Use Heavy Streams to Kill Heat
Large Streams from Deck Gun Necessary in Reducing Temperature from Potash Fire—Long Range to Cover Exposures
THE fire described in the last issue of FIRE ENGINEERING was one wherein the use of large streams was most essential.
The point the fire clearly demonstrated is that in order to reduce high temperature and cover exposures at long range large caliber streams at high pressures are invaluable. The failure to make use of deck guns in this particular instance was responsible for fire extending to buildings across street as well as for the extent of the fire in buildings adjacent to the chemical laboratory.
Fires of this type require concentration of heavy streams.
To sum up the problem as given in the last issue of this journal, the fire started in the chemical laboratory building shown in Fig. 2 herewith. At the time of the fire a strong wind was blowing from the north.
The exact cause of the fire was not known, but it is evident from witnesses that the fire started at the point indicated and immediately thereafter spread by explosion into building 15 and then into building C through open fire doors. The fire doors closed subsequent to the ignition of contents of these buildings. The presence of ammonium nitrate in building A resulted in the production of a great amount of “laughing gas” which made operation in this building extremely dangerous.
In building B the presence of chemicals as well as wooden containers increased the intensity of the fire very rapidly while in building C the large quantity of chlorate of potash which was stored therein, upon igniting, sent forth a flare which drove the firemen back and ultimately ignited the sash and door plant across Wyburn Avenue.
There was good water supply and the pressure throughout the fire ranged around SO pounds. Hydrants are indicated in Fig. 2. Fig. 1 shows the layout of the buildings on the Smith Street side of the block.
When the fire department arrived building B was fully involved on the ground floor and fire had extended to the second floor; building A was well ablaze on the ground floor while on the ground floor of building C fire had already entered and was making considerable headway.
At the time the second alarm was transmitted the flare occurred from building C.
Suggested Method of Handling Fire.
The following is a suggested method for handling this fire from the time when the flare occurred.
It will be assumed that the first alarm assignment was placed as indicated in the description of the fire as fought and this article will carry the operations from that point onward.
Placement of lines of first alarm company were as follows: Engine No. 1 stopped at hydrant No. 1 and stretched in a single line to building B. This building was taken rather than building C as the fire had gained considerable proportions and it was thought that due to the large open area, more effective work could lie done.
Engine 2 was located at hydrant No. 6 and stretched a single line into building A, using a 1 1/4-inch tip and made quick work against the fire in the laboratory. This stream kept in operation in building A until several of the men collapsed from gas and the company had to retreat. Gas had apparently gone to the upper floor as well; there was an open stairway leading to the upper floor from the ground floor in building A.
It was subsequently discovered that the large quantities of ammonium nitrate stored in building A was giving off what is commonly known as “laughing gas.”
The remaining members of this company continued to operate from the street into building A.
Engine 3 connected to hydrant No. 7 and stretched a single line by ladder to the second floor of building A, operating from the ladder and taking no chance on going into the building. F’ire at this time was burning quite briskly in on the second floor of building A and it required the attention of this line (using 1 1/4-inch nozzle) to stay the progress of the fire.
Hose Co. No. 1, upon rolling in, stretched a second line from engine 1 at hydrant No. 1 into building B, going by ladder to the second floor which was now well ablaze.
The Battalion Chief in charge of the first alarm assignment at this time concluded that the task was too much for the first alarm apparatus and transmitted a second alarm.
It was shortly after transmitting this alarm that the great flare occurred from building C, sending white hot flames out onto the street. So intense was the heat that the men operating the two lines from Engine Co. No. 1 had to drop their posts and retreat to safety. This threw the two lines out of service temporarily.
Put Heavy Streams in Operation.
Members of the hose company withdrew the lines by pulling them back toward the engine, although the heat was so intense that it was almost unbearable to the men at Engine No. 3. The lines, however, were eventually brought back to a point of safety and the men operating these lines rejoined their company and put the lines in operation to cover the sash and door factory as well as wet down as best they might on the fire.
This is the point at which it is absolutely necessary that heavy streams be put in operation. Place wagon from Hose Co. No. 1 on Jay Street near the northeast corner of the sash and door plant. Stretch two lines from Engine No. 1 to this deck gun and get in operation at once. The stream should sweep down the front of the sash and door plant and alternately operate on fire in building C.
Stretch second line from Engine Co. No. 2 and operate on fire in t’uilding B.
Stretch second line from Engine Co. No. 3 at hydrant No. 7 and operate in building A.
Shift lines from Engine Co. No. 2 operating in A to operate into B so that two lines will be operating in building B and two in building A.
Assign Second Alarm Companies.
Response to second alarm is as follows:
Engine Co. No. 4, tractorized steamer having wagon with deck gun; Engine Co. No. 5 having triple combination car; Hose Co. No. 2 having automobile combination chemical and hose car with deck gun.
Ladder Co. No. 3, city service truck; Ladder Co. No. 4, city service truck.
Assignment of apparatus from second alarm would be as follows:
Engine Co. No. 4 at hydrant No. 2. Stretch two lines to deck gun placed on Jay Street near northeast corner of building C—but far enough away to permit men to operate satisfactorily on this deck gun. The stream from this gun to be operated into building C to wet down as much as possible and at the same time assist in covering exposures of the sash and door plant.
Engine Co. No. 5 to be placed at hydrant on Jay Street just east of Wyburn Avenue (shown but not labeled in Fig. 2).
This engine company to stretch two lines into second floor of sash and door plant and using these two lines siamesed into large nozzle operate across Wyburn Avenue into building C or B as required.
At this point it should be mentioned that ladder companies are to assist in whatever manner possible in opening up and getting lines in operation.
They are also to survey adjoining buildings from basement to roof to make sure that fire is not extending.
Upon inspection of the basement of building B they will discover that fire is about to enter into this building from building A.
Upon discovering the fire entering basement of building B, this information will warrant the immediate assignment of line to cover this basement. This line will be secured from Hose Company No. 2, stretching from hydrant No. 9. Hydrant pressure of 50 pounds will be satisfactory to furnish a stream for use in basement of building B.
Thorough ventilation of this building as well as other buildings is absolutely essential and this should be taken care of by the first ladder companies on hand.
The thoroughness of ventilation will determine the effectiveness of the fire department in operating on this fire.
The presence of dangerous gases as fire increases in intensity will make it impossible for men to enter any of the buildings safety; hence early ventilation, and thorough ventilation, ii absolutely essential.
At this point the chief officer will be at hand and if progress is not being made in holding and extinguishing the fire then a third alarm will he necessary.
Assignment of Third Alarm Companies.
It is likely, judging from the progress of the fire, that such an alarm is needed and in that case the assignment of apparatus on the third alarm will lie as follows:
Engine Co. No. 6 at hydrant No. 8 stretching a single line along Wyburn Avenue to assist in covering sash and door plant and in operating in building B.
Engine Co. No. 7 to be placed at hydrant No. 3, and a single line stretched to operate from Jay Street into building C.
Engine Co. No. 8, to be stationed at hvdrant No. 1.3 and a single line stretched to operate on fire in building C or. if necessary, to operate on sash and door plant to prevent ignition of this building at the corner of Jay Street and Wyburn Avenue.
With heavy streams in operation on the fire in building C, it is likely that the intensity of the heat will he deadened appreciably. And if this building has been properly vented at the top the heat will go upward rather than across Wyburn Avenue.
It is questionable, however, whether it will be possible to ventilate this building due to the terrific heat and the extreme danger of men operating on the roof of the building.
If venting has not been accomplished before the dare occurs then it is unlikely that it can be accomplished at all.
In such case the chief concern is to prevent the dare from igniting the frame sash and door plant across Wyburn Avenue,
The fire wall between the shoe factory and the buildings surrounding it will retard the progress of the fire for a considerable time—in fact the actual fire showed that the wall was a barrier which held even though the fire was practically permitted to burn itself out.
To sum up this problem, heavy streams with great carrying power are the most effective weapons available for the fire department. The great volumes of water discharged by these larger streams will deaden the fire so that its likelihood of extending to exposed buildings will be very much diminished. At the same time the greater range of the heavy streams will make proper covering of exposures possible.