THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION.
The following are abstracts of the reports presented by some of the committees of the National Protection association at its recent annual meeting:
SPECIAL HAZARDS AND FIRE RECORD.
The committee on special hazards and fire record reported that the sprinkler fire record now includes reports on about 4,800 fires tabulated on a card-index record. The special hazard fire record now comprises 5,600 fires, also tabulated by means of a card system. The fire report blanks have been revised and a large number distributed among members. The record of special hazard fires is, however, yet very incomplete, and the co-operation of all interested in the maintenance of the record is earnestly requested. The quarterly bulletin has been continued and has contained during the year several articles of more than usual value. Of the 894 fires in sprinklered risks during the past year 731 were handled successfully bv the sprinklers, while in 114 fires there was insufficient heat to operate sprinklers. In forty-nine cases the sprinklers were unsuccessful in holding the fire in check.
The committee on devices and materials relating to carbonic acid gas hand-fire-extinguishers for other than fire department use recommended a revised standard for the purpose of avoiding misunderstandings as to proper size and arrangement of handles, maximum as well as minimum >ize, design and construction of cap, length of hose, minimum gauge of metal for cylinder, down and bottom, design of cage and other details. No change of importance is made in the standard of 19OI.
The committee on matches presented a brief report. It noted the introduction of the blue and white tip match as a step in the direction of eliminating the dangerous parlor match, and the absence of a safety match that cannot be ignited on some surface other than the prepared surface of the !H»X cover. Some of the so-called “safety” matches should be removed from the market. The committee is considering the impregnating of matches, so as to prevent the splint from glowing.
The committee on car houses noted a falling off in the number of car house fires during the past year, probably due to the betterment of hazards, improved maintenance, construction of buildings and a safer system of electric wiring in cars. Quite a few extensive losses, however, occurred during the year. So-called non-combustible and semi non combustible cars appear to be favored by railway companies for subway use, and, in one or two instances, are in use on elevated roads. The indications are, however, that, for some time at least, this type of car will not be generally adopted for surface line use. The committee recommended requirements for the construction of standard railway car storage houses and for the installation of automatic sprinkler equipments. Actual fire tests have demonstrated that, even with aisle sprinklers at either side of the car and placed as close to it as clearance may permit, a loss of $300 to $500 may be 1 (K)ked for.
The committee on skylights recommended for general use approved wireglass, not less than onequarter-inch thick, properly secured in metal sash, set in metal frames, or glass not less than onehalf inch thick, similarly secured, provided it is protected bv suitable wire screens, should he used on all plane skylights and skylights inclined at an angle of not over forty-five degrees. In vertical skylights or sash, or such as are inclined at an angle of over forty-five degrees, glass not less than one miarter-inch thick may be used, secured as noted above, provided the skylights or sash are protected by suitable screen. Skylights of other types of construction, ventilators or ventilating openings on roofs, should be protected by screens of steel wire-cloth, woven (not twisted), galvanised after weaving, properly secured to strong iron frames, preferably galvanised, if used for protection of skylights, or otherwise properly secured to ventilators. Lights over bottoms of light shafts or wcllholes open on top should he of ouchalf-inch approved wired glass or three quarterinch thick glas^. properly protected by wire screens, securely set in strong metal frames, or of prism Tights’set in cast Iron frhhu’S of sufficient strength and properly secured. l’he top of such shafts should be protected by approved wire screens. , .
WINDOW AND DOOR OPENINGS.
The committee on fire-protecting coverings for window and door openings reported that in many localities the protection of wall-openings is seriously neglected and the methods of protection specified in the standards of the association are not receiving the support expected. It urged the more heartv co-operation of members in the adoption of uniform methods of protection, and invited criticism and discussion. Manufacturers have shown considerable interest in the problem of the further development of improved methods for the protection of wall-openings against fire, and the various ideas submitted will be tested during the coming year. The committee recommended a number of changes in the present standard, the suggestions being largely confined to rules for use and installation.
The committee on standard hose-couplings reviewed the history of the movement to secure a uniform thread, and recommended a standard which has already secured the indorsement of tire American Water Works association, New England Waterworks association, National Board of Fire LTnderwriters, Bureau of Standards of the Department of Commerce and Labor, International Association of Fire Engineers, and others.
The committee on theatre construction and equipment presented a number of amendments to section 141 of the building code recommended by the National Board, the specifications for steel and asbestos theatre curtain being additional matter. The committee is of opinion that steel curtains similar to those required in Chicago should be the standard of the association, and asbestos curtains be considered as sub-standard. It is considering and will at some future time submit for adoption by the association a separate standard for openings in the roof over the stage to provide for the escape of smoke.
The committee on pumps reported that manufacturers of the Underwriter steam pump were generally adhering closely to specifications and building thoroughly good and reliable machines. No changes were recommended in the specifications. Manufacturers of rotary pumps have generally made such modifications in their designs as to bring the pumps into conformity with the specifications adopted at the last meeting of the association. During the year the committee has been watching the progress of centrifugal pump building. and believes the prospect good that pumps of this type will prove reliable and satisfactory for fire purposes. The probable use of power pumps, generally the ordinary triplex, for fire purposes, appears very small, owing to the high cost. The specifications of the association as regards steam pump regulators, auxiliary pumps and electricallydriyen pumps arc apparently covering all needs satisfactorily.
CHIMNEYS AND FLUES.
The committee on chimneys and flues considers the suhiect practicallv inexhaustible. Tt gave a list of the various rules of the National Board as regards these subjects and laid down the general proposition that all heat-conveving flues should be free from all contact with inflammable materials, should have a free ventilating space surrounding them, he securely built and supported, and so placed that they can be readilv reached, when it is necessary to clean them off from the top. The committee would prohibit the carrying of sheetmetal stovepipes through roofs, sides of buildings, conceded spaces or any place where the moisture is sufficient to cause rusting. Tile flues are condemned as subject to breaking, and clay pipe flues or chimneys prohibited. Tire committee emphasises the necessity for the application of rules bv inspection bureaus, for hundreds of thousands of houses are built with defective chimneys and flues.
The committee on non-freezing compounds for portable extinguishers reviewed the difficulties involved in keeping the contents of chemical fireextinguishers from freezing. The best method that has come to the committee’s notice is t*>e covering of the extinguisher with a box lined with about an inch of hair felt. Packing extinguishers in boxes of sawdust might be efficacious, if the packing were several inches or a foot all round the extinguisher. Although manufacturers have given the subject considerable attention, there appears to he no* satisfactory cherriicn4 means for keeping extinguishers from freezing at temperatures below zero Fahrenheit, and the only safe means of preventing them from freezing is not to allow them to become exposed to a temperature below 320 Fahr.
As the waste by fire, especially by conflagrations in cities, being so numerous, the following resolution—the result of a prolonged general debate— were adopted by the association: “Whereas, The National Fire Protection association was formed ten years ago to promote the science and improve the methods of fire protection, to obtain and circulate information on this subject and to secure the co-operation of its members in establishing proper safeguards against loss of life and property by fire; and Whereas, In spite of all efforts up to the present time, the terrible fire-waste of this country has continued uninterrupted, involving a loss per capita several times greater than other countries; and Whereas, Public protection has not kept pace with the growth of buildings and increase of valuation in congested centres, and as the business conditions and prosperity of the country are liable to interruption, if this increasing loss cannot be checked, be it Resolved, By the National Fire Protection association in convention assembled, that an urgent appeal be and is hereby made to all interests to co-operate in bringing about better conditions by adopting improved methods of construction, by safeguarding hazards of occupancy and by introducing automatic sprinklers and other private protection with private water supplies—all in addition to the public fire service; and be it further Resolved, That we recommend that municipalities pass ordinances involving the adoption of an approved building code along the lines of the building code recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters, and requiring the introduction of automatic sprinklers with private water supplies in buildings of special ocfcupancy and in so-called congested districts, to the end that the danger of sweeping conflagrations may be largely eliminated.”