Protection of Airplane Plants

Protection of Airplane Plants

Fire is the greatest menace confronting airplane and plane parts plants, Col. Ray G. Harris, Supervisor of the Midwesten Procurement District of the Army Air Forces, said in a statement recently. It is Col. Harris’ job to see that the airplane plants in thirteen midwestern and southwestern states which include Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico, keep up the tremendous output of combat and training planes for the Army under the redoubled war program without hitch, on schedule, and according to specifications. The task of fire prevention in the plants is delegated to Captain Donald Holbrook, District Fire Protection Officer, who operates an inspection system from headquarters at Wichita, Kansas.

“Whether caused by sabotage or carelessness, damage by fires in plane plants can be kept at a minimum by an efficient fire prevention and control organization,” Col, Harris pointed out. Many large plants, he said, have an elaborate system, with a fire brigade beaded by an experienced fire officer. In small shops, often the manager is the fire chief, aided by his master mechanic by day and his watchman by night.

Details which Capt. Holbrook recommends to plant managers, the Colonel said, included these:

Fire fighting crews, each instructed as to its exact duties.

Proper water supply, plugs, and sufficient hoselines, portable extinguishers, gas masks, and, in some cases. 50-foot extension ladders.

A fire alarm system within the plant, with easily identified buttons at numerous points—a 20-minute delay in calling the fire department at the Fall River fire was blamed for the loss of tons of rubber.

Automatic sprinkler protection.

Subdivision of combustible materials by storage in separate buildings and the use of fire walls.

Good housekeeping — cleaning up waste material, lint and rubbish, and especially magnesium scrap and alloy dust, from which many fires start.

Precautions in using portable welding and cutting equipment. Adequate ventilation to clear explosive atmospheres. Special protecive equipment for ovens and dryers.

Efficient burglar alarm and guard systems to combat saboteurs.

Cooperation with professional fire departments and those of other plants

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