OTHER PHASES OF THE HONE QUESTION
Until the present time there seemed to be no doubt but that the causes of hose bursting were inferior material and manufacture or improper care. That poor hose has been furnished fire departments goes without saying. When municipalities compel manufacturers to make poor hose to beat the bidders of the standard brands, nothing else may be. expected than the collapse of Such hose at critical times. At the market prices for raw materials todav, reliable hose cannot lie furnished under one dollar a foot, and it would be safer to take the brand sold at twentyfive cents more than that price. Like the builders of lire apparatus, the makers of hose are endeavoring to produce the best and most reliable class of goods; but they must not be expected to sell it at a price less than it costs to produce. Cheap hose will certainly bring disastrous results, and the fireman who has to go into a hot corner with his nozzle expects that the hose behind him shall furnish water to extinguish the flames. If it does not, he is at their mercy, as are, also, the people whose lives arc to be saved. Can any hose be too good or too costly to prevent such a catastrophe? The mean man on the fire committee says, Yes. He is willing to vote for the lowest priced bidder, without intelligent consideration of the terrible results of such a policy. For this reason the chief of a fire department ought to be the only judge of the brand of hose to be used. He has had the experience; he knows the foolishness of buying hose that may burst, when subjected to a pressure of 25 lb. when it should be able to stand three times that amount. No blame can be attached to the chief engineer of any fire department, if he loses valuable property, or, worse still, lives by the bursting of cheap hose; but the commissioner or members of council committees who voted to buy such hose, ought to be held responsible for their action and made to pay the costs of the damage incurred by it. There are several reputable makers of fire hose that make a specialty of it. and cater especially for the highest class of trade. They must necessarily produce a better brand than those who manufacture miscellaneous hose for till purposes. If. however, the finest hose is subjected to bad treatment, it will fail at the most critical time, just as surely as the poorer article. Rubberlined or other kinds of hose were never intended to stand being run over by the wheels of heavy fire apparatus. This treatment breaks the lining, and that chokes the inside of the hose and causes such friction as to make it almost useless, byreason of the stoppage of flow and the obstruction caused bursting is made all the more inevitable. With the serious results that must arise from the use of poor hose, or inquiry sustained to good hose, the greatest care should be taken to see that only the best brands are bought, and that the hose itself is treated carefully, when placed in service.
A very serious phase to the treatment of hose has just come to light at Mount Vernon, X. Y. The case is described in a local paper of that place in the following manner: “A former board of fire commissioners composed of John 11 Cordes, William Allen and Edward F. Bayer purchased from a wellknown and reputable dealer a quantity of fire hose. This, in itself, was regular enough. When a test of this hose was made by the department, it did not stand the required pressure, and at that time a great hue and cry was raised that the city had purchased inferior hose A quiet investigation has been under way for some time by interested parties, and it iclearly shown’ that the hose which proved defective had been treated to a wash of sulphuric acid, which destroyed the rubber and fabric, and caused the hose to burst. The tests of the defective hose were made independent of each other, one by the dealer anti one by the present commissioners. The result was the same in both tests. Now the question is. How did the sulphuric acid get on this particular brand of hose? Who is responsible? A rigid investigation should he made and the responsibility located, if possible.” A peculiar thing about this case is that the damaged hose was found in all the fire stations, showing that the miscreant who injured the hose had access to them. It is very important that this case should he investigated, and the perpetrator of the crime receive a punishment proportioned to the enormity of his offense, which is worse than arson.
A Mount Vernon correspondent writes on the subject: That the notorious bursting of comparatively new hose during the first hose tests which Mount Vernon’s present board of fire commisioners held last winter was caused primarily by acid on the hose strong enough to weaken it, so that it could not withstand the pressure of the water, has been definitely established by a chemical analysis at the Stevens Institute, to which sections of the hose, with the acid, were sent by the commissioners, when the hose manufacturers refused to pay the guarantee under which the hose was bought on the ground of acid weakening. Mr. Wintjen said at the recent meeting of the board of fire commissioners; “1 do not believe that the acid used in the chemical tanks is strong enough to have this effect on hose. But, if it were from these chemicals, we must be more careful. We should like to know how that acid got on the hose, and, if anyone can enlighten us, we should be glad to hear from him.” Commissioner Kronlield also thought that the acid used by the chemical engines is not strong enough to weaken the hose as to cause it to burst.
It may prove profitable to inquire how the acid got on the hose. It will be remembered that the hose was affected, not in one house only, but in every house. Had it been the case in only one house, it would have been different. That in every house the hose was tampered with shows that the act was that of some one person or inspired by some one person who was thoroughly acquainted with the internal arrangement of the houses and knew just how to get at the hose. It may also be added that the sulphuric acid used by the chemical engines is quite strong enough to ruin any hose with which it comes in contact. It is now up to the board of fire commissioners to find out who was the perpetrator or inspirer— or both—-of tile criminal deed, and, when discovered, take the necessary steps to have a very heavy punishment inflicted. Another phase of the bursting problem is that where hose has lain away for such a long time as to allow the fabric to deteriorate until it is almost rotten. Only a few days ago at Ocean City, Md., a fine hotel and other property were destroyed, besides which, a number of lives ran a great risk of being lost, owing to the rotten hose that had become so from neglect. There was no organised fire company in the place; hut the fire protection, furnished by a water tower too ft. high, was good. When some citizens dragged out the hose, coupled it to the plugs and turned on the water with only 30 Ih. pressure, the hose burst, leaving the involved property to burn out. Where there is an organised fire department the care of hose ought to be one of the first lessons given to its members. Putting it away to rot, because there was no use for it is poor policy, and, if carried out, will certainly result in disaster. It would not take much time to test hose by occasionally running the water through it to make certain of its condition. If this practice were regularly pursued, there might not be so many complaints about its bursting. Damage to hose may be accidental; neglect or bad treatment of hose is criminal. Both ought to be avoided.