WATERWORKS AND FIRE PROTECTION.
Almost every week a paragraph appears in THE JOURNAL to the effect that some city or village is negotiating for the erection of new Water-works. Very few persons stop to think how important a part a good water supply plays in the protection of property from destruction by fire. The citizens of a village or city make up their minds that water delivered by pipes into their dwellings would be a great convenience, and if, in obtaining this, they provide a few hydrants for fire purposes, they think they have done all that is required. In contracting for their street mains they keep in view only the domestic requirements, felicitating themselves that a street main of sufficient capacity to deliver a few small streams into their bath tubs and wash bowls will be entirely adequate to furnish water for fire protection. Hence we hear the constant complaint from Chief Engineers that the street mains of their cities are too small to give them satisfactory fite streams. It may be broadly stated that, owing to the fundamental error in putting down street mains of too little capacity, most cities pay as much in the end for taking them up and putting in larger ones as they do for laying them originally. Often mains of fiom 2 1/2 to 4 inches diameter are considered sufficient to supply a whole street with water for domestic purposes. The fact that a fire may occur in some of the dwellings, when several Engines will be required to take water from these mains, is overlooked, and when the fire does come it is suddenly discovered that the small main will scarcely furnish water for one Engine. As a consequence, the other Engines have to go to hydrants in other streets, and lead the water to the fire through long lines of hose, whereby the effectiveness of the Engine is greatly impaired. Large street mains are the best economy. They cost a little more in the first instance, but, when once well laid, they last a life time and are equal to any emergency, including the growth of the city, and providing water for fire purposes. It is better to have too much water than too little—the excess is easily disposed of, while a deficiency may cost thousands of dollars at a single fire.
Ordinarily very little attention is paid to the location of hydrants when Water-works are provided, and, as a consequence, an inadequate supply of water for fire purposes is afforded even when the mains are of sufficient capacity. It is customary to place the hydrants at the edge of the sidewalk, and to connect them by a small pipe to the main, the pipe leading into the mam at right angles. When an Engine attaches to the hydrant, instead of having the supply of water furnished by the large main to draw upon, it only has so much as the small pipe can furnish. Recent experiments have demonstrated that the nearer to the nozzle a large body of water can be brought the better firestreams can be obtained. It is to accomplish this that Siamese connections have recently been employed. Hydrants should be located directly upon the street main whenever possible ; when so located, the Engine playing from it is receiving its supply directly from the fountain head. When not convenient to place them on the main, they should be connected to it by large pipes, joining it at an acute angle. Hydrants should be placed so thickly that a number of streams can be concentrated on any given point. There is very little danger of getting too many. It is too often the case that the suburban residence districts of a city are neglected when Water-works are provided, the facilities and the appropriation being expended in providing for the business streets. We have stood by with a crowd of citizens and Firemen and seen valuable residences in the suburbs of a city burn to the ground, when nothing could be done to stay the flames, because the water system of the city did not extend to them. The city of Orange, N. J., is discussing the propriety of introducing Water-works, and the plan talked of provides for 60 hydrants. The city is very much extended, and 300 hydrants would be none too many to cover it properly. It is always false economy for a corporation when making permanent improvements to let the expenditure of a few dollars stand in the way ol getting the best, or of providing for the future. As such improvements are usually projected on credit, and posterity is relied upon to pay the bill, posterity should be taken into consideration when the work is done. A city having a population of 20,000 but expecting to number 100,000 in twenty years, should project its public improvements upon a basis of 100,000 population and not on 2o,oco.
The Water-works of the future are those which shall combine the domestic supply with complete fire protection. The day will come, although now apparently far off, when Steam Fire Engines will be discarded, and the Water-works depended upon to furnish fire streams direct from the hydrants. This is already done in many cities, where the water is supplied at the hydrants under sufficient pressure to deliver fire streams. Every city contemplating a system of Water-works should take this point into consideration, as a matter of economy, for hydrant streams, under sufficient pressure, not only afford the best fire protection, but they do away with the necessity for Engines. Under such a system, Hose Carriages, plenty of hose, and Hook and Ladder Trucks are the only apparatus necessary for a Fire Department. The work of the Firemen is also lessened, as they are relieved of the care of much apparatus. We believe the time is not far distant when New York, and all other sea board cities, will introduce salt water, under high pressure, for fire protection, sanitary and manufacturing purposes, thus saving the present fresh water supply for purely domestic purposes. With plenty of water flowing freely from numerous hydrants, 1 ttle difficulty would be encountered in any city in maintaining the highest sanitary conditions, for the hydrants could be opened at night and all foul places cleansed and the streets washed as clean as a parlor floor. The matter of fire protection, however, is one of the greatest importance, and those cities that are contemplating the introduction of new systems of Water-works should give it the first place when considering the subject.