SCIENTIFIC FIRE FIGHTING

SCIENTIFIC FIRE FIGHTING

In this issue will be found the first part of an article by Joseph B. Rider, C. E., Associate Editor of this journal, on the subject of “Water Works from a Fireman’s Standpoint.” This valuable study of scientific fire fighting, simplified to appeal to all practical firemen, will be appreciated by those engaged in active fire service throughout the country. One large diagram it contains will prove interesting as showing pipe distribution from the point where water enters the mains, and its course through a certain district, until it is discharged from the hydrant at the point where a fire occurs. The tables on diameters of pipes and nozzles and discharge of water under certain pressures, with the explanatory matter, will also prove valuable data for reference, especially where firemen intend to pass examinations for promotion. This paper will be printed in three parts and it is recommended that the copies of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING containing cadi installment be preserved for future reference, as back numbers may not be procurable. Attention might also be called here to the instructive series of articles by Victor W. Page, M. E., who is also an associate editor on “Motor Fire Apparatus Construction and Its Care,” now running in this journal. They must also prove valuable and instructive reading for the active fireman, who will, no doubt be convinced of the fact that FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING occupies a position of its own in the important field of fire protection and fire extinguishment, and that it is a help to scientific methods in fire fighting for fire engineers and members of the greatest and most hazardous service in the world.

SCIENTIFIC FIRE FIGHTING.

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SCIENTIFIC FIRE FIGHTING.

Medium fires are fires in such buildings as moderatesized stables, barns, dwelling houses, stacks, etc.; further, the partial burning of large-sized buildings, without any danger to the surroundingsIn such cases, and differing thereby from the small fires, manual or steam fire engines, with their attendant lines of hose are necessary. There are three different ways of storing or carrying the hose by means of a reel fixed on the engine, in the ordinary coils, and on portable reels. Of the three methods I prefer the second, but have found the third useful when two-hose reels are employed, and the couplings are alike on both ends. I am not in a position to speak of the advantages of the more modern method of flaking, now so widely employed in this country, and therefore can say nothing of interest. Hose should be taken through a window rather than up the staircase, because this is generally a shorter way, and the chances are that a burst in the hose will do less damage in the house. Such a burst, if it occur in the lengths hanging from the window, is, however, more difficult to tackle than when on the staircase. Hose-holders should be attached to the ledge of the window to prevent a kink in the hose at its point of support on the sill.

As in the case of small fires, cellar fires are the most difficult to manage. The first point to aim at in such fires is to obtain an entrance into the cellar. Directly the flames are sufficiently subdued from the outside to allow of this, the branchman should crawl backwards down the steps with the hose and quickly creep along the floor of the cellar to the nearest possible point to the seat of the fire. By holding his mouth near the jet he can always obtain a certain amount of air which is carried along with the water. At the same time spraying the jet will be of great advantage. As soon as possible everything still smouldering should be removed and thoroughly extinguished outside.

It is of the greatest importance to have the cellar entrance kept perfectly free, so as to allow of a speedy retreat, if necessary. As the smoke is frequently very thick up the stairway from the cellar, the men in the latter should not be allowed to remain without relief till they are thoroughly exhausted, as otherwise the ascent in the thick smoke may cause their complete collapse. The relief man or men should crawl backwards down the steps into the cellar, feeling the way by means of the hose till the branch-pipe is reached.

The branch should be occasionally directed towards the roof of the cellar to prevent the flames from getting a hold and when practicable a fireman should be stationed in the room above,and by cautiously creeping along the floor he can generally tell by feeling the boards, or tapping them with his axe, if there is any danger of the flames breaking through. All doors should be carefully closed, and an exit for the smoke be provided as near the top of the cellar stairs sis possible. The house should immediately be searched through by the firemen on arrival in order that they may assure themselves that no one has been overcome by the smoke.

Where a smoke helmet with an external air supply is used the following precautions are necessary: The tube from the air-pump should be armoured by specially wound wire to prevent it being crushed or jammed. Great care must be exercised to prevent anything falling on the tube, or the air supply being cut off by the tube being burnt or otherwise damaged. The air pump should be worked in a pure atmosphere, and its working should be continuous even if its position has to be changed.

Fires on the ground floor are the simplest to tackle, as the access through window and door is easily attained. In these, care has to be taken to watch the flooring and the ceilings above, so that the firemen run no risk of injury from the collapse of the one or the downfall of the other. Fires in the upper stories should always be attacked in the first instance from the staircase, and observations as to state of the ceiling of the story below should be taken before venturing on the floor of the burning rooms. In this, as in every other case, the fire should be attacked at close quarters, and if some part of the flooring seems unsound, planks or a door laid across the unsound part will allow of a nearer approach to the flames. As a general rule, always try to use the staircase and corridors; but if the smoke be too great or the staircase be otherwise cut off, then the at tack must be conducted from the outside by means of ladders, and the branchman should take his position at a convenient window.

Water ought never in small or medium fires, except in cases of absolute necessity, to be directed by the branchman from below in the street. The water In this case falls directly on the flames without touching the burning part, In addition, an unnecessary amount of damage is always done by the water.

As a roof fire always presents great risk of rapidly spreading, the attack in this case is not directed at a given central point, but rather as a general or flanking one. The seat of the fire forms the centre point of the directionof the jets, but the actual groundwork of the fire is disposed of after the spreading of the flames over other parts of the roof have been prevented.

Where possible, one jet is directed from the stairs and another from the top of the roof, the necessary holes being made at the highest point, so as to allow the escape of smoke. Where there is an insufficient water pressure, or the supply is’deficient, one powerful stream will be more effective in roof fires than several weaker {ones. Fires that have only broken out in one part of the roof should be attacked against the wind, the contrary being the case when the whole roof is in flames. One danger is generally present at roof fires—namely, a gust of wind can drive the flames on to the firemen. In such cases the men should throw themselves flat down or wet their clothing, covering their hands with any wet cloths they] can obtain, and so protect their faces. It is further noted that, as chimney stacks or pots generally fall down in the direction of their widest sides, the men must keep themselves as far as possible on the narrow side of the same. Where there is any danger of smaller parts of the roof falling on the men in the attic or the floor below, the men should stand closely opposite one another, face to face, the hand folded across their chests, and the shoulders drawn up so that any tiles, and so forth, can glide off their helmets, down their shoulders and on to the floor.

Special precautions should be taken with fires in closed rooms whose area and size are unknown. In such case, the actual flame has very often been changed into a stnoulddering fire, owing to imperfect air-supply, and the room is consequently full of combustible cases, which may suddenly break out into sheets of flame when a sufficient supply of air is introduced. The door or other means of ingress should not be opened till everything is ready for an immediate water supply, and then it should be very gently opened. Then if the fire shows signs of immediately increasing and driving the flames through the open door, the latter should immediately be closed, a lower panel knocked oul and the branch introduced.

If, however, the fire is to be attacked without taking the above precaution, every care is taken to prevent the flames suddenly bursting through the open door. Any window outside the door is carefully shut, so as to prevent the (lames being sucked through the door towards it, and the firemen lie on the ground so as to allow the sudden outburst. of flames to pass over them. The first moments after the opening of the door are the most dangerous, and if the flumes show then no signs of shooting through the open door the extinction can be proceeded with in the ordinary manner. The larger the room the greater is the danger.