REVENUE FROM EXTENSION OF MAINS
The Wisconsin Railroad Commission recently gave a decision on the application of the Beloit Water, Gas & Electric Company for a rehearing of a petition brought by the corporation against the city of Beloit. This alleged that an order by the city to the water company to extend its mains on a certain street was unreasonable, because the extension ordered was not necessary for fire protection and the number of prospective consumers was not large enough to make the extension remunerative. The company endeavored to show that it is unreasonable to require it to construct new extensions at its own expense unless the gross earnings from the new customers immediately in sight are large enough to cover the cost of serving them. This cost includes interest and depreciation at reasonable rates on the cost of the proposed extension, and in addition to this the same proportion of the total operating expenses, including the returns on the investment, as that which is charged to existing customers in the same class as those in question here. On this basis the company figured that the annual cost to it of the proposed extension and its six prospective customers would amount to something like $126. In computing this amount the present interest charges on the plant and its present operating expenses were placed at $20,623 and $19,459, respectively, or a total of $40,082 for both items. This sum in turn was distributed on the total pumpage of about 685,800,000 gallons, from which distribution an average cost of 5.84 cents per 1,000 gallons was obtained. This cost per unit was multiplied by the total estimated pumpage for the six new consumers, placed at 222,347 gallons for each of them, which gave a total annual cost for all of these consumers of about $78. To this amount was added about $48 for interest and depreciation of 7 per cent, on $690, the sum at which it placed the cost of the proposed extension, which increased the total cost to $126 per year. The commission stated that on the face of it the above method of figuring the cost to the plant of new extensions and additional business might not seem to be unreasonable. When more fully analyzed, however, it may result in rather serious diserminations in actual practice. Rigorously adhered to, it would be likely to lead to relatively higher charges for at least some of those among the consumers who arc taken on under this rule than for those who are taken on without having to pay any other charges than the regular rates for the regular service. When those on the new extension are so few that the cost of serving them is relatively greater than the cost of serving those who are not on the extension, then it is undoubtedly fair, the commission decided, that the former should he required to meet at least a considerable part of the extra cost. But when the customers on the new extension are so numerous as to make it reasonably compensatory then any extra charges, such as those described, or any charge above the regular schedule rates which apply to all consumers in the same class, would appear to be unjust and discriminatory. The commission further pointed out that the interests of the company, the consumer and the public vary so much from place to place that it is difficult to lay down specific rules for extensions of the plant and the business that can be generally applied. In a general way it said that such extensions as the one in question should be put in at the expense of the plant wherever they bid fair to become fairly remunerative. Because of varying conditions, however, the term “fair remuneration” may not always stand for like elements. In some cases it may mean the additional cost for the new extensions; in other cases it may stand for something more or something less than this, In most instances, however, it is likely to mean that the gross earnings from the additional consumers should be high enough to place them on about the same footing with reference to the cost of the service as that which obtains from the rest of the consumers of the plant who come in the same rate classes in its regular rate schedules. In concluding its opinion, the commission made the following statement of its views in regard to the matter of extensions in general:
“Public utilities are business enterprises in which the different parts and branches of the service are to a considerable extent dependent upon each other. In the railway service, for instance, there are many branchs on which the traffic is not sufficient to carry it. But when this branch is looked upon as a feeder, and the traffic it may furnish for the rest of the system is taken into consideration, it may be found that it is very profitable. If the rates for each branch and main stem were so adjusted as to bear the same relation to the respective costs of the service, there are many instances where the rates on the former would be so high that no freight would be moved under them, where on the main line they would be ridiculously low. Such rates as these would clearly be injurious to both the carrier and the public, and in order to avoid them, it is usually necessary to be guided by the average cost of conditions, and to make substantially the same rate for the branches where the traffic is light as for the main line where it is heavy. In the interests of both the public and the carriers it is usually necessary to treat the system as one unit and to make the same rate for the same class or kind of service even if there is some difference in the cost of same. The fact that a carrier may be entitled to reasonable returns upon its business when taken as a .whole does not necessarily imply that each and every part of the service must be equally profitable. What is true for common carriers in this respect is also true in a way for other public utilities. A waterworks, for instance, may earn relatively’ less in a more sparsely settled residence section, where the customers are fewer and small users, than in the more thickly settled sections where the customers are much more numerous as well as much larger users. But so long as it derives something in the way of returns on the investment from the former sections and a reasonable return from the business as a whole, we think it is under obligation to furnish the service and to make necessary and reasonable extensions to that end. We can look upon it in no other light than this. From a financial point of view it is also as a rule better for a utility to furnish a service at less than the ordinary profits than not to furnish it at all. From these facts it appears to us that the proposed extension is needed by those immediately affected, and is required by public interest; that it will be reasonably remunerative to the plant under the circumstances, and is in line with sound business policy; and that for these and other reasons the proposed extension should be constructed by and at the expense of the petitioner. The conditions involved. when taken as a whole, seem to be such as to justify no other conclusion on our part.”
Bloomington Fire Pension Fund.
A correspondent at Bloomington, Ill., thus describes the firemen’s pension fund: “The firemen’s pension fund became a state law in the year 1887, May 3, and went into effect July 1, 1887, the law enacted then up to the year 1907 read all cities of 50,000 and over having a paid tire department must create a pension fund, and June 1, 1907, the pension law of 1887 was amended so as to read that all cities and incorporated towns whose population exceeds 5.000 having a paid department must organize a firemen’s pension fund. To sustain this fund all members of the department must pay into the fund one per cent, of their wages. The city must set aside one per cent, of all licenses collected by it: also one per cent, of the two per cent, paid by foreign insurance companies doing business in the city, which goes to this fund. All rewards in moneys, fees, gifts and enrollments that may be paid or given for or on account of extraordinary service will go into this fund. Out of this fund will be paid, in case of death of any member of the department, to his widow and orphans, or parents if depending on him, the sum equal to half of bis pay every month. Should his widow die or remarry, bis children will receive this amount until they reach the age of 16 years. In case of total disability of any member he will receive half pay received while on active duty. This sum wilt be paid to hint every month during life.”
New Building Laws for Chicago.
The Chicago board of underwriters, in conjunction with a soecial common council committee. have for many months been at work on a new building ordinance. Generally considered, the ordinance is regarded as a great improvement over former conditions in the matter of proper construction and fire protection. but there are several features in which the insurance men are anxious to have it still further strengthened. They urge especially that the fire limits be made co-extensive with the city limits, or that combustible roofs be forbidden anywhere within the city limits. The present fire limits are the old city limits, but when the city’ was enlarged by annexation some years ago the fire limits were not extended to the new territory except where the suburbs taken in had proper regulations of their own. The prohibition of shingle roofs is regarded as of the greatest importance, as the shingle roof hazard is the greatest conflagration hazard of Chicago at present. I# the ghetto and the closely-built frame tenement districts of the southwest and the northwest sides there are hundreds of acres of frame houses built closely together, neearly all with shingle roofs, and a conflagration once started in these, with the wind in the right direction, would seriously endanger the manufacturing and downtown business districts. The most notable recent evidence of the shingle roof hazard was in the conflagration at Chelsea, Mass., the spread of which was almost entirely due to the flaming shingles carried by the heated blast, which set fire to scores of buildings many blocks in advance of the main advance of the flames. The chief objection urged to the insistence upon noncombustible roofs is the matter of expense, ihe aldermen in the outlying wards holding that it Would be a hardship upon their constituents to enforce this requirement. With the high price of shingles, however, a non-combustible roof made of material approved by the underwriters can be installed for a little more than the cost of a shingle roof, and will last much longer and will greatly reduce the conflagration hazard. Chief Horan cordially commends the proposition, as the fire department recognizes the constant menace to the city due to the hundreds of acres of inflammable shingles, especially during dry seasons. The underwriters claim that the aldermen, instead of worrying about the property owner who may want to save a few dollars by putting on a roof which is a hazard to his own property and that of his neighbor, should consider the rights of adjacent property owners and those for blocks around, who are constantly endangered whenever a house burns and scatters its blazing shingles all over the neighborhood. They urge that non-combustible roofs he required within the city limits, with a provision that in case of repairs on existing buildings only non-combustible roofs can be substituted. The underwriters are not entirely satisfied with the theatre protection in the new building ordinance. This was materially improved after the Iroquois disaster, but still is not satisfactory from the standpoint of safety to the public. The proposed ordinance does not require sprinklers under or over the stage, and is not sufficiently specific as to water supply. It is understood that the influence of the theatre owners, who are sometimes liberal with passes to aldermen, is responsible for this status. The underwriters also tried to have a fireproof district established within the downton congested district, covering the area from Twelfth street to the river, within which only buildings of strictly fireproof construction could he erected hereafter. The question was referred to the corporation counsel, who held that the charter would not permit such a restriction.
Improved Condition of Water Supplies.
“The rains in October and the frequent precipitation in November in the form of snow and rain has caused a decided improvement in the discharge of the streams “all over the state,” says C. C. Covert, district engineer of the United States Geological Survey, in his report made to the State Water Supply Commission for the month of November. “Comparative records for the month of several streams, covering various periods, indicate that the discharge is still below the average, but that the month of November, 1910, was considerably larger than for the same period in 1909. These records are interesting in that they indicate a decided improvement of the water supply throughout the state just prior to the winter closing of the streams by ice, which usually comes in December.” This report would indicate an improvement in the drouth conditions which have seriously interfered with many water supplies throughout the state.
Automatic Hydraulic Rams in Mexico.
The accompanying illustration shows the construction and operation of three hydraulic rams in operation at Apizaco. Mex., supplying water for the Mexican railway shop, locomotive tank and the town of Apizaco. These three rams supply 160.000 gallons of water per day, a distance of 10.000 feet. A small ram will be noted in the background delivering 6,000 gallons of water per day to a height of 85 feet to Hacienda, a distance of 1,000 feet. Fig. 2 indicates the method of operation of the hydraulic ram which is a device of special interest employed for more than a century for raising small quantities of water to considerable heights, but recently developed so that the hydraulic ram now has a capacity deserving special attention. Automatic hydraulic rams are now built of the double-acting’ type, having an efficiency of from 50 to 90 per cent., dpending upon the ratio of the power head to the head pumped against. It is well known that no other system of pumping water gives such high efficiency, as they deliver considerably more water to a given height than any other machine using the same amount of power water. In order to deliver pure water by means of a double-acting hydraulic ram, using impure water as power, there must he at least 18 to 24 inches of wall from the spring standpipe to the engine. The drive pipe is laid on a perfectly straight incline without bends or curves except where the pipe enters the engine, this being made by bending the pipe and without the use of fittings. The upper end of the drive pipe is at least one foot below the surface of the water so that it cannot suck in air. An open strainer is provided and a quick-opening gate valve employed on the drive pipe, thus making the latter absolutely airtight. The hydraulic ram is started by forcing the outside escape valve open by hand and allowing it to close, repeating this operation until enough water has been forced into the delivery pipe to create a back pressure and cause the engine hi work automatically. It is interesting to note that the greater number of strokes the less water is used and pumped, while the fewer the number of strokes the more water is used and pumped, and under each condition the engine runs best at a certain opening of the valve readily determined by experiment. At the United States naval coaling station at Bradford, R. I., a test was made of automatic hydraulic rams which delivered 232 gallons per minute to a standpipe, the total water delivered to the engine being 582 gallons per minute. The power-head in the engine was 36.74 feet and the pumping-head 84 feet, with 130 strokes per minute. The efficiency of the ram was found to be 91.23 by the D’Aubisson formula. The hydraulic ram and connection at this coaling station at Narragansett Bay may be noted in Fig. 3, indicating clearly the method of operation of these useful devices.
Precautions Against Fire.
The bureau of combustibles and fire risks of the Newark, N. J., fire department has issued its usual precautionary circular against fires, from which the following is taken :
“During the last few years Christmas fires have destroyed department stores and caused heavy losses in Minneapolis, Sioux City, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and London. Christmas tires in private homes and in schools and churches have been appalling. Ninety per cent, of these fires are due to carelessness or neglect of the most ordinary precautions. Common sense should he used in decorating stores and show windows and in arranging Christmas displays, especially in places where children congregate. The following suggestions are offered in the interests of public safety: Paper, cotton batting or light fabrics of any kind should never bo used in decorating stores or store windows unless they have been dipped in a chemical solution to render them noninflammable. A formula which has been tested and found efficient as a fireproof solution is made up of phosphate of ammonia in the proportion of four ounces to a quart of water. All electric wiring should be most carefully examined and should be inspected by the electrical inspector of the building department. Extra wiring for the holiday display is generally done hurriedly and is very apt to be defective. Gas lights should be protected by a globe, chimney, screen or smoke bells and all combustible material should be kept remote from such flame. Adjustable, flexible or swinging gas fixtures should never be used. Do not dress electric light globes in paper petticoats, as the heat is sufficient to start a blaze Chemical fire extinguishers should be placed in convenient locations for quick use in case of fire. Do not pile merchandise around extinguishers. Have pails of sand and pails of water handy. Every employe should be taught exactly what lie or she shall do in the event of fire. This is highly important. On December 20, 1909, a whole block of buildings used as a department store in the Battersea district of London was swept away with a loss of four lives and nearly two millions of dollars in propetry value. It was in one of the show windows that the fire had its origin. A clerk, while showing some goods to a customer knocked an umbrella against an electric lamp. The bulb was broken and the glowing filament fell upon one of the many celluloid articles on display. In an instant the entire contents of the window went up in flames. In a few minutes the whole interior of the store was burning as if the contents had been soaked with kerosene. In schools, churches and halls or wherever children or grown folks gather to celebrate, unusual precautions should lie taken by those in charge of the entertainment. Exits should he marked with red lights and kept free and clear from all obstructions. Don’t trim Christmas trees with Cotton batting or paper or similar materials. The dry tree is bad enough in itself. Watch the burning candles and be especially careful in making temporary electric light connections. See that several pails or basins are filled with water and kept in the kitchen. Water may be needed in a great hurry.
Pitometer Tests at Yonkers
John A. Cole and Edward S, Cole, of this city, have concluded a pitometer survey of the water supply at Yonkers, N. Y., which shows that the city has been losing 1,500,000 gallons per day in the large manufacturing districts, borne of (his loss is due to underground leaks, and some to the use of water by large consumers without meters to record the amounts A 3-day test at the Smith carpet factory, the report states, showed 940,000 gallons of water pumped hut not metered, and investigation disclosed no serious leaks from the mains in the vicinity. A second test, according to the report, showed a discrepancy of 479,000 gallons in two days In the report the following statement appears: “The pipe connections between the waterworks system and the mains of the Smith Carpet Company are such, and the mains in the yards of the company are so connected and located that every facility is afforded for surreptitious and unmetered use of city water.” In the district in which the Waring hat factory is located the daily discrepancy between the pitometer survey and the meter statements was 500,000 gallons. The report adds: “The discrepancy around the hat factory was due either to leaks or to surreptitious use.”
Fined for Tapring a Service Pipe.
Patrick McCarthy, of No. 1149 Avery avenue, well-known resident of Solvay, a suburb of Syracuse. N. Y., was fined $100 in police court in that village last week after pleading guilty to tapping a pipe connected with a water meter and turning on the water without permission. The meter was discovered in the cellar of McCarthy’s business building in Solvay by a meter reader employed by the village. The reader reported what he had found, and McCarthy was arrested. McCarthy was arraigned before a justice of the peace, and after pleading guilty was fined $50. He was immediately arrested on a charge of turning on the water after it had been shut off by the village. On the second charge he was fined $50 and given an hour to pay the fine. He was arrested at the end of the hour and detained at the village jail, but was released later after the fine was paid.
St. Paul Fire Department Statistics.
The following statistics concerning the fire department of St. Paul, Minn., were prepared by the research committee of that city: “The census of 1900 gave St. Paul a population of 103,000, and in 1910, a population of 214,000—or an increase in ten years of 31.2 per cent. It would seem logical that most of the departments of the city should increase in their expenses in a ratio corresponding to the increased population. The fire department maintenance account very closely followed the population increase from the years 1899 to 1907, inclusive. In the three years, 1904, 1905 and 1906, the charter restricted the fire department expenditures to $245,000. In the year 1907 the charter restriction as to amount was abandoned, leaving it to the city council to appropriate money for the fire department. The maintenance account, beginning with 1907, took a sharp upward movement, jumping in two years from $246,000 to $413,000. The reason for this remarkable increase in the expense of the fire department is not apparent to the average taxpayer. The supposition is that the department was sufficient for all practical purposes for the eight years previous to 1907. It would seem that the cost of the fire department should be somewhat in proportion to the amount of property protected, and were it possible to schedule the insurable value of St. Paul property protected by the fire department it would be a logical basis for determining the amount of money which should be spent in fire protection. The amount of insurance written annually is not recorded by the commissioner of insurance. He keeps, however, a record of annual premiums paid for fire insurance, and it may be assumed that premiums paid bear definite relation to the amount of insurance written—the insurance written being good indication of the amount of property protected by the fire department. In the past two years, had the fire department expenses increased in the same ratio as population and insurance premiums, the 1909 expenditures of the fire department should have been $260,000, instead of $413,000. The cost of the fire department for the year 1910 is not yet available; but, no doubt, the total for the past year will not be far from $413,000. Previous to 1907, all items were kept in one fund, under the head of maintenance account. Since 1907, the building funds and pensions have been kept separate from the operating expenses. Eliminating building and pension accounts from the 1909 figure, we still have a maintenance account of $357,000, which is about $100,000 more than it logically should be, based on the increase in population and amount of fire insurance written. In 1900, the loss was probably the largest in the history of the city, being $920,000. It would be natural, after such a severe loss as this, that the fire department expenses would be immediately increased, in order to prevent its recurrence. The expenses, however, of the department continued to be normal for the seven years following. The fire loss for 1906 was $741,000—this loss occurring when the department maintenance account amounted to $242,000. For the year 1909 the fire loss was about the same, being $755,000. The maintenance account for this year, omitting buildings and pensions, was $357,000—which is more than $100,000 greater than in 1906—indicating that the additional expense for maintenance of the fire department had no effect on the total fire loss for that year.”
Fearing that a proposed cut in the appropriation asked by the city fire department for the year 1911 might result in seriously impairing the efficiency of the department, the fire underwriters at a recent meeting adopted the following resolution and forwarded it to the secretary of the St. Paul Board of Fire Commissioners:
“The Insurance Exchange of St. Paul desires to go on record that in its opinion, based on the report of experts, the St. Paul fire department is not overequipped or overmanned. Further, it deprecates any action that will in any way tend to impair the efficiency of the department.”
Boston Fire Inspection Order.
Fire Commissioner Daly, of Boston, has issued the Blowing special order, a copy of which was sent to every company in the fire department:
“The attention of all officers of this department is called to their authority in cases where conditions liable to cause fire exist. Section 2, chapter 39, consolidated statutes of the city of Boston, states:
“The fire commissioner may, and upon the complaint of a person having an interest in any building or premises or property adjacent thereto, shall, at all reasonable hours, enter into buildings and upon premises within his jurisdiction, and make an investigation as to the presence of combustible materials, or the existence of conditions liable to cause fire. He shall in writing order such materials, if found, to be removed and such conditions, if existing, to be remedied. The owner or occupant of such building or premises may, within 24 hours after notice of such order, apply to the deputy chief of the district police, by whom the matter shall be forthwith investigated. Unless he revokes the order, it shall remain in force and be at once obeyed by said owner or occupant, who, if he refuses or neglects to comply therewith, shall be punished by a fine of not less, than $10 nor more than $50 for each day during which such refusal or neglect continues.’
“The authority of the fire commissioner in this matter is exercised through the officers of the department, and it is their right and duty to carry out in a thorough manner the provisions of the above law. All officers are herewith directed that they shall make themselves conversant with the fire hazards in the vicinity of their commands. They will report any unusual conditions to their chiefs. District chiefs will arrange for periodical inspections of their districts, giving especial attention to any hazardous conditions relating to the storage of exolosives. fireworks, gasoline and paint: the use of wooden buildings as garages: the storage of lumber; the inspection of extinguishers; the accumulation of rubbish : defective chimney flues; the obstruction of stairways and exits; unsafe loads on upper floors; the use of fire escapes as receptacles for inflammables and the condition of public dumps. Officers are expected to exercise in a proper manner the full prerogatives of their office in the matter of investigating and ordering changes in conditions liable to cause fire. The responsibility for doing away with hazardous conditions rests with this department and it is the intention of this office that officers shall be thoroughly conversant with their authority as herein designated.”
Automobile Engine for New York.
A powerful automobile fire engine will be delivered to the New York fire department and used in one of the busy downtown districts late in fanuary. It will have a trial for two years, and, if it is a success, more of them wall be ordered. Two first-grade firemen. David J. Oliver and Henry P. Fisher, who will be chauffeurs henceforth, have been sent to the Minneapolis shops of the Nott Fire Engine Company to become acquainted with the new machine. The engine is a departure in firefighting contrivances. It is the only engine which is gasoline-propelled, with steam pumping. Originally built to be drawn by horses, it was made over. It is a 4-cylinder affair, capable of traveling at a speed of 30 miles per hour. The pumping capacity is son gallons per minute.
Niagara Engine Company, of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., recently celebrated the hundredth anniversary of its incorporation by a banquet at which the principal city officials were present.
No Piecemeal Paid Department for Harrisburg.
The Harrisburg Patriot has this to say anent the proposed change in the fire department of that city : “The plan of Mayor Meals to transform the volunteer fire department to a paid department on the instalment plan is as loose-jointed as his statement of it is vague and unconvincing. Some of the mayor’s ideas, as for instance the substitution of motors for horses for the movement of fire apparatus may be worth considering, but his proposition to have a department with a few more men under pay than we have now or pay for actual service, four or five of those who first arrive after a fire breaks out. will not commend itself to reasonable men. Firelighters to work effectively under any and all circumstances, must understand the business, must have it thoroughly systematized, and must be under perfect control, that it is to say under strict discipline. It must be their work, on which their livelihood depends. The mayor greatly overestimates the cost of a paid department properly organized, equipped and commanded; the cost of a paid department would be little in excess of what we are paying now for a volunteer department—double what we were paying a few years ago. But no department organized and conducted as a political machine will be efficient for fire protection. In such a department discipline is impossible. The results would be no better than we are getting now. We should establish a paid fire department, not as the mayor proposes, piecemeal in the course of the next ten years, but at once, and it should be so organized and controlled that it will be used only for the protection from fire of the lives and property of ail the people impartially, and not as a political asset of any boss, clique, ring or party.
Universal Engines Placed.
A Grand Rapids, Mich., dispatch says that the new Universal engine which was recently purchased by the fire and police commission and which is the latest and largest type of steamer manufactured by the Nott Fire Engine Company, of Minneapolis, Minn., has arrived in that city. This is the second Universal engine sold to Grand Rapids. Buffaloon the 28th of last month placed a contract with the Nott Fire Engine Company for a first-size Universal steam fire engine. This makes three Nott engines in service in Buffalo, two of which are Universals. The fire department, under the head of Master Mechanic Owens, gave a demonstration recently with a second-size Universal engine drafting water 8-foot lift, two 50-foot lines of hose with 1 -inch nozzle on each line and maintained a water pressure at the pumps of 130 to 150 pounds with 130 pounds of steam pressure.
Appleton, Wis., has just received its secondsize Universal engine.
Kansas City, Kan., Fire Service.
In commenting upon the expenses of the fire department of Kansas City, Kan., the Globe says. “The fire department fund is running very low at the present time, but the expenses will be kepi within the money now on hand. The present condition is the result of considerable advances made on the fund during the last two months of last year. The amount of $19,000 has been transferred from the general fund to the fire department fund during the past year and this has been used. The fact that this city is compelled to support a much larger fire department than possibly any other city of its size in the country makes its government rather difficult. The state law provides for a one mill levy for the fire department, and this, in the case of a city like ours, is insufficient to secure the money needed in operation. This can only be overcome by legislation, however, and it might be well to bring the matter to the attention of the lawmakers at the next session.”
As the figures for running the department are not given, we cannot confute the statement of the Globe. We think, however, that it is doubtful if Kansas City maintains a larger and presumably more expensive fire department than any other place of its size in the country. No doubt the cost of the fire service may seem high, but this can only be measured by the extent of territory to be covered, the class of risks to be protected and other local conditions. When these are carefully considered it may demonstrate that Kansas City is. after all. probably equipped below the fire standard of many a bailiwick fa smaller than itself both as to population and value of property to be protected,—Ep.