REPORT ON WOONSOCKET FIRE HAZARD
The city of Woonsocket, R. I., has recently undergone an investigation at the hands of the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Poard of Fire Underwriters. In its comment the ccmmittee says: “In the principal mercantile district the hazard is that of group fires, and as the district extends along a single street without block congestion, fires should be confined to comparatively small areas, except at the southern end. The sccial. mercantile and tenement district is almost entirely frame and the hazard is very severe. Manufacturing plants form small groups and are mainly well provided with private fire protection. Group fires are probable, but, except at the southern end of the principal mercantile district, should not extend. Residential sections present the hazard of flying brands on shingle roofs, increased by an occasional closely built group of frame tenements.” The city which has a population of more than 38,000 is situated on the Blackstone river about 17 miles back from the coast, and covers an area of 8 square miles, about one-half of which is closely built upon. The waterworks are owned by the city, and are under the management of Supt. Arthur F. Ballou, member of the N. F.. Waterworks Association. Supply is derived from storage reservoirs and pumped to the distribution system, which is in one service, with tanks as equalizers. Elevations in the area within the city to which water is supplied range from 50 to 250. The average annual rainfall, as shown by records taken at the pumping station for the past 24 years, is 49.05 inches, with a minimum of 37.36 inches in 1905. The dam of Reservoir No. 1, located about 1,000 feet south of the city limits, is an earth embankment with masonry core wall and rip-rapped on the inside; elevation of top of dam, 117; of crest of spillway, 113.66; of 12-inch waste pipe, 80. Area of reservoir, 6.44 acres; average depth, 16 feet; capacity, 35.516,000 gallons. Minimum elevation of water level in the reservoir for the year 1910 was 113.12, and occurred October 11 to 16. A dam, constructed in 1895, of earth, with a concrete core wall and rip-rapped on the inside, is located about 2 1/4 miles southwest of dam No. 1. The reservoir covers an area of 197 acres, with an average depth of 9 feet and capacity of 529,000,000 gallons. The dam is designed for a possible increase in height of 6 feet, with a corresponding increase in capacity to 875,000,000 gallons. about the annual drainage of the watershed. Elevation of top of dam, 278; of spillway, 273. Two 20-inch pipes, elevation 257, extend through the dam and a gatehouse, conveying the water by way of the brook to Reservoir No. 1. The pumping station is located near dam of Reservoir No. 1, about 2 miles southeast of the principal mercantile district. Average daily running time is 7 hours in winter and 9 hours during the summer months. Two suction mains, a 24-inch and a 14-inch, about 125 feet long, extend from a screen chamber at reservoir to the station, where they are cross-connected, the 24-inch supplying the larger pumps and the 14-inch the smaller; average head on suction end of pumps, about 3 feet; static head pumped against, 226 feet; pressure maintained on pumps equivalent to 246 feet. Separate discharges from each of the two larger pumps connect to the larger force main just outside of the station, while the two small pumos are connected to the 12-inch force main at the pumps. Cylinders of the Deane pump are at elevation 110, and of the d’Auria pump at 113. The d’Auria pump is operated most of the time, the Deane being used only when the former is undergoing repairs. Steam piping is not in duplicate. Three tanks are used as equalizers when pump is running and as distributing reservoirs when pumping station is not in operation. Two are connected to a 14-inch main and one to a 20-inch main, with a cross-connection to the 14-inch. They are located about 4,500 feet southeast of the principal mercantile district and have a combined capacity of 1,978,795 gallons; each rests on a substantial masonry foundation and is not covered. The average daily water consumption is 1,596,223 gallons; services, 3,504; meters, 3,046. There are fifty miles of mains and 525 gatevalves. From the tanks, the 12-inch force main extends into the distribution system as a 14-inch main and a 20-inch main, the latter connecting to the 20-inch force main from the pumping station and continuing across the river to the principal mercantile district, through which a 12-inch main extends and forms a loop with the above 14-inch main and a 12-inch branch. Several 12-inch branches serve as secondary feeders to a fairly good gridiron of 6 and 8-inch mains, with very few 4-inch, Dead ends are numerous; in many cases, where they cannot be avoided, 8-inch pipe is used. No trouble bas been experienced with electrolysis. The hydrants number 625 public, and 135 private. The average length of main which would be cut out of service in and for a considerable area adjoining the principal mercantile district is 620 feet, with a maximum of 2,700 feet; 10 lengths out of 74 are over 1,000 feet, but three are on the 14 or 20-inch mains, and service would not be seriously affected by a break in either. In a test of 54 hydrants to determine the probable supply available for fire protection, all except in two groups, one of which is in a manufacturing district, gave quantities in excess of that required, and indicated that the desired quantity at a pressure sufficient for direct hydrant streams is available. The low residual pressure in group 5 is due to the distance of the locality from the main artery, and in group 11 to the inadequate carrying capacity of the 4-inch main. Both of the localities will be materially improved by the installation of the authorized 12-inch main to be laid in Rathbun street. The small flows from three hydrants in group 6 are due to the 4-inch main.
The fire department consists of Augustin J. Cate and 94 men, 30 being full paid, 40 call men, and 24 volunteers. The cost of maintenance, including fire alarm telegraph, averages $31,477. The chief is elected annually. There are 2 ladder and 4 hose companies in service, and 2 volunteer companies are equipped with hose reels. There are 12,250 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose, and about 1,500 feet of chemical hose. The Gamewell fire alarm system is in use with 87 boxes.
Water Supply—Municipal works; management efficient. Supply from ample source; pumped to the distribution system; station non-fireproof, but hazards fairly well guarded and protection mainly satisfactory. Three distributing tanks; over one day’s storage. Consumption very low. Pressures good; fairly well maintained under heavy drafts. Main arteries of sufficient size in most localities; those contemplated by the department will better conditions materially. Minor distributers mainly satisfactory; gridironing generally good. Gate-valves fairly well spaced and in good condition. Hydrants mostly of small dimension but distribution mainly excellent; condition good.
Fire Department—Part full paid, part call and part volunteer. Full-paid members and call men, except chief officers, appointed for indefinite terms. Chief competent and progressive. Financial support weak. Too few permanent men. Distribution of companies fair. Ladder service deficient, chemical service good. Hose supply good, hut no 3-inch hose in use. Minor equipment fair; too few appliances for throwing powerful streams. Drills of little value. No building inspections. Response to alarms and fire methods mainly satisfactory.
hire Alarm System—Automatic system. Superintendent competent; elected for onc-vear terms only. Headquarters in non-fireproof building; apparatus not properly guarded against fire. Boxes non-interfering but have brush-break contacts; distribution good in important districts, fair to poor elsewhere. Some circuits underground in telephone cables. Circuits on poles with high-tension wires at many points. Troubles mostly on the underground work; circuits well protected; tests mainly satisfactory; records not in convenient form.
P. E. Glazier, of Indianapolis, has invented a nozzle controller, which fits at the back of the nozzle, and it is claimed, so lessens the backpressure, or “kick”, that one man can direct the stream with one hand, while without it it requires three men to direct the nozzle when the full water pressure is on. The device does not in the least diminish the force of the stream.