THE FIRE PROTECTION OF BUFFALO
The city of Buffalo, N. Y., which has a population estimated at 468,558, is an important railroad and manufacturing center. It covers an area of 42,161 square miles and has 649 miles of public streets. The commission form of government became effective on January 1st, 1916. The city is situated at the eastern end of Lake Erie and is the western terminus of the New York State barge canal. For the past five fiscal years the gross fire loss, as taken from department records, totaled $4,781,538, the annual losses varying from $623,648 in 1914-15 to $1,213,617 in 1910-11. The annual number of fires varied from 1,126 in 1910-11 to 1,334 in 1913-14, with an average loss per fire of $775, a moderate figure. Based on an average population of 440,000, the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 2.80, a low figure, and the average annual loss per capita was $2.17, a moderate figure, says a comprehensive report on the city, issued by the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. This report declares the fire department is strong and that supervision was recently placed under the direct control of the Mayor with satisfactory results. It also says: The two platoon system was recently introduced, but despite the large increase made in the total fire force, the available force is on the whole less now than under the former continuous duty system and no provisions have been made for calling members of the platoon off duty for serious fires. The distribution of apparatus is mainly good except that two water towers are located at one point and with the introduction of motor apparatus, companies in some adjoining stations are needlessly close together. Additional ladder protection is needed in the northeastern part of the city and carrying of short ladders on all hose wagons would improve the service. The total engine capacity is adequate and is supplemented by fire boats, which furnish water to the separate fire main system covering a large part of the congested value district. The response to box alarms is well arranged and suitable provisions are made for moving in companies for large fires. The protection to the city as a whole has been increased since the previous report by motorization and a number of new companies and will be further improved by the contemplated motorization of other apparatus. The report includes the following information:
The department has been on a full paid basis since 1880 and was placed on a twoplatoon basis July 1st, 1916. The city is divided into nine districts. Chief B. J. McConnell is sixty-five years of age and has been thirty-nine years in the service. He was appointed chief in 1912. The assistant chief is Edw. P. Murphy. The battalion chiefs and other officers are: First District, Chas. P. McCarthy; Second District, John B. Armstrong; Fourth District, Frank Eimiller; Fifth District, Chas. F. Bescannon; Sixth District, George W. Hedden; Seventh District. Terrance J. Murphy; Eighth District, John J. Morrisy; Ninth District. Fred J. Durrenberger; Relief, Wm. T. Hill, John J. Crotty, Robt. J. Zahm; Master Mechanic, A. L. Keller; Superintendent of Horses, Arthur E. Campbell: Secretary, John Weiss. The total membership of the department is 928; that of the fire force. 893. There are 34 engine, 3 fire boat. 12 ladder, 2 water tower and 5 chemical companies, and a boat tender, a gasoline supply wagon and 3 fuel wagons in service.
The chief or assistant chief is always on duty. Battalion chiefs have one day off in six, with relief battalion chiefs to take their place. All companies are divided into two equal platoons, one on for 10 hours and one on for 14 hours, with no time off for meals. The platoons shift weekly and at time of changing one platoon serves 24 hours. In case some man of the relieving platoon fails to report on time, a man of equal rank from the platoon going off duty is left until relieved. Members are allowed 14 days annual vacations. Day platoons are not allowed to sleep on duty, but night platoons may occupy, beds from 9 p. m. to 6 a. m. In chemical companies one man is on watch continuously, in other companies two men are on watch at all times. Tower watch is maintained at Ladder 6 from 9 p. m. until 6 a. m. Should a fire be in progress during change of, shifts, men coming on duty are required to report to the chief officer in charge at the fire and he may hold both platoons. There are four relief assistant engineers, who take the place of regular engineers during vacation and unusual absence; an engineer or an assistant and a fireman detailed as stoker are with each engine at all times. Each shift is in charge of a captain or lieutenant. An engine company is within 2,200 feet and a ladder company within 2,600 feet of all points in the congested value district.
The apparatus includes: Twenty-nine steam engines (five having tractors) in service and four steam engines in reserve; five motor engines in service; three fire boats in service; three motor combination hose wagons, one motor plain hose wagon, eight horse-drawn combination hose wagons, nineteen plain horse-drawn hose wagons, in service; seven horse-drawn plain hose wagons in reserve; four chemical engines in service and three in reserve; two water towers in service. Ladder trucks in service are: Four motor aerial spring raising, three motor aerial manually raised, five horse-drawn aerial, manually raising. Three horse-drawn service trucks are in reserve. There are thirteen chiefs’ motor cars in service and one in reserve. There are also four fuel wagons, five supply wagons, thirty-five exercise wagons, 178 horses, eightyeight portable extinguishers, two deluge sets, thirty-three Siamese connections, thirteen turret pipes and twelve cellar pipes. Six of the engines are motor combined pump and hose wagons, with rotary pump, purchased within three years. The thirty-three steamers are of the double-piston pump type; two have been provided with new boilers since 1909. Five are provided with American-La France 2-whcel tractors of 48 horsepower; the others have 3-horse hitches; only those with tractors have rubber tires. Each engine has a hand and automatic relief valve, suction strainer, compound suction gauge and one 4-inch soft suction; the two large motor pumping engines have two lengths of 6-inch stiff suctions and other engines each have two lengths of 4 1/2-inch stiff suctions; two special double female connections for connecting either suction to either size of hydrant outlet are carried on each engine. The chemical tank on engine 37 is operated in conjunction with a 50-pound drum of carbonic acid gas. Four motor combined pumpers and hose wagons in service are of American-La France make. A new motor pumping engine in reserve is of the same make. Water tower 1 is a 75foot Champion, placed in service in 1907. It has a turret pipe and the supplv pipe is so gated that three inlets may supply the turret pipe and six the tower nozzle. The nozzle tips, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches, are interchangeable between the tower and turret; the 2-inch tip is usually used on the tower. Tower 2 is a 55-foot Hale, placed in service in 1889. It is equipped with a 60-gallon chemical tank for raising and may also be raised by water pressure. Tips arc 1 5/8, 2, 2 1/8 and 2 1/4 inches: the 2-inch tip is ordinarily used. Tower 1 is provided with outriggers, but neither tower is equipped with guy cables. Both are in good condition and are to be equipped with American-La France, 73-horsepower 2-wheel automobile tractors. The four chemical engines in service and three in reserve have been in use from 21 to 40 years and been rebuilt a number of times. Each is equipped with two horizontal or vertical tanks of 60 to 100 gallons capacity and carries 250 or 300 feet of 1-inch chemical hose, one or two short ladders, two extra chemical charges, axes, plaster hooks, lanterns, smoke protectors and reducers to connect chemical hose to 2 1/2inch hose. All chemical tanks have connections for 2 1/2-inch hose. In addition to the five motor combined pump and hose wagons there are eleven combination and nineteen plain hose wagons in service, one combined pump and hose wagon and seven plain wagons in reserve. One of the chemical companies has a motor combination hose wagon, equipped with a 60-gallon water tank, two carbonic acid gas tanks, and a 250-gallon pump, with 2 1/2-inch stiff suction. It carries 500 feet of chemical hose, 600 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose and two short ladders. The other combination wagons have one or two 30or 35gallon chemical tanks and rubber tires; horsedrawn wagons are provided with three horses during periods of heavy snow. The plain wagons were built in the department repair shop, have iron tires and plain bearings; they are generally in good condition; eight are equipped with turret pipes. A five-ton Pierce automobile truck fitted with a large divided hose body, with a capacity for 3,600 feet of 3 1/2-inch hose, has been placed in service as a boat tender. It carries six plav pipes with 2-inch tips, axes, wrenches for the pipe line valves, two Siamese connections and rope. A horse-drawn wagon with 3-horse hitch and loaded with 2,500 feet of 3 1/2-inch hose is in reserve.
Hose is double jacket or 4-ply interwoven cotton, rubber lined. All hose is tested annually to 250 pounds and one section in each ten lengths of new hose is tested to 400 pounds. The supply on hand allows about 2,700 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose for each engine company and about 4,400 feet of 3 1/2-inch hose for each fire boat and the boat tender. Sixty-one per cent, of the 2 1/2-inch hose has been purchased since 1909 and 18 per cent, has been in service over seven years. Hose towers are provided at headquarters and nine other stations; hose if not used is shifted about every two months. If hose has had water run through it. the wagon goes to the nearest tower for a fresh supply. The spare hose is coupled and kept on reels, convenient for quick handling. The fireboats carry reducers for connecting the 2 1/2-inch to the 3 1/2inch hose.
The equipment carried on hose wagons consists of one to three shut-off nozzles with 1 1/4-mch tips with a 1/2-inch reducing tip; one or two open nozzles with tips 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches, a portion fitted with cellar nozzles; a Siamese coupling; one to three improved nozz’e holders: axes, rope, hose straps and lanterns; four have door openers and wire cutters; two have smoke protectors and ten have plaster hooks. The equipment on ladder trucks includes cellar pipes, axes, plaster hooks, door openers, crowbars, buckets, shovels, brooms, pitchforks, bale hooks, picks, wire cutters, battering ram, roof cutters, saw, gas key, rope, hose, hose hoist, hose straps, lanterns, life net, smoke protector, life gun, wrecking hook, pompier belts and shingle removers; two have searchlights and lungmotors. The special heavy stream appliances are two deluge sets, eight turret pipes on hose wagons: one turret pipe on water tower, seven turret pipes on fire boats, thirteen lumber pipes, twelve cellar pipes and numerous Siamese connections.
The total stations, exclusive of repair shop, are forty-five. Two of the fire boat stations are frame construction, the third is in a brick building; other stations are of joisted brick construction. Stall trips are operated manually from the watch desk. Headquarters and two other stations have hose towers, in which a considerable portion of the spare hose is kept; seven other stations have small hose towers.
The more important improvements made since 1909 are; Addition of 298 to the fire force, of which 237 were for the two platoon system; addition of three engine and one ladder companies, and one chemical company changed to engine company, one steam fire engine, five motor combination hose wagons, an automobile boat tender, motor fuel wagon, two motor aerial ladder trucks, a motor chemical engine, twelve chiefs’ automobiles. During the inspection automobile tractors were placed on Engines 1, 13, 16, 25 and 31, and Ladder Trucks 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 and tractors for the two water towers were on hand. Contracts are let for four automobile combination hose wagons for Engines 1, 16, 25 and 31. The automobile hose wagon now at Engine 1 is to go to Engine 13 and the one at Engine 25 is to go to Chemical 5. Five new fire stations have been built. Plans are being prepared for a new station to be erected at the corner of Court and Seventh streets for Engine 13, the boat tender and one of the water towers. The present quarters of Engine 13 are to be made a part of the repair shop.
The Fire Alarm System.
The fire alarm system is part of the fire department. The apparatus at headquarters is of the manual type. It consists of a 160-circuit marble panel protector board; an old 60circuit wooden protector board; four 12-circuit and one 20-circuit charging boards with usual devices for operating and charging storage batteries; a 40-circuit box relay board, and a testing board. Each fire station has a large gong on a gong circuit, a punch register on the joker circuit, a Morse key and sounder on telegraph circuit and a department telephone. All fire alarm box circuits are looped into the nearest station to a set of testing switches at the watch desk. Strap keys for operating the gong and stall trips on local open circuits are provided. Gongs are also installed in the residences of the chief officers, secretary and chief operator, hospitals, newspaper offices, police stations, offices of public service corporations.
The total number of boxes is 822, of which 734 are public and 88 are private. Of the latter 80 arc inaccessible to the public; 788 are of Gamewell make. In the congested value district and other important sections on point is more than 500 feet from the nearest box. In residential sections distribution is unusually good and most points have a box within 800 feet. Many of the large factories have a private box or a street box close by.
The recommendations in the report include that shifts be so re-arranged that the minimum strength will be as follows in companies responding on first alarms to mercantile and manufacturing districts: Steam fire engine company, day 7, night 9; motor engine company, day 6, night 8; ladder companies (without quick raising aerial), day 7, night 9; ladder companies (with quick raising aerial), day 6, night 8. In other companies the minimum day strength to be five and night strength seven. All minimums to be increased by number of drivers assigned, unless position of driver as separate grade is abolished and drivers are required to do fire duty. That a new ladder company be established. That one of the water towers be moved to Chemical 2 and Engine 12. That an ordinance be passed giving the Mayor authority to declare a congested street a one-way street, to facilitate the movement of fire apparatus. That additional fire alarm apparatus be installed to provide for 60 box, 15 joker and 15 alarm circuits. That box numbers be re-arranged by districts in such a way that consecutive numbers will be close together.