The Distribution System and Fire-Fighting
In the design of the distribution system of a city or town it should be borne in mind not only that it is to be laid out from a standpoint of water supply but the idea of fire-fighting must also be taken into consideration. How often this matter has been neglected! This fact is especially true of the older municipalities, laid out in the days when the idea of fire-fighting was little understood, and more often entirely neglected hv the water works authorities. In such cases the smallest mains consistent with supplying water for the services were laid as a measure of economy, forgetting entirely the futility of expecting such mains—usually four inch —to furnish anything like an adequate supply to fight even a small fire—not to speak of a conflagration.
But this fault is by no means confined to the older cities and towns. The same false economy—in spite of all that has been said and written on the subject—has been found to still prevail in some of the more modern and later laid out municipalities. In outlying districts, or wherever the small main will answer the purpose, the authorities install these inadequate pipes, with the result, so often recorded, that the fire department is unable to obtain a sufficient supply of water to cope with a blaze.
Such false economy often results in losses by fire that are many times greater than the amount of expenditure which adequately large mains would have entailed. It takes the superintendent with a certain amount of vision and foresight to understand these matters and to properly plan his distribution system so that it will efficiently cover all needs, both those of water supply and fire protection.