THE FIRE ALARM SYSTEM OF PHILADELPHIA.
Philadelphia’s fire alarm system might well be copied right here in New York where the system is very far behind that of the Quaker City. There the authorities, recognizing the importance of the system as a safeguard to the lives and properties of citizens, have the circuits tested every half hour. while the gong instruments in the engines are repeatedly and carefully gone over and kept in repair. Few complaints of a failure to receive an alarm are entered and, when received, they are immediately looked after and remedied. The instruments are also frequently examined and tested. These were at one time all included on 20 circuit; and as many of them were being overloaded, it was determined to increase the number to thirty circuits, dividing the number of boxes between them. Even this, however, will hardly suffice, as it is desired to have not more than twenty-five to thirty boxes on each circuit—in the near future it will be necessary further to increase the office capacity to fifty. N’o. 15 signal had such a large number of boxes on it that it was divided into two circuits—the new being numbered 25. To facilitate testing and to increase their efficiency in case of breaks or other troubles, cuts were made into other districts. Everything connected with the fire alarm of the city is in most perfect order and thoroughly up-to-date, and every official is an expert and a throughly conscientious expert at that. Philadelphia can teach New York a lesson, so far as her fire alarm telegraph system is concerned.
‘The following extracts on the subject of Philadelphia’s fire alarm telegraph are taken from pages 36 and 37, of the 1896 Annual Report of the Electrical Bureau of Philadelphia. Pa., just published.
During an investigation of the workings of the fire alarm system in a sister city, it was shown that inside of a year there were 101 boxes pulled for fire, which through faults in the system failed to respond or record at the Central office; a further inspection of the system showed where there were three times as many mote that, had they been pulled, would not have responded. If the statement is correct, it was truly a sad condition of affairs. During the investigation mentioned, a doubt was expressed as to the truth of the statement made by this bureau—that no box pulled for fire in this city has failed to respond through any fault of its mechanism, machinery. or system. Why there should be any doubt in the matter I cannot comprehend; our method and system of constant supervision and inspection and the twice yearly general inspection found but two boxes that, had they been puiled, would have failed to respond. They were at the extreme limits of separate circuits in the suburban section of the city, and were no doubt the effects of a stroke of lightning, as in both instances one of the small contact springs was fused; but nothing was found indicative of a general faulty condition, as was found in the investigation of the system heretofore mentioned. There have been times when the overhead wires hac been broken down or disarranged from storms or other foreign causes, that boxes have been pulled for fire and failed to respond; but these are circumstances over which we have no control, and can be remedied only by placing all our wires underground, where they would be free from such interruption —a condition to which we have long looked forward, but, owing to a scant provision by councils for the work, we have been able to do but comparatively little in furtherance of this end.