Report of the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters—Improvements in the System

A REPORT of the Committee on Fire Prevention and Engineering Standards of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, shows that an inspection of Norfolk was made recently by Engineer Chas. R. Barker, in co-operation with Engineers H. S. Jenkins, T. C. Taliaferro and R. A. Myers of the South-Eastern Underwriters’ Association, to determine improvements made since the report of May, 1917, and action taken on the recommendations.

On September 1, 1918, the administration of the city was placed under a city manager, assisted by four directors, and with a legislative body of five councilmen. Chas. E. Ashburner is City Manager; C. P. Melvin, Director of Public Safety, and Walter 11. Taylor, Jr., Director of Public Utilities. The population of the city has materially increased, due to the various war activities in and around Norfolk; it is estimated to be 130,000 to 150,000.

Water Department

Chas. H. Bliven, formerly manager of the Norfolk County Water Company, which has been leased by the city, has been appointed superintendent of the municipal works.

The force at the pumping station permits a minimum of three men on a shift; this leaves but one man in the pump-room, which is insufficient. The filter capacity has been increased to 12.000,000 gallons a day, with a maximum rate of 14,000,000 gallons. An authorization was recently made for additional filters of 4,000,000 gallons a day capacity for a 15.000.000-gallon low-lift pump and a 6,000,000-gallon wash pump. Two electrically driven centrifugal pumps, rated at 6,000,000 gallons a day against a head of 75 pounds, have been installed in the pumping station ; these take suction from the clear water basin and discharge into the force mains; current for these is supplied by two transmission lines on the same pole, about 4 1/2 miles long located on the same pole line.

Fairbanks-Morse Inductor Motor, Driving 3-Stage Centrifugal Pump, Magnolia Bluff, Wash.

The average daily consumption is about 11,500,000 gallons; maximum daily consumption 12,500,000 gallons and peak load at the rate of 15,000,000 gallons a day. This increase of about 6,000,000 gallons a day since 1916 is due to a large increase in population on account of the military activities; to extensive use of water at the United States Army and Navy Bases and to the taking over of the consumers formerly supplied by the Norfolk County Water Company.

The average pressure carried at the pumping station has been increased to 55 pounds and this pressure is raised to 60 pounds at first alarm of fire and it is claimed that 70 pounds would be carried at the pumping station upon second alarm. Due to the increased consumption, pressures in the congested value district are three and four pounds lower than in 1917, although 15 pounds more is carried at the pumping station.

The city has leased for three years, with the privilege of buying, the plant and distribution system of the Norfolk County Water Company. The pumping station has been placed in reserve and the distribution system is now supplied from the city system. This pumping station contains a total pumping capacity of 6,000,000 gallons in three units and is located about one mile north of the Norfolk City pumping station; the distribution system duplicates, in part, the city mains in that section of the city north of 25th street. The 16-inch supply main from the Norfolk County Pumping Station is being extended southwest to connect with the Norfolk City Pumping station on one end, and extended northeast to connect with the 12and 16-inch lines which supply the Army and Navy Base from the Norfolk City distribution system. The northern extension of this line is 16 inches to the point where it intersects the 12-inch line extending out Colley avenue, front which it continues as two 12inch lines connection to the 16-inch line extending out Myers street near the Army and Navy Base.

These connections have increased the supply locally in the northern part of the city, and when the 16-inch supply main is connected to the Norfolk City pumping station, a pump thereat will be operated at a higher pressure, supplying water through the 16-inch line to the Army anti Navy Base and into the Norfolk City distribution system. This will relieve, to some extent, the overtaxing of the Norfalk City supply main, and should increase both the volume of water and the pressure available for fire protection.

1 lie Norfolk C ity distribution system has been strengthened by the installation of several 1.3and 16inch mains.

I here are still 188 hydrants with small barrel in use and not all of the unsatisfactory Gaylord couplings have been removed, although these conditions have improved somewhat since the report of May, 1917. All hydrants do not open in the same direction; there are still some few valves in the system that open to the left, and regular systematic inspection of valves has, as yet, not been inaugurated. It is claimed, however, that this work was started before the war but had to be discontinued on account of scarcity of labor. It is claimed that all valves found defective and noted in the report of May, 1917, have been repaired.

Fire flow tests were repeated in Groups 1. 3 and 4 in the congested value district. In Groups 3 and 4 a slight increase in the amount of water available was noted, but the supply available in both of these groups at residual pressure of 20 pounds is less than 3,000 gallons a minute. This increase was brought about by the installation of additional feeders in these sections. In Group 1, at Main and Fayette streets, the supply available at 20 pounds was less than the quantity obtained at the test of 1917; however. the supply available for fire protection could be increased by having the motor pumping engines recently installed take suction from the river.

There have been no changes to the distribution system in Washington Ward (Berkley), which is supplied by the Portsmouth Works.


The water supply available for fire protection in all parts of the city is still deficient. The improvements under construction should, when completed, improve both the volume of water available and the pressures to some extent, throughout the city.

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