WHAT A SPRINKLER DID.
Sometime during the night of September 22-23 a fire started in a closet on the sixth floor of the Gray Lithographic company’s premises at Laight and Varick streets, Manhattan, New York. The cause was probably spontaneous combustion. The heat opened a sprinkler head only a few feet from the closet, and the water extinguished the flames. So prompt was this action that a thermostat, eight or ten feet beyond the opened head never responded to the heat, and, therefore, registered no alarm. Moreover, the flow of water through the single opening at the dead-end of a pipe and on the top floor, and therefore, under a minimum pressure, opened the water valve so slightly that the attached lever did not move sufficiently to trip the catch operating the water-flowing signal. Because of these two independent failures, no alarm was sent in, and water was still running through the opened sprinkler head when the premises were opened at seven o’clock in the morning. A great part of the contents of a 15,000-gallon tank had meanwhile run out on the large stock of lithograph paper, the damage being heaviest on the floor just below the fire.