Sprinkler System Fails at St. Louis.
At the recent destructive fire in the plant of the Henry Gauss & Son Manufacturing company at St. Louis, Mo., the loss was total, and the insurance involved was $175,000. The risk was sprinklered and had been inspected and passed as safe within 3 weeks of the fire breaking out. It has since been learned that the sprinkler equipment had been tampered with. The equipment was considered as better than the standard, since the area covered by the heads was less than is usually demanded. There was a 17,000-gal. gravity tank, in addition to the pressure required by the St. Louis schedule; four steamer connections were provided on the outside of the building; and the system was connected for daily test and alarm with the nearest enginehouse. It was discovered that the fire started in the basement, where there was little combustible material, so that the sprinklers could have controled any fire there, if they had had a chance. But the sprinklers did not operate at all, there being no water in the tank at the time of the fire. The inspector, who had maintained a careful watch of the premises after the fire, discovered a section of the steamer-connection into which a hardwood plug had been driven. To accomplish this, the section of the pipe had to be taken out, the plug driven in at the top and the pipe restored to its original position. The three other steamer-connections were found to be filled with rags and other material driven in from the bottom. The valve-connections for water supply from the street were turned off before the fire, and the report states that this was not done by anybody in the employ of the city water department.