Static Causes Fires in Cotton Gins

Static Causes Fires in Cotton Gins

Static electricity is one of the principal causes of fires in cotton gins during the ginning process, says the United States Department of Agriculture. Fires in cotton gins cause a large annual loss in the United States, in some seasons amounting to $1,250,000. In 1917 cotton-gin fires in Texas alone caused a loss of approximately $1,000,000.

To refute the popular notion that matches cause most of the cotton-gin fires, engineers of the United States Department of Agriculture conducted some tests with matches during the ginning season in Texas. In these tests more than 600 matches were mixed with the seed cotton and run through the gin without causing a fire anywhere except in the huller breasts. Even there only four small fires occurred.

From these tests, the investigators concluded that more than 12,000,000 matches would in some manner have had to become mixed with the Texas cotton crop to cause all the fires recorded there during the year. Obviously, they say, matches in cotton are not entirely responsible for the large number of fires that occur in some seasons.

On the other hand, tests conducted to determine the effect of static electricity confirmed their belief that this is one of the principal causes of cotton-gin fires in the ginning season. Cotton can be ignited in this way, provided the cotton is fairly dry and the sparks frequent enough. During the investigations static electricity at times assumed such menacing proportions that the ginners were forced to take steps to remove it from their plants. Fires also were very common.

Some ginners have reduced the hazard by hanging wet bagging in the buildings, some by wetting down the plant and grounds every day, or even twice a day, and others by injecting a little steam into the suction pipe in the direction of the flow of cotton. Interest is being shown in the use of carbon-dioxide gas as a substitute for steam for fighting cotton-gin fires, especially since internal-combustion engines and electric motors appear to be supplanting the steam engine as a source of power in ginning. Systems using carbon dioxide or other inert gases have been developed for fire protection in other industries, and it may be possible to adapt this method of fire protection to cotton gins.

Prevention of fires from static electricity is readily accomplished by grounding the machinery.

Kensington, Pa., Firemen Build Own Ambulance—Members of the New Kensington, Pa., department have converted an automobile into a department ambulance.

Engine Goes Wild When Driver Dies—While going to a fire, the driver of the chemical car in Sea Cliff, N. Y., died at the wheel from a heart attack. One fireman was thrown from the apparatus, as the car ran into a curb. The unguided machine traveled at high speed until a fireman reached the emergency brake. It narrowly missed several vehicles.

Chiefs Attend Dixon, Cal., House Dedication—More than one hundred fire chiefs of southern California attended the opening of the new fire house in Dixon, Cal. Chief E. F. Coop, Pasadena, newly elected president of the Pacific Coast Association of Fire Chiefs, presented the compliments of his association. The Chiefs were en route to attend the convention in Vancouver, B. C., and stopped long enough to witness the dedication and to be guests of honor at a luncheon prepared for them by the fire department. As a parting gift, a box of peaches was placed in each car of the chiefs’ special train.


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