THE BALTIMORE FIRE DEPARTMENT
The fire department of the city of Baltimore, Md., has been on a full paid basis since 1893. The total membership on February 1, 1916, was 86; the force was 762, an increase of about 12 per cent, since January 1, 1910. General supervision is under three fire commissioners. They are: Richard H. Johns, president; Sidney T. Manning and Albert Diggs. The chief, August Emrich, who is 52 years old and was appointed chief in 1912, has been 32 years in service, is the executive head and has control over men and apparatus, with power to make assignments and transfers and enforce discipline, subject to the approval of the commissioners. The deputy chief is Levin H. Burkhardt, appointed to that position in 1912, and who has been 26 years in the service. There are eight district chiefs: Michael A. Lind, Janies V. McCarron, Frederick Branan, E. Louis Shipley, James A. Campbell, John Kahl, James T. Dunn, J. Walter Bradley. Other officers are: Marine commander, Charles H. Wilser; superintendent of machinery, Thomas H. Meushaw; assistant superintendent of machinery, Joseph P. Whalen. A report on conditions in Baltimore, issued by the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, states that all chief officers have been promoted in regular rank, are experienced in their respective duties and are well qualified. The report contains the following information relative to the city and its fire department: The population is estimated to be 588,000. The city, at the head of the I’atapsco river, covers an area of 31 square miles of which 1.5 square miles is water; about 27.65 square miles is built upon. The gross fire loss for the last five years, as given in the Fire Insurance Salvage Corps’ records, amounted to $3,688,641, the annual loss ranging from $565,926 in 1911 to $912,708 in 1912. The average annual number of fires was 1,677, ranging between 1,402 in 1911 and 1,969 in 1914, with an average loss per fire of $440, a low figure. Based on an average population of 575,000 the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 2.92, a moderate number, and the average loss per capita was $1.28, a low figure. The water supply, municipal works is managed capably and progressively. Source of supply adequate, except for possible shortage in extreme dry year. Long tunnel to low-lift pumps and filtration plant; capacity ample. Nine day’s storage in distributing reservoirs; also reserve supply available. Congested value and surrounding districts supplied by gravity from filtration plant. Remainder of city in three services, supplied by pumping; capacity adequate; equipment and power reliable. Consumption moderately high. The high pressure system is operated by the fire department; serves two-thirds of congested value district. Supply from domestic system with emergency connection to harbor.
The companies in service, in 47 stations, include 4 automobile high pressure (2 rated as engine and 2 as hose companies); 36 engine; 19 ladder; 1 high pressure pumping station crew, organized as a fire company; 2 fireboat, and 2 water tower companies. See tables 8 and 9. Engine 15 is a double company; fireboat crews are rated as engine companies.
The department is equipped as follows: Fire engines—one motor combination pumping engine and hose wagon of reciprocating double piston pump style, bought in 1914, is in service. The 35 steamers in service are of reciprocating double-piston-pump type. Twelve are provided with 2-wheel front drive tractors of the Christie type, the others are horse drawn. Nine steamers are in reserve; one is motortractorized and ready for immediate service; one is unserviceable because of a defective boiler. A 3-gallon fire extinguisher is carried on each tractorized steam engine. Fireboats— the “Cataract” (Engine 16) was put in service in February, 1914. Fire fighting equipment includes a steel 25-foot water tower aft, and three monitor pipes; two manifolds; 4 portable rail standpipes; good minor equipment. The “Deluge” (Engine 39) was put in service in May, 1911. Two Curtis steam-turbine pumps, General Electric Company centrifugal pumps, each rated 4,500 gallons per minute capacity at 150 pounds pump pressure, while operating at 1,800 r. p. m., are provided for fire service. Connections permit pumps to be operated in tandem to give 4,500 gallons per minute at 300 pounds pump pressure. Searchlight, cargo lights, marine torches, whistle, fog horn, fog bell, life raft, life belts, and life preservers, are also provided, together with necessary auxiliary pumps and devices for controlling and operating. Fire fighting equipment includes a steel-lattice 30-foot water tower aft, and three monitor pipes; two manifolds, and five portable rail pipes, and good minor equipment. The steam fire engines in service consisted of four Continental, 29 La-France, one Amoskcag, one Clapp & Jones. The gasoline fire engine is an Ahrcns-Fox. In reserve are five La-France, two Clapp & Jones, one Ives, one Silsby, steam engines. In addition to High Pressure Hose Companies 1 and 2, Engine Company 23 and the first section of Engine Company 15 are similarly rated and are each equipped primarily for high pressure service.
Six of the aerial trucks in service and 1 reserve aerial truck are equipped with twowheel front drive tractors of the Christie or American-LaFrance type. Trucks in service include 11 quick-raising and 1 manually raised and 7 are combination trucks carrying chemicals and hose. The aerial trucks carry, in addition to a 75or 85-foot aerial extension, 9 to 13 other ladders, 2 to 4 having roof hooks. Combination trucks each have two 30or 35-gallon tanks, 250 feet of 3/4-inch chemical hose, 650 to 1,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose, and each carries one 35-foot extension and 7 to 9 other ladders, 2 having roof hooks. In addition to the reserve motor-tractorized aerial, one quirk-raising and two manually raised aerial trucks are in reserve; one is being reconstructed and motorized and will also carry chemicals and hose.
Two Hale hydraulically raised water towers are in service; each is equipped with hand force pumps for manual raising. Each turret has deck pipes.
Hose Wagons, Etc.
In addition to one motor pumping engine carrying hose, fou high pressure automobiles already described, and 7 combination ladder trucks with hose supply, there are 13 motor combination and 22 horse-drawn combination hose wagons in regular company service; also 17 combination wagons and eleven 4-wheel reels, all horse drawn, are kept loaded with hose, equipped for service, for use on second or subsequent alarms. One motor combination, 1 plain hose wagon, and two 4-wheel reels are in reserve; the automobile carries 2 turret pipes, 1 high pressure hydrant head, 1,200 feet of 3-inch hose, some minor equipment, and is ready for immediate service. Hosecarrying automobiles and wagons have divided bodies of standard pattern for the simultaneous laying of two hose lines, with ample capacity for both 2 1/2and 3-inch hose. All automobiles and 46 hose wagons have rubber tires. The amount of hose carried on each regular wagon in high value districts is 1,000 to 1,500 feet and 4 companies also carry 500 to 2,000 feet of 3-inch; in residential districts hose amounts carried are from 1,000 to 1,300 feet on regular wagons and 650 to 1,000 feet on combination ladder trucks; 250 feet of ¼inch chemical hose is carried on combination apparatus. Twenty-one regular wagons each carry one high pressure hydrant head and four carry two each; 21 wagons have turret pipes, and four carry three each; 15 carry deluge sets. The chief, deputy chief, superintendent and assistant superintendent of machinery and eight district chiefs each have an automobile and one similar automobile is in reserve. There are buggies in reserve and there are in service supply trucks, ambulances, fire alarm construction and repair wagons and fuel wagons.
The 2 1/2-inch hose is mainly double-jacketed or 3-ply multiple woven cotton, rubber lined; some 2 1/2-inch rubber; 3-inch double jacketed cotton, or 3-ply multiple woven, rubber-lined hose, and a few sections of 3 1/2-inch, are also provided for high pressure, water tower and fireboat use. The supply of hose on hand allows about 3,100 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose for each engine company and each combination ladder company has a complete shift. Hose drying facilities are provided where needed. Chemical hose is 3/4-inch and of good quality.
The hose wagons in service are well supplied with play pipes, shut-off nozzles and minor appliances. The reserve loaded hose wagons carry shut-off nozzles and some minor equipment. The special stream appliances include a deluge set or turret pipe on each hose wagon (with one exception); distribution nozzles on all ladder trucks and fire boats; cellar pipes on most of the ladder trucks and all water towers and fireboats, and ladder pipes on seven aerial ladder trucks. The water towers, fireboats and high pressure hose wagons each have two or three large monitor or turret pipes for throwing 1 3/4to 4-inch streams. For use in connection with the high pressure system, 29 high pressure hydrant heads are carried on hose wagons.
Fire department records for 1915 show that there were 1,778 alarms, of which 13.1 per cent, were false, unnecessary or outside the city, and 14.8 per cent, were for fires found out on arrival of apparatus. Of the 1,280 working fires 61.2 per cent, were extinguished by chemicals alone, 23.2 per cent, by hydrant or engine streams, 2 per cent, by final use of the high pressure system, and 13.6 per cent, by miscellaneous means. Chemical lines are always followed up by filled water lines with 3/4to 1 1/8-inch shut-off nozzles; with direct hydrant lines, 7/8to 1 1/4-inch tips are generally used. It is a rule for the first or second companies at a fire to lay a hydrant line immediately, without waiting for the engine. At large fires, single lines are used inside of buildings or from ladders, and from the street or the roofs of the adjoining buildings. At large fires, general use is also made of deluge sets, turret nozzles, deck-pipes and water towers in connection with the high pressure system in the congested value district. Extensive use is made of shut-off nozzles; at cellar fires, cellar pipes and distributing nozzles are used; effective use is also made of hydraulic siphons in basements, on floors and in hulls of vessels to dispose of excess water. Portable telephones are carried by each company and by all chief officers for communication with fire alarm headquarters over the box circuits or with the High Pressure Pumping Station over a special circuit. Buildings are ventilated by ladder companies and are cleared of water and rubbish. A street searchlight for night work and a pulmotor for rescue work are provided. High Pressure companies connect immediately to the high pressure system, which is used on all fires requiring hose streams within the area served by the system. Engine companies connect their engines to water department hydrants for a reserve supply, but those equipped with high pressure hydrant heads connect to the high pressure system for first streams. A captain and a lieutenant are detailed on fire prevention work. Chief officers and captains make inspections of buildings to familiarize themselves with local conditions.
Seven Christie 2-wheel, 48.4-h. p. tractors have been ordered, four of which are now on hand and are being installed on apparatus at the repair shop. Four Mack 48.4-h. p. automobile hose wagon chasses have been ordered. Improvements contemplated are to continue the motorization of the department along the lines already followed. It is also intended to provide Engine 23 with a tractor steam engine, for work outside the high pressure district.
Fire Alarms System.
The fire alarm system is part of the fire department and is under Superintendent James B. Yeakle, appointed in 1908. Headquarters is on the fourth floor of the City Hall. Apparatus at Headquarters: A manual central office is in use; much of the equipment is old and not of modern design. The apparatus is of Gamewell make and includes the following: An 8-circuit, slate base charging and controlling switchboard mounted in wood, with underand over-load circuit breaker and devices for operating and testing circuits and charging storage batteries; a set consisting of two small tapper bells, two red light annunciators, Morse key and a relay; a 2-panel working switchboard, mounted in wood, with plug switches and instruments for testing; a single-panel, alarm circuit board, mounted in wood, with individual and gang switches for testing, controlling and operating alarm circuits, including a gang switch so connected that alarms can be sent out by hand in case all other means fail; two 3-dial, 4plate, manual transmitters, for transmitting alarms over the gong and independent circuits; Morse keys on the independent circuits for transmitting routine signals and for testing; five 10-punch registers, one for alarm and four for box circuits, for recording incoming and outgoing alarms. Other apparatus includes a telephone switchboard; a punch register, take-up reel, relay, Morse key, and telephone, connected to the high pressure signalling system; a punch register, tapper bell, relay and telephone on a direct circuit from the office of the American District Telephone Company, which also connects to the Salvage Corps; a printing register, tapper bell and telephone, on a direct circuit from the office of the Baltimore National Automatic Company, which also connects to the Salvage Corps; and a separate telephone on a direct circuit to the public exchange, reserved for emergency fire calls only. Apparatus at fire stations: At each station is a large gong on a gong circuit; a tapper bell, relay Morse key, and telephone on an independent or joker circuit, and a telephone on a circuit connecting with the telephone switchboard at fire alarm head quarters. All companies are provided with portable hand telephones for use at any fire alarm box. Gongs, on the gong circuits. The total number of fire alarm boxes is 753. All are of Gamewell make and of spring actuated, trigger pull, non-interfering type. A separate telephone circuit and a separate signalling circuit are provided for emergency use in connection with the high pressure fire system. The fire department telephone system is connected with the municipal switchboard in the fire alarm operating room at city hall. Authorized and contemplated improvements are: The budget for 1916, allows: $16,000 for general expenses, $5,000 for underground cable and $1,500 for additional fire alarm boxes. Improvements contemplated arc to install such additional boxes as may be provided and to continue the placing of circuits wholly underground.
Among the recommendations made in the report are the following: That provisions be adopted whereby adequate funds will be available within a period of five years for the construction of a large impounding reservoir, planned hv the water department, to ensure an adequate supply of pure water in dry years; that the consumption of water be reduced by the general installation of meters; that the high pressure system be extended to include the entire congested value district; that the following additional fire companies and apparatus be provided and that the following changes be made: a. Establish an engine company, with Ladder No. 14, equipped with a motor combined pump, chemical and hose wagon. b. Establish a ladder company, with Engine No. 29, equipped with a motor service ladder truck. Provide motor tractor and a quick-raising device for each water tower. That hose wagons responding in the area served by the special high pressure fire service each carry equal amonts of 2 1/2and 3-inch hose, with a total of at least 1,000 feet; other companies carry at least 200 feet of 3 1/2-inch and 500 feet of 3-inch hose. That a drill school be established, provided with a suitable pompier tower and other equipment, that the fire alarm system be enlarged to provide for at least 50 box, 15 joker and 15 alarm circuits; that additional fire alarm boxes be installed so that a box shall be within 500 feet of every building in high value districts, and elsewhere within 800 feet of very building in closely built sections.