New Methods for Locating Water Main Breaks.
Mayor Gaynor. Fire Commissioner Johnson, Water Commissioner Thompson and Chief Engineer de Varena from the water supply department, inspected last week the first workings of the new cut-off electric valves recently attached to the high pressure water system, which arc to be used in case of a break in a water main at a fire. The area in which the new valves have been installed is that supplied by the pumping station at Oliver and South streets, and includes the territory bounded by Maiden lane, Nassau street, Oliver street and the East river. The valves are for the purpose of cutting out a section of the mains of the high pressure system in which a break might occur, and are operated from the pumping station, where electric flash lights give warning of the break.
Two lines of hose with 11/2-inch nozzles were set up at Cherry street and James slip and Fire Chief Kenlon directed the operations. The party inspected the machinery at the pumping station first. A double row of red and green lights at a signal board showed that the pressure in the mains was at the ordinary 30-pound limit. It was explained that the pumps on the high pressure system are not used until an alarm of fire is received and when turned on are able to bring the pressure up to 200 pounds before the apparatus could arrive at the scene of the fire, it was explained that with a 200-pound pressure a stream can be thrown sixteen stories high. Mayor Gayuor was so favorably impressed that he asked Commissioner Johnson what use all of the new motor apparatus would be with such a service? “Unfortunately the high pressure system doesn’t extend all over the city, and at the rate the city is growing, we couldn’t install a system fast enough to keep pace with it,” explained the commissioner. When the pressure was turned on full the signal lights, one by one, went out, and it was explained that if a break occurred in any of the mains, the section in which it occurred would be known by the light, which would burn when the pressure lowered. The party then went to the pumping station. The hose was throwing a stream almost to South street, two blocks away. Suddenly the streams dwindled to nothing, indicating a “break.” “The supposition,” explained Chief Engineer de Varona, “is that the break is on main 1, feeding the hydrant at Water and Cherry streets. The light has flashed in the station and immediately valves at James slip and Oliver street and at the New Bowery and New Chambers street will be turned off. You will see the result in a moment.” Almost before he finished speaking, hose No. 2 began to spout again almost to South street, while hose No. 1 was barely running. The first hose was then transferred to the hydrant on the main, which was not cut off by the automatic valves, and its stream began to equal that of the other hose