Answer to Question Submitted by New York Fire Department at Promotional Examinations— Plan for Fighting a Fire on Thirty-Fifth Floor

TO stretch hose lines to high levels of a building, the points that must be kept in mind are as follows:

  1. —The features of construction that will permit the stretching of a hose line in the least possible time, and, the features that will make such an evolution difficult.
  2. —How much fire is present?
  3. —What are the dangers of it spreading?
  4. —How much water would be needed to localize, control and extinguish fire?
  5. —Would two well directed ½ inch streams extinguish tire?
  6. —Would one well directed 1 1/8 or 1 1/4″ stream extinguish the fire?
  7. —Is it necessary to stretch more than one line?
  8. —Would one standard method of stretching a line to high levels cover all conditions?

The above points are not all that must he considered, but they lead to the correct solution.

Favorable Features

Some of the favorable features are, in the order named, considered by the writer as the best means for a quick, simple and practical evolution:

  1. —A large well-hole in the center of a stairway which will permit the use of a fire escape hook The Municipal building and other large buildings have this feature of construction.
An Example of a & Well-Designed Fire Station Were it not for the apparatus outside of the building, few would believe that this attractive structure in Miami. Fla . is a fire station. It is indicative of what may he done to make fire department buildings attractive and pleasing to the residents of the section.
  1. —A fire tower stairway with balconies directly over each other This structural feature will be found in factory’ buildings over 100 feet in height; in business buildings over 85 feet in height.
  2. —A fire escape may be present on an existing business or residence building.
  3. — Where number one, two or three are not present, one side of the building may have a vertical wall without setbacks.

Unfavorable Features for Outside Stretch

The features of construction that make it difficult to stretch a hose line on the outside of a building are:

  1. —Large ornamental projections from exterior walls at various floor levels.
  2. —Building having many setbacks.
  3. —Great quantities of wooden scaffolding surrounding a building in course of erection which may be fully afire and which may collapse during the progress of stretching a line on the exterior of a building and making it absolutely necessary to abandon such means of getting water on the fire.
  4. —If the building is occupied with a factory occupancy, many of the doors leading to floor lofts may be provided with fox locks, etc., which means delay in getting the doors open and getting men to the proper window alignments.

Another point that must be made clear is that it is absolutely essential that sufficient pressure he maintained at the engine to provide a good solid stream on fire floors, because all the while that line is being stretched, the fire is gaining in intensity and spreading, and with this point in mind an officer should be prepared to have a stream that can be thrown from a reasonable distance. This was absolutely necessary at the late Equitable fire, and the fire pumps were maintained at a pressure of 375 pounds. Why take a chance? Is it not good judgment to be prepared for the worst?

Suggested Method

Let me put one method on paper for the purpose of considering its practicability for actual fire conditions and at the same time taking into consideration its quickness, its simplicity and its advantages.

I will assume that there is a fire on the 35th floor of a building covering an area similar to the Municipal building. There are two stairways, each having large well-holes in the center. The standpipe and elevator systems cannot be used. How can the line be placed in position to get a stream or streams on the fire?

Answer:—By stretching the line up the stairway, through the stairwell, using 2½” hose and lire escape hook. Using least exposed stairway.

Method of Procedure

Order a second alarm transmitted immediately for the purpose of getting sufficient men and pumping engines.

Send six men to the 34th floor with the following tools: axe; six-foot hook: lock breaker; hose spanners and hose straps; two 1¼ inch control nozzles with tips and a 2½” x 2 1/2″ two-way gate. Order the officer in charge of these six men to have the men pull at least 12 lengths of 2½” hose in on the 34th floor and then make line fast to stair rail with hose strap.

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Stretching Hose to High Levels

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When the hose is pulled up, disconnect 12 lengths and put on a 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2 two-way gate. Connect six lengths of hose to each outlet; put a control nozzle on each line; then stretch both lines to fire and extinguish it with ½” streams. Two well directed 1/2” streams directed from different angles may extinguish the fire, considering that the building is fireproof and that the areas at this height are generally small. However, if it is necessary to use a larger size stream only one line would he stretched and the other six lengths would be held in reserve in case one of the lengths hurst for replacements. It will be much easier to go down the stairway with a length of hose than it would be to carry it up.

Meanwhile a man with hose strap and spanner would be sent to each floor below the 34th. This would require at least thirtynine men, including the six men on 34th floor, for stairway positions. Officers in command of these companies would be distributed throughout stairway to see that the men are working properly and when line is in position that the hose straps are properly fastened to line and stair rails and that spanners are used to see that the couplings are sufficiently tight.

The first alarm assignments would be immediately sent to cover stairway positions and if any of the lower floors were not covered due to shortage of men on first alarm; this fact would lie known to the officer commanding and directing the operations and these lower floors could be quickly covered by second alarm assignments.

NOTE: Before all men were in position the second alarm companies would arrive, and, all men not needed on stairway positions would he assigned as follows:

One-half of the men would be ordered to lay 22 lengths of hose to base of stairway where line is going to be stretched through. The male butt to be on top. One man would be ordered to get a fire escape hook. A 2 1/2″ x 2½” Siamese connection would be attached to the female end of line.

Four engines would be used if in low pressure district for each line, and, two engines if in high pressure district. Assuming the fire is located in the low pressure district, the engines Would be hooked up in tandem as follows:

The reason for using a Siamese connection and have two engines hooked to each Siamese inlet is to assure adequate pressure at the highest outlet, and, should one engine break down, or the hose hurst in line which leads to Siamese inlet, the other engines hooked up in tandem and leading to the other inlet will assure a supply of water at the nozzle. The engine at the hydrant would be ordered to maintain a pressure of 200 pounds; the water from this engine would be relayed to a second engine placed at the base of fire building and as near to the point where hose line was being stretched from. The engine nearest the base of fire building would be ordered to maintain a pressure of 350 pounds on the gauge.

As soon as all men were in position and the hose was laid to the base of stairway, the command would be, “Send up the line.” The fire escape hook would be attached to the male butt end of line and all men on landings would pull the line up as taught in the school of instructions in performing the fire escape evolution. When sufficient hose was taken in on the 34th floor the command would be, “Hold it and make line fast to stair rail with hose straps.”

The order to start water would be relayed from the 34th floor to officer in command at base of building and then to engineers or men operating pumps.

NOTE : The amount of hose to be used depends upon the area of building; the height of building and the location of the stairway.

Second Line

If a second line was needed the six men who are on the 29th to 34th floors would proceed up to the 34th floor. Each other man would proceed up six floors to cover the landings and it would only be necessary to send six additional men to cover second to seventh floors. Men not on the stairway could lay hose to base of stairway as stated in first case and engines could be hooked up in a similar manner. If more than two lines were needed it would be necessary to send out such additional alarms as the fire would warrant.

Where the second line is stretched, the ladder straps would be taken off the first line at the odd numbered floors and placed on the second line on that floor.

As soon as the first line is stretched a second line should he sent up in a similar manner as a means of precaution should the first line burst.

The above procedure could be followed in stretching a line by way of a fire tower where the balconies are directly over each other, or up a fire escape. Where the line is stretched up a fire escape it would be necessary to fasten the line to the railing nearest the wall of the building to avoid the possibility of fire escape collapsing.

Whether the line is sent up a stairwell, or a fire tower, or a fire escape, a few fire escape hooks and extra lengths of hose should be brought to the base from which the line is stretched up, so that, in case a length of hose burst on one of the upper floors, an extra length could be sent up through the well-hole, etc., on fire escape hook, to replace the burst length.

One of the advantages of this evolution is that all men must remain in their assigned positions until otherwise ordered. This means efficiency and perfect coordination.

Reason For using 2 1/2 Inch Hose

Every engine company in the Department carries 2 1/2″ hose. The men handle this hose more than the 3″, because it can be handled with greater ease. Where small streams can be used to greatest advantage because of the time saved in getting a line in operation the 2 1/2″ hose Should be used. Then again there are companies responding to fires in the low pressure district which are not equipped with 3″ hose, and, only one company responding on the second alarm so equipped. The company equipped with 3″ hose may not reach the fire because of an accident. This means more delay in special calling a company equipped with 3″ hose or sending an additional alarm.

Officers claim that the 2 1/2″ hose will not stand the pressure and is more liable to burst than the 3″ hose. I think that all officers should keep in mind that the unexpected is liable to happen at any time at a fire and that he should be prepared for the emergency. In this evolution he should have sufficient lengths of 2½” hose and fire escape hooks at the point from which hose is stretched from so they could be used immediately in case it is necessary.

I might add that the different methods could be practiced in new buildings before they are occupied. Arrangements to be made by the Chief of Department.

Two New Companies Asked for Washington, D. C.—Requests have heen made for the establishment of a new engine company and a new truck company in Washington, D. C.

Capt. Babcock, Nyack, Opens Agency—Captain William Paul Babcock, of the Fire Patrol, Nyack, N. Y., Fire Department, has become manager of the Hudson Valley Fire Protection Agency, which has just opened offices in that village, to deal in fire apparatus and supplies.

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