Value of the Chemical Engine.
To the Editor of FIRE AND WATER:
The excellent articles which have recently appeared in your journal treating upon the scientific methods of extinguishing fires have aroused considerable comment and cannot fail to be productive of good results.
We have been gradually discarding main strength and antiquated principles and adopting methods more in accordance with the progress of the age, and as in the various arts and trades science has superseded brute force, so also in the extinguishment of fires has the best scientific knowledge been brought into play. The difficulty exists in the application.
The simple fact that most of the progressive fire fighters arc hearty advocates of, and many of them users of, chemical fire engines, is in itself significant, and the growing feeling that after the chemical engine should come the fire boat with its powerful stream, or for inland work the water tower, is knocking a good deal of the nonsense out of the old methods.
Were it possible to apply a chemical stream (carbonic acid gas and water) to all fires, that in itself would be sufficient, but, unfortunately, heat and smoke sometimes interfere, and then the “get there” stream of water must be substituted.
If common sense chemical engines are employed as distinguished from the insignificant thirty-five gallon pieces of so called fire apparatus, so that a powerful stream can be thrown a distance of at least 75 feet and projected from at least a 3/8 inch nozzle, and, assuming that such a stream is twenty times as effective as ordinary water (the manufacturers claim forty times), it would take a stream of water 1.6 inches in diameter to equal the chemical stream.
The record of the Joliet (III.) Fire Department for 1888 shows that out of 64 fires 62 were extinguished by the chemical engines. During the same period in Chicago effective work was done with chemical engines at 695 fires. Of course all depends on the handling. Doubtless, in Joliet’s case the chemicals were sent for all there was in them; they struck hard blows and did most excellent work.
However desirable it may be to extinguish fires by means of chemicals, the fact remains that the carbonic acid gas machines using water as a carrier are as yet the only practical appliance available. The efficiency of these machines is governed by the size of reservoir, hose and nozzle and the experience and pluck of the pipeman.
Strike first a quick hard blow from the chemical, and if that is found insufficient, bring the water tower with its great stream to bear and make a black mark on a portion of the building rather than leave the fire to blacken the whole structure.
CHICAGO, February 24.
THE WATUITA WATER BOARD REPORT.— The sixteenth annual report of the Watuppa Water Board to the City Council of Fall River, Mass., shows the quantity of water pumped in 1889 to have been 685,447,036 gallons; coal burned, 916 tons; gallons of water pumped to the pound of coal, 334.05. The present tank is becoming inadequate to the demand in case of fire and the erection of another is recommended, as is the purchase of a strip of land along the border of Watuppa lake, so as to guard against the pollution of the water. During the year 6300 feet of pipes were laid, making a total length in the system of 62,566 miles. The receipts for water were $121,908 and expenditures for management and repairs $36,928, the pipe-laying costing in addition $18,507 net. The meters set during the year numbered 290, making 3428 in use.
THE LONDON (ONT.) FIRE Department.—The report of Chief Roe of the London (Ont.) Fire Department for the year 1889 shows the manual force to consist of fourteen permanent and six call men. One horse and a new supply wagon had been added during the year. The hook and ladder truck is a “dilapidated and antiquated apology ” for a truck and a new one is urgently needed. There are 3500 feet of good and 900 feet of second-class hose on hand. The purchase of 500 feet new hose, a play-pipe and nozzle and a dozen each of rubber boots and coats is recommended. The erection of additional hydrants and the uniforming of the men is also advised. The alarms for the year numbered 124, of which 81 were for actual fires. The losses footed up $21,387.