Water Supply for Fire Protection at Troy

Water Supply for Fire Protection at Troy

The committee on fire prevention of the National Board of Underwriters has recently revisited Troy, N. Y., in order to see what has been accomplished since the report on that city’s fire protection was sent in in January, 1905. Its report on the water supply is as follows:

Since July, 1905, the water department has been under the control of the commissioner of public works. William H. Shields, the present commissioner, and the superintendent, Eugene S. Osborne, were appointed on January 1, 1908. William W. Rousseau, appointed superintendent of construction in February, 1907, has charge of all engineering work in connection with the construction and maintenance of the distribution system. Upon matters pertaining to supply works, the city engineer, Mr. E. E. Grimes, formerly chief engineer of the department, still has general supervision in the capacity of consulting engineer. In May, 1906, the Tomhannock gravity system was substituted for the Hudson river supply and the main pumping station was abandoned; the pumps are now dismantled. By an arrangement of cross-connections, Tomhannock water may be discharged into either the low, middle or Lansingburg distributing reservoir, and is used throughout the city except in the high service. The supply from the storage and distributing reservoirs on the high service became exhausted on September 1, 1908, and a temporary supply was obtained from Wynants’ kill at Albia, by using the 750,000-gal. fire pump at the Troy Knitting mill and a 1,000,000-gal. fire pump at the Albia Box factory. Pumping from this source will be discontinued upon the installation by the water department of three emergency pumps arranged to supply the high service directly from mains of the low or middle services. The 1,000,000 gal. Worthington pump from Lower Oakwood has been set up at Fourteenth and Hoosick streets, and was first operated on September 30, 1908; a new 1,000,000-gal. Worthington pump is being installed at Burden avenue and Mill street; and a 500.000-gal. Deane pump has been purchased and will probably be located near the Lower Oakwood reservoir, to pump from that reservoir into the high service. These pumps will be removed after the supply in the storage reservoirs has been replenished. To prevent a recurrence of this situation in future years, the department contemplates additional storage on the Quackenkill watershed, and the construction of a large reservoir near the Vanderheyden reservoir. No consumption records are kept, as there are no provisions for measurement. The department estimates the present daily consumption at from 12,000,000 to 15,000,000 gal., which is about 200 gal. percapita. No efforts at waste prevention have been made, and only a small per cent, of services are metered. Pressures observed at hydrants by National Board engineers in September, 1908, were practically the same in the low and middle services as in 1905, except in that portion of the former adjacent to the extension of the 24 in. main, where pressures have been raised about 8 lb. The low and Lansingburg services have been combined by opening gates at the former city line, and pressures in Lansingburg, where considerable variations were noted in 1903, are now fairly uniform. The average pressure in the congested-value district is about 50 lb. The 24-in. main artery of the low service has been extended from Rensselaer street and Sixth avenue to Fulton and Front streets in the congested-value district, and pipe has been purchased for a further extension as a 20-in. in Front street to Washington street. About 3,400 ft. of 4-in. and smaller mains in the vicinity of the congested-value district have been replaced by mains of larger size. The total length of mains in the district which supply hydrants is about 14,000 ft. In addition, about 1,350 ft. of 6-in. pipe is laid in alleys. Pipes recently removed from the low service were badly tuberculated, and it is evident from the large amount of sediment flushed from hydrants during the 1908 tests that the existing mains are in poor condition. No regular gate-valve inspections are made, and the system of hydrant inspections is unsatisfactory. During the tests, many hydrants were found in poor, and some in unserviceable condition; all do not open in the same direction. The street department and volunteer firemen are particularly careless in the use of hydrants. Some caps were missing; several were broken; and many did not fit the outlet. Some hydrants were found with caps leaded on and could not be used, and some valve stem-nuts were worn round; the nuts are not of standard uniform sizes, and many have been filed down, so that an adjustable wrench is needed to open the hydrant. The department does not keep a sufficient number of wrenches. Since this inspection the water and fire departments have each detailed one man to inspect every hydrant in the city, and repair all found in an unserviceable condition. Tests of twelve groups of hydrants, including the strongest and some of tic weaker points of the distribution system, were made in September, 1908, to determine the amount of water available for fire-protection purposes in different parts of the city. Four to six hydrants were selected for a group; all hydrants in a group were opened simultaneously and free discharges measured. No tests were made in the high service on account of the scarcity of water. The tests showed that in general the quantities of water available are deficient, due to the serious lack of connection of the main arteries to the distribution system and to each other, the poor type of hydrants installed, the inherent difficulties in distribution due to the separate services with their long narrow areas, and the poor gridiron.

In two tests the quantity was limited by the type of hydrant and the poor connecting of the new 24-in. main to the other pipes. Two other tests, although they were taken where a large quantity should have been available, were deficient because of the dead ends and poor gridiron. Three others show the lack of proper main arteries in the Lansingburg, and another the same thing for the extreme southern district. About one-third of all the hydrants tested delivered quantities too low to supply a second-size engine, and this in a city where the natural advantages of the water supply are such that efficient direct hydrant streams could be obtained by a properly designed system. Conditions may be very much changed for the better by a comparatively inexpensive rearrangement of the system. Higher pressures, sufficient for direct hydrant streams and for sprinkler-operation in important districts, may be readily obtained by the utilisation for distributing purposes of existing reservoirs of higher elevation than those now used. The middle service distribution system should be divided between the low and high service about at elevation 180—thus making available another large main for the low service. The lower Oakwood reservoir should be kept full in reserve, and the two lansingburg and the upper Oakwood reservoirs he used for the low-service reservoirs. Further development of the Quackenkill watershed, necessary for the high service, can be made, so as to provide a surplus supply for the low service, which, if proper methods are adopted for the prevention of waste throughout the city, should he ample for the present, and should relieve for a time the necessity of increased capacity of the Tomhannock conduit. Larger storage can be developed in the upper part of the watershed to equalise the flow at the diverting dam, so that the treater portion of the run-off may be delivered to Brunswick and Vanderhevden reservoirs, and any surplus to the low service through connections nt its limits. The present unreliability of the high service distribution system necessitates permanent provisions to maintain this service. Another main feed-line is necessary: the single 20-in. nine from Vanderhevden reservoir to the distribution system is entirely inadequate to properly supply the district, and. in case of breakage, the district would be entirely without water. This main should connect with the end of the distribution system at Albia. and, since the Vanderheyden reservoir is not at sufficient elevation to supply certain areas that may in the future require water, it is suggested that a new distributing reservoir, supplied by a second conduit from the Quackenkill diverting dam, be connected to the system at Albia. Several sites for a highelevation reservoir are available along this route, which are more suitably located than that proposed by the department near Vanderheyden lake. The conclusions reached in the report are as follows : That the present existing conditions of supply for an adequate fire service, over and above that required for domestic consumption, are decidedly deficient; that the experiences met with in the summer of 1908 conclusively show that the present high service supply is entirely unreliable in time of extended dry periods; that the capacity of the Tomhannock conduit is only slightly in excess of the estimated rate of domestic consumption; that the quantities available for fire protection in the congested-value district, the southern part of the city and in Lansingburg are dangerously insufficient, due to the poor distribution system and light pressures; that the hydrants in general throughout the city are of poor type and in extremely poor condition; that the present reservoirs used as distributing basins for the low service are not at sufficient elevation, and that the present practice of dividing the city into three separate services is unsatisfactory.

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