The Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters has issued a special report on the condition of the water works plant of North Adams from which the following abstract is made. The population of the city at the last census was 22,019, and the gross fire loss for the year 1912 exceeded $15 per capita, the average of the other four years of the last five-year period being about $1.30 per capita. The plant is owned by the city and was built in 1864. The supply is obtained by gravity from water sheds in the Greylock and Green Mountain ranges from 3 to 9 miles southwest and northwest of the city, and in emergency by pumpage from tubular wells about one-half mile east of the business center. Distribution is in two services. The Notch reservoir is formed by an earth dam, with masonry core-wall, located on the Notch brook, about two miles southwest of the city. The elevation of overflow is 1230.9, and capacity 91,000,000 gallons. Area of water-shed above dam is 2.5 square miles. The dam is in good condition. From the Notch reservoir a 12-inch, an 8-inch and a 6inch main, all of cast-iron, extend about 6,000 feet to the High service reservoir, built in earth embankment with masonry corewall and in good condition except for seepage at one corner. Elevation l,0889, capacity 5,687,000 gallons. From this reservoir a 10-inch main extends about one mile to supply the High service within the city and a 12-inch main extends about 1,800 feet to the Low service reservoir, built in earth embankment in fair to good condition, elevation 906, capacity 540,000 gallons. From this reservoir a 14-inch and an 8-inch main extend about 3,500 feet to the Low service. The pumping station is equipped with one Knowles tandem-compound, condensing, double-acting, single pump; capacity 1,000,000 gallons per 24 hours. Suction is from two 7-inch tubular wells, 600 feet deep and approximately 50 and 100 feet distant, each with separate line to pump; discharge is through a short 10-inch line to the 10-inch main on Ashland street. A Kendall and Roberts 125 h. p. fire-tube boiler furnishes steam with bituminous coal for fuel. The pump ordinarily operates with 14 inches of vacuum on the suction and a discharge pressure of 95 pounds, with boiler steam pressure of 110 pounds. In August, 1913, after a protracted dry period, the storage in the Notch brook impounding reservoir had been drawn down to about 32,000,000 gallons, and the pump was started and operated continuously for 52 days, pumping about 800,000 gallons per day; during this time it was exceedingly difficult to reserve sufficient water for fire protection purposes. For short periods in extremely hot weather the consumption rate exceeds 4,000,000 gallons per day. Of a total of 3,002 services in use January 1, 1914, only S2, or 2 3/4 per cent., are metered. Except for a period of three months in each of the years 1909, 1910 and 1913, when a thorough inspection of house fixtures was made, there has been little concerted effort made to detect or prevent unnecessary waste.

There are no pressure recording gauges installed on the system and no recent records of pressures at hydrants are on file. An ordinary gauge in fire station No. 1 on State street, at an elevation of about 702, shows a normal day pressure of 105 pounds and a similar gauge in the main office at the city hall, at elevation 710, shows about 10 pounds less pressure; both are in the business district. Distribution is in two services, ordinarily supplied entirely by gravity from distributing reservoirs and intakes; the High service supplies the residential districts on the higher levels; the Low service supplies the remainder of the city, including the mercantile and manufacturing dis tricts. The high valve districts are practically level, elevations ranging from 700 to 740; average elevation of the principal mercantile district is 702. The 10-inch High service supply main passes through the center of the city and continues in two 10-inch branches to the higher residential sections in the east and northeast portions of the city. The 24-inch Broad brook main extends into the center of the city and supplies a 16-inch and a 12-inch, which form a loop through the manufacturing district; these mains connect, through 8and 10-inch pipe, extending through the principal mercantile district, to a 14 inch main fed from the Notch reservoir through the regulator valve near the Low service reservoir. All pipe is tar-coated cast-iron ; a very small percentage has been laid in the past 15 or 20 years; about the time the Broad brook system was installed in 1889, most of the larger sized feeder tnians were laid. Pipes that have been in service for a number of years show interior surfaces to be practically free from incrustation and tubercles. The average depth of cover is 4½ feet; at the river crossings the pipe lines are usually supported on bridges and in some cases partly protected; considerable trouble has been experienced from the freezing of some of the smaller sized lines.


Pipe is purchased under the specifications of the American Water Works Association, mostly of Class “C” for the lower levels and Class “B” on the upper levels, suitable for working pressures ot 130 and 86 pounds respectively. Valves are of the double disc type, mostly of Ludlow make, but include others. They open to the left and, as a general rule, are set near the intersection of mains, but with no definite system of location; complete measurements of location are shown on office maps and superintendent’s book. There were 328 puublic and 60 private hydrants in use January 1, 1914, nearly so per cent, of which are Ludlows, the remainder being either Beaumont, Walker or Mathews make. During recent years, the hydrants set have been Mathews. The barrels are mostly 6 inches in diameter, with 4and 41/2-inch valve opening. The majority have independent valves on branch connections to the main which are about evenly divided between 4and 6-inch. With few exceptions hydrants have two 2½-inch hose outlets and no steamer connection; a few have four 2½-inch outlets. They open to the left and are of the post type with automatic drip valve; drainage is generally good and they are thoroughly inspected each fall. At the time of this investigation, the weather was unsuitable for making fire flow tests. Computations show, however, that the supply from Broad brook, together with that through the regulating valve at the Low service reservoir, if set to approximately balance the head from Broad brook, would give a fire flow above maximum domestic consumption of about 2,500 gallons per minute at 75 pounds pressure in the mercantile district. Throughout the residential portions of the city, the weak gridiron of mainly 4-inch pipe cannot furnish adequate protection. The only important improvements made in the past three years have been the installation of the pressure-reducing valve on the by-pass at the Low service reservoir, and the extension of a 10-inch feeder to the southwest on Ashland street. General plans have been prepared for a dam and storage reservoir on Lillie brook, about one mile northwest from the Notch reservoir and about two miles from the city. With overflow at elevation 1,028 storage capacity will be 200,000,000 gallons, and provision will be made for raising the dam and increasing the capacity to 300,000,000 gallons. The Lillie brook water shed has a drainage area above the dam of 1.75 square miles, and the flood flow from the Notch reservoir will be brought to the new reservoir through a reinforced concrete conduit. The plans provide for an 18or 20-inch main from the new dam across the lfoosac river valley, a distance of about one mile, to connect with the 24-inch line from Broad brook; a pressure-regulating valve will be placed in this line. Provision may also he made for bringing the flood flow of Broad brook to the new reservoir. This additional storage will obviate the danger of another shortage of water, such as occurred in the summer of 1913. It is also contemplated to cross-connect, at Monument Square, the 10-inch mains on both the High and Low services. During the coming year it is planned to install at least 50 additional hydrants about the city; locations as yet undetermined. At as early a date as possible, secondary feeders will be extended on the principal streets to the outlying parts of the system, and it is also planned to make several cross-connections between parallel mains, in order to give a more adequate supply to the hydrants connected to the smaller pipes. The committee states its conclusions as follows: Proper consideration has not been given to the question of fire protection, as indicated by the inadequacy of the distribution system and the lack of records necessary for a proper study of this subject. The department is in urgent need of more liberal financial support, so that necessary improvements, commensurate with increasing demands and growth of the city, may be effected at an early date. The present storage capacities and well supply arc inadequate to furnish the necessary quantities during the dryest periods, as was demonstrated, during the summer of 1913. The construction of a new impounding reservoir, which has recently been very strongly advocated, and for which tentative plans have been drawn, will provide an ample supply for many years to come, particularly with the consumption properly restricted to a reasonable per capita rate. Except for seepage through the embankments of the High service distributing reservoir and a crack in the effluent pipe at the James brook dam, the supply works structures are in excellent condition. Pressures are ample for hydrant hose streams in the principal mercantile district and in a large portion of the residential districts, but because of the weak distribution system they would be greatly reduced in most localities under even moderate draft. Reasonable protection for the principal mercantile district requiures a fire flow in excess of domestic consumption of 4,500 gallons per miunte, with a distribution system capable o; delivering this quantity about any large group of buildings. The manufacturuing districts require 3,000 to 4,000 gallons, and the residential districts from 1,500 to 2,500 gallons. Computations show that under present conditions about one-half the necessary quantity is available in the mercantile district at a pressure adequate for hydrant hose streams. In other parts of the city adequate quantities are only available on the large mains. There are times when the supply from Broad brook cannot be relied upon, and the main from the Notch system is too small to furnish more than a fraction of the probable fire demand, with the regulator set as at present; for these reasons, it is necessary that the contemplated reservoir be constructed and that the main from the new reservoir be large enough to assure ample fire supply in addition to domestic consumption. For the supply of the mercantile district the main arteries are fairly adequate and well arranged ; in other parts of the city the system is made up mainly of poorly gridironed 4-inch pipe which cannot furnish adequate fire protection. The interior condition of the mains is said to be good. The system is poorly equipped with gate valves, the length of main necessary to shut off for repairs being too great in nearly all parts of the city. Largely of satisfactory type and dimensions, but about half of the total have too small connection to main ; spacing of hydrants is too wide for the proper concentration of hose streams. The improvements recommended are: That the Lillie brook dam and storage reservoir, advocated and recommended in several engineering reports, be constructed at the earliest possible date, and lie connected to the Broad brook supply main by a 24-inch line. That steps be taken to reduce the unnecessarily high consumption by metering all consumers, in accordance with a fixed system whereby all services will be thus equipped within three years. That Venturi meters lie installed on all supply mains, so that accurate and complete measurements of consumption may be obtained. That a pressure recording gauge be installed in Fire Station No. 1, on State street. That the distribution system be strengthened by the early installation of the mains and by perfecting the gridiron by installing mains in closely built sections, so as to furnish fire supply as follows: In residential districts, 1,500 to 2,500 gallons a minute; in manufacturing and minor mercantile districts, 3,000 to 4,000 gallons a minute; in the principal mercantile district, 4,500 gallons a minute. That all 4-inch mains used for hydrant supply be replaced within five years, dead ends eliminated wherever practicable, large mains crossconnected to distributers at all intersections, and long unsupported lines of pipe cross-connected, so that not more than one hydrant will be on a 6-inch main between intersecting lines, and not more than two hydrants on an 8-inch main between intersecting lines.

Report on North Adams Water Conditions

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