PROGRESS vs. CHIEF CRONIN.
In your issue of April 12, Mr. Cronin wishes to know why I think the New York Fire Department is in better condition to fight fire than any other? The answer is this, simply because it is the largest. There may be other Departments whose officers possess more scientific knowledge than the officers of New York, (for our Department is too large and requires too much time for general business to allow room for much science,) but I rather think the superior knowledge possessed by any other Department will hardly compensate for the greater magnitude of New York. He says that water will do more good when thrown by the power of steam than when dashed from a bucket. I admit that an Engine that will throw a stream 150 or 200 feet would be apt to utilize a greater percentage of water than if thrown by a bucket. My experience embraces a period of nearly 40 years. I have seen fires fought in bygone days with a skill and persistance that would do credit to more modern Departments. Alluding to the insurance companies, Mr. Cronin says: “ Let me ask what their hopes would be if there was no water.” He seems to have lost track of the subject. It is not the use of water, that I wish to curtail, but the loaste; I am willing they should take the whole of Croton, if necessary. Nor am I so unreasonable as to think that fire can be extinguished without some waste of water. But I do think we waste more than necessity requires. I now come to his explanation as to how a pound of coal does so much more work than it formerly did.
On this subject I differ with him. It is as much due to the greater amount of heat that we get out of the coal, as to the amount that we utilize after it is got out, I know nothing that will illustrate this very important fact better than a review of the progress of the Locomotive Engine for the last 60 years. 53 years ago I saw a Locomotive Engine in motion for the first time, on the Leeds and Medleton private coal road, England. The speed was less than 5 miles an hour. I think the boiler was flueless, as boilers generally were at that period, I think the Engine was put on the road about 1812. In September, 1825, the Darlington & Stockton, the first public railroad in England, was opened. The pioneer Engine was the ” Locomotive.” When urged to its utmost it could make 13 miles an hour. Us boiler had one flue, and when well fired part of the smoke-stack became red hot, showing there was no trouble in generating heat. But they did not understand utilizing it after they had it. In fact, the production of heat after a substance is ignited is a matter which nature attends to pretty well, else your services would not be needed as a professional Fireman. In September, 1830, the Liverpool and Manhattan railroad was opened. The pioneer Engine on the road was the Rociet, the boiler of which had 25 3-inch flues. As a result of this increased fire surface, she obtained the astonishing and unprecedented speed of 35 miles an hour. Now the flues in our locomotive boilers are counted by hundreds, and the speed is 60 miles an hour and upwards.
Great improvements have taken place in the working parts of ou Engines, I admit, but this would not avail much if there was not plenty of steam, and plenty of steam cannot be had without plenty of fire surface. Examine the boiler of your Fire Engine. 1 think you will hardly contend that those hundreds of flues are there for the purpose of perfecting or increasing combustion. The requisites for good combustion are free admission of air and free exit of the productions of combustion, with a moderate strata of fuel. It is now forty-eight years since the great problem of utilizing heat was practically solved by the invention of the muth-tubular boiler. Cannot we learn something from this as to utilizing water in extinguishing fire, or, in other words, if water was applied so as to cover four times more surface than it usually does, supposing that it could be done, would it extinguish more or less fire ? It seems to me Mr. Cronin is just the man to determine, by actual experience, what the result would be ; the moderate size of his department, the free access to all the wonderful inventions of the nation, his practical and scientific knowledge ought to enable him to win a crown of laurels in solving the problem of water utilization in fire extinguishing. And now, Mr. Cronin, as you are the only Fire Engineer that makes any claim to science in the columns of THE JOURNAL, (1.) How many units of heat will a pound of good anthracite ooal yield when burnt ? (a.) How much air does it require to burn the pound of coal ? (3.) What constitutes the full utilization of water in fire extinguishment ? (4) Can water perform its full duty as an extinguisher and remain water? (5.) How many pounds pressure per inch should water have when it leaves the nozzle to do the best execution ? (6.) What per cent of water thrown by your Department is actually utilized as an average ?
Trusting to your generosity and the interest you take in Fire matters for answers to these questions, which I think our New York Firemen will be profoundly thankful for. as are many others engaged In the noble art of Fire extinguishment.
NEW YORK, May 27. PROGRESS.