PHILADELPHIA AND ITS PROPOSED NEW FIRE MAINS.
IT seems difficult to imagine that the Philadelphia authorities are really in earnest about laying the proposed new auxiliary fire mains in the fire belt. It is noticeable that only two bids were sent to, neither of which bid for the work in its entirety but upon thirtyseven different items—for furnishing the iron and steel pipe, special cast ings of valves, fire hydrants, manhole covers, rock and earth excavations, laying the mains, placing concrete and stone masonry, and laying brick work. There was quite a difference in the figures of the two bidders on the number of items. In that for furnishing two fireboat connections, with air-chambers and all valves complete, one proposal was $925 each, and another, $2,000. The bids were referred to be scheduled—in itself a slow process. Director Haddock, when questioned after the bids had been opened, stated that, from a hasty glance at the bids, he did not thtok that the portion of the operation provided for in the specification could be performed for the amount of money available, $300,000. This means either that the scheme must be still further modified, or that a larger appropriation must be asked for. Either course involves delay, and as still further cutting down this means of safeguarding this important part ofjthe city’s business section would render It of but little value, faith would virtually be broken with those merchants and store keepers whose interests are so vitally concerned, and with the board of underwriters who have so long and so loudly protested against the insufficient tire protection afforded those citizens. The mayor stands pledged to the independent main proposition,and not to give at least a moiety of what is called for would be to break his solemnly plighted word without any excuse. The specifications provide that the mains shall be begun on the Delaware river front at Wainnt, Market, Arch, and Race streets, and shall continue westward on the thoroughfares as rapidly as possible, while at the same time the work of laying the mains in the nearest north and south streets in which such pipe is to be laid must proceed, so that, when this section is completed, it can be put into immediate service, after which another section will be completed in like manner, and coutiune until the entire work,or so far as the funds available for the purpose will permit, is finished. The service will include the location of a powerful pumping station on the Delaware front between Race and Walnut streets; bnt the sum appropriated by councils for beginning the operat ion is $300,000, which is less than one-half of what will be required for the system complete,and will not permit of the erection and equipment of this station. Until money for that purpose is provided, therefore, it is the intention of the authorities to utilize the service of two flreboats now nearing completion to pump water into these large mains, and keep the latter tilled for any emergency that may arise. It is stated that upwards of 16,000 feet of eight-inch pipe, 22,224 feet of twelve-inch, and a proportional amount of sixteen-inch pipe will be required in the new service. In addition to this there will be 166 fire hydrants to which attachment can be made with hose by the firemen, and three fireboat connections with air-chambers atid check-valves. All the pipes and fittings are to be tested in the street as the work progresses, and before the trenches are filled, in sections of not more than 200 feet at onetime, with an hydraulic pressure of not less than 400 pounds. The contractor will be required under the specifications to remove any portion of pipe or fitting which may break or show signs of weakness, and replace the same with a perfect section of pipe.