof and located on the west side of Eighth avenue, between 49th and 50th streets, on the edge of the theatrical district.
It is the most modern and the most commodious place of public indoor assembly in the city of New York. It has a total capacity of approximately 20,000 persons. It is surpassed in capacity only by the Brush Stadium at the Polo Grounds, the Yankee Stadium in The Bronx and Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, but these are open-air structures.
The new Garden was erected as a result of the sale and demolition of the original Madison Square Garden, famous as the mecca of New York City’s monster political conventions, exhibitions, circuses, etc.
Pronounced Last Word in Fire Protection
The New Garden has been pronounced “the last word in fire protection” which of course means protection of life as well. The building stands back from the west side of Eighth avenue about 150 feet. It covers an area of approximately 200 x 375 feet. The standpipe system consists of six 4″ risers which are supplied by a 6″ pipe line which encircles the basement and is fed by a 3,500 gallon pressure tank.
The tank is made of steel and is located in a fireproof room in the attic of the building. By means of an air compressor in the boiler room, there is maintained at all times a minimum pressure of 30 pounds on the standpipe system. This system has a total of 28 outlets of 2 1/2 inch size. To each of the 28 outlets is attached 100 feet of canvas hose. The nozzles have a 5/8″ tip. The 28 standpipe outlets are distributed throughout the building as follows: 18 in the auditorium, 6 on the roof and 4 in the basement.
Each standpipe outlet is a complete fire station in itself. The hose is housed in a glass cabinet, flush with the brick wall. A small blue light indicates the location of the hose reel. There is also an axe, a six foot hook and a 3 gallon extinguisher at each station.
The standpipe system may be supplied by the fire department through two Siamese connections; one at 49th Street and the other at the 50th Street corners.
Automatic Sprinkler System
The automatic sprinkler system contains 434 heads. Thev cover every square foot of the basement area. It is the Grinnell System and is set for 155 degrees. The sprinklers are supplied by two, 4″ pipes connected to the public water main at 49th street and at 50th street.
The sprinkler beads in the boiler room in the basement are set to fuse at 268 degrees. The refrigeration room has six Jumbo heads, controlled manually by a valve in the boiler room, for the purpose of providing a water blanket in the event of a break in the ammonia system. The boiler room and the refrigeration room arc segregated by a brick wall in which there is a fire proof door, automatically closed by the functioning of the fusible links.
The necessity for such an extensive sprinkler system in the basement is apparent, when it is remembered that the basement is used for commercial and industrial exhibitions; storage of hay, straw and feed for animals stabled there in connection with circuses, rodeos and horse shows; automobile shows, dinners, receptions, meetings and a variety of kindred uses.
There are 24 manual fire telegraph signal boxes throughout the building, connected directly with the fire telegraph central station. The arena, mezzanine and gallery are constructed of iron and concrete. The benches are iron frame, stationary, with hinged wooden seats.
Arrangement of Exits
The arena has five exits; four of them are 45 feet in width and are located at the four corners of the building; the fifth one is 25 feet in width and is located in the middle of the Eighth Avenue wall, opening out to a lobby leading to Eighth Avenue through the arcade of a hotel now being constructed in front of the Garden.
The mezzanine exits are also in the four corners and are seven feet wide, enclosed in a brick fire tower and lead to the arena floor to the 45 foot exits from the arena. The mezzanine also has four exterior iron balconies to an exterior iron stairway 7 feet wide, which leads to a semi fire tower on the outside of the building.
The gallery, from the standpoint of making a quick exodus, is unique, in that its ingress and egress are wholly exterior and are independent and separate from the arena and the mezzanine. The gallery is approached by an outside stairway enclosed in a fire tower. Departure is made the same way. This serves a commercial as well as a fire protection purpose. It means that the gallery “Gods” cannot invade the more expensive seats in the mezzanine or in the arena.
The capacity of the New Madison Square Garden is divided as follows:
Three Events can Go On at Once
It is possible for this new structure to accommodate, at any time, its maximum capacity attendance, by the following combination of events, which the structure is designed to hold: Basement—dinner, or dance, or theatrical performance, show or bazaar, public meeting or convention, exhibition, etc.; on the arena floor—boxing bouts, or athletic games, basketball, tennis, etc.; on the roof—out-of-door sports of all kinds.
The arena floor is constructed of cement, marble chips and steel filings, making it non-skid. This combination is set in flags, allowing for expansion. The center of the arena floor is portable permitting access to the ammonia pipes, for freezing water for the hockey matches and the ice skating races.
There is a ventilating system of blower fans in the attic, but the New York State Boxing Commission prohibits smoking during the boxing bouts.
The ban on smoking is welcomed by the fire department officials,, but it does not prevail at the instigation of the fire department, except when conditions attending exhibitions make it necessary.
Although the New Madison Square Garden is modern and safe, the fire department has not however relaxed in its vigilance. Every large assemblage is “covered” by the Fire Department of Public Assembly, under the command of Capt. John J. McCarthy of H. & L. Co. 43. Such assemblages as the Six Day Bicycle Races, the Horse Shows, etc., are protected by firemen assigned to patrol the building.