TIN ROOFING AS A FIRE PREVENTIVE

TIN ROOFING AS A FIRE PREVENTIVE

At the recent conventions of the National Association of Sheet Metal Contractors in Philadelphia, H. N. Taylor read a paper on the qualities of tin roofing, a part of which is herewith published:

A tin roof prevents the spread of fire in the same way as a tin-covered fire-door or shutter, although the tin roof is rarely subjected to severe heat. If an additional precaution against fire is desired in an extreme case, cover the sheathing boards first with asbestos paper weighing not less than ten pounds to the square, and over this lay one thickness of deadening felt of the same weight. Upon this apply the tin roofing in the manner described in the “Tin Roofer’s Handbook.” The tin surface, firmly locked together, prevents fire from breaking through. The deadening felt and the asbestos paper provide a dead-air space, an effective non-conductor of heat. Tests have shown that tin laid in this way can be heated red hot without communicating fire to the wood backing. This is a very simple expedient that should satisfy the most severe requirements for fireproofing against the exposure risk. The cost of the sheathingpaper and felt should amount to about 55 cents per square. However, a tin roof laid in the ordinary manner is amply sufficient to protect the building against all ordinary fire hazards. It is not sufficient, however, that a roofing should withstand outside fire exposure. It must also hold together and confine the flames in the case of fire in the building it covers. A large part of our annual fire losses is due to fires that extend beyond the limit of the buildings in which they started. These losses are undoubtedly due to the inflammable construction of buildings and roofs, for in Europe, where fireproof construction prevails, there is no such loss from this source, fires being more readily confined to the buildings in which they started. Foreign countries cominsurance against fire, not only for the lcnefit of the owner, but for his neighbor. If your building burns you are responsible for the damage done to surrounding property. Until similar laws are enacted in this country, we shall have to rely for better roofing conditions upon your efforts as sheet-metal workers to further the use of better roofing. The tin roof is the most desirable type, as it will hold together in a remarkable manner, even after the roof supports are entirely burned away; and we have many cases on record where the tin roof has been found after the fire, still almost intact, covering the ruins and preventing the upward sweep of the flames and the spread of fire to other structures by means of sparks and burning embers. I have many remarkable illustrations of this feature, some of which have already been shown in the trade papers. In a fire which destroyed the upper stories of the Odd Fellows’ orphanage at Goldsboro, N. C., the tin roof helped to confine and check the fire, although the sheathing-boards below were completely burned away. From an interior view of the same building you can clearly see the under side of the tin with the cleats still hanging in the seams. Props were put in after the fire to keep the tin from collapsing in the wind. There was no break apparent in this roof; the tin was in such good condition that it seemed unfortunate that it had to be removed in order to build up the wood work beneath. In February, 1909, fire started on the top floor of a school building at Germantown, Philadelphia, and raged furiously for one hour under the tin roof. This roof had covered the building for forty-two years, and was still in perfect condition. Again in this case the tin held the fire in check, making the work of the firemen much easier in controlling what would probably have been a serious conflagration, as the building stands in the midst of a thickly builtup section. The old paint factory of Wetherill Rros. Co., in Philadelphia, was destroyed by fire in March, 1907. This is one of Philadelphia’s pioneer establishments, and the ownerns reported to us that the tin on these old buildings had given good service for upward of eighty years, and was still in first rate condition. These roofs prevented the fire from burning through, and the tin held together intact except on the right wing of the building, where the supports were burned entirely away, allowing the roof to fall through. On the left wing a large section of the roof was torn up by firemen. The tin proved such an effective bar to the flames, that not even the wooden sign on the top of the main building, nor the wooden clock tower, was damaged. These tin roofs undoubtedly saved the adjoining lumber yard and several slag-roofed buildings from catching fire. In a striking manner, the value of tin as compared with inflammable patent roofing, is exemplified in a lire that occurred on North Third street, Philadelphia, in January, 1909. On the right are two tin roofs which held together all through the fire, although the buildings below were completely burned out, leaving the tin hanging intact from the coping of the party walls. This fire spread through a passageway to a large slag-roofed factory in the rear, which burned very fiercely, the tar and paper adding fuel to the flames. This, in turn, set fire to the patent roll roofing on the building to the left, the flames from this building leaping high in the air. This particular roll roofing is extensively advertised to be fireresisting. A recent building collapse in Pittsburg served to show how a tin roof holds together. Tin roofing will often settle down like a blanket on the ruins, smothering the flames. In one case that I know of the tin roofing hung down like a curtain, cutting off the draft and checking the progress of the fire. A department store in West Philadelphia was destroyed by fire in April of this year. This roof of our tin, put on in 1902, held together almost intact throughout the progress of the fire, although the sheathing-boards below were burned away. leaving the tin supported only by a line of charred posts standing down the center of the building, and by the side walls. The tin hung unsupported except at the center and sides. Can you think of any other type of roofing that would resist the profiress of fire in this fashion? An instance of the failure of the tar-and-gravel and composition roofs in a fire was shown in a case where, although the rafters were stilt intact. the tar roofing was burned off in spots, permitting a free upward draft for the passage of the flames until checked by the fire department. Another aspect of the matter was brought out in a letter received from the occupant of a building recently damaged by fire near our general offices in this city. Our correspondent writes:

“We have had an experience an account of which will no doubt be interesting to you, since it shows what a tin roof would have done for us had we had one over our heads at the time of the fire which partly destroyed the building we occupy, on January 19, 1910. The photograph we send you shows how the tar-and-gravel roof over our end of the building has been burned completely away. The roof supports were very substantial, and would have held the tin roof intact, which would have prevented the loss of several thousand dollars to ns from the incessant rains which occurred during the six weeks following the fire. Our plant lay at the mercy of the ele ments during all this time. The fire started on the third floor, and within a half hour it had attacked the roof, of which it made short work, owing to its inflammable nature. From our experience in this case we firmly believe that with a good tin roof this fire could have been conquered in half the time and with half the loss to both building and tenants.”

If the interior of the building is only partly damaged, a roofing that holds intact will save the contents from later damage from the weather, while a built-up roof containing tar, pitch or asphalt will either soften and burn through, or will drop hot tar into the building or from the eaves, adding fuel to the fire, making the work of the firemen more hazardous. Fire chiefs are almost unanimous upon this point. Chief Croker, of New York, states: “In my opinion tar-and-gravel roofs, or any other materia! which is not absolutely necessary, should not be allowed, as the records throughout the country show that all conflagrations have been caused by non-fireproof roofs. The committee which was appointed to revise the building code of this city unanimously recommended that fireproof roofs be placed on all buildings in Greater New York, irrespective of their being inside or outside the fire lines. From my experience. t:u asphalt, paper, pitch, gravel, etc., are not fire proof, and will very readily catch fire when exposed to large embers or extreme heat.”

Chief Clancy of the Milwaukee fire department say’s: “Fire department officials in this section of the country do not consider any of these roofs (tar-and-gravel) of great fireresisting value. In fact in a majority of cases they seem to feed the flames, especially where a building collapses from fire or any other cause.”

Chief Archibald, of Cincinnati, states: “In reply to your inquiry of the 11th, I desire to state that, in my judgment, I think it foolish to allow the asphalt and pitch graveled roofs to be placed on buildings within your fire limits. In my experience I have had cases where a fire would leap over on just such roofs as these, and I am satisfied that if they had been of slate or metal they would have saved a lot of trouble. There is another objection to the pitch and gravel roof, as in times of fire the downspouts would plug up and cause a great deal of water to remain on the roofs, thereby causing great inconvenience to the firemen, and also causing them to feel uneasy while working on the roof or under it.”

New Jersey Firemen’s Association.

The report of the proceedings of the thirtythird annual convention of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association, held at Atlantic City, September 15, 1910, has just been published. From the report of John S. Gibson, auditor, the following is taken: “Dealing in round numbers, the amounts disbursed directly during the last ten years, for the benefit of the firemen of New Jersey and their dependents, have been as follows: For the purchase and enlargement of the Firemen’s Home, at Boonton, $50,000; for maintenance and improvement of the Firemen’s Home, at Boonton, $105,000; for relief of aged and indigent firemen and their widows and orphans, $533,000; for pension funds to paid departments, $244,000; total, $932,000. The state association is made up of 222 local firemen’s relief associations, incorporated under state laws. Their income for the year, from the 2 per cent, tax on the premiums collected by foreign insurance companies, in this state, and the interest on their investments, aggregate the sum of $217,274.67. Their total assets are $1,262,506.30. Of these 222 associations, Newark leads the list with assets of $94,521.28; Jersey City second with $78,180.69: Morristown fifth with $38,581.53: Dover ninth with $28,650.02, and West Long Branch last with $21.36. There was disbursed for direct relief to firemen or their families $06,279.01 : paid into the pension fund of the ten cities having paid repartments, $40,484.12, and appropriated for the support of the Firemen’s Home at Boonton, $11,500. The firemen of the state can well be pleased and Dover especially proud of the showing made by the auditor’s statement. This gives Dover’s assets as $28,650.02; income for year, $2,320.11; relief paid, $672. and expenses, $155.65. These expenses are made up of premium on treasurer’s bond, state assessment, salaries, delegates’ expenses and incidentals. The report shows that Morristown has assets of $38,581.53; income for year, $3,181.99; relief paid. $557.30. and expenses. $254.60. The Dqscr Firemen’s Relief Association was incorporated January 27, 1877, and reincorporated August 12. 1885. The affairs of the association and the custody of its funds are vested in a board of representatives, consisting of three members from each of the active companies and exempts, toenther with the chief engineer. This board appoints a board of visitors, consisting of three members, chosen from the eligible firemen of the department other than their _own_board. The duty of these visitors is to examine into all applications for assistance and report the result to the association, who act on the matter as the majority may determine. The funds of the association, under the laws governing their incorporation, are only available for use in the relief of aged and indigent firemen, their widows and orphans, and the actual expenses of the association. The Firemen’s Home, at Roonton. is a very handsome structure, large and well equipped. It is situated in a beautifully laid out park and is conducted in a most admirable manner. All aged and indigent firemen who are in good standing with their departments are eligible to become residents of this pleasant and comfortable abode.

Hydraulic Laboratory at Cornell University.

The December issue of The Cornell Civil Engineer, a monthly publication of the Association of Civil Engineers of Cornell, N. Y., University, contains a description of the new Cornell hydraulic laboratory, by E. W. Schoder. Mr. Schoder says that it is one thing to idealize and another to realize. The scope of the ambitious imagination is considerably less limited than the boundaries of subsequent achievement. Even so with our laboratory. Since 1899, only the last five years have witnessed the use for regular instruction purposes of our Fall Creek laboratory building, the work previously having been carried on in Lincoln hall basement, except for some senior elective work at the laboratory canal. During these five years the development has been slow, but in the aggregate considerable. The inadequacy of the original general design of the canal and building for convenience in instruction and investigation has made progress unnecessarily difficult. The installation of equipment under the circumstances has been held back by the feeling that a really satisfactory hydraulic laboratory with the present arrangement of canal and building is out of the question. A fourteen horse-power Doble impulse wheel and a fourstage centrifugal pump have been ordered. The pump is to be driven by impulse wheel, but the _____atter may be tested separately and then used 35 a power meter in testing the pump. The hydraulic laboratory building, canal and dam (the dam used jointly for university water supply, power plant and hydraulic laboratory) cost $60,-000 when built in 1899. This does not include detail equipment added since. The building is of rubble masonry, is constructed against the rock wall of Fall Creek gorge on the south side of Trephammer Falls, is eighty feet high, has four floors, each about 16 to 25 by 40 to 60 feet. The location allows a gravity supply of water, entering the building at the top. The top floor has a canal 6 feet wide, 35 feet long and 12 feet deep, with a weir and diverting apparatus for handling instantaneously flows up to 60 c. f. s., the water flowing either to wasteway or into the top of the 6 foot diameter standpipe. The second floor down is arranged as a demonstration lecture room seating fifty students. Here are given some half dozen demonstration lectures in connection with the theoretical work in hydraulics. The third floor down is equipped for a portion of the regular laboratory work. The experiments are here performed with orifices, pipes, nozzles, Venturi meters, water meters, Pitol tubes, etc. The bottom floor contains measuring tanks, large nozzles, a small turbine arranged for brake tests and will contain shortly other hydraulic machinery. A steel standpipe 6 feet in diameter extends from the bottom of the laboratory to the weir on the top floor, 65 feet above. It serves either as an accurate measuring tank or as a supply pressure tank for the lower floors. For emptying, it has a 36-inch hydraulically operated valve at the bottom. A 10-inch standpipe, communicating directly with the pond above the dam, gives an independent supply for the smaller apparatus. This standpipe also extends to the bottom floor. It has tee connections for special apparatus, and is cross-connected to the 6-foot standpipe with appropriate valves between. The large canal, open to the weather, is 16 feet wide, 400 feet long, 18 feet deep for the upper 50 feet, and 10 feet deep for the lower 350 feet. The flow in this canal is regulated by head-gates, weirs, baffles and divers temporary auxiliary constructions depending on the investigation in hand. There is an equipment of floats and current meters with facilities for rating the latter. Extensive use has been made of the present plant in furthering the science of hydraulics.

OLD HYDRAULIC LABORATORY AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY.THE PRESENT CORNELL HYDRAULIC LABORATORYPLAN OF HYDRAULIC LABORATORY AND CANAL CONSTRUCTED IN 1897.

Pumping Engine Notes.

Erie, Pa., is going to purchase a new pump for its waterworks. It will have a capacity of 20,000,000 gallons per day.

The installation of the new pumping plant at Greencastle, Pa., will cost the town between $2,500 and $3,000 and to meet the expense the council authorized the sale of an additional $2,500 of water bonds.

At Cuero, Tex., the pump house and 250,000-gallon reservoir have been completed. Two large pumps and compressor have arrived and have been placed. Just as soon as the motors arrive the artesian water will be turned into the mains.

Leipsic, Ohio, suffered a heavy loss as the result of a fire which partly destroyed the waterworks pump station on December 8. The fire is said to have been caused by a short circuit of the hightension wire which feeds power to the waterworks pump station from the village electric light power station. The pumping station will be rebuilt at once.

By a fire at the Powell pumping station, 4 miles west of Fort Worth, Tex., on December 8, ten of the city’s artesian wells are out of commission temporarily. The first was first seen in the roof of the building, and with a strong south wind blowing the flames were carried rapidly through the main building and the ironclad metal-roofed boiler house adjoining. The plant uses oil for fuel, and several large tanks filled with fuel oil were saved by the wind blowing the fire away from them. An old tank car beside the plant was moved out of danger, slightly charred. The total value of the plant was $75,000, on which $28,500 insurance was carried.

The General Contracting & Construction Company, of Atlanta, Ga., has thrown up the contract to build the new waterworks pumping station in Gadsden, and the city is now in charge. The council passed a resolution pledging the city to take charge of the work and continue it until the bondsmen of the General Contracting & Construction Co. could be heard from. Notice was immediately sent to the Fidelity Security & Deposit Co., of Maryland, of the action on both sides. The bonding company is security for the contractors to the amount of $11,000 and this will amply indemnify the city of Gadsden for any loss that may accrue.

Water for Chicago south of Thirty-ninth street comes from the Sixty-eighth street pumping station. This station is typical of the condition of most of those in the city. Its capacity is 94,000,-000 gallons for each twenty-four hours. The engines are old in years and style and constant tinkering and patching is necessary. Some of the water they pump goes a distance of eleven miles before it readies the householder. The new Roseland pumping station, when completed, will largely relieve the situation in Hyde Park and along “the ridge,” on the South Side. Successively in years past the city engineer has recommended additional pumps for the Lake View station to relieve the rapidly growing north and southwest sides.

It was anounced that the business of the A. S. Cameron Steam Pump Works, which was recently taken over by the Ingersoll-Rand Company, 11 Broadway, New York, will be conducted as a separate enterprise, and to that end the Cameron Company has been incorporated. No change will be made in the policy of the company nor will any immediate change be made in the line of manufacture. The incorporators declare that the affairs of the Cameron Company will not be merged with those of the Ingersoll-Rand Company beyond that the latter organization will control the new corporation’s stock. The Cameron Company elected the following officers: President, George Doublcday; first vice-president, and treasurer, W. R. Grace; second vice-president and general manager. George W. Fuller; secretary, F. A. Brainard. All of the abovenamed and W. L. Saunders, president of the Ingersoll-Rand Company, and Joseph P. Grace are directors.

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