PLOUGHWORKS BURNED AT CLEVELAND
Special y written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING
Some time ago the Empire Plough works of Cleveland, Ohio, were very seriously damaged by a fire, in which the wire-glass windows failed to act up to what has been claimed for such a style of construction. There were two buildings, each L-shaped, and together forming a rectangular structure broken by an open space, also Lshaped. There were five sections divided off by solid brick parapeted walls, twelve-inch and sixteen-inch in thickness, each pierced with openings. Automatically closing fire-doors protected the passages, and all the window frames were fitted with metal frames, in which wire-glass was set. The height of the buildings was from one story to two, but, although the brickwork was solid and of good material, there was too much frame work on the roof for them to be safe from a fire-protection standpoint. The five divisions (marked A, B, C. D, E) were devoted to painting, dipping and varnishing; office and warehousing: power wood-working and metal stamping; boilerhouse; polishing, furnace, shear and grinding. The building E—the last one erected— was that in which the fire started, having originated, as is supposed, in the roof-timbers of the large, one-story L-shaped building, which, it may be noticed, was erected above one of the heating furnaces in the centre. The fire was a hot and quick one and spread in each direction. The two-story divisions D and C were situated diagonally at the south section of building E. A twelve-inch fire-wall, with an automatically closing door on the first floor, while six windows of wire-glass were in the second story overlooking division E, which was one-story. Notwithstanding these wire-glass windows and the fire-door, the flames made their way into divisions C and D, which were partially destroyed. The fire-wall, however, already mentioned, and the fire-doors in division B checked their onward progress— on the east side—that next to division C. Division E, however, where the blaze originated, was completely gutted. The fire-door on the first floor, between divisions E and D, answered its purpose very well, for, although the wood was very badly charred, the joints were almost intact. During the progress of the fire, however, it is said that a heavy piece of machinery fell against it, and broke it down, with the resistance it had so well offered to the advancing flames. It would seem as if the heat penetrated through the opening before the fusible link melted. Fire then started round the engine, where the floors close to the wall were saturated with the greasy droppings of years. The door, which was eight feet by eight feet, was of pine seven-eighths of an inch thick, the planks being placed diagonally. These were covered with jointed tin, rendering the whole quite up to the underwriters’ standard. No fault could be found with the hanging of the door; the iron stop was a good one, and, with the shoe, was bolted firmly and securely to the wall. The sill was of stone, and there was nothing of a combustible nature near it in the arch. A fusible link, which had operated properly, was what held the door open. As to the six wire-glass windows on the first floor : These were six feet three inches by four feet and divided into four sections. Each pane was thirteen inches by four inches. Their frames were of No. 24 galvanised iron and built into the wall. The sashes were likewise of galvanised iron, solidity being afforded by an inside narrow strip of wood. The joints were riveted, lapped and nailed to the wooden strip. To counterweight the movable and sliding upper sash, a metal chain operated the sash weights. The arch composing the opening was of brick (not firebrick, however), the sill being of sandstone, which, of course, would crumble away under the influence of excessive heat, although at this particular point the heat was not intense enough to destroy the wall or the steam pipes, yet the wireglass was melted. The thickness of the wireglass was one-fourth of an inch, the mesh was No. 18 wire. The groove into which it was set was five-sixteenths of one inch; one-inch steel lugs secured it, these nails being about four inches distant from each other. The glass was still further secured by being puttied in, the glazed side fronting division E and exposed to the action of the flames. Nearly all the wireglass in the six second-floor windows, as was found after the fire was extinguished, became rolled up in a curly lump at the bottom of the sash, and was completely separated from it—in one case, the glass curled into a vertical roll and dropped down into divisions C and D, where it was found suspended and melted to the metal sash. Although the frames were not injured, the steel nails and putty had nearly entirely disappeared, while the frame itself was not much damaged, with only the interior strengthening wooden strip charred. The sandstone sills had crumbled to a small extent; the walls were not at all badly injured; the tile coping was intact. At this point these windows directly overlooked roofdivision E, where the tire was fiercest and the heat most intense, where, also, there is reason to believe that the flames attacked the windows on both sides of the wall, causing the glass to follow a natural tendency to fall outwards and away from the flames, which were fiercest on the E side—the side on which the glazing was. The glass then buckled, if it did not melt, and thereby was forced beyond the groove of the sash. In some cases, however, the glass fell towards the flames, and, as before said, then overlapping the sills, on both sides, rolled in a lump to the bottom of the frame. However that might have been, the wire-glass was certainly not a success, and, granting it was not quite up to the present standard, the experts’ verdict is that not even wire-glass of the highest standard could have withstood the intense beat of that fire.