NEW YORK FIRE COLLEGE COURSE
Copyright, 1926, by FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING, INC.
THE HANDLING OF FIRES IN VESSELS
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Be sure of what is in the compartment before you send the men down to put the blaze out. If you can’t go down, can’t send down, cannot find out what is in the hold, the next thing to do is to fill the hold with water.
Put two or three 3-inch lines down in the hold and start the pumps. Before you do that there is one important point you must remember: there is a bulkhead door usually between the different compartments of the hold, and which is watertight. See that these doors are tight so that the water will not run away.
Also be sure to take your men away when the doors are filled up. The door may give way and the damage would be terrific.
When down to lock the door you may find you can use a stream. If such is the case, do so as long as you can.
How to Get Water Into the Hold
There is another way of getting water into the hold besides letting the lines down through the hatches, and that is through the ventilators. These ventilators are present in practically every ship and are used for ventilating the spaces below, especially when chemicals are stored there, to prevent dangerous gases from collecting. They are usually situated four or five feet after or before the bulkhead. Smoke from the ventilators shows where the fire is; the chart shows where the ventilators come from.
Put your lines through these openings and turn on the water.
Either Ship or Cargo Where No Bulkheads
In the case of single bottoms on the ships get engineers to open the sea cocks. When there is enough water in the lower hold, close the sea cocks.
In the case of fires in the old fishing ships there is usually no bulkhead, leaving a wide open space from end to end of the ship. In such an instance, there is only one thing to do. Stop the fire before it passes you. If necessary find how much water the ship will draw and run the ship somewhere where you can sink it.
Once the fire in a ship has gained headway you know it will destroy the cargo and the ship. It is up to the commanding officer to decide what to do. If there are no bulkheads in the ship, you have got to lose either the ship or the cargo.
You get the ship and the salvage, if you sink her, while the boat may be so badly damaged by warping of plates that it will be worthless if you try to put the tire out with streams.
Another thing to be remembered; when ship is at dock or in the harbor and cargo has been removed for one consignee from the lower deck, the boat is apt to be top-heavy and there is danger of it overturning. Use the water ballast tanks for aiding the boat to keep an even keel. Connect lines from the engine to fill up ballast tanks.
Sound how much water there is. If the boat draws 15 feet and is 15 feet above water, you can put her down in 20 feet of water. Re careful of the bottom. It should not be stony, for the weight of the boat going down on sharp stones will rip her open.
There are many times where you can get at the fire from both ends. Where fire is in the center and ventilation in the center, this is possible, but where the ventilation is at either end, there is danger of one company driving the fire toward the other. In any case get ventilation and the men can work close up to the fire and do more effective work.
Pile Cargo Evenly in Shifting It
In the case of fires on boats carrying sugar or similar materials, and where they must be shifted, be sure to pile the cargo evenly so that the center of gravity of the boat will remain midway between the two sides and well below the water level; otherwise the boat may capsize. Take the weight off the top instead of the main deck so that the stability of the boat will not be affected.
Where railroad cars are burning on floats, the first step is to close the many hatches, for water will get into the hold and cause the boat to tip over.
The buckling of plates frequently causes the seams to open from end to end of the boat and an inrush of water results if the boat should take more water or list.
It is very often possible to tell the location of the fire if it has gained headway by the color of the plates above the water level.
Questions and Answers on Steamship Fires
Q. On arriving on board of steamship that is on fire, what is the first thing you do?
A. Locate the fire.
Q. How would you proceed about it?
A. The ship’s officers are generally aware of the particular part of ship or cargo on fire. One or more hatches should be removed on each deck, until each compartment on fire is reached. A very excellent precaution is: while this is being done to have the ship’s officer get the diagram of ship. Bulkheads and compartments can be easily located by this diagram, as also the particular cargo which is in that part of the vessel.
Q. Assuming the fire is in the lower hold; how would you proceed to extinguish it?
A. If the fire had gained considerable headway, it would be necessary to flood the compartment.
Q. What is necessary before preceeding to flood the compartment?
A. See that all bulkhead water tight doors are closed, as well as the deadlights.
Q. Why is this a precautionary measure?
A. Because the compartment, as it fills with water, is in all probability liable to cause the boat to list. Should the cargo or other ports be left open she would fill with water and sink. Should the bulkhead doors be open the water would flow from the compartment and flood the entire length of the ship, thereby doing unnecessary damage to cargo and other parts of the vessel.
Q. How would you flood the compartment?
A. By stretching 3 1/2-inch hose from fireboat, dropping them down into compartment with open butts, and maintain about 40 pounds pressure on the boat pumps.
Q. Assuming that you cannot get the hatches off, is there any other means by which you can get water into the compartment?
A. Yes. Tt will generally be found that one ventilator leads to each compartment. This can readily be distinguished by the heat and smoke pouring from it. The hose can be dropped into the ventilator, and the water pumped into the compartment on fire.
Q. If there is no ventilator, is there any other means ?
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New York Fire College Course
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A. Yes. In some ships, especially those of single bottoms, it is possible to flood the lower hold through the sea valves.
Q. Suppose the ship is in a condition where the greater part ot the cargo is discharged; is there any particular precaution to be taken before starting to flood her?
A. Yes. A ship in the condition known as light, or partially discharged, will take a very heavy list if water is poured into a compartment. So much so as to perhaps capsize. In order to avoid this, lines should be run to the ballast tanks and they should be filled at the same time as the compartment is filled, in order to keep the ship on an even keel.
Q. What precaution is taken when the ship is heavily loaded?
A. In order to determine the depth of water under ship, take soundings. As she goes down from water poured in and takes the ground, she is bound to take a very sharp list one way or the other.
(Note:—The Extension Course of the New York Fire College will commence in the next issue.-EDITOR.)
The Hoboken, N. J., Chamber of Commerce has started a movement for support of the fire and accident prevention campaign which has as an important feature the forming of “Safety Locals” to consist of weekly meetings of the managers, superintendents and foremen of industrial plants for co-operation with the fire departments to reduce fire waste.