THE LATEST CHELSEA FIRE
The latest fire at Chelsea, Mass., with its loss of nearly $110,000 (insured for $75,000), in the unsprinklered lumber plant of the George D. Emery company, Broadway, is thus reported upon by the New England Bureau of United Inspection:
“Fire occurred at the south end of mill, either on the second or attic floor near the bridge leading to the small powerhouse, located on trestle. The buildings were of open frame construction and contained valuable machinery. The attic used as a saw-filing room. Adjoining and communicating are the brick boiler and enginehouses, the former fairly cut off by brick wall and good, tin-covered fire door, but with an unprotected opening to engineroom. Fire spread with great rapidity, and in a few minutes the whole attic was enveloped. Fire was discovered and alarm given by night fireman. Two watchmen nights, days when not ~ running, one in mill and one in yard, district telegraph system; hourly rounds 6:30 p. m. to 5:30 a. m. The record of the District Telegraph company shows that the inside watchman registered in the fileroom at 9:01 p. m., and in the second story of mill at 9:03 p. m., he completed his rounds at 9:12 p. m. The outside man visited the north end of mill at 9:28 p. m. and completed his rounds at 9:36 p. m. Between rounds he. is stationed in the main office; the former is stationed in the fireroom, and assists the night fireman. The discovery of the fire was made by the night fireman, who had entered the yard for coal; he immediately pulled in an alarm from the private box in engineroom and blew the whistle to call employes, and then set about to use the private hose. The fire alarm registered at No. 1 fire station at 9:47 p. m. The assistant chief of the fire department, immediatelly upon his arrival at the mill at 9:51 p. m., pulled in a second alarm; about this time an alarm was rung in on the Boston side, which brought the fireboat and one steamer; this, with the Chelsea department, gave an ample supply of apparatus. One steamer was located at hydrant in yard just north of brick dryhouse and maintained this position during the fire; other steamers were located on Broadway and northeast of dock—nearly 500 feet distant. The fireboat was located directly east of mill. The wind was westerly, and there was an abundance of water, and at 11 o’clock the fire was under control. The steamers were sent to their respective houses, as the pressure from street mains was ample for firemen’s use. Good service was rendered by employes; one stream from the 2j4-in. hose-connection just west of engineroom and one from lj4-in. hose-connection in engineroom was played upon the openings to the sawmill—thus preventing the fire doing serious damage in these sections. The boilers and engine are uninjured. The sawmill, drier-shed, veneer-cutting shed and small connecting buildings were practically destroyed with most of the contents.
REPORT ON CONDITIONS.
The same bureau in its report on the rehabilitation and fire protection of the city shows that since the first conflagration 375 building permits have been issued—165 for brick or concrete buildings; 210 for frame buildings; estimated value, $2,637,937. These are located in the conflagration area as follows: Within fire limits, 60 buildings; easterly section, 175 buildings; westerly section, 140 buildings. The Silsby engine that broke down at the September fire has been sold: the three engines that gave trouble have been satisfactorily repaired, and two new up-to-date steamers have been contracted for and will be delivered in about two months. The new central fire station is practically completed, and the new No. 5 firehouse will be ready for occupancy about April 1. New hydrants and more of them will be set, and plans are being prepared for a high-service for sprinklered risks only in the easterly tenement district, and possibly for the improvement of the highservice on Bellingham hill. The waterworks system, likewise, is to be improved according to the suggestion of the insurance companies. The electrical department of the city has stopped the practice of using flexible conduit for service-wire on outside of buildings. It now uses approved metal conduit, and one man. has been detailed to devote his entire time to wire inspection. Changes have been suggested in the building laws, with a view to securing their conformity with the National code.
For present Bellingham mains from the reservoir should be substituted 12-in. pipes, and there should be provided two 10-in. or 12-in. feeders to the district for different parts. The 6-in. pipe on Broadway on the railway bridge, near Washington avenue should be increased to 10-in.; all 4-in. pipe should at once be changed to 6-in., and additional 8-in. secondary feeders should be provided in the lowservice, especially in the southwestern part of the city; the system should be tied together by 12-in. mains along Eastern avenue; valves should be placed in mains in all street corners; and the hydrants should be distant not more than 200 ft. from each other in the bay, business and manufacturing districts. It is also recommended by the underwriters (1) that a combination chemical and hose wagon should be located near Locust street and Everett avenue; (2) that a 35-gal. or 40-gal. chemical tank be carried on every hose wagon; (3) that the number of permanent men should be so increased as to allow of a paid driver, engineer, captain and two hosemen to each engine company; a driver and two men to each independent hose company; and a driver and two men to every truck and chemical; (4) the reserve ladder truck should become a regular company— the two truck companies to be so located as to divide the city between them; (5) all alarm wires to be put underground within ten years; (6) boxes to be not over 600 ft. apart in business and manufacturing sections, and not over 1,200 ft. in residential, with two circuits in adjoining districts to interlace, so as to have every other box on a different circuit; (7) all boxes to be keyless and have key-guards and the locations all to be shown by red lights; (8) all boxes to be changed to succession boxes within ten years; (9) tapper and alarm bells to be on independent circuits; (10) fireproof headquarters to be provided for the fire alarm system. If these and some other suggestions as to inspection, etc., are adopted the National Board of Underwriters will be able to rate Chelsea as a first-class risk.
The latest fire at Chelsea took place on December 21 in a two-and-one-half story, unsprinklcred, frame building located on the waterfront, about 700 ft. from the street. It occupied a space of 150×65 ft. and was twentyseven years old. It was used by the George B. Emery company as a sawmill and stood on the end of a wharf, which was covered by large piles of mahogany lumber. The origin of the fire is unknown; but it started in the filing-room, and when the department, under Chief Henry A. Spencer, arrived, the “upper story (says the chief) was a furnace, and flames wete coming out of the windows and roof the full length of the building.” Three Amoskeag engines, the borrowed Silsby and the fireboat from Boston were employed in extinguishing the blaze, and were supplied by four out of the seven hydrants that were available. Of these, one was double; the others, single 5-in. and 6-in. and distant from each other 100 ft. each. The water-pressure from the Metropolitan gravity system was sufficient to furnish four good plug-streams and six engine streams. Seven streams were also thrown by the fireboat, which was moored at the end of the wharf, in front of the building. The nearest street main was 16-in.; the greatest number of streams thrown at one time was sixteen. Ordinary nozzles 1⅞-⅛. to 2½-⅛. were used, that used by the fireboat being a large Monitor nozzle. Six thousand feet of cotton-jacket hose was used, one length of which burst. It was not much of a fire, as the total loss amounted to only $65,000. It consisted chiefly of damaged machinery and mahogany lumber, on which was an insurance of $60,000. The building was an old firetrap and Chief Spencer had been looking for a fire in it to take place any time. It was unfortunate, however, that it occurred during 1908.