Proposed High-Pressure System for Boston.
The Committee on Fire Prevention of the Board of Fire Underwriters has issued a pamphlet on the desirability of a high-pressure fire system for Boston, from which the following is taken;
The immense aggregations of values in the buildings and their contents in the business districts of metropolitan cities, and the possibility of conflagrations, with their tremendous losses and disastrous effects on business and civic growth, are striking arguments in favor of providing the most effective known means of preventing such catastrophes. The business district of Boston is the fourth largest, in value, of such districts in the country, and the area w’hich may be called the congested value district includes 335 acres. Within this district, 215 acres, or 64 per cent, of the whole, is inside the building lines, and of this area, only 6 per cent, is at present unoccupied by buildings. Although there is a tendency at the present time to replace old buildings with others of fireproof construction, such being required for certain heights and areas hv the city building laws, the number of buildings of such construction is comparatively small, being 7 per cent, of the total and covering only 16 per cent, of the total area built upon. The probability of serious fires originating in these buildings is small, but with the general lack of protection against exposure across the narrow streets and passageways of the district they wculd not withstand the attack of a fire from adjacent and neighboring buildings of other classes. The mill or slow-burning construction constitutes 9 per cent, of the total area built upon; in this type, although below the standard of its class, the floor openings are generally protected, which greatly lessens the danger of the spread of fires from floor to floor. The remaining construction in the district is frame and joisted brick; the frame is of small amount and practically all in the northern part of the district. The joisted brick construction is numerically 88 per cent, of the total and covers nearly three-quarters of the area built upon; many of these buildings are old and very many lack protection on openings through floors and on exposed windows, essentials in stopping the spread of fires. Of the joisted brick buildings, 41 per cent, are five stories or over in height; it is in this class of buildings that fires are most difficult to control, increasingly so as the height exceeds four stories. All that is required, under existing weak building conditions, is the right combination of circumstances to make a fire too large for the department to handle. This combination of circumstances nearly occurred on August 9, 1910, when two serious simultaneous fires, called out practically the entire Boston fire department and much apparatus from the surrounding cities. Had either of these fires been a little larger, or had a third fire occurred almost anywhere in the city, for example, in any of the number of congested frame residential sections, which are becoming increasingly hazardous, a bad conflagration would undoubtedly have occurred. Practical experience has shown that the following requirements should be met in the design of a separate high-pressure fire system to insure good fire protection in districts it is to cover: A fireproof pumping station, with all openings protected in an approved manner and removed from the zone of sweeping conflagrations. Station to be equipped with sufficient Dumping units of moderate capacity to aggregate a total capacity of 20,000 gallons per minute at 300 pounds pressure, taking suction from a fresh water supply, preferably the Charles river basin and delivering into the gridiron system through well looped and gated discharge . connections. The distribution system to be connected with the pumping station through duplicate supply mains and to be so designed as to deliver the full capacity of 20,000 gallons per minute about any block within the area served, without excessive loss of head; to contain no pipes less than 12 inches in diameter, no dead ends and be connected at all intersections. Connections to be provided to the system so that the fireboats may be used as auxiliary pumping stations in case of emergencies, and system to be provided with gate valves so placed that not more than 500 feet of pipe will have to be cut out at one time. Hydrants to be of ample dimensions, with four independently gated hose outlets and connected to the mains through 8-inch gated connections; to be so distributed that the average area served by each shall not exceed 40,000 square feet