Pumps Carried on Backs of Fire-Fighters Have Also Shown Worth in Stopping Roof Fires, and Fires in Residential Buildings

WITH few exceptions, water is the best medium for extinguishing ordinary fires. By reducing the temperature of the material to a point below that of ignition, the spread of fire is stopped, and the fire extinguished.

This principle is employed in fighting brush fires and shingle roof fires, where a large area must be cooled to make it unsuitable for the support of combustion. Heavy hose streams result in a waste of water, without an increase in efficiency.

Hand Operated Pumps on Backs of Fire Fighters

In fighting brush fires, many departments have found that satisfactory results were obtained by the use of hand operated pumps worn on the backs of the fire fighters. The tanks of the Indian fire pump hold about five gallons of water, and connected to the water can is a short length of hose. Although this pump is small, it can throw a continuous stream for a distance of about fifty feet, and it has been particularly effective in fighting fires which develop during the dry season in brushland. Men carrying these tanks are not limited in operation by the extent of a hose line, but can move quickly to wet down ground in advance of the flames.

Forty pumps of this type were credited with saving the town of Brentwood, Long Island, after fire had destroyed about two thousand acres of wooded land.

Bad Gasoline Fire Prevented

Assistant Chief William Kimball of Colonia, N. J., found them an effective means of preventing a bad gasoline fire. Here is his story:

“About dusk one windy day, the siren sounded. In a few minutes we were on the way, following an angry glow in the sky. When we arrived at the scene, a five-acre field surrounded on all sides by small houses, was a regular inferno. Frantic home owners were running in all directions accomplishing nothing, but adding plenty to the confusion.

“A terrified old man ran up and begged us to save his garage in which was stored a fifty gallon drum of gasoline. Two of us ran around the field with our Indian fighters on our backs and our hearts in our mouths, and wo got there just as the flames started licking the bushes at the base of the garage. .

“In less time than it takes to tell, the streams had knocked the six-foot flames down, and the gasoline hazard was no more. In less than ten minutes we had the whole field under control, and maybe the residents in that section weren’t proud of their volunteer company.”

Used as Secondary Line of Defense

This type of pump, can also be used as a second line for big fires. An interesting experience is related by Chief Delbert L. Kinney, Berne, N. Y.: “When our town clerk’s home was afire, three men from our Indian pump squad went in with pumps and went into action and did a nice job, supplementing the chemical and hose lines that were being used by other firemen. In fact, we do practically all the wiping up of inside fires with our pumps.”

Useful in Roof Fires

These portable pumps have demonstrated their worth in fighting roof fires. A bad roof fire was fought by the Fire Department at Charleston, Ark. Alfred E. Schmuki, describes it: “An alarm came in on Sunday, February 25 at 11:15 a.m., from the Sacred Heart Church Parish House, which was a roof fire well under way and a high wind blowing. Two men with the Indian pumps on their back, climbed the ladder to the roof and went into action, and did they do the work. I’ve been on the volunteer force for twelve years and I have never had results like this.

“It was a surprise to all firemen and to fifty Councilmen who were there, as we not only saved a $1,500 home, but only used the two Indian pumps.”

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