Staying Conflagrations by Explosives
The liability to great conflagrations in cities of any size has been much reduced, if not practically removed—at any rate in the high value districts. Two elements have brought about this result. The first of these is modern fire resistive construction. Buildings of concrete, stone, brick and steel provide so little for the fire element to feed upon that it has small chance for the rapid spread necessary to a conflagration. True, the interior of these fireproof buildings are usually filled with inflammable materials, but here again, protection is afforded by the covering of openings with wired glass in steel window frames which up to very intense heat will resist the flames and keep them within the burning interior and away from other buildings, long enough to give the firemen a chance to stay the fire. Even in the more congested, inflammable and older districts of the cities there are at intervals more modern buildings with fire walls, and openings protected with wired glass which act as fire stops and render the danger of rapid spread of a fire much less.
The second element in the reduction of liability to conflagration, perhaps even more important than the first, is the advances made in fire fighting knowledge and the apparatus and appliances which the fire departments employ. Important among these is the installation in many of the larger cities of high pressure systems in the high value district which practically remove the risk of conflagration.
However, should a fire get the better of the department in the older and more inflammable portions of a city or in the less populous districts, there is a final resort which is a quick and effective means of staying its progress as a destroying element. This is the use of heavy explosives, which in a moment of time can raze a large building and destroy it so thoroughly that there is little left for the flames to feed upon. This is done, moreover, so quickly that there is usually no time to thoroughly wet down the debris before the flames reach them. Of course, this work must he done by those who perfectly understand the nature and use of explosives and chiefs have begun to recognize this fact and act upon it. In at least one department, certain members are detailed to study the use of explosives, so as to be prepared, should the emergency arise, to use dynamite effectively in staying a conflagration. The article in this week’s issue on page 151, will he found of help to progressive chiefs who think well of this method of emergency fire fighting.