QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Readers of Fire and Water Engineering are invited to send in questions, which will be answered in the order in which they are received.
Tactics to Follow in Frame Structure Fire.
To the Editor: Will you kindly answer the following question under the heading of “Questions and Answers” of your valued magazine, and oblige
W. H. MOFFETT.
In fighting a fire which occurs in the rear of a residence or boarding house, would it show good judgment or skill by attacking it from the rear? Would it not be better to run a hose line from the front through the building where it is not possible to lay a hose line from either side on account of buildings. I contend it would be better and more skillful to fight it from the front, so that you would not drive the fire to the main building, thereby increasing the liability of fire spreading by your stream. Herewith is a rough sketch of the frame boarding house and a frame grocery store to the right of it. If the door that leads from the dining room had not been shut and locked and acted as a fire retardant to the main building, by fighting from the rear the results would have been much more serious.
(Answer: Your contention is correct and especially in the case shown in the diagram. In the first place, it is always well to ventilate at a fire. Should the rear doors be opened the smoke and flames will be apt to go toward the door and make it difficult for the firemqn to enter. Fighting such a fire from a distance means heavy and unnecessary water damage. Then again, as soon as a large stream is started, it has the effect of an injector, for it carries a large amount of air along with it, and starts an air current in the opposite direction, driving the fire before the stream. If there are exposed openings, there will be nothing to prevent the fire from entering the dining room, if it has any headway whatever.
On the other hand, by bringing the lines from the front through the dining room, a shorter line is suitable, it would take less time to have it in service, and the fire would be literally driven out of the kitchen. It is the same application of ventilation that makes certain steamboat fires hard to control, for when the ventilation is at the end of the hold in a steamer it is only possible to work toward the one opening even though the fire may be some distance from it. And it is practically necessary to drive the fire to the ventilator if it is not extinguished before it reaches that point. Where a fire is near the center of the hold in a steamship, fire companies can work from both ends and completely control it with much less trouble. Shooting a heavy stream into a fire is, in a way, like turning so much wind on to it for it carries the flame in the direction of the stream.)
Overhauling After Fires.
To the Editor: Should overhauling at a fire be started before the fire is completely extinguished, or should overhauling be held back until the department is through “wetting down”? If you can give me the practice of any big department in this matter, or if you will give me your opinion regarding it, I shall feel much obliged.
Cleveland, O., Sept. 19, 1917. R. I.
(Answer: The best practice in this matter is to start overhauling while there are still some smouldering materials left. If, for example, heavy streams are used for extinguishing smoldering rags at a dry goods establishment fire, the water damage would be unnecessarily large, not only on the floor on which the fire occurs, but also on the floors below. A far better policy is to start the men on the overhauling work as soon as they can conveniently get in on the floor, have them carry cans, pails or some such utensil filled with water, and when they find pieces of burning rags, it is an easy matter to dip the rag into the water, or to splash a little water on a burning ember. The overhauling has the effect of removing fuels from a fire, and a good clean floor to work on greatly eases the work of the department.)