Western Electric Tests Sprinklers Outdoors
ACTUAL DEMONSTRATIONS of equipment and techniques have long been accepted as an invaluable aid in the education and training of personnel having fire protection and fire fighting responsibilities. With a view toward providing such facilities as would demonstrate as well as test sprinklers under varying conditions for its fire crews, the Baltimore Works of the Western Electric Company set up a test unit on its fire training grounds.
Originally it was planned to just construct a section of piping for the installation of a sprinkler. This would have been used in conjunction with a large heat collector mounted above the ground and arranged with valves for connection to a nearby hydrant by means of 1 1/2-inch hose. Such a simple arrangement would have been suitable for the purpose and can easily be constructed by industrial plants or fire departments. However, a small metal building, no longer needed in another application at the plant, was acquired and incorporated into our facility. Later it was decided to pipe the sprinkler connections from a riser. A riser with alarm valve and all fittings previously used for training was available for the purpose and is connected to a hydrant by 2 1/2-inch hose. Drains have been piped to the side. Off the top of the riser, two sprinkler connections have been taken—one outside and one inside the enclosure.
The metal building has the advantage of shielding the fire from wind on days when this is a factor. Double doors at the front and rear can be used to vary this condition. Sprinkler operation can be initiated by fire in a container shielded from water discharge; or a fire can be built of wood scraps in the open.
Here, in one facility, are most of the essential features of a wet pipe system, and many conditions of sprinkler operation can be duplicated. Alarm and drain tests can be made and the valve fittings can be easily dismantled for discussion. With facilities such as these, fire crews, plant protection and maintenance personnel and others, can acquire a greater knowledge and appreciation of a sprinkler system.