Single Line from Booster Tank Proves Sufficient to Bring Blaze Under Control Quickly

CASES attesting the effectiveness of wetting agents or “wet water” continue to multiply. Latest to reach this journal is that of the Town of Mamaroneck Fire Department, Weaver Street.

This department, which serves approximately 8,000 persons in wealthy Westchester County, New York, is an active member of the Fire Chiefs Emergency Plan of that County.

The department consists of 6 companies, having a total of 80 volunteers, and eight paid firemen. Its chief, George Burton.

The department equipment includes three pumpers, two ladders and a Patrol or squad unit as follows: Engine 1—500 GPM, American LaFrance 1921, 40-gal. booster; Engine 2—1000 GPM Seagrave, 1929, 100 gal. booster; Engine 3—500 Pirsch (reconverted standard war surplus unit) 175 gal. booster. Ladder 1—American LaFrance, 1942, 100ft. aerial; ladder 2—American LaFrance, 1924 (re-built) city service, 135-gal. booster. Patrol—500 GPM Mack (front mount), 1937, 175-gal. booster.

The department is equipped throughout with latest type fog and multi-use nozzles, for 1-in., 112-in. and 21/2-in. hose, and delivering all the way from 15 GPM to 500 GPM.

Following a field demonstration by the department last autumn, at which time wet water was tried out, two of its units were equipped with this extinguishing agent. They were Engine 3 and Ladder 2, both of which respond to most of the alarms, including all grass and brush fires, which keep the department busy, particularly in the spring and fall periods. The wetting agent was mixed with the contents of the booster tanks of both these pieces of apparatus.

Diagram of Fire Area

Although the two units have been called upon to fight numerous fires, and the personnel believed the wetting agent efficacious, little opportunity to demonstrate its full efficiency arose until March 25 last which proved to be one of the busiest days of a busy month— so busy, in fact, that for the first time in many moons, the Emergency Plan through its County Fire Control Center, was called on to locate an out-of-town pumper in the Weaver Street fire house (Engine 2, Larchmont Fire Department).

The action on the day during which “wet water” established its value, took place largely between 1:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. The chronology of alarms and response follows:

11:47 A.M. Box 126; Still alarm— Engine 3 Brush fire.

11:57 A.M. Box 363; Still alarm— Engine 3 Brush fire.

1:00 P.M. Box 242; Still alarm— Engine 3, Brush (Company returned at 1:15 P.M.)

1:15 P.M. Box 437; Still alarm for brush fire, followed 7 minutes later by full alarm. This brought Engine 3 (which had just arrived back in quarters) on the first call; Engine 2 and Ladder 2; leaving Engine 1 and Ladder 1 and the Patrol in quarters.

Location of this fire was given as the “Prince Estate,” on Old White Plains Road, and the department was informed that it was a “grass fire.”

The Prince Estate covers many acres of ground on which are located residences, barns, outhouses of different type, and a series of five wooden structures, of which four are used as garages.

These are situated on a driveway, approximately 2,000 feet from the nearest highway, Old White Plains Road, and fully 2,600 feet from the nearest hydrant. The Estate itself is approximately 3.7 miles from the firehouse.

There are no water supplies available on the estate for fire fighting.

The first unit to arrive on the scene, Engine 3, with a driver and half a dozen volunteers, found that the grass fire had already spread, before a good breeze, to involve the windward of the four garages, and a rolled-up snow fence which had been stored against its exterior wall. As will be seen by the illustration, this, the smallest of the four garages, was frame, shingle-covered and roofed. It contained miscellaneous storage including porch furniture, awnings, etc. The entire windward side of the garage was ablaze and the fire had possession of nearly one half of the windward roof gable. Fire was attacking the leeward gable, approximately six feet distant from the adjoining garage. A small shed in the rear was about ready to ignite from radiated heat.

Wet Water Saved This Row of Frame Garages in Westchester Three frame two-car garages, five feet apart, were threatened on Prince Estate, Town of Mamaroneck, when a one-car garage to windward was ignited by grass fire. Note filled gasoline pump between second and third garages. Large residence and other buildings, not in picture, also were exposed. Total loss $300.

Photo Courtesy Town of Mamaroneck Police Dept.

There was no time to attempt to lay hose lines and hook up a relay operation. The weather conditions and building construction favored rapid extension of the fire. Upon the operations of this first crew depended the success of the struggle to control the fire. Bv the time the additional help could arrive, it obviously would be too late.

The men of Engine 3 and Engine 2 and Ladder 2 (which arrived in response to the full alarm after Engine 3) did not know it, but almost immediately after they left the firehouse to respond to Box 437, the Prince Estate, an alarm was received for another fire, from Box 413 on Fenimore Road about one and three-quarter miles from the Prince Estate fire. The Patrol was dispatched to fight this blaze, and the County Control Center was then requested to dispatch a pumper from nearby Larchmont to locate and cover the Town.

The men of Engine 3, meanwhile, had rolled their pumper into operation, utilizing the booster line and fog nozzle. Both fog and straight stream were used to knock down the fire on the involved garage, following which the burning snow-fence and the nearby blazing grass areas were extinguished.

The entire fire extinguishment operations required only the booster line, using a one per cent solution of wetting agent. Some burning grass was extinguished with brooms, chief Burton conserving his booster tank supply in case of extension of the fire to any of the other wooden structures on the grounds. The booster line of Ladder 2, was not used, and this unit and Engine 2 stood by.

Investigation, after overhauling was completed, showed that no fire had communicated to the interior storage and further, that there was absolutely no water damage to the contents. In addition, it was noted that the wet water, when applied to the side-wall of the adjoining garage (to leeward) instead of quickly vaporizing under the radiant heat, appeared to penetrate the siding, setting up a barrier to the heat waves and sparks, much more effectively than would have been possible with plain water.

According to Chief Burton, the total loss on garage and snow fence was $300. The value of the garages and shed, threatened by tthe fire (exclusive of residences, barns, etc., that might have been involved had the entire row of garages burned) was $9,000. “I have no hesitancy,” said Chief Burton, “in saying that wet water in this particular fire saved that amount of property, and at a cost which was insignificant.”

Wet Water Nails a Threatening Fire—Saving $9,000 Quick work by Town of Mamaroneck Firemen, Westchester County, N. Y., using wet water, prevented involvement of row of frame garages when windward frame structure and rolled snow fence were ignited by grass fire. Note extent of char, frame exposures and remains of snow fence, almost fully consumed

Photo Courtesy Town of Mamaroneck Police Dept.

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