THE MUSKOGEE FIRE SERVICE
Muskogee, Okla., with a population of about 36,200, has a rolling surface with generally slight grades. High winds are quite trequent. The form of government has been commission since 1911. The gross fire loss for the past five years, as taken from the reports of the Committee on Statistics of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, amounted to $361,595, the annual losses varying from $25,048 in 1914 to $200,000 in 1911. The annual number of fires, as taken from the records of the fire department, varied from 108 in 1915 to 145 in 1912, with an average loss per fire of $588. Based on an average population of 33,500, the average annual number of fires per 1,000 population was 3.67, and the average annual loss per capita was $2.16, a moderate figure. A report on conditions in Muskogee, by the Committee on Fire Prevention of the National Board, contains the following information: The water works are owned and operated by the municipality. Supply from adequate source, pumped to sedimentation basins and repumped to city through single long force main, with equalizing reservoir of capacity less than two days’ consumption. Pumping capacity adequate with one highor low-lift unit out of service. Consumption moderate. Pressures good and well maintained. Distribution system weak. Hydrants in good condition.
The fire department has been on a full paid basis since 1906. The department is under the supervision of Commissioner of Public Safety J. McCusker. The chief is appointed by the council. He is the executive officer; is responsible for training and discipline and has complete control at fires. Charles W. Chapman recently became chief. He has been connected with the department for eight years and for a time was acting assistant chief. The total active force of the department is 34. There are three substitutes. The total maintenance cost for the year 1915 was $38,605. Apparatus recently purchased is to be paid for from yearly appropriations.
There are 1 engine, 3 hose and 1 ladder companies in service in 4 stations. Two captains and a lieutenant are assigned to the engine company and a captain and a lieutenant to each of the other companies. One of the captains of the engine company acts as house captain and assistant chief. An engineer and stoker are assigned to Steamer 1 and the Master Mechanic acts as engineer of Steamer 2. Fifteen men are trained as chauffeurs, 3 to operate the automobile pumping engine and 5 in all to operate the steam engines. Members are allowed 3 hours daily for meals, 1 day off in 5 and 10 days annual vacation. Substitutes are employed during the vacation period. Men must respond to serious fires during meal time and days off. Each morning men expecting to be for the day are required to leave their telephone number and location with the chief.
One of the engines is an American-La France combined pump, chemical and hose wagon with a rotary pump, placed in service in February, 1916. The 2 remaining engines are steamers of the double pump reciprocating type. Each engine has hand and automatic relief valves, compound suction gage, 1 or 2 sections of 4 or flinch stiff suctions, 1 section of 4 1/2-inch soft suction and 1 has a section of 2 1/2-inch stiff suction. The steamers have iron tires and band brakes and stand in stations with steam on the boilers. Engine 2 is in reserve at Station 2, and is provided with a draw-bar for towing. An old steam engine with single pump, used for pumping out cellars, cisterns, etc., is in reserve. Truck 1 is a Seagrave spring balanced aerial. It carries a 75-foot aerial, a 45-foot extension, 3 pompier and 7 other ladders. The truck is in good condition. A service truck, carrying a 45foot extension and 3 other ladders, including 2 with roof hooks, is in reserve at Hose 3 with swinging harness connected. In addition to the pumping engine carrying hose and a 40-gallon chemical tank, there are 4 motor combination hose wagons, each carrying one 25-or 40-gallon chemical tank, 1,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose and 150 or 200 feet of chemical hose. All wagons have pneumatic tires. Hose 2 has dual tires on rear wheels. Chemical tanks have connection for 2 1/2inch hose. Three hose wagons, two plain and one combination, are in reserve and kept loaded with 700 to 1,000 feet of hose. They may be towed by automobile or drawn by horses. The chief is provided with an automobile, carrying a 2 1/2-gallon and a tetrachloride extinguisher, a hand pump and surgical kit. A wagon kept at Station 1 is used to haul supplies. A plain wagon provided with horses is stationed with Hose 4. A chemical engine with two 60-gallon chemical tanks and 100 feet of chemical hose is in reserve at Hose 3. The Master Mechanic owns a light automobile runabout carrying tools for emergency repairs. Each station has a 30 to 50-gallon gasoline tank, in a shed in rear of station.
Hose is double-jacketed cotton, rubber lined, purchased by the chief with the approval of the council, on competitive bids, with the usual service and pressure guarantees. Hose is not te.ted on delivery, but is tested annually to about 300 pounds. The supply of hose allows about 2,100 feet per company. No 3-inch hose is provided. About 3,500 feet of hose has been purchased since the previous inspection, the remainder is 8 years old. Hose is dried on side walks after use; no hose towers are provided. After drying, hose is kept on the reserve wagons or rolled and placed in special racks. Hose is changed about every 4 to 6 weeks if not used at fires. Couplings are of the usual screw type.
Each hose wagon carries 2 or 3 shut-off nozzles with 1 1/2 to 1 1/8-inch tips, axes, crowbar, rope, hose straps and lanterns, from 1 to 3 have extra chemical charges, open nozzles, distributing nozzles, plaster hooks, door opener, shovels, forks, bale hooks, wrecking hook, surgical kit and hose shut-off. The reserve hose wagons carry nozzles, axes, plaster hook, crowbar, rope and lanterns. The ladder truck carries a hand pump, cellar pipe, axes, plaster hooks, door opener, crowbar, shovels, forks, picks, roof cutter, bucket, rope, hose hoist, hose straps, burst hose jacket, lanterns, life net, a portable searchlight, smoke protector and pompier belts. The equipment for heavy streams consists of one deluge set and a Siamese coupling. There is very little equipment on the reserve truck.
Stations are 2-story, of ordinary joisted brick construction. Stations 3 and 4 are of recent construction, in good condition and well arranged. Headquarters and Station 2 are crowded and in poor condition. Each station has brick floor, electric lights, is heated by natural gas, and houses with steam engines have a gas heater for the engine.
Records kept by the chief show that of the 106 fires in 1915, requiring the use of apparatus, 35 were extinguished with chemicals alone, 10 with chemicals and water and 61 with water alone. The general practice is to use chemicals or hand pumps wherever possible. A 2 1/2-inch hose line is always laid from the first wagon arriving and frequently the 2 1/2-inch hose is connected to the chemical tank and water used through the chemical hose. Hydrant streams with 1 1/8or 1 1/4inch shut-off nozzles arc ordinarily used. Engine fire is lighted on leaving quarters and engines connect to the nearest hydrant, using a single line unless the fire threatents to be a serious one. Chauffeurs and drivers assist at all fires. The police patrol usually delivers fuel at serious fires. Connections to automatic sprinklers and standpipes would be used if the occasion required. Hose is carried up stairways, ladders or fire escapes, or is drawn up outside by rope; the hose hoist is seldom used. Apparatus is immediately ordered back to quarters if not needed at a fire. Each hose wagon carries a waterproof cover, which is used when possible to protect property. The department cleans out after ordinary fires and a man is left to watch damaged premises and for rekindling.
Members of the fire department inspect all factories and all buildings within the fire limits quarterly. A report is made to the chief of hazardous conditions and he makes a follow-up inspection, which usually accomplishes the desired results. The inspection reports have not been filed in the past, but a special report card has been prepared and it is planned to keep a report of all future inspections on file. Hydrants are inspected annually by members of the department, oiling the caps and stems and flushing them. The weeds are rut from around them as often as needed. The chief reports all defective hydrants to the water department, and after repairs the list is returned to the chief with notes of work done on each.
Since a report made during May, 1911, by the National Board, an automobile combination pump, chemical and hose wagon, 3 automobile combination hose wagons, a 2-wheel automobile tractor for the aerial ladder truck, and about 3,500 feet of hose have been purchased.
The fire alarm apparatus at headquarters is of automatic type, and Gamowell make, installed in 1910. It includes an automatic, noninterfering repeater, with contacts for 8 box and 2 alarm circuits; an 8-circuit operating and charging board, with the usual devices for operating and testing circuits and charging storage batteries, and a 600-Watt motor-generator for charging storage batteries. Circuits enter the building from a pole in the rear, through conduit, to an asbestos-lined, wooden cabinet in the council chamber, and are then carried as No. 14 copper, with rubber and single braided insulation in conduit under the floor to the operating board and repeater. Circuits are protected by 1/2-ampere link fuses and grounded sawtooth lightning arrester on the operating board; by grounded Argus lightning arresters and 3-ampere link fuses and grounded carbon vacuum lightning arresters connected in multiple in the protector cabinet and by grounded carbon vacuutn lightning arresters at each fire station. Each fire station is provided with a gong, punch register, Morse key, push button for local tests and a solenoid for operating stall trips and lighting switches. Engine ! has a vibrating bell connected to the private alarm system in a store and Hose 2 has a vibrating bell connected to an automatic sprinkler system. Each station has a magneto telephone connected to a series line ued for fire alarms only and each station and the chief’s office has a telephone on a direct line from the public telephone exchange. The total number of fire alarm boxes is 51, an increase of 5 since the previous report. One is a Star box, remainder arc Gamewell, all of the -.uccession type with double point key break.
Recommendations contained in the report include : That provision be made by ordinance, or by amendment to the city charter, so that all officers and members of the water, fire, building and electrical departments shall be removable only for cause, after due trial, and that the charter provisions for a civil service commission be carried out. That for increased reliability, the following additions and changes be made at the pumping station. An additional high-lift pump designed to take suction from the supply conduit, and if filtration is adopted an additional low-lift pump. The»e will be essential when the average daily rate of consumption for the maximum week reaches 5,000,000 gallons. Duplicate steam piping by looping, so gated that it will not be necessary to cut out more than one pump or one boiler to make repairs to a broken steam line. Provide all pumps with independent suction lines. Arrange discharge piping of the high-lift pumps so that, with the installation of a duplicate force main, it will not be necessary to cut out more than one pump to make repairs to a broken main. That an assistant chief be appointed. That sufficient men be permanently appointed to fire companies so that the least number present at all times, including vacations, days off and meal hours, will be as ofllows: 8 men for Engine Company 1; 5 men in Companies 2 and 3 when made engine companies as recommended ; 5 men in the ladder company; 3 men in Hose Company 4. That Hose Companies 2 and 3 motors be each provided with a combined pump, chemical and hose wagon; the present steam engines may then be placed in reserve unless an additional force main and supply mains through the principal mercantile district are installed as recommended; also provide an automobile service truck to respond to all alarms in residential sections, or equip hose wagons and automobile pumping engines with 30-foot extension ladder. Place one of the reserve hose wagons, loaded with 1.000 feet of hose and equipped with a turret pipe, at Headquarters. Provide each station with hose drying facilities.