POOR FIRE PROTECTION AT MACON

POOR FIRE PROTECTION AT MACON

The committee on fire prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters has just made a repor: superseding a report made in March, 1907, on the fire hazards at Macon, Ga., and summarized their conclusions as follows: in the congested value district nearly all the buildings are of joisted brick, low, with unprotected openings in most of the doors and in many party walls. A number are of large area, and although there is a fairly large amount of window protection, much of it is poor and many mutual expo-ures are unprotected. The fire department is weak and only fairly efficient, and the water supply, although available in fairly adequate quantities, is unreliable and at low pressure. Serious local tires are probable, but the wide streets and open block interiors should prevent a lire from involving an entire block or communicating to adjoining blocks. In the manufacturing district, serious fires are not probable, but in many portions a fire beyond sprinkler control could easily develop into a conflagration. In the compactly built frame residential sections the conflagration hazard is high because of the shingle roofs.”

Macon, which has a population exceeding 40,000, covers an area of 8 square miles, about one-half of which is closely built upon. The waterworks are owned and operated by the Maton Gas Eight & Water Company. The original works, supplied from Tuft springs, and started in 18XH, have since been greatly enlarged and remodeled. In March, this year, the people voted a bond issue of $900,000, of winch amount $009,000 is to be used in purchasing the present plant by the city, and the remainder to he expended m extending the service. The supply. taken from the Ocmulgee river, is pumped to sedimentation basins and filtered, then pumped through a single force main with equalizing standpipe to the high service system of distribution. Ihe low service, comprising about one-half of the total area served, and including the congested value and manufacturing districts, is provided with a small distributing reservoir and supplied from the high service system through a 20-inch valve, operated by hand. Elevations in the city range from 275 to ala feet above sea level. The Ocmulgee river, with a drainage area above the city of 2,425 square miles, has a minimum stream Mow much in excess of the demands of the city. Two 24-inch pipes extend from the intake crib at the river bank to a large well close by, from which two low-lift pumps, one located in the well, the other in room adjoining the filter house, take suction. The low-lift pumps discharge through a 2u-iitch main to two sedimentation basins having a combined storage capacity of a,330,000 gallons. The settled water flows by gravity through the filters to a clear water basin of 06,000 gallons capacity, located in basement of main pump room. By opening normally closed waives either raw or settled water may he supplied direct to the clear water basin. The filler plant is located in building adjoining pump and boiler rooms. Consists of nine mechanical filters having a combined daily rated capacity of 5,450,000 gallons: the five originally installed are circular cypress tanks, those recently added are rectangular in form and constructed of concrete. Except for the two lowlift pumps, which are in poor repair, the pumping equipment is in fair to good condition. The horizontal low-lift pump does not operate satisfactorily under the average lift, so that the vertical pump has most of the work to do. One of the two 5,000,000 gallon high-lift pumps is operated continuously, the small non-condensing duplex pump being seltlou used. Two of the three boilet supply steam for the entire plant: steam piping not in duplicate. A single 20-inch force main extends from the high-lift pumps to the Vineville standpipe, a distance of about 7.000 feet, and continues in an easterly direction through the central portion of both services to a point two blocks south of the lower end of the congested value district: beyond the standpipe this supply main is approximately 12,000 feet in length. A 20-inch valve at First and Bine streets is kept partially open to supply the low service. Ihe tandpipe located on Virgin road, near Highland avenue, of steel construction, .70 feet in diameter and do feet high, has a full capacity of 880,000 gallons. Top of standpipe at elevation 572.7. The low service reservoir is located one mile south of the city hall, at Boundary and Second streets of earth embankment lined with concrete, and put in service in 1881 ; with full depth of 27 feet, the capacity is 2,227,0W gallons; overflow at elevation 402.6, It is not in first class condition; small leaks through the Second street embankment were noted at time of inspection. Height of water in reservoir is observed twice during the day. and the supply, mainly through a 10-inch distributing main connected to 20-inch supply main, is regulated by a valve operated by band. The records indicate that the per capita daily consumption of lol gallons remains fairly constant; many outlying districts arc not supplied from the system of distribution. There are 1.081 meters in use. about 27 per cent, of the services, including large consumers, being metered. In considering the advantages of municipal ownership, reference has been made to the advisability of metering all services. A uniform pressure of 122 pounds is maintained at the pumping station, sufficient to keep the standpipe nearly full. Readings at 78 hydrants showed an average pressure of 74 pounds in all districts. A single system of distribution is divided by closed valves, located at or near the 270-foot contour, into two services, high and low. The low service is supplied from reservoir and partly open valve, and includes the congested value, wholesale and manufacturing districts, besides East Macon and some residential areas. Elevations range from 277 to 140, and average about 227; elevations in the congested value district range from 218 to 260. rhe high service is supplied by direct pumping with standpipe as an equalizer, and includes practically all of the high value residential districts at present provided with fire protection. Elevations range from 220 to 510, averaging about 127. The 20-inch supply main from the pumping station extends through the high service and continues into the low service about two blocks from the congested value district. At the service limit a hand regulated valve controls supply to the low service. A 10-inch main extends to the reservoir, one 10-inch and two 12inch branches feed the congested value district and 12-inch lines cover most of the high value manufacturing district. A 14-inch main, originally used as a force main, extends from the reservoir to the abandoned Tuft springs pumping station, and supplies a portion of the city. Three 12-inch branches to the east and south feed representative residential districts on the high service system. I he minor distributers consist largely of 6-inch, considerable 4-inch and a small amount of 8-inch pipe, the total mileage being 44.22, with 352 gate valves. The valve spacing is wide in nearly all parts of the city. In the congested value district the average length of main that it would he necessary to cut out in case if a single break is 1,060 feet, with a maximum of 2,000 feet; in a representative residential district, tilt average was found to he 1,670 feet, with a maximum of 5,920 feet. There were 277 public hydrants in service in the distribution system March I. 1011. exclusive of about 6.7 private hydrants located around manufacturing plants. With few exceptions, all are of the Mathews pattern and open to the left. There are 25 steamer outlet hydrants with 8-inch barrels; the remainder, except for a few having a single 2 1/2ineli hose outlet have two 2 1/2-inch outlets, with barrels 4¼ inches in diameter. Hydrants with steamer outlets and those installed in recent years have 6-inch branch connections, and, together with those connected to the 20-inch supply main, have valves on branches: the greater portion have I inch branches without gates. 1 lie average linear spacing of hydrants in the congested value district was found to he 240 feet, and the area served by each, 142,000 square feet. In a representative residential district, the average spacing was 560 feet, and the area served hv each hydrant, 24n,000 square feet. Tests at 20 hydrants in six well scattered groups were made by national hoard engineers in March. 101R to determine the probable supply available for fire protection purposes. Quantities obtained in the congested value and manufacturing districts were i,airly adequate, but at low pressure: in residential districts sufficient quantities were obtained, but in many sections the gridiron is such that much less quantities would he obtained, as the tests were taken near large mains. In South Macon the fire flow available is inadequate. In general, tests show the need of better gridironing, and of larger main feeders, if lire flow is to he obtained.

THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.

File Macon lire department, which has a total membership of 62, is fuli paid. Chief L. M. Jones, 57 years of age. has been a member of the department 27 out of the past 29 years, and with the exception of four years, has been chief the entire period. Assistant Chief P. L. Williamson. 42 years of age. entered the service in 1866. and was appointed to his present position in 1909. Both are experienced officers; they ate elected by the city council for two-year terms. 1 he chief, in connection with his other duties, exercises supervision over fire escapes and investigates the causes of fires. There are four engine companies, one chemical company and one ladder company in service, and one engine, two hose wagons, one of which is loaded with hose, an aerial truck and a supply wagon in reserve. A captain and assistant captain are assigned to each company; where two or more companies are located in the same quarters they operate independently. An engineer and a stoker are assigned to each engine company. The engines were tested by national hoard engineers, to ascertain their condition and the ability of the operating crews. Crews operated the engines under conditions similar to those exacted by a serious tire, and, in general, were familiar with operating at capacity. Stoking, with one exception, was good. The reserve engine vibrated excessively, and was operated at the maximum speed consistent with its age and general condition; because of a defective bolt on the cross-head end of the connecting rod, the cap was torn loose and the rod bent: the engine, however, was soon placed in serviceable condition. Several tests were made of tile automobile lire engine, including the pumping through a 1,200-foot line of 2 1/2-inch hose; the engine ran smoothly, but its capacity is overrated. I he hose wagons are ot substantial construction and in fair to good condition, hut lack many essential appliances. The hose wagon in reserve at headquarters carries 1,000 feet of 2 1/2inch hose, and is equipped with a turret pipe with 1 1/4 to 1 3/4-inch tips. The truck in service is of the ordinary two-horse type, and carries a 50-foot rope extension and seven other ladders.

GENERAL SUMMARY.

Water Supply.—Private works, about to pass into municipal ownership. Supply, ample, with intakes in duplicate; pumping station and filter plant of substantial construction; hazards and exposures slight. Equipment in generally good condition: pumping capacity, without additional reservoir capacity, .inadequate. Single force main, of small diameter, to distribution in one system, divided into high and low services; standpipe and reservoir as equalizers; each of small capacity. Consumption moderate. Pressures fair to good : poorly maintained under fire draft. System of main arteries insufficient; minor distributers undersized. Condition of mains good. Gate valves in unsatisfactory condition; spacing extremely wide. Hydrants too small and too widely spaced; in good operative condition.

Fire Department.—hull paid, under the command of experienced officers. All members appointed for short terms. Financial support only fair. Appointments and promotions made tor political reasons only. No qualifications for appointment : no age limit for retirement. Companies well manned and fairlv well equipped; well distributed for the protection of the congested value and adjacent districts, as the number of companies permit. Engine capacity inadequate. Ladder and chemicai service weak. Hose well aired for. but never tested. Fire methods good. Fire stations in fair to excellent condition and well arranged. Drills of little value. Response to alarms fairlv satisfactory. Records fairly complete. Discipline only fair, owing entirely to political influences. Additional companies contemplated.

Conflagration Hazard.—In the congested value district, buildings are mainly low and small, and tliere is much window protection, but floor and party wall openings are seldom protected; there are a number of large areas and many bad mutual exposures. The water supply is fairly adequate, hot at low pressure : the fire department is weak. Overhead wire obstructions are serious, and group fires are probable. Blocks are large, with much vacant space in interiors; buildings are readily accessible, streets are wide, and a fire involving more than a portion of a block is improbable.

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