REPORT ON FIRE SERVICE OF STOCKTON

REPORT ON FIRE SERVICE OF STOCKTON

According to the engineers of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, the principal features which make the conflagration hazard in the mercantile district very high at Stockton, Cal., are the extreme weakness in firefighting facilities, an unreliable fire alarm system, a close grouping of comparatively large, structurally weak buildings, numerous bad exposures and poorly-guarded fire hazards. By proper improvement in firefighting facilities the conflagration hazard could be reduced to about normal for a city of this character. It could be further reduced and eventually practically eliminated by the requirement of adequate window, party wall and skylight opening protection in existing defectively constructed buildings, by the requirement of automatic sprinkler protection in all buildings which might act as conflagration breeders, and by the enactment and enforcement of adequate laws covering building construction and the safeguarding of fire hazards. The local hazard in the manufacturing and warehouse districts is very high, owing to the excessive areas covered by the individual buildings and the absence of firefighting facilities, but the general hazard in these districts is comparatively small. The residential sections involve the hazard of flyingbrand tires on shingle roofs. The city has a population of 25,000, and covers an area of four square miles and is practically level. The Stockton Water Company supplies the water, while all hydrants and about one-sixth of the water mains are owned by the city. The company does not operate under a franchise, nor is there any agreement with the city relative to fire protection. Supply is by direct pumpage from two well fields within or near the city limits; elevated tank adjacent to main station. The city is supplied in one service, being practically level, at about 15 feet above sea level. Located just outside of the eastern limits of the city are 12 wells, 8 to 20 inches in diameter and 225 to 1,150 feet in depth. Suction lines, laid in brick-lined tunnel about 10 feet below the surface, connect all wells to a suction header in the pumping station. The six large wells are provided with air-lift; when so operated they discharge through troughs to a collecting reservoir; the air-lift has not been used in recent years and only two of the troughs are in place. The supply available from the group is estimated to be in excess of 10,000,000 gallons per day; suction lift of 22 feet at daily rate of 1,500,000 gallons. The collecting reservoir is circular in excavation and concrete lined; capacity, 1,172,000 gallons; depth, 10 feet; supplied from overflow from tank, by direct pumpage or from wells under air lift; 20-inch outlet to 12-inch connection to suction header. Used only during the summer months. Pumping station No. 1 is located at the well field; the supply is pumped direct to the distribution system; the station is operated practically continuously; fuel oil is purchased under contract and delivered by wagons from storage in the city to two underground tanks of 15,000 gallons capacity. In addition to the two pumps, there is a 150-h.p. engine with belt drive to air compressor, and two small pumps for continuous priming of suction lines from wells. Pumps are located in pit, with cylinders about 17 feet below floor of station, which is at elevation of 19, and take suction through the header. Boilers in two batteries, either sufficient to operate both pumps. Single steam header with leads to the several units. Fuel oil-burning installation fair, except for lack of duplication of suction and supply lines. The daily capacity is 10,000,000 gallons. Well supply No. 2 is located in the northwestern section of the city; 4 wells, 10 and 12 inches in diameter, and 175 to 975 feet deep. Each is connected to suction header in station. The supply available is estimated to be in excess of 6,000,000 gallons per day; an estimated flow of 3,000 gallons per minute was recently obtained, with a suction lift of 20 feet. Pumping station No. 2 was built in 1910, replacing old station; located at the well field. The station is held in reserve for the greater part of the year, but operated during the months of maximum consumption for the full 24 hours. The average daily consumption is 3,378,000 gallons, or 121 gallons per capita. There are 4,620 services and 411 meters. The total feet of iron pipe is 192,724, and number of gate valves 240, of the Eddy, Ludlow, Crane and Rensselaer makes. The average length of main that would be necessary to cut out for repairs is 1,650 feet, with 87 sections out of 115 in excels of 1,000 feet; nearly all sections along the larger mains are in excess of the average, thus necessitating the closing of a number of valves and seriously affecting the supply to large areas. There are three sections in excess of 5,000 feet; the maximum found is 7,160 feet. The record of the fire department shows 228 public and 5 private hydrants in service November, 1910. All are of the post type of the San Francisco. Stockton, Mathews and Garrett patterns; the first named operate from compression valves on the outlet, opening by turning to the right. Of the 228 hydrants, 5 have two steamer outlets: 50, a single steamer outlet; 2, one steamer and one hose outlet; 52, two hose outlets; and 118, one hose outlet. All connections to mains are gated; 12 are 6 inches in diameter and all others 4 inches. The average linear spacing of hydrants in principal mercantile districts is 400 feet, and the average area served by each hydrant is 120,000 square feet. The flow from 26 hydrants in 12 groups was measured to determine the probable supply available for fire protection purposes. The inability of the small mains to deliver adequate quantities is shown by the low discharges; 75 per cent, of the hydrants failed to deliver under free flow a supply sufficient for a second size fire engine, even with a fair residual pressure in the mains, and had more hydrants been opened the discharge per hydrant would have been less. The relative value of small hydrants and small connections to mains is shown by the discharge from two of the hydrants practically identically located: the small hydrant with 4-inch branch delivered 500 gallons per minute and the larger hydrant with 6-inch connection, 1,060 gallons per minute. Reasonable protection for the principal mercantile district requires a fire flow in excess of the maximum domestic consumption of at least 6,500 gallons per minute. The total quantity includes an allowance for losses from broken services incidental to large fires: the distribution system should be capable of delivering this quantity about any block or group of buildings of special hazard, with hydrants so located as to deliver two-thirds the quantity upon any large fire through hose lines, none exceeding 600 feet in length. The manufacturing and minor mercantile districts require a fire flow of from 3,000 to 5,000 gallons per minute, and the residential districts from 1,500 to 2,500 gallons per minute. The fire flow tests show the general inability of the system to furnish these quantities, even when consumption is below the average.

THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.

The fire department which consists of 44 men, part of whom are full paid, and part call men, is under command of Chief Michael McCann, who entered the department in 1868. One ladder, one chemical and three engine companies are in service. A test of engine No. 3 was unsatisfactory, as considerable slip was indicated in the suction valves and the steam valves were not properly set. steam was poorly maintained, due largely to dirty coal. The other engines, except for new valves, are substantially as when tested in September, 1910, at which time they were unable to deliver more than one good fire stream each. The chemical engine is of Holloway type, built in 1901 and overhauled in 1904. It carries two 80-gallon tanks, portable extinguishers, axes, crowbar, plaster hcok and two extension ladders. There are no 2 1/2-inch connections to the tanks. The reserve chemical engine is a Babcock with two 100-gallon vertical tanks. The Game well fire alarm telegraph system is in use, there being 43 boxes.

SUMMARY.

Water Supply.—Private works; competent management. No agreement relative to fire protection. Records fair. Pumpage from wells at two stations direct to distribution system. Supply adequate, but unable to furnish maximum fire flow, owing to small storage and limited flow of wells. Main pumping station non-fireproof; good private protection; auxiliary station noncombustible. Pumping capacity without sufficient reserve. Pressures moderate: poorly maintained even under moderate draft. Consumption high. Main arteries inadequate; secondary feeders mainly lacking; minor distributers small; gridironing poor. Mains in good condition, but in some localities injury by electrolysis may be expected, Gate valves widely spaced; in good condition. but no regular inspection. Hydrants mostly small and poorly distributed; in good condition.

Fire Department.—Half full paid, half call men. Under commission appointed by city council. Chief experienced. Too few men and insufficient apparatus to control serious fire. Northern residential district poorly protected. Only one engine suitable for city work. One ladder truck, heavy and slow-raising. Only one piece of chemical apparatus. Minor equipment deficient. Hose supply good. Coal of poor quality. Discipline and personnel fair. Drills irregular and incomplete. Response to alarms slow, Fire methods only fair. No systematic building inspections. Recent records fairly well kept. Practically no apparatus added in the last 5 years.

Fire Alarm System.—Automatic system; maintained by an electrical contractor under direction of chief of the fire department. Headquarters in fire station of ordinary construction; apparatus poorly installed with no provisions for expansion. No reliable registering devices. Good fire department telephone system. All boxes have brush breaks and keys detached; no key signs. Most Foxes dingy and inconspicuous; some poorly located; in very poor condition. Distribution poor; many residential sections unprotected. Circuits overhead: in poor condition and on poles with high-tension circuits at many points; considerable underground duct available. Tests irregular; no records kept; no maps provided.

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