REPORT ON FIRE CONDITIONS AT GREEN BAY
The mayor of Green Bay, Wis., is Hon. Winfred Abrams and the city’s population is estimated to be 29,000. A report on fire conditions in that city has been issued by the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters and it gives the following information: The city is a lake port and is important as a distributing point for coal and lumber and for the manufacture of paper and sulphite, woodworking machinery, brick and tile; there are planing and saw mills with moderate to large storages of lumber, cooperage works, machine shops and foundries; the shops of three railroads are also located here. Three railroads, one electric interburban line and the lake ailord transportation facilities; the rivers are navigable for short distances. The city is located at the confluence of the Fox and East rivers at the foot of Green Bay, Lake Michigan; it covers an area of 13 square miles, about one-half of which is built upon. The surface is mainly flat and grades are slight in closely built sections. Elevations range from 95 along Fox river to 160 in the southwestern section; city datum 100 is 584.39 feet above mean sea level at New York. There are about 100 miles of streets, of which 22 miles are paved with asphalt, concrete and brick and 6 miles with macadam. Paved streets are generally in good condition and others good to fair. Street widths are 60 or 80 feet, being mainly 80 feet in the principal mercantile district; north and south streets arc 80 feet and others 60 feet wide. The gross fire loss for the past five years, as given in the fire department records, amounted to $203,496, the annual loss ranging between $24,143 in 1912 and $49,574 in 1911. The average annual number of fires was 76, ranging between 74 in 1911 and 84 in 1910, with an average loss per fire of $536. Based on an average population of 26,700, the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 2.84, and the average loss per capita was $1.15, both low figures. The water supply is a private works. Supply front driven wells. Consumption low. Fire pressures good. Main arteries of sufficient size; secondary feeders well arranged. Mainly complete gridiron except in outlying sections; considerable proportion of cement pipe in residential districts. Gate valve spacing fair.
Fire Department Organization.
The fire department is full paid since 1892. For the appointment and disciplinary control of members the department is under the supervision of a board of 5 fire and police commissioners. A. M. Duncan, President. The City Council, through the Fire Committee, of which Henry Porth is Chairman, purchases supplies and apparatus. The chief is the executive officer of the fire force, has entire control of men and appartus, including the fire alarm system, with power to enforce discipline, subject to the approval of the commissioners. He is acting building inspector and a deputy State fire marshal. The chief is elected by the board and can be removed only for cause. Chief John W. Sweeney, age 42, has been a member of the department for 23 years and chief since 1906. Assistant Chief George Thayer, age 55, was appointed to his present position in 1911 and has been a member of the department since 1897. The total membership is 22, including chief, assistant chief, 3 captains and 17 privates. The maintenance expense of the fire department, including the fire alarm system, for 1914 was $22,069, or about 85 cents per capita, based on an estimated population of 28,000. Appointments are made by the chief and approved by the board of fire and police commissioners, for indefinite terms, from an eligible list established after civil service examinations conducted by the board. Physical examinations are made by a physician designated by the board. Applicants must be between 21 and 35 years of age, not less than 5 feet 9 inches in height and weigh not less than 160 pounds. A two months’ probationary period is prescribed for any position in the department. A pension fund, established by State law, is maintained by a 2 per cent, tax on fire insurance premiums, 1 per cent, of salaries, fines, deductions from pay, donations and gifts. There is no age limit for retirement. Members may retire on half pay after 22 years’ service or if permanently disabled. Widows and children of deceased members also receive pensions. Salary is continued in case of sickness or accident due to fire service.
There are 3 hose companies and 1 ladder company in service, in .3 stations. The assistant chief acts as captain of the ladder company and each hose company has a captain. Members are allowed 3 hours daily for meals, 1 day off in 5 and 10 days’ annual vacation.
There are in reserve a 525-gallon Amoskeag engine of double pump, reciprocating type, purchased in 1868 and provided with a new boiler in 1909, and a 450-gallon Button engine of single pump, crank and fly-wheel type, purchased in 1872 and provided with a new boiler in 1903. The Amoskeag engine has two 10-foot lengths and the Button engine has a 20-foot length of 4-inch stiff suction; each has a double female connection, hand relief valve, steam hose and suction strainer. The engines have not been used at a fire for about 6 years. The ladder truck is a Preston wood frame service truck; it carries a 65-foot trussed extension ladder and 8 other ladders, including 2 with roof hooks; the longest ground ladder is a 26-foot solid side ladder; it has rubber tires; it is in only fair condition. Hose 1 has a 40-gallon chemical tank and connection for 2 1/2-inch hose. Hose 2 and 3 are plain wagons, each carrying 2 short ladders. Each wagon has a divided hose body. Hose 1 and 3 have rubber tires. A hose reel is in reserve at the city hall. The chief is provided with a 30-horsepower White runabout, equipped with a 25-gallon chemical tank and 150 feet of chemical hose; a rubber-tired buggy and a cutter for winter use are in reserve. Each hose company is provided with a plain hose sleigh, the ladder truck with runners and each station has a platform wagon for exercising horses.
Hose is 2 1/2-inch, double-jacketed cotton, rubber-lined, purchased by the chief and fire committee, on competitive bids, under the manufacturer’s guarantee. Hose wagons carry from 1,200 to 1,600 feet of hose; there is only sufficient reserve hose on hand to allow a complete change for one wagon. The supply allows an average of 1,950 feet per wagon. About 1,000 feet of hose 11 years old is still in service, but it is reported that there has been no trouble with hose breaking for 5 years. No 3-inch hose is provided.
The equipment on each hose wagon consists of 3 shut-off nozzles with 1 1/8or 1 1/4inch tips, 2 open nozzles with 1-inch tips, mostly of ring type, a nozzle holder, axes, crowbar, gated Siamese, monkey wrench, pipe wrench, and 4 lanterns. The equipment on the ladder truck is 4 axes, plaster hooks, door openers, crowbars, shovels, brooms, rope, burst-hose jacket, lanterns, smoke protector and a hose shut-off. The only special appliance for handling heavy streams is one deluge set.
Fire stations are 2-story joisted brick buildings. Stations 1 and 2 were built for volunteer companies and Station 3 was a city hall. Each station is heated by stoves and lighted by electricity; Station 2 is being provided with a steam heating plant. No company drills are held and no drilling facilities are provided. Horses are released 3 times a day. They are exercised one hour daily, except Sunday, if they have had no runs; one company at a. time.
Records kept by the ladder company show that of the 97 alarms in 1914, 24 were for alarms of fire where no work was done, 9were false alarms and 2 were for rubbish, fires; of the 62 working fires, 14 were extinguished with chemicals alone, 1 with chemicals and water and 47 with water alone. The deluge set with l 1/2-inch tip is used at serious fires. Standpipes and connections to automatic sprinklers are used when available and the occasion requires. Hose must be carried, up ladders and stairways. At serious fires and where hydrants with steamer connections are available gated wye connections are used and 2 lines of hose are laid by the one wagon. During extremely cold weather a large can. of hot water is carried on the truck to thaw frozen hydrants.
A recent improvement has been the purchase of the chief’s automobile. A steam heating, plant is being installed in Station 2 and Wagon 2 is to be painted and provided with rubber tires. A plan is under consideration to dispose of Station 3 and erect new stations in the vicinity of Broadway and Third street,, on a lot owned by the city, and in the vicinity of Broadway and Dousmen street; the latter station to be equipped with the apparatus now in Station 1, motor apparatus to be purchased for Station 1.
Fire Alarm System.
The fire alarm system is a part of the fire department and under the same supervision. It is in charge of the chief, who is assisted by the city electrician, E. J. Schumacher, and employs other help as needed. The city electrician was appointed in May, 1915, by the city council for a 2-year term. He has had about 15 year’s experience in telephone and inside electric wiring work. Operating room in chief’s office on second floor and, battery room on first floor, in rear of barn of Station 1, a 2-story, ordinary joisted brick building. The apparatus at headquarters is of automatic type, Gamewell make, installed about 1895, consisting of: Non-interfering repeater with brush-contacts, for 4 box circuits and 1 tower bell circuit, and a wooden panel board on the wall with grounded carbon lightning arresters, ground test, and switches for throwing out repeater and throwing all circuits in series. The wooden repeater stand contains galvanometer, grounded sawtooth lightning arrester and Morse key on each circuit. The apparatus at fire stations is as follows: Each station has a combined gong and indicator, a fire alarm box, and a telephone on a direct line from the exchange of the telephone company. Station 1 has a punch register, a telephone on direct line from the A. D. T. office, and 3 gongs on sprinkler alarm circuits from nearby buildings.
The total number of boxes is 59, as follows: Gamewell boxes, 58; U. S. boxes, 1. There are 50 street boxes, 3 boxes in fire stations and 6 private boxes of which 2 are inaccessible, 2 outside city.
By an act effective July 1, 1915, the State Fire Marshal’s office was consolidated with that of the Insurance Commissioner, with an assistant in direct charge of the fire marshal work. M. J. Cleary, Insurance Commissioner, is ex-officio State fire mashal, and F. W. Kubasta, Deputy Commissioner, is in charge of the fire marshal’s office; they are assisted by 3 deputies and 1 inspector; 3 additional deputies are to appointed shortly. The chief of the fire department is required to investigate and report to the State fire marshal all fires causing a loss of $25 or more, and all fires of incendiary or unknown origin; espccially urgent cases are reported by telephone. The fire marshal has all the powers of a court for the investigation of fires, may enter any building, require the removal of combustibles or explosives, cause the repair or removal of dilapidated buildings and remedy any unnecessary exposure. Expenses are met by a tax of ⅜ of 1 per cent, on gross premiums of all insurance companies doing business in the State, except local companies. The chief of the fire department is, ex-officio, a deputy State fire marshal; he investigates the cause of all fires, and suspicious fires are reported to the police as well as to the fire marshal.
Supervision of Explosives and Inflammables.
The municipal ordinances relating to explosives and inflammables place the supervision and control in the hands of the Mayor, Common Council, Chief of Police and Chief of Fire Department. State laws place the control of dangerous conditions arising from explosives or inflammable materials with the State Fire Marshal, who is locally represented by the Chief of the Fire Department, and of petroleum products with the State Oil Inspectors. An act effective July 1, 1915, consolidated the office of Fire Marshal with that of Insurance Commissioner. M. J. Cleary, Insurance Commissioner, is ex-officio State Fire Marshal, and F. W. Kubasta is Deputy Commissioner in charge of the Fire Marshal’s office; they are assisted by 3 deputies and 1 inspector. F. B. St. Louis is resident Deputy Oil Inspector. The Mayor is empowered to issue permits for fireworks displays. The common council issues permits for wholesale oil storages, requiring construction to be supervised by the fire chief and tanks installed in accordance with National Board provisions; no other permits are issued. Quarterly inspections of premises and buildings other than dwellings within the fire limits are made by members of the fire department; semi-annual inspections are made elsewhere. Hazardous locations are reinspected by the fire chief and occupants ordered to remedy conditions. If order is ignored, legal proceedings are started. Card records of inspections, alphabetically indexed, are filed in the office of the chief. The deputy State oil inspector makes tests of oils when received at the local storage plants.
The recommendations contained in the report include that additional storage of 2,000,000 gallons be provided. That sufficient men be permanently appointed to companies so that the least number present at all times, including vacations, days off, and meal hours, will be ten men in the combined engine and ladder company (Station 1) and 3 men in hose companies. That a motor combined pump, chemical and hose wagon and an automobile quick-raising 75-foot aerial ladder truck be provided for Station 1. That a station be erected in the vicinity of Dousman and Chestnut streets and equipped with the horse-drawn wagon from Hose 1 and present Station 3 be closed. That a hose company be established in the vicinity of Broadway and Third street, and equipped with a motor combination chemical and hose wagon. That a hose wagon be placed in reserve at Station 1, equipped with a turret pipe and loaded with 1,000 feet of 3-inch hose. That additional hose be purchased at once to provide each company a complete extra shift in the station. That sufficient 3-inch hose be purchased to provide 200 feet for each hose wagon, and such additional amounts provided in future purchases that ultimately a reserve wagon will carry 1,000 feet and other wagons equal amounts of 2½and 3-inch hose, with a total of at least 1,000 feet, and each company will have an extra shift of hose in quarters. All 3-inch hose to be fitted with 2j4-inch couplings properly beveled, and with dimensions as given in Recommendation 12. That the following equipment be furnished, where not already provided: To each hose wagon: Door opener, hydrant hose gate, extension ladder, short roof ladder, rope, distributing nozzle, plaster hooks, hose straps and 2 waterproof covers. To the ladder truck: Modern cellar pipe, ladder pipe hose hoist, life belt, wrecking hook and chain, 2 pompier ladders, 4 waterproof covers, bale hooks, roof cutter, wire cutters, surgical kit and life net. That additional fire alarm apparatus be provided and changes made as follows: At Fire Alarm Headquarters: A non-interfering automatic repeater for 8 box circuits and 2 closed alarm circuits. A 10-circuit battery charging and testing switchboard, equipped with lightning arrester, heavy-current fuse and heat-coil fuse for each conductor entering headquarters. A punch register with time stamp for recording all alarms. At Fire Department Headquarters: A non-interfering break-wheel transmitter with break-wheel for each box or assumed box location. At each fire station and the pumping station: A punch register and tapper, connected direct to a box circuit, and a gong connected to a separate alarm circuit. That additional boxes be installed so that a box shall be within 500 feet of every building in the high value district and elsewhere within 800 feet of valuable groups of buildings.