THE IMPROVED FIRE APPARATUS OF 1907
Specially written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.
Probably in no other business has so much progress been shown as in that of fire apparatus. The history of the fire engine has been published in this journal so fully that there is no need of its repetition. It will be necessary here only to mention a few of the changes that have been made in the old and the improvements in the new apparatus within a decade or so, to show that manufacturers and inventors have kept well abreast of the times in producing the best machines to operate effectively and rapidly in fireextinguishment. The hose reel has given way to the hose wagon, and the straignt chemical engine, to the combination—two changes that must be considered very beneficial in the saving of time and producing apparatus able to accomplish the best results at the least cost. The steamer, too, has undergone changes which tend to its efficiency; but it lias been found difficult to make any radical alteration in this most important machine. The engines now in the market are built in the most perfect manner with a view to stability and endurance, and, as they undergo rigid tests before being accepted, they must be able to comply with all the exacting conditions in the specifications. Considering the weight and size of a steamer with a capacity of 800 gals, a minute, it must b; considered a remarkably effective fire-fighting machine. The principal improvements in the fire engine during the time under notice are the adoption of roller-bearing axles arid rubber tires. The hook and ladder truck has been so far improved as to bear only a slight resemblance to the original. Not much more than ten years ago the sol id ladders of the truck made it heavy, unwieldy and difficult to handle. I hese ladders were gradually changed to the trussed pattern, which very soon jumped into favor, and now all new trucks are eotliped with them. The method of raising ladders has also greatly improved, so that the time in elevating is lessened from three minutes to little more than that number of seconds. One syst m of ipiick raising is by compressed-air cylinders, which, bv opening a valve, force the ladder to its upright position anti lock it automatically there. The other is by springs confined in cylinders. which, when liberal ;d, raise the ladders almost instantly, and the extensions in both eases are worked by levers. Herein, then, are improvements which must be credited to the inventors as of much imoortance. Coming to the water tower, it is found that this machine, also, has been so improved that it may he brought into service ami operated with a percent age of case ot almost fifty per cent, of labor. In another place in this issue will be found a brief description of this apparatus. As to the efficiency of the water tower there is no doubt, since the great stream it is capable of throwing at various elevations renders it invaluable in the fire department of any city where medium high buildings exist. The most powerful engine is. of course, the fireboat. and its improvement has kept pace wtih the other apparatus. Its use is limited to action within 1,000 or .2,000 ft. of the waterfront. There are places, however, like Buffalo. Detroit and Cleveland, where tirebonts are used to pump water through cast iron mains to special hydrants, and this service is often found very valuable. Th new boats for New York, recently illustrated in this journal, are the most powerful and up-to-date in the country and will prov fitting ad’uncts t the firefighting equipment of the cits No engine or apparatus has. of course, been constructed so far to throw water to the upper stories of high buildings, and it is not likely they will, as to force a stream beyond a certain height with a given water pressure and diameter of nozzle renders it ineffective by turning it into spray. The must feasible plan to reach the floor of a skyscraper is to have the building equiped with standpipes and connecting perforated pipes on every floor, controlcd *v valves in the basement. Sufficient pump-power must he provided to give good pressure to raise the water to any floor in the building. The ordinary pressure from the city mains would he sufficient only to carry water to the sixth story; but by such a system of piping it is possible to have water on any floor almost instantly after the pumps are started. In tali buildings, where it is impossible to reach a fire with the apparatus with which the fire department is equiped, it will certainly become evident that their protection must consist of a sprinkler or some other system that can be effective at the point where a fire occurs. The tire-tools of today are certainly great improvements over those used ten years ago. This betterment lies principally in the production of large streams, which shows that the opinion of the fire engineer runs in this direction. The Deluge sets, Monitor nozzles, turret-pipes and wagon standpipes are all invented to use Siamese connections and thus to treble the power of the ordinary nozzle. In another place in this issue will he found illustrated articles on some of the most modern firefighting tools at present in use in the fire-service. These may prove interesting.