THE NEW FIREBOATS IN NEW YORK
The successful test of two “Dreadnaught” fireboats, the largest in the world, at New York City, May 26th, fully demonstrated the practicability of turbine driven centrifugal pumps in firefighting apparatus. These new boats, the “James Duane” and the “Thomas Willett,” are the first of their kind to be equiped with the new centrifugal pumps driven direct by steam turbines, and the official trial was so successful and so far in advance of the guarantees of the builders that Chief Edward F. Croker predicted that the centrifugal pump would not only take the place of the old piston pumps on fireboats, but on fire engines as well. The new boats were built by Alexander Miller and Brothers, of Jersey City, N. J., and this firm also installed all the machinery. They are each 131 ft. long on deck and 123 ft. at the water line. The breadth of hull is 27 ft. and the depth 14 ft. The engines are direct acting, compound engines of 850 horsepower. Each boat is equiped with a high steel water tower aft, upon which is mounted a large 3-in. adjustable nozzle. Another and a similar nozzle is mounted above the pilot house forward and on the two deck turrets. The boats are designed to give plenty of deckroom and space for the firemen to work, as the only projections are the pilothouse forward, the tower aft and the two turrets for hose connections. The details of the construction are worked out nicely and the sister boats are the finest firefighting crafts afloat. The turbines and centrifugal pumps take up very little floor space in the engine room. The trial trip of these boats included running, maneuvering, and operating demonstrations under the supervision of Chief Edward F. Croker and “Admiral” John Kenlon, of the New York fireboat fleet, as well as representatives from the various builders.
During the trial run about the water-front the boats developed a speed of over fifteen miles per hour. Then the steam was turned on the turbines and the boats began to show what they could do in the way of throwing water. The first 3-in. nozzles on the Willett were opened at 175 lb. pressure at the pumps, the dial showing a nozzle pressure of 115 lb., and each nozzle was throwing 3,200 gal. of water, or a total of 9,600 lb. per minute. When all five of the big nozzles were opened, including those from the tower and the pilot house, the boat was throwing over 12,000 gal. of water per minute while moving ahead at full speed. The streams were gradually turned until only one nozzle was open and the pumps were connected in series. With the enormous pressure of 315 lb. at the pumps and 230 lb. at the nozzle a stream of water was thrown fully 400 ft. in the wind and to a height of nearly 300 ft. Over 4,550 gal. of water a minute were leaving the nozzle under this enormous pressure. At a later trial this stream of water reached nearly 500 ft.
The two Worthington pumps are 12-in., two stage, centrifugals direct connected to Curtis turbine engines. The pumps are each designed for 4,500 gal. a minute against a boiler pressure of 150 lb., and, while only 9.000 gal. were guaranteed by the builders, more than 12,000 gal. were actually thrown, and the best could in emergency have thrown as high as 14.000 gal. The sister ship, the “James Duane,” did equally as well.
The Curtis turbine engines, built by the General Electric company, which are direct connected to the centrifugal pumps, are rated at 660 horsepower, but are capable of enough overload capacity to deliver 1,000 horsepower continuously. They operate a boiler pressure of 200 lb. and a vacuum of 26 in. at a speed of 1,800 r. p. m. The rotating parts of the horizontal turbines are direct connected by means of a flexible coupling to the rotating parts of the centrifugal pumps, the high speed of the turbine being sufficient to run the pumps without gears. While this method is an innovation, the trial run fully demonstrated that it is far superior to the old way ot pumping water with reciprocating engines geared to piston pumps. Under these conditions each turbine was tested at the rated horsepower before leaving the General Electric company, and found to deliver one horsepower at the shaft for every 15 lb. of steam. The requirements called forqooogal. of wateraminute against 150 lb. pressure, with steam consumption not to exceed 10.000 lb. of steam an hour. At the actual test it was demonstrated that this amount of water could be delivered with 9.000 lb. of steam per hour. The “Thomas Willett” and “James Duane” are also equiped with a 10-kw. General Electric marine set, which furnishes electricity for the numerous lights necessary about the ships and the r8 in. searchlights mounted forward on the pilot house. Every bit ot equipment, from the compass to the engines, was tried out on both the new boats under the direction of Chief Croker. Not only did everything work perfectly, but the results were far better than the builders anticipated. ‘I he boats were appropriately named after the first two mayors of the city, Thomas Willett and James Duane. Thomas Willett was son of the Rev. An drew Willett, rector Barley. He was born on August 29, 1605, at Barley, Hertfordshire, England, and came from Leyden to Plymouth 1632. He became the first mayor of New York on June 12. 1665, after the Dutch gave up to the English. He served two terms in that office; died on August 4. 1674. and was buried in Bullocks Cove cemetery, Swansea, R. I. The gravestone still there, 233 years after his death. James Duane was born in New York City on February 1733. He was the son of Anthony Duane. He was State senator in 1783 and was made mayor of New York on February 7, 1784, being the first mayor after the Revolution. The of ritory covered by New York fireboats, including all the indentations and windings of the various creeks, rivers, canals and the space occupied by ferries, wharves, piers and the like, is close upon, if it does not exceed 600 miles. It extends from the lightship at Atlantic Highlands to Rockavvay Point buoy and to Mount St. Vincent, taking in both sides of the Hudson. It embraces the Harlem and East rivers, with the islands, on to the Sound up to Sands Point; all the Brooklyn w’aterfront, through Gravesend bay, along Coney Island and Rockaway Beach to Broad channel, and comprises the whole circuit of Staten Island (Borough of Richmond) and the islands in the bay, through the Kill von Kull to Shooters bay. Any ship in the harbor, inside or outside of the Narrows, is entitled to claim the help of a fireboat, when the emergency arises. The value of property that has to be protected runs up into the billions of dollars and calls for constant watchfulness on the part of Chief Kenlon, whose launch Velox is a familiar sight in the harbor. The first fireboat in use in New York harbor was the William F. Havemeyer. She was built in 1874 and did duty till about three years ago, when she was sold and is now utilised as a tug-boat in and around the harbor. She was equiped with two sets of pumps—equal to four firstclass fire engines—and could throw four separate streams or one concentrated heavy stream. The Zophar Mills was the next. She was built in 1882 and was called after the veteran fireman of that name—one of the well-known citizens who was a member of the original volunteer fire department of New York.