ORGANIZATION AND DRILL OF FIRE BRIGADE
The national fire prevention committee of the National Board of Fire Underwriters has issued a very neat pamphlet entitled, “Suggestions for the organization and drilling of Private Fire Brigades,” which, owing to the practicability of the data pertaining to the formation and management of large or small private fire departments, is given herewith in full:
There are certain classes of property, such as department stores, theaters and the older type of mercantile building, where occupancy and character of construction will tend to limit the effective work of the brigade to the extinguishment of fires in their early or incipient stage, and where private fire onerations as a rule will be confined to the interior of the building. For other classes of property, such as mill and shop plants, including railroad terminal yards and docks, fire operations will be mostly in the open and generally of a more extended character. It is clear, therefore, that a plan of organization to be practical should provide for the essential features peculiar to each of these classes, and those in control must work out the most adaptable details The manner or organization of a fire brigade in any large plant will necessarily depend upon the size of the plant, as well as upon the kind and amount of fire extinguishing apparatus to be used. The rules and organization prescribed may also be readily adapted to meet special conditions of location. construction and protection as may be necessary. The degree of efficiency of a brigade organization will depend largely upon the care and iudgment exercised in the selection of men. Intelligent, sober persons, preferably strong and reliable, generally known to the cool-headed and well posted as to all buildings, the location of stairways, elevators, fire appliances, etc., should be chosen, and carc should be taken to appoint, if possible, those living within hearing distance of the general fire signal. The chief should determine the qualifications of all men proposed for membership. For identification and admittance to the premises during fires and at other proper Ernes outside of business hours, each member of the fire brigade should be provided with a badge. Th ideal private fire brigade should be organized under a constitution, with its own bylaws and hold regular meetings. The members should be subject to discipline, and acts of unusual merit involving personal risk and endurance should be fittingly rewarded.
Membership in the brigade should of itself confer distinction, and. if possisble, carry with it some privilege sufficiently attractive to make membership desirable and sought after. Various means may be adopted to secure those features—cither bv the payment of stated sums of money for services at fire drills or by an honorarium to each man at the end of year or a small salary as an indication of the responsibility placed noon him In addition there could be clubrooms with a view of encouraging social intercourse through the medium of the fire brigade organization Failure to report for practise should involve a fine Substitutes. when not paid, should receive the fines imposed on the regular men.
The Chief of Brigade
Should be one whose duties would insure his presence at the plant the greater part of the time and one who has a thorough knowledge of the premises plant and equipment, preferably the master mechanic or factory manager. He should be one physically and mentally fitted by experience and study for the work, and one whose position would command the respect of the men under him and give reasonable assurance of official recognition for meritorious service.
ASSISTANT CHIEF.—He should be qualified to perform the duties of the chief in the absence of that officer and perform such other fire services as the chief may direct.
BATTALION CHIEF—Where the department is divhled into battalions, a battalion chief should be assigned, and his selection should be so far as can be done, based upon the same qualifications as assistant chief. This office should be filled by promotion from captains of companies who have shown special merit or who have had experience in fighting fires They should be graded, and through seniority have charge of the fire in the absence of the chief or assistant chief
CAPTAINS OF Companies.—For these positions men with mechanical knowledge are to be preferred, either shop foremen, or in the case of the factory or department store, some of the regularly employed mechanics, or those usually in charge of departments and accustomed to the control of employes. They should be of sound and reliable judgment, sober habits, and capable of acting quickly in emergencies, as upon these men devolves direct supervision of active fire operations, and care in their selection is of the utmost importance. They, too, should be graded and by seniority, take charge of the fire in case of the absence of higher officers. Each fire company should have a lieutenant, who should take charge in case of the absence of the captain.
Company organization should be designed to afford the men special knowledge and experience in their respective duties. It is essential that all of them should be instructed and drilled, so that they may perform any of the duties outlined in the suggestions, should it be found necessary to change the duties regularly assigned them at the time of fire. An organization consisting of several companies, with a small membership in each, makes it possible to direct through the captains and other officers the operation of fire streams and other fire appliances with the least confusion and best results.
The minimum requirement for a hose company will vary with local conditions, but in no case should there be less than ten men. including the captain and a lieutenant, or a sufficient number of men to lay and operate the maximum number of hose lines and fire streams available. One man should be assigned to hydrant duty, and at least four men for each line of hose to be operated. No one company should be expected to operate more than two lines, except under special conditions. Hose men should be strong, active, able and gritty men, capable of carrying lines of hose upstairs and ladders, while under pressure, and also able to withstand considerable fatigue, heat, smoke and gases. For a roof stream there should be an extra man to pass signals and assist if required.
HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY.—A hook and ladder company should be organized with a complement of not less than nine men including a captain and lieutenant. The number will varv with conditions, depending upon height of buildings, degree of exposure, character of construction and occupancy. The duties of the hook and ladder company will consist of placing ladders, the handling and use of chemical extinguishers from the truck’s equipment, and the opening of roofs, floors, partitions, wrecking, etc., and such other fire duties as in the judgment of the chief may be necessary. Permanently placed ladders are commended for ready access to upper floors and roofs, but they should be safeguarded from fire or smoke to protect the firemen and those who may use them.
CHEMICAL ENGINE COMPANY.—To consist of six men. including a captain and lieutenant. Two men to have charge of operating the engine tank; to open and close main tank valve in addition to agitating and mixing the chemical charge, and of recharging. The men should be thoroughly experienced in the method of operating the engine and should be held responsible for the proper charging and condition of the tank at all times, also for having extra charge at hand when required. Two men to be selected to carry and direct nozzle and to assist in handling the hose line. For engines having two tanks an additional nozzleman should be provided.
STANDPIPE COMPANIES.—Where equipped with interior standpipe system, a separate company should be organized to operate the system and to handle the hose lines connected therewith. The company should be in charge of a captain and lieutenant, and should comorse not less than four men to each of the maximum number of hose lines available, and arrangements should be made to concentfate the entire capacity of the water supply on any fire danger point on the premises. For each hose line there should be a valveman and two pipemen. Valvemen to remain at hose valve to turn on or off water and assist in unreeling hose. Pipemen to handle and have direction of play-pipe and assist in unreeling and laying hose line. Where standpipe systems are supplied from gravity tanks or by means of connections with public water mains, the organization should provide for a “main valveman,” and assistants, whose duty it shall be to open and close the shut-off valves between source of water supply and standpipe system when so directed by the officer in charge.
FIRE PAILS AND CHEMICAL EXTINGUISHERS.— A special detail of selected men should be designated to handle chemical extinguishers, fire pails and any other equipment. All employes should be thoroughly familiar with the use and handling of these appliances.
PUMPS.—At plants where the fire service is supplied by fire pumps, the engineer in charge and his assistants should be enrolled in the fire brigade membership, in order that they may be in close touch with the purposes and work of the brigade. During fires, and except when prearranged for fire drills, the engineer and assistants should remain on duty at the pumps until relieved by the chief, and where steam pumps are used, they shall see that sufficient steam pressure is maintained to operate the pumps in accordance with good fire practise. Arrangements should be made in the event of long continued service, for an ample number of men to fire the boilers, to report to the chief engineer. Where rotary pumps furnish water supply for fire protection, one or more men should be detailed to operate the gearing, start the pumps and keep them well oiled, and give them such other care and attention while running as will prevent accident from overspeed or heating of the boxes.
WATER PRESSURE.—Pump water pressure should be gaged to suit the height of buildings, and relief valves should be set accordingly. One hundred pounds pressure at pumps is in most cases the maximum pressure.
SALVAGE CORPS.—A number of active and trustworthy employes under the direction of a captain and lieutenant, should be organized and instructed in the best methods for covering up valuable stock and machinery, or caring for valuable records to prevent water damage, sweeping out, draining off and soaking up water, caring for stock, fixtures and machinery or other material or property that may be susceptible to water damage. This corps should be provided with all the necessary salvage equipment, such as rubber blankets or whatever may be needful to cover up and protect the contents of the building. In some cases it will be found desirable to organize a company and locate suitable equipment on each floor.
DRILL TO AVOID Panic.-—In this connection it is important for the employer to arrange for a simple but effective plan by which all of the employes not assigned to fire duty may be promptly dismissed from the prsmises without possibility of confusion or panic, or interference with the firemen. This is particularly necessary in large factories where the help is composed mainly of girls or where material is worked that permits of a rapid spread of fire or which generates large volumes of smoke or gases. The details of such a drill will he found in a special booklet of the National Fire Protection Association, entitled, “Suggestions for the Organization and Execution of Exit Drills.”
MISCELLANEOUS.—Attached to each fire brigade there should be one or more experienced plumbers or other mechanics familiar with the sprinkler and hydrant systems and with the location and operation of all fire service valves; also where electric current is used, provision should be made for the attendance at all fires of one or more practical electricians, having a thorough knowledge of all the electrical conductors, their voltage and of the location and operation of all protective devices. These mc-n should report to the chief or assistant chief, or other in charge of fire and be subject to his orders. Where buildings are equipped with fire doors, men should be detailed on each floor to see that all such fire doors and other doors, windows and openings are properly closed to prevent the spread of fire. They should also turn off power from heating and ventilating fans and blowers. Elevators and pumps should be run subject to the chief’s orders. It should be their special duty to watch the fire doors during the progress of the fire, on the opposite side from the fire, for the purpose of extinguishing any fire that might be caused from heat passing around the edges of the doors.
The following apparatus is necessary for the ordinary equipment of a private fire department:
First.—Sufficient fire hose to concentrate the total capacity of the water supply upon any building or section of the property. For use during fire drills, and for extra strong streams from the ground, a nozzle holder should be provided, by the use of which one man can hold and guide a fire stream that would otherwise require the services of several men.
Second.—A sufficient number of underwriters’ standard play pipes, so that the streams may be operated without delay.
Third.—Extra hose spanners should be distributed throughout the hose houses, and on the hose carriages. Belts to carry them should be furnished the hosemen and laddermen.
Fourth.—Strong ladder straps for fastening hose to the rounds of ladders, to take the drawback strain from the men when the hose is under pressure; also hose hoists to prevent kinks when hose hangs from roofs or windows.
Fifth.—Coils of one-half inch (diameter) hemp rope with snap hooks should be furnished to the ladder and hose companies for emergency work, the lengths to be about two and one-half times the height of the highest building.
Sixth.—Fire lanterns. There should be a liberal supply of fire lanterns, of the patterns used by fire departments. They should be kept well trimmed and conveniently located for night fire service.
Seventh.—Provision should be made for the vertical hoisting of hose in single 50-foot lengths, so that it may more readily dry out. Water left in hose during freezing weather may freeze in it and prevent the use of the hose at a fire, and damp hose may mildew and rot in warm weather.
Eighth.—The hook and ladder company should be supplied with a four wheel truck, carrying ladders sufficient to reach the highest roof where practical, and in number sufficient to be used, if necessary, as fire escapes. There should be hooked ladders for roof work, pick-head axes, crowbars, lath-hooks, and a pull-down hook with a long tug rope and other fire tools and appliances suitable for the particular occupancy.
Hose houses should be equipped in standard manner.
A fire alarm system should be installed covering each plant or factory, arranged as follows:
Box Circuit.—For transmitting alarms from various parts of the factory or plant, fire alarm boxes should be located conveniently at points not more than 200 hundred feet apart. Box signals to operate recording apparatus in engine room or power plant, fire headquarters and in each fire house containing portable fire apparatus, as follows:
Power plant, punch register and gong.
Fire headquarters, punch register and tap bell.
Hose cart and chemical engine houses, punch register.
GENERAL ALARM.—For calling members of the fire brigade to posts of duty, one of two methods should be employed depending upon local conditions and character and arrangement of building. For factories or other properties comprising a single building, alarm gongs should be installed on each floor or in each department where members of the fire brigade are employed, which will indicate by strokes each floor or section of the building. These gongs to be connected in circuit with the alarm boxes and to be sounded by the pulling of the box. For larger industrial and manufacturing plants, comprising two or more buildings remote from public protection, a general alarm for calling the men from their work or homes should be sounded on the shop whistle, or a fire whistle specially provided for the purpose—particular location or building to be designated by the number of blasts. Upon the sounding of this alarm the men should report promptly to fire house; also the engineer in charge should be prepared to operate the pumps and see that the boiler fires are in condition to maintain required steam pressure—in most cases the pumps should be started immediately upon notification of fire. Running cards showing location, together with the number of blasts indicating each station or locality should be displayed each fire house and in power station and at fire headquarters. Each member of the fire brigade upon the sounding of alarm will report to the fire house or such other point as may be assigned—the captain of each company reporting to the chief of the brigade or >officer in charge upon arrival at the fire. Where the property is under the protection of a public fire department, a box connected with the public fire alarm system should be installed cm the premises in a central location.
CO-OPERATION WITH CITY FIRE DEPARTMENTS.— To promote intelligent and harmonious relations the public fire department officials should be invited to inspect the property periodically to insure familiarity with the arrangement of buildings; also in order to find out the best means of access and escape from the various buildings, and furthermore looking into the nature of the contents and taking especial note of the places where there may be chances of an explosion, or rapid spread of fire might result. Persons should be detailed to pilot the firemen to the fire by the safest and most direct route and to render such other assistance as may be needful.
GENERAL NOTES.—A plan of organization of the fire brigade should be posted in conspicuous places throughout the property so that the employes may become familiar with its details. Regular inspection of the fire brigade equipment should be made, noting the condition of hose, as it is liable to deteriorate, and also to guard against misplacing of play pipes, axes, spanners, crowbars, etc. In buildings equipped with sprinklers a comprehensive system of inspection of all sprinkler valves, fire appliances and water supplies should be maintained. Hose couplings and play pipes should be handled carefully, so as not to dent or bruise them, as injured threads, or couplings out of true, may seriously delay the work of coupling hose and the turning on of water, or even prevent it at a vital time with consequent large fire loss. Special attention should be given to hose gaskets. When there is sufficient equipment to warrant, it is advisable to have a regular paid inspector whose duty it should be to periodically inspect the equipment, etc., and to be responsible for its proper maintenance, subject to the supervision of the chief. His duties might include keeping all records, attendance at drills, renewals of supplies, etc.
FIRE DRILLS FOR FIRE SERVICE.—Efficiency in a fire brigade will depend upon its personality, the equipment and the frequency and character of its fire drills. Fire drills should have two main objects. Promptness in reaching the point of fire by designated routes, and practise in handling of the fire apparatus and appliances.
Alarms should be sounded at regular intervals and at times previously unknown to the employes.
In these drills, the handling of apparatus should be thorough in every respect and closely approximate actual fire conditions. It should embrace the making of hose connections with hydrants, unreeling and stretching hose without kinks, breaking and making couplings, attaching play pipes, carrying hose up ladders, over roofs and through de interior of buildings, reaching inaccessible and out-of-way places, including basements, suh-bascments, attics and all concealed floor and wall spaces. The drills should cover all buildings and departments in order that the men may become familiar with their interior arrangement and construction. including stairways, exits and elevator shafts, together with location of all fire hydrants and connections. It is important that the men should become practised in holding the play pines, and moving and carrying the hose lines, while under water pressure, and, as a general rule, water should be turned on for all practice work, except during freezing weather. Thick woolen mittens should be furnished for handling hose and play pipes in cold weather. At times when conditions are favorable, a sufficient number of hose lines should he stretched to test the maximum working capacity of the water distribution system. For department stores and other places where the public assemble in large numbers, the sounding of a fire alarm might result in a panic and should he avoided. For such places, fire drills would necessarily be held outside of regular business hours. When shops or other industrial plants are operated at night, provision should he made for fire drills similar to that of the day forces. In large plants remote from public fire protection and operating only a day shift, efficient night fire brigade service may be had by organizing and drilling the watchmen, cleaners and repair men who may be regularly employed at night These men should be subject to the same general rules governing the dav brigade and regularly drilled to insure efficient handling of all apparatus. The presence of aerial electric conductors in or near a plant or building, may operate to hinder the work of the fire brigade through fear of the consequences of an electrical contact with hose stream. In order that the men may not be unnecessarily exposed to such dangers and that the actual danger may not be overestimated, thereby delaying the work of fire extinguishment, it is important that the men be fully informed as to actual conditions and danger, and how to avoid them. It would be a safe and very proper practise to give actual demonstrations with these conductors where there could be no harmful result. At times it may be necessary to shut off the electric current or to cut service wires. Such work should only be done by persons familiar with electrical work. At the conclusion of practise drills and on order from the chief, the companies should return to quarters with their apparatus and promptly place it in readiness to again respond to a fire call. If hose has been wet, it should be thoroughly dried before being placed upon the carts.
Care of Fire Hydrants and Fire Apparatus
It is suggested that at the approach of each winter season in cold climates a notice somewhat in the following form be issued emphasizing the necessity for precautions to protect all fire apparatus against damage by freezing: All hydrants should he carefully examined and care taken that drip valv s of the hydrants arc in good condition. Before frost is on the ground, hydrants should be tested by running water through them after which they should be drained carefully. Any necessary repairs should be made at this time. When once left in proper condition for the winter, fire hydrants should not be used except in rase of absolute necessity. Hand fire extinguishers where subject to freezing, should be removed to heated rooms if possible, or otherwise protected, and water casks and fire pails should have one and a half pounds of salt dissolved to each gallon of water or other non-freezing mixtures. An examination of chimney, flues, stoves, furnaces and heaters, and all pipes leading therefrom, should he made to see that they are in safe condition before being put into service.