Wells for Fire Purposes
The following, taken from the Springfield, Mass., “Union,” describes the wells in Springfield and Chicopee, used exclusively for fire purposes: “The idea has been entertained for years by the average citizen that the old-fashioned “fire well,” a subterranean chamber of ample proportions, built originally to furnish water for the steam fire engines, was a thing of the past, but according to Chief Daggett, of the fire department, about two dozen of these old wells remain in the city, and in an emergency they could be opened and used to good advantage by the department. The usefulness of the fire well as a regular factor of the department has passed to a degree, but there is no reason why a well could not be used, and they would be used, Chief Daggett said, should the occasion warrant. In the downtown district there are two of these wells remaining out of a dozen or more which were built in the district years ago. Both are filled with water, and it would be a small matter to shove the feed pipe of an engine down through. The other 20 or more fire wells are scattered throughout the city. Although there has been no call for one for many years, they are listed carefully on the department charts along with the hpdrants and other protective appliances, and the fire officials know just where they are and how they can be brought into use. Most of these old wells are fed from the surface drainage systems, with a pipe running into the regular city sewer in the event that the wells overflowed. Some of the wells, notably those downtown, are connected with the city water main, and, should a fire occur which would call for every ounce of water available, the supply in the wells would be replenish from their regular supply. These wells, as a general rule, are bricked up on the sides, or reinforced with stone masonry, and also arched over at the top with masonry. The space is somewhat larger than the average room and is capable of holding thousands of gallons of water. On several occasions the heavy traffic over the city streets has caused the tops of the wells to cave in, and when this happens the wells have been filled in and put out of service for all time. In some instances when permanent street work is in progress the wells have been filled in as a protectve measure, to prevent a possible collapse later. In time it is probable that all save one or two will be done away with. Chicopee also has several of these wells scattered about its streets. The water pressure in that city is not so great that pumping engines are dispensed with. In the hill sections of Chicopee the engines are used whenever any large volume of water is needed to fight a fire, and for the same reason the old fire well is very handy. There has been no idea of doing away with them. In fact repairs arc made upon them now and then. Speaking of water pressure in Springfield, Chief Daggett stated that it would have to be a large fire that would compel him to call for pumping engines for use in the center of the city. The present downtown water pressure is great enough to care for at least 24 lines, each carrying 500 feet of hose, before the pressure would he reduced enough to make pumping engines necessary.