PROPOSED FIRE ENGINE ELEVATORS FOR ENGINE-HOUSES.
For some years the necessity of increasing the number of engines that could be called upon for the extinction of fires has been realized forcibly by the fire department of this city. Their power of doing this has been restricted by unfavorable conditions. The districts where increased force is most needed are crowded with houses, and property is held at a very high valuation. For each engine company a building twenty-five feet in front and of full depth is required. The department has not felt able to purchase new lots enough to carry out their desires.
Some years ago, Assistant Chief McCabe conceived the Idea that, by utilizing the cellars of engine-houses, the capacity of each might be doubled. At present the cellars represent little more than waste space. They contain a small heating apparatus, and the great part of-their area, equal to that of the working floor, is useless. He proposed to introduce elevators that should be sufficiently powerful to raise and lower an engine or tender, or other apparatus, from floor to floor.
The plan is substantially the same as that by which the double stage of the Madison Square Theatre is constructed, which is patented by the inventor. After consultation with the builders of the double stage, they pronounced the plan Impracticable for engine-houses, for the reason that the weight to be raised was too great, the area of the houses too limited, and their construction too unsubstantial to give space and strength to the machinery required, and the idea was abandoned. Lately, however, Commissioner Purroy, seeking to make capital for himself, has revived the project on a modified and greatly reduced scale, and has obtained plans for a proposed house, an idea of which can be gained from out illustration. It will be seen that, Instead of duplicating the first floor, with engine, tender, horses, stalls, etc., it is proposed to simply locate an engine on an elevator, that may be raised from the basement when the regular apparatus is called out. What is to be done with the horses, tender, etc., is not indicated, and, as the first floors are now fully occupied, it is difficult to see where room is to be found for the extra apparatus. The plan is thus described :
“Sections of the cellar and working floor arc made movable, and are connected by heavy stanchions, so as to preserve an invariable distance from each other. When the lower platform, sinking into a depression in the cellar floor, comes to a level therewith, the upper platform is flush with the working floor. Four guide posts run from cellar floor to the ceiling of the ground story. Upon the lower platform an extra engine or tender is placed. After the regular engine has been called out, the platforms are raised until the lower one is even with the working floor. By any simple locking device which may be automatic, the platform is caught and secured in this position. The second apparatus is then ready to answer a second alarm. Our illustration shows the elevator rising as the regular engine is leaving for a fire.
“ By counterpoising, the weight to be raised may be almost nothing. An engine represents some 10,000 pounds. While this seems a large weight, it is an invariable one, and the elevator may be counterpoised within a few pounds of its load, and might even be overbalanced, so that the platform, on a catch being released, would rise automatically. For such lifting power as may be required, it was thought that a gas engine might be used.
“The length of the stanchions should be so adjusted that the upper platform would strike the ceiling above or striking pieces attached thereto, and lock itself there as the lower one came to its place. This feature was included in the original idea, and appears a very good one.
” With regard to the location of the elevator, it may be in the front or rear. If in the front, then its upper platform would always carry the regular engine. If in the rear, the upper platform would be unoccupied, and would count as floor space. As the lower engine rose, it could be run forward by man power or the horses could be harnessed as it stood.
“ By having it of sufficient length, the extra engine could be carried up with its pole in place and the harness hanging from the snap hooks on the lower surface of the upper platform. On the other hand, as it takes but a moment to place the pole in its socket, the smaller elevator may be adopted.
“ The widest range for application of power and other details is still open. A direct or indirect hydraulic lift may be employed, or a windlass worked by some form of power would answer. The lower engine need not be kept upon the platform, but may be stored in front or rear of it, and be run on whe_n the upper one goes out. To guide it between the stanchions and guide posts, Commissioner Purroy has proposed the use of rails on the platform, similar to those used on street railways.
“The double platform elevator counterpoised is substantially the original idea, and presents, to our mind, very great advantages. Plans have been prepared by Messrs. N. Le Brun & Son, architects to the department, which involve the use of a single platform elevator, worked by hydraulic power. When the first engine has gone out, the elevator, whose platform has hitherto formed part of the working floor, is lowered to the cellar, receives Its engine or other apparatus, and rises with it to the upper level. Such elevator may be worked by a short cylinder directly under it or by an indirect acting cylinder, suqh as is in use on most elevators. It is claimed that for cities of a more regular shape than New York, this plan can be worked to even greater advantage. Three or four houses can be made to cover a large area if worked upon this plan. While there is a possibility that the method can be applied to old houses, the department, not wishing to risk a failure, have preferred to wait until a new house was to be built to test its merits. This is now soon to be done, and it promises to offer a satisfactory solution of a very troublesome problem.
“ The double platform elevator presents the advantage that the floor is always complete save as the lower engine is coming up. On the other hand, the single platform arrangement does away with the obstructing stanchions and guide posts. Each system, in other words, has its own advantages.”