THE FIRE SERVICE OF NASHVILLE
Nashville, Tenn., has had the commission form of government since October, 1913, and has a population estimated at 116,000. The city lies on both sides of the Cumberland river and covers an area of 18.2 square miles, about three-quarters of which is built upon. There are about 340 miles of streets. A report issued by the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Hoard of Fire Underwriters gives the following information: The gross fire loss for the past five years, as given in the fire department records, amounted to $2,011,637, ranging from $217,794 in 1910 to $535,693 in 1913, $152,606 of which was in one fire. The number of actual fires varied between 392 in 1913 and 422 in 1911, with an average loss per fire of $989, a very high figure. Based on an average population of 112,700, the averaged annual number of fires per I,000 population was 3.61, a moderate number, and the average annual loss per capita was $3.57, a high figure. The water works arc owned and operated by the municipality. Water Supply.—Municipal works. No superintendent; records incomplete. Supply from river of ample capacity; pumped to distributing reservoir of moderate size; single force main; distribution mainly in one service under slightly reduced reservoir pressure; one small section tinder full reservoir pressure and another supplied by a small tank and booster station. Pumping capacity adequate; older pumps not in good condition. Consumption moderately high. Pressure fairly satisfactory; can be easily increased 10 pounds. Main arteries to congested value district barely adequate.
Fire Department Organization.
The department has been full paid since 1860. Supervision is under Commissioner of Fire, Sprinkling and Building Inspection Geo. J. Tompkins. For fire department purposes the city is divided into two fire districts. Chief A. A. Rozetta, age 52, was appointed to bis present position in 1900 and has been in the department 32 years. He is the executive head of the fire department, having control over men and apparatus, with power to make transfers and enforce discipline, and has actual supervision over most of the fire department affairs. He is a competent and progressive official, and is 2nd vice-president of the International Association of Fire Engineers. First Assistant Chief I. W. Weaver was appointed to his present position in 1903 and has been in the department 22 years. Superintendent of Fire Alarm and Master Mechanic R. M. Cassetty is in charge of the fire alarm system, also of apparatus and repairs; he is an experieneed machinist. The total membership of the department is 121. The fire force is 118. The maintenance expense of the department including the fire alarm system was approximately $152,792, or $1.83 per capita, in 1914. During the past five years about $73,889 were, expended for new apparatus and about $14,136 for two new fire stations. The chief would be appointed by the Commissioner of Fire, Sprinkling and Building Inspection, to hold office during the will of the commissioner. Other department members are appointed under municipal civil service regulations, the city commission constituting the civil service board. Promotions are now on recommendation of the chief to the fire commissioner on the basis of seniority and merit.
Fourteen engine and two ladder companies are in service. All are separate companies. Members arc allowed 3 hours daily for meals, 1 day off in 8, and 10 days’ annual vacation. Vacancies due to days off are not filled. Substitutes are employed during sickness, special leaves and vacations.
Fight steam engines with reciprocating double-piston pumps and six motor engines with rotary pumps are in service; two reciprocating steam engines, one with single and one with double-piston pump, are in reserve at headquarters. Engines in service are equipped with hand and automatic relief valves, blit six steamers have no compound gauges. All but motor Engine 10 carry about 20 feet of 4to 5-inch stiff suction hose, mainly in two lengths, and one or two 6to 10-foot lengths of Scinch soft suction; Engine 1 has also about 6 feet of 3-inch stiff suction. Automobiles have airless or cushion rubber tires, dual on rear wheels; steamers have iron tires. Steamers in service are attached to boiler water heaters in quarters. The six motor pumping engines are of American-La France make. The steam engines are of the following makes: Ahrens, 5; Nott, 3; Metropolitan, 1; La France, 1. Ladder Trucks 1 and 2 are of Seagrave springraising aerial type, with steel trussed frames and self-locking tillers. Truck 1 has plain bearings and iron tires. Truck 2 has solid rubber tires, dual on the tractor wheels. In addition to the 85and 65-foot aerial ladders, each carries a 40or 50-foot extension and 7 or 9 other ladders, two having roof hooks; pompier ladders are in stock, hut are not carried. Trucks are in good condition. A reserve Babcock city truck, having channel iron frame, plain hearings and iron tires, provided with a 65-foot extension and eight other ladders, two of which have roof hooks, is kept at Station 3. Five combination and three plain horse-drawn hose wagons and six automobile pump, chemical and hose wagons arc in service. Chemical tanks have 254-inch hose connections; two plain hose wagons have turret pipes. Horse-drawn wagons have plain bearings and iron tires. A Holloway chemical engine, built in 1892, with two 80-gallon horizontal tanks and 300 feet of ¾-inch hose and having plain hearings and iron tires, is in reserve at Station 10. The chief, assistant chief and master mechanic are each provided with an automobile, that of the latter being equipped for fire alarm repair work. Two chief’s buggies arc in reserve. There are three utility wagons and four 4-wheel reels in reserve. A 1-horses fuel wagon is located at headquarters.
Hose is mainly 2f-2-inch double jacketed cotton, rubber-lined. New hose is distributed to companies as needed; no 3-inch hose is provided. The supply on hand allows about 1,750 feet for each engine company; it includes 19,850 feet purchased since January 1, 1910. Hose drying towers or racks are provided at each station; spare hose is stored there; hose is occasionally shifted on wagons if not used.
Each hose wagon and motor engine carries two to five nozzles, having ⅞to lj2-inch open tips for direct attachment to hose, and one shut-off nozzle having 1⅛or lj4-inch tip. Equipment includes nozzle holders, axes, plaster hooks, rope, hose straps and lanterns; seven wagons carry burst hose jackets, six have crowbars and one has a Siamese coupling. Two plain hose wagons have “‘4-inlet turret pipes with 1 ½to 2J4-inch tips. Equipment carried on trucks includes axes, plaster hooks, door opener, crowbars, sledge, shovels, brooms, distributing nozzle, forks, bale hooks, picks, wire cutters, roof cutter, battering ram, hand pump, rope, hose hoist, hose strap, burst hose jacket and lanterns; one has a life net. The fuel wagon carries a deluge set with 1½to 2-inch tips, 3 nozzles with ⅝to lj4-inch tips, a gated Siamese connection and a water key. Appliances for handling powerful streams include two turret nozzles, two deluge sets and five distributing nozzles. Couplings are of the usual screw type.
There are fourteen stations; all are of brick, heated by stoves and lighted by electricity; gas is also available, but is little used. Stall door trips are operated automatically; lights are turned on by hand or left burning; in Station 1 they are turned on automatically. Towers or racks are provided for drying hose.
Department records show that during 1914 there were 490 fires of which 42 per cent, were extinguished by chemicals alone. Incipient fires are extinguished by chemicals whenever possible; a hose line is generally laid to back up chemical tanks. Open nozzles with ⅝to 1/4-inch tips and shut-off nozzles with 1¼- or lj^-inch tips are used at fires. Fires are lighted under boilers when leaving quarters; engine boiler water heaters arc provided. Engines are coupled to hydrants only when orders are given; flexible suctions are provided for use on hydrants. For large streams two turret pipes and one deluge set arc used. Hose is usually carried up stairways or ladders, coupled; it is thrown on wagons after fires and dry hose substituted at quarters. Twice annually, in the spring and fall, detailed members of the fire department inspect all buildings, except dwellings, to secure the removal of dangerous conditions and familiarize themselves with local conditions. Written notices of unsatisfactory conditions are served and reinspections made; records of such notices are kept.
Recent and Contemplated Improvements.
The major improvements since the National Board report of 1907 include increase of the force by eleven men; c’hange of one chemical and two hose companies to engine companies; addition of two engine companies, building and cquipent of two new fire stations and the purchase of two chiefs’ automobiles, 1 fire alarm repair automobile, six motor combined pump, chemical and hose wagons, one motor tractor, miscellaneous minor equipment and 27,700 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose. Improvements now being considered are to build and equip three additional fire stations, add one ladder, one water tower and two engine companies, purchase one motor service truck, one motor-propelled water tower, two automobile combined pump, chemical and hose wagons, one motor tractor for Ladder 1, ladder pipes for Trucks 1 and 2, and to place one additional fireman in each of the companies recommended by the chief.
Fire Alarm System.
The fire alarm system is part of the fire department, and is under the management of Superintendent of Fire Alarm R. M. Cassetty. He has one regular assistant; necessary assistance is also given by detailed firemen; extra help is employed when needed. Headquarters is on the second and third floors of the 2J4-story joisted brick fire department headquarters, erected in 1901. The apparatus at headquarters is of automatic type and Gamewell make. It includes a 10-circuit, marble switchboard, installed in 1906, having a wooden frame and equipped with the usual devices for operating and testing circuits and charging storage batteries, and a 10-circuit, noninterfering, automatic repeater, installed in 1913, having contacts on the drum for operating one normally closed joker circuit and four normally closed alarm circuits. A gang switch for throwing circuits to the repeater or in series is provided. Circuits enter underground. At each fire station is a fire alarm box, a large gong and an automatic release for horses in the stations which use them, all connected to some box circuit; a punch register and Morse key, on an alarm circuit from fire alarm headquarters, and a telephone on a direct circuit to the public telephone exchange, not reserved for fire department business. Gongs, connected to box circuits, are also installed at police headquarters, in the residences of the chief, assistant chief and superintendent of fire alarm, electric light and street railway power houses and offices, gas company, reservoir and repair shop; there is also one tower bell. The total number of boxes is 158. All are of Gamewell make, of non-interfering spring-actuated, trigger-pull type. Of these 153 are public boxes and five are private boxes, accessible to public.
By a State act, approved May 17, 1915, the fire prevention commissioner is authorized to appoint three deputies and two assistants. Chiefs of fire departments and mayors of municipalities without fire departments are assistants, ex-officio. The present fire prevention commissioner is Chas. W. Schuyler. The law requires the fire prevention commissioner, his deputies and assistants, to enforce the State laws relating to the prevention of fires; the storage, sale and use of combustibles and explosives; the installation of fire alarm systems and fire extinguishing equipment; the construction, maintenance and regulation of fire escapes; the means and adequacy of exit from factories, places of detention or assembly, and other places where numbers of persons live, work or congregate; the suppression of arson and the investigation of fires. The law requires the assistants of the fire prevention commissioner to investigate immediately the cause, origin and circumstances of every fire by which property has been destroyed or damaged and to report within ten days; suspicious fires must be reported immediately. Insurance companies are required to submit annually detailed statements of every fire for which loss was paid, and also, in case of fire of suspicious origin, an immediate preliminary report containing such facts as may tend to establish the cause and origin of the fire. The fire prevention commissioner and his deputies have power to make arrests; they and the assistants have full power of investigation in relation to any matter covered by the act. If crime is indicated they are required to present testimony to the attorney-general of the county. They also have authority to enter and inspect premises and order the removal or abatement of hazardous conditions.
Included in the report arc the following recommendations. That a duplicate force main be laid from the pumping station and the present force main be carefully examined to see the effect of the cinder filling west of the pumping station. That an additional assistant chief of the fire department be appointed. That sufficient men be assigned to companies so that the least number present at all times, including meal hours, shall be: Six in Engine Companies 1, 2, 5, 6 and 9; four in Engine Companies 3, 7, 8, 10, 13 and 14; seven in Ladder Companies 1 and 2; five in the proposed ladder companies; one in the proposed water tower company. That the following changes and additions be made in companies and apparatus: Provide a motor-propelled water tower at headquarters, with an operator detailed to it for all second alarm tires in high value districts; provide an automatic combination chemical and hose wagon for Engine Company 2, replacing the present plain turret hose wagon; install, in the vicinity of Woodland and Seventh streets, East Nashville, a ladder company equipped with an automobile service ladder; install, in the vicinity of Charlotte road and 20th avenue, a ladder company equipped with an automobile combination service ladder truck; place in reserve at headquarters, equipped for automobile towing, the plain turret hose wagon now in service with Engine 2, loaded with 1,000 feet of 3-inch hose. That additional hose be purchased to provide a complete extra shift for each company. That sufficient 3-inch hose be purchased to provide at least 200 feet on each hose wagon; all 3-inch hose to be fitted with 2½-⅛⅛ couplings properly beveled. That the alarm system be changed to a manually-operated system, providing for at least 20 box, 6 joker and 6 alarm circuits. That additional boxes be installed so that a box shall be within 500 feet of every building in high value districts, and elsewdiere within 800 feet of every building in closely built sections. That in the more closely built sections of the city, box locations be indicated by red lights.