THE FIRE EQUIPMENT OF BOROUGHS AND TOWNS
“How cities, towns and boroughs should be equiped and what things arc recommended to the chiefs for the betterment of everybody and everything.”
In view of the wellknown importance of this subject, the following report is submitted, at the same time courting mutual discussion as to the practical features for the adequate protection of cities, towns, boroughs and villages.
The character of fire department organisation for adequate and reliable protection depends on its efficiency, with sufficient up-to-date equipment and especially with an adequate supply and pressure of water, requirements that should apply for the protection of all cities, towns and boroughs.
The classification of systems for reliable efficiency should be as follows:
First-Class.—Chief, subordinate officers and full compliment of men to each company, fully paid and permanently housed in company quarters; all apparatus to be fully manned and drawn by horses, owned by the city or department, trained for quick response and used for no other than fire department purposes.
Second-Class.—The chief, subordinate officers and larger half of the men of each company fully paid and permanently boused in company quarters; balance of the compliment being “call service men,” paid for duty performed, other conditions as to organisation being identical with those mentioned iti the first-class.
Third-Class Engineers and drivers only fully paid and permanently housed at company quarters. Horses belonging to the department, but may be used for other purposes during the day time at not a greater distance than six blocks or squares front their respective stations.
Fourth-Class.—Fully organised and officered active volunteer service, under municipal control. with horse drawn or manual drawn apparatus.
Fifth-Class. -Volunteer service without regular organisation, not subject to municipal control and with manual drawn apparatus.
ORGANISATION’ AND EQUIPMENT.
It is a difficult and debatable problem to designate the number of fire companies and their suitable locations, mainly owing to local hazardous conditions. In all large cities and towns there tire Congested sections, with mercantile and manufacturing risks of very inflammable nature, which in case of fire gaining uncontrolable headway would menace the safety of buildings in a large area, severely taxing the fire protection service and equipment of a first-class fire department. These conditions are often found in small cities and towns and their outlying sections where, owing to cheap priced ground and a low tax rate inducing large manufacturing interests to locate, in many instances there is hut a single 4-in. or 6-in. diameter water main extending to these hazardous sections, affording an entirely inadequate supply and pressure of water for fire extinguishment.
As a general proposition, an engine or hose company should be within one-quarter to onehalf mile of any part of the city requiring adequate fire protection. Separate chemical engine companies would appear unnecessary, as their work should be done by modern constructed combination chemical hose wagons operating as part of an engine company or a separate hose company. For every three or four engine or hose companies a ladder truck should be provided, and there should be enough such companies that one would he within one-half mile of any point of the city.
At least one, preferably a quick raising aerial, should be in the mercantile district, and if a decided manufacturing district exists an aerial should be provided for service within one-quartcr mile of it.
In the larger cities, or those having a high congestion of values, it is necessary that the downtown comnanies should be particularly strong and be nrovided with powerful largcrsize engines, combination chemical and hose wagons, double lines of first-class fire service hose, ladder hose pipes, turret pipes, Deluge sets, cellar pipes and other appliances are essential where serious fires are apt to occur and should be provided for every department, the amount of such equipment varying with the size of the departments. Water towers, of course, are good, but usually limited to the larger cities.
Some 3-in. hose should be carried on all hose wagons regardless of the size of the city, in the larger places it is needed for the lines leading to appliances for powerful streams, while in the smaller places the long lines of hose used make it of the most vital importance.
Of course, the amount and location of values in the city as well as the character of the paving, steepness of grades, railroad and river crossings and other local conditions will affect the amount of apparatus, and generally should increase it. If some apparatus is located where it has a long and hard run to the busines or congested-value district, more companies should be located therein, at least two-thirds of the entire department should be within third-alarm running distance.
DRILLS AND TRAINING.
The value of frequent, thorough drills is often underestimated by departments, which expect prompt and systematic action from men. who have received only haphazard instruction. Provision for keeping the men in good physical condition is often neglected.
This department is of more assistance to the fire department than would appear at fire glance, without well maintained police fire fines, the fire department may be hindered in its work, and the presence of an alert patrol force on the streets at all hours, is an assurance that but few fires will obtain headway before discovery. A considerable portion of all alarms is sent in by the police, especially during the night time.
This subject deals with the subdivision of a city into fire districts, each under the charge of a deputy chief. Districts are further subdivided into battalions under command of battalion officers. such subdivisions are necessary in the perfection of an organisation.
EIRE ALARM SYSTEM.
The value of a fire alarm system is dependent upon contingencies as to its reliability under adverse conditions. It should possessup-to-date, modern improvements, proper installation, supervision by a competent electrician, ease of repair and freedom from accidental or designed interference: the largest credit allowance should apply to a system operated by electric current, with complete and divided metallic circuits in underground conduits.
The tire alarm street boxes of the noninterfering successive type, with platinum or silver contacts, doorkeys under guard in glass-panel attached boxes, or selfacting keyless doors, the boxes suitable located throughout the city and town, more closely spaced in the business and manufacturing sections than elsewhere. It is advisable to locate a city alarm box and indicator at the waterworks station and at the electric powerhouse if alarms are given by gong or steam whistle. The tire alarm system should he tested daily from a designated street box. An electricoperated bell striker be provided and connected to the system, sounding the alarms on the fire station or courthouse bell. It is all important that the central station apparatus and electric machinery also the storage battery he located in a fireproof building.
Fire limits should be established to cover as large an area as practicable, specially to include the entire busines section, and prohibiting the erection of wooden buildings and metal veneered wooden buildings, and the use of any other than noncombustible material for roofing on all new buildings or on any where roofs are repaired to an appreciable extent. These requirements should be strictly enforced.
WATER SUPPLY AND SERVICE.
The best system of waterworks for fire extinguishing purposes is a “gravity system.” with the reservoir at a sufficient elevation to insure, with draught, an effective head or pressure of 80 !b. to the square inch or not less than 40 lb. to the square inch at the base of nozzle with 230 ft. of hose.
The force of gravity acting with an ample reservoir differs from pump-pressure for forcing water through pipes, in the important respect that it is always ready for instant use without notification by means of electric wires, telephones, etc., and is not liable to break down or get out of order like pumps or other direct-pressure appliances. It, moreover, exerts, at all times, a steady pressure on the pipe system, reducing the liability of breakage to a minimum. To secure an effective head or pressure, the reservoir should be elevated about 200 ft. above the general level of the city and near enough to prevent serious loss of head. Such an elevation is, of course, not often found near a city; where it is, no other system should be considered as a substitute for pressure purposes.
There should be two force or delivery mains of standard cast iron pipe leading into the general net work of distributing pipes within the city, so that one pipe at least will alwavs be available in case of acckb nt and need of repairs from breakage, a singk line of supply main is especially objectionable, if of the socalled cement-lined variety, which consists of a thin sheet of wrought iron, covered with cement mortar, which, after a few years, is liable to be broken by rust, and is, at any time, liable to be instantly ruined by a stroke of lightning and electrolytic action.
The distributing reservoir, also, should be large enough for several days’ domestic consumption, and with ample reserve in addition for fire protection purposes. In some instances distributing reservoirs are large enough only for a day’s average supply demand for domestic purposes, and a break in one or both of the supply mains or stoppage for necessary repairs, may leave the city without water.
Where the lay of the land does not permit of an elevated reservoir and reliance is placed upon direct pumping systems and standpipes, direct jwmping has given excellent service in many cases; in other instances it has failed to respond properly, and since, of necessity, it must depend upon some device to transmit the alarm of fire and a notification that extra pressure is needed, and relies, moreover, on there being a surplus of steam and a pumping capacity available instantly, it cannot compare with first-clas reservoir service in point of security. If the pumping station for direct pumping is in dose proximity to the city (but not liable to be destroyed by fire) it is more reliable than when several miles distant. There should be duplicate pumping engines—three would be better still—with at least three force mains.
The pumping station should be connected electrically with the electric fire alarm system, so that when an alarm of fire is received, the intelligence will reach the pumping station at the same moment.
WATER MAINS AND PIPE DISTRIBUTION.
The system of pipe distribution is best where the street mains run at right angles to each other throughout the city or town, connecting at every street intersection—“gridironed,” so to describe. This arrangement insures that each pipe will be fed and re-enforced from both ends and will double the feeding capacity. The subsidiary mains passing through the various streets should, in the business or compact portion of the city, be not less, in any case, than 8 in. or 10 in. in diameter, and in the dwelling section not less than 6 in. in diameter.
Concentration of water for fire at a given point is of the utmost importance, and under the gridiron system this can be secured, no matter where that point may he.
The location of hydrants is an important matter. As a rule, they should be on the corners of streets, chiefly because they would, at such locations. be most quickly discovered. Hydrants should be liberally distributed and “staggered” and be located at not more than 300 ft. apart in the business and manufacturing sections, in the residential district be located at not over 450 to 500 ft. apart.
Where steam fire engines take suction from hydrants the suction hose and connections should not be less than 4 in. in diameter and one 2½-⅛. diameter hose connection. Hydrants should have drains to the sewer, a gravel base drainage to carry off the waste water after being used, and be protected, by boxing, from frost damage.
* Paper prepared for the Utica meeting of tfie New York State Fire Chief*. June 16. 1909.
NUMBER OF FIRF. STREAMS BASED UPON POPULATION.
Hydraulic experts differ somewhat as to this requirement, and, especially in case of smaller towns, from Underwriters, John R. Freeman, C. E., presents the following figures as fairly reliable, as a general guide:
Ten streams may be recommended for a compact group of large, valuable buildings, irrespective of a small population.
As a general statement the pipes should be large enough and the hydrants numerous enough so that at least two-thirds of the above number of streams could be concentrated upon any one square in the compact, valuable part of the city or upon one extremely large building hazard. Assuming that a second-size fire engine can supply two streams, or where a high-pressure is in service that two streams should be handled by each hose company, the above table may be put in the following form:
Building code recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters, 135 William street, New York city, providing for all matters concerning, affecting or relating to the construction, alteration, equipment, repair or removal of buildings or structures erected or to be erected. Edition 1909:
The safe and good construction of buildings should be universally recognised as of the utmost importance, this building code, prepared and recommended by the committee of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, is based on broad principles, which have been sufficiently amplified to provide for various conditions in towns as well as cities.
In small towns or cities where there is no department of buildings, it might be enforced through a bureau of buildings under the jurisdiction of the fire department, the words: “commissioner of buildings” be changed to “inspector of buildings.” Thousands of human lives and millions of dollars’ worth of oroperty have been sacrificed by the criminal folloy of erecting unsafe or defective buildings. So long as thosc-in authority permit such buildings to be erected, neither life nor property can be safe. The vital importance of its principles should arouse municipal authorities everywhere to a realising sense of their duty and to the grave responsibility that rests upon them to enact and strictly enforce adequate building laws for the protection of life and property. In regard to the building code, the National Board can furnish any chief or city official with a copy of same as adopted by it.
Over a quarter of a billion of dollars ($269,200.412) is the average annual fire loss in the United States for the last five years, the total for that period having been $1,346,002,059.
This means the destruction of nearly threequarters of a million ($737,535) for each day of the five years. For the first three months of this year it amounted to nearly $53,000,000, giving no promise of improvement.
From reports of United States consuls it has been shown by the committee on statistics of National Board of Fire Underwriters that the loss in six European countries for a period of five years was 33 cents per-capita.
The loss in the United States for the five years ending with 1907 was $3.02 per capita, nearly ten times as much.
The result in thirty foreign cities gave a percapita loss of 61 cents as against $3.10 in the five years’ average of 252 cities in the United States.
The appliances for the extinguishment of fires in Europe fall far below the standard prevailing in the United States, and the same is probably true of the water facilities for extinguishing fires, and yet wc lead the world in the destruction of property by fire.
It may be added the statement, that during 1908 alone, the lives of 1,449 persons were sacrificed in fires, and that 5,654 were injured. “These figures are incomplete and, perhaps, do not represent more than one-half the persons who were victims of fires. The number of persons killed and injured here is from five to seven times greater than in Europe. The cause of this again is faulty construction of buildings in many instances, and inappreciation on the part of cities of the responsibility to safeguard the lives of citizens and especially the firemen, or ignorance of what is demanded to protect against fires.
The excessive difference between the fire waste in European countries and that of the United States is caused principally by:
First.—The difference in the point of view and the responsibility of the inhabitants of Europe and those of the United States.
Second.—The radical difference in the construction of buildings and their inspection.
Third.—The difference in the regulations governing hazards and hazardous materials and conditions, and the enforcement of such regulations. The next principal cause of our excessive fire waste is our faulty construction. Our buildings as a whole are more flimsily constructed and are larger than in the countries of Europe, where the building laws arc safer and better enforced. “WHAT ARRANGEMENTS SHOULD BE MADE AND
WHAT IS THE GENERAL CUSJOM IN GIVING AID WHEN CALLED TO NEIGHBORING CITIES?”
BY CHIEF J. P. QUIGLEY, SYRACUSE.
This topic I will treat from my 0A11 standpoint. W hen call is made upon us for aid the arrangements that wc have are very simple.
We have sufficient blocking always piled up in one particular place where it can be reached at any time, either night or day. This blocking is so made that it takes but a very short time to block an engine and hose wagon to a flat car.
When we receive a call our first duty is to notify the railroad officials over whose road we expect to transport this fire apparatus, asking them for an engine, sufficient flatcars and a coach, telling them where we wish to go.
This is usually the arrangements made for our train and then we assemble our fire apparatus to a given point, that is, at a railroad dock. When these cars are arranged alongside of the dock our engine and wagon are drawn upon this dock and then loaded onto the car or cars, as the case may be.
W hen wc send one engine company, if flatcars are not very plentiful, wc load both pieces of apparatus upon one car, but if enough flatcars are available, I would prefer two—that is, to load the engine on one flatcar and hose wagon on the other. Here in Syracuse wc can usually do this as, it being a terminal point, they have sufficient flatcars in the yard and as a rule it takes but a very short time to assemble the cars and apparatus at a loading dock.
When the apparatus is placed upon the car, wc simply block it forward of the front wheels and rear of the hind wheels and strap these two blocks together on each side with a 2×4; the blocking generally 4×4.
These are about all the arrangements that are necessary to make to transport our fire apparatus.
The general custom in giving aid, the authority should be placed in the hands of the chief to render such aid to a neighboring city as he may deem advisable—all times taking into consideration the safety of his home town.
We have heard of cases where it is necessary for the chief to get permission from the mayor or some other city official, which to my mind is not a good policy as frequently a great deal of valuable lime is lost in looking for this permission and this permission is rarely, if ever, withheld, therefore, to my mind, it is far better that the chief be charged with this responsibility as he is responsible for the putting out of fires; consequently, he is in a better position to judge of the amount of apparatus that he can afford to send out of town than anybody else.
In my experience in sending fire aparatus out of town, we have never been called upon by the railroad officials to pay for this transportation, neither have I heard that cities whom we have helped have been called upon, so I am led to believe, that no charge has been made, which I consider very generous on the part of the railroad company.
1 find that the railroad officials are as anxious to make good time and enter into the spirit of it as readily as the firemen, for all of which they should be complimented.