The Kirker-Bender Fire-Escape.
In previous numbers of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING the ordinary styles of fire-escapes were severely criticised as inadequate and unsafe. Suggestions were also offered as to equiping buildings with facilities for escaping from fire which should be not only adequate, but at the same time perfectly safe. In these articles mention was made of the Kirker-Bender or Dow fireescape, manufactured at the Dow Wire and Iron Works of Louisville, Ky., as one that fulfilled every condition. Two of these are erected in the grounds of Steeple Chase Park, Coney Island, and are known to the visitors as of the “down and out’’ type. In these is found a popular and safe form of amusement for young and old. One has recently been set up in the yard attached to Holy Trinity school, in which some 400 children, male and female of all ages from kindergarten to High school classes, are assembled and cared for by Roman Catholic sisters and Christian Brothers. The escape is a cylinder of iron plate strongly riveted, founded on bedrock, firmly imbedded in concrete for several feet. Inside is a spiral chute, also of iron, equally strongly riveted, affording room for two grown persons or three little ones abreast. The spirals offer no abrupt, but a very easy method of descent, with no sharp turns. The cylinder reaches to the top of a 5-story building on west 83d street and Amsterdam avenue —the height of the ordinary New York fiat house. At the same intervals as the windows are wide iron platforms safely railed off, connecting with these windows and with the cylinder. At the cylinder side of these platforms and directly opposite the windows are openings with doors that are kept closed till the necessity for their use arises. When there is an alarm of fire or the gong sounds for fire-drill, the pupils stand at the opened windows and, room Ky room, with arms folded, glide down the chute, each door being closed as each room is emptied. The youngest children are on the lower floors, and those of the higher classes in the upper roems. A teacher stands by each window and sees the pupils safely into the chute following them after they have all left the classroom. At the bottom of the chute is a catch so arranged that, if touched evet so lightly—even by an infant’s foot—a door flies open and remains open till every person has reached the ground, between which and the opening are only a few inches of space. A rubber mat spread on the ground or a canvas sheet, or something of that sort receives them, and two attendants—even one is sufficient—are on hand to see that they are at once on their feet, if they should chance to roll out otherwise than on their feet. As soon as the last person has got out, the door is closed and firmly secured as before. The whole operation is performed very quickly—in one minute or a little more—the 400 children of the school can be sent down to safety from the topmost floors. There is no chance of their being burned by flames or suffocated by smoke issuing from the windows or suffer in their descent. They are inclosed in the iron cylinder and no doors are opened above or below them. There is no crowding at all and no chaotic mass of prostrate children falling one on the top of the other at the bottom (as the London Fireman holds there would be). The most perfect order rules, and no accident of any account can happen. These escapes are commcnly used in very many of the Southern and Western schools, as well as in Canada, especially in tlu Province of Quebec and in many State institutions, such as hospitals and the like. For hospital use and the use of homes, they are most suitable, as the patients, even the bedridden and aged or infirm inmates, can be transferred bedding and all, and sent in safety down the chute.