Water Stations Extend Protection
Water and Fire Protection Facilities Made Available to Residents of Outlying Areas by Construction of Reservoirs
THREE years ago I had a hobby of making places where the Fire Department could obtain water, outside of the water mains. The cause of this hobby was a fire which occurred on July 3, 1934.
Lightning struck a barn on the Amherst Road near what is known as the Willows. The Department made a quick run to the scene and laid two lines of hose across the field and had two good streams playing on the buildings. Then the water in the brook gave out, and we lost all the buildings. If we had had plenty of water at the time, we could have saved the house, as it had just started to burn when we arrived.
Upon returning to the station the thought occurred to me, why not make a reservoir, where a brook flows beside the road. I brought the matter before the Board of Fire Commissioners and they thought it would be a good thing if such a reservoir could be made; but where was the money coming from to finance such a project? I talked with the Mayor and he was in favor of the plan.
Federal Funds Requested
When the ERA was established to relieve the city of some of the expense of caring for the welfare lists, a meeting was held at the City Hall. A request was sent to Washington for money to finance the construction of these reservoirs in the outlying districts of Nashua which had no fire protection. Washington officials granted a sum of money to the State of New Hampshire for building water reservoirs in Nashua.
On December 4, 1934, we made a start on what is now the best system of water reservoirs and stations in New England where water can be obtained for the extinguishment of fires.
We started with 24 men and as the time went on we gradually increased the personnel. If at the time of the starting of the project anyone had told me that we would still be working at this time, December 15. 1936, I might have been a little skeptical about the starting. But when one starts a thing of this kind there is no telling where or when the end will be. We had no knowledge of what to do or what the cost would be, but I had in my mind what I wanted to do, and a rough idea how we should proceed to construct these particular reservoirs.
We started in at the Willows on the Amherst Road, to make our first reservoir. The brook was a good sized one at that time of the year. We had to make two dams, to carry the brook around the section we were working on by making wooden troughs, and then to pump out the water between the dams. We had to do this before we could get into the section to throw out the slit and gravel to make a place four feet deep. Each section was about fifty feet in length and when it was completed we had a reservoir two hundred feet long.
Land Easements Necessary
About this time we received word from Washington that we had to have two easements signed by the land owner permitting the city of Nashua to build these reservoirs. Mr. Clark, the City Engineer, drew up one of these papers, which was approved by the Washington officials and then we started to get the signatures of the land owners where the reservoirs were to be built. While the men were working on the Willows Reservoir, I looked up a few locations which I thought would make good places to build reservoirs, and had all the papers signed.
Men Supplied by ERA
The men were allowed to work 30 hours per week; the pay was $12 for a married man and a single man was permitted 15 hours per week at $6.
The ERA furnished the men with rubber boots and I purchased rubber mittens for them to keep their hands warm. By this time the mornings were as cold as 20 below zero. At 11:30 a.m. I brought hot coffee for the men, so that there was no lost time except in very stormy weather. On July 16, 1935, the ERA ended and the work was taken over by the WPA.
New papers had to be filed with WPA officials at Manchester for their approval of an allotment of money to continue the project. The sum had to be less than $25,000 and it was quite a task to determine how much would be required to finish what we had set out to do. It was not easy to determine what kind of digging would be necessary. Our estimate of man-hours included the services of two foremen, one time keeper, one superintendent of construction, two carpenters, two cement men, two stone masons and the balance laborers.
We made an estimated amount of $24,972, which has proved a very good one. After the papers were approved by the State WPA office, they were sent on to Washington. During the work on the reservoirs under the ERA I had different stages of the construction photographed. I sent some of these pictures to the WPA officials, so that they might have some conception of what we were doing with the money. Those pictures, and what the inspectors saw, made quite an impression with the officials and, when we made application for a grant of money from the WPA, it helped out very much. Our request was approved in quick time and was one of the first to be received back from Washington.
Works Under WPA
On September 16, 1935, we again started out under the WPA to finish the project. We were requested to find all the locations possible to construct these reservoirs outside of the water main district. Under the new set-up we employed 46 men, which is quite a number to keep employed. In the beginning I called all the men together and impressed upon them that if they wanted to continue under this project, I would expect them to earn their forty cents per hour and I would treat them fairly and expected the same from them.
The first of the present year we had accomplished so much and as other projects were being formed, our man power has been reduced until at the present time we have only ten men at work finishing up the project.
We have four 1,000-gallon and one 400-gallon pumpers, the latter having been just put into service, four booster hose wagons and three ladder trucks. The pumping engines and hose wagons carry 1,300 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose and 200 feet of 1-inch hose, which makes a total of 10,400 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose and 1,800 feet of 1inch hose ready at all times.
Each unit has 65 gallons of water in a tank, except the 400-gallon pumper, which has a 100-gallon tank. The ladder trucks each carry 325 feet of ladders.
We have 64 stations outside of the hydrant districts by making roads and pools. Every building within the boundaries of Nashua is now accessible to water and has fire protection.
The city of Nashua covers 34 square miles of territory, which is a large amount to protect, especially in the outlying districts. The cost to the city for the materials used in the construction of these reservoirs was less than $3,000. The government paid $27,522.20 for wages which amount would have had to be paid out of the taxes of the city.
This is quite a saving and at the same time a good investment and an everlasting protection to the outlying districts. My contention is that if a fire occurs in the outlying districts, and if we can save part of the buildings involved, the owners of the property will rebuild. But if all the buildings were destroyed they would not be so likely to replace them, and the city would lose in taxes.