What a Water Supply Engineer can do in the Fire Department.
YOU may wish to know that we have worked through 1,000 feet of threeinch hose, stretched from a hydrant 2,000 feet from the river, with a pressure of 165 pounds at the hydrant. These results were obtained with a pressure of 175 pounds at the boat. The friction loss in a line 2,000 feet long, working through two lines 1,000 feet each three-inch l ose, is as follows :
These lines were fully completed during the summer of 1893, and were filled repeatedly during the past winter. We have had but two incidents to mar the successful working of this branch, one being the failure of the air valve to work, owing to the insufficient load, which made it impossible to fill tlie pipe, and the other was due to the failure of a relief valve to work, having been set at four hundred pounds. The damage in this case was the blowing off of the Siamese. The pipes are laid as nearly on a level as possible, the lift being about 8 1/2 feet in a thousand. The grade is toward the river, and to prevent the freezing of the dead water the pipes are emptied after each filling. When the boat responds to an alarm of lire, connection is made with the most available pipeline, and the pumps started just as a land engine fills its line of hose. When the pipe is filled the pumps are stopped to await orders. A single wire laid in a pipe in the same trench with the pipe line is run into the engine room and a signal code is used, by means of a push-button, which can be operated at any hydrant on tlie line ; the boat is signalled by the use of the following code :
1 bell—Start pumps.
1 bell—Stop pumps.
3 bells—Twenty pounds less pressure.
4 bells—Twenty pounds more pressure.
6 beds—Pick up.
In this way the pipe line enables the boat to play its part in the work of extinguishing the fires that may occur in the City of Detroit. The burning of the great dry-goods store of Edson, Moore & Co , in November, 1893, was, without doubt, the most disastrous fire that ever occurred in our city. The flames were first discovered on the fifth or upper floor of the building occupied by this firm. The fire originated by a lighted cigar stub, communicating with a bale of cottonbatting. The fire then jumping from one bale to another, with as much rapidity as it ignites the impalpable dust of a flour mill.
When the alarm was given for this fire, the flames were bursting through the roof and before a stream of water could be directed into tlie building, the roof had fallen and the inclosing walls had begun to fall. The fire boat “ Detroiter” responded to this alarm and by means of the pipe lines sent four 1 3/4-inchand one 2-inch streams into the burning structure. These streams were of the kind which make a black mark wherever they strike. Men who are accustomed to attend fires unite in the belief that but for the big streams thrown by tlie ” Detroiter” there is no telling where the fire would have stopped. In one and one-half hours the immense building was a heap of smouldering rains and the fire had not only lieen confined to the building where it originated, but it had been prevented from crossing a twenty-foot alley and communicating with one of the greatest chewing tobacco factories in the West and the secret of it all is that the pipe line enabled the boat to deliver these immense streams that made the craft equal to a dozen steamers of the largest size.
The successful fire fighting of the future must be done b.y big streams, tile underwriters cannot survive many years like 1893, when nearly $200,000,000 was paid out in fire losses. The placing of risks on the basis of moral hazard or the adjustment of rates in accordance with the conditions of the physical hazard, will not cut as much of a figure as the question of underwriters engineering which will contemplate the handling of these large fires and their confinement to the building where they had their origin.
We must recognize the fact that the logic of events has already taught us that as the country grows, the number of fires will augment, and the value of property destroyed be correspondingly increased. Take my own City of Detroit, for instance, and we find that whereas there were 128 alarms in 1872, there were 752 alarms in 1892, or a fraction less than 500 per cent, increase in twenty years.
* Paper rrail at the boston Convention of the New England Water Works Association, by James E, Tryon, of Detroit.
Take the city of Chicago, theatre of the greatest fires of modern times, and we find that in 1893 there were 1,675 more actual fires than in 1892, an increase of nearly fifty per cent., increasing at that ratio wouid mean 35.500 more fires in 1913 than occurred in 1893. It is not the purpose of this paper to deal with the cause of iires, but rather with how to put them out. They are always with you and when you least expect them the alarm tells you they need your attention. In my judgment there is no branch of engineering that is more in need of being pushed than that of water supply for fire extinguishing purposes. We read occasionally a newspaper account of a big fire and see that a second, then a third and then a special alarm was sent in, and then that twenty or thirty steamers were playing on the fire. The question that the water supply engineer asks of himself on such occasions is, were they all supplied ? Who of us in planning for the destructive conflagrations that must come to all cities, think of what it means to provide a supply for thirty engines? Those of us who think of this problem over the drafting table or in the field when there are no signs of fire, must pause at times and think what a supply for thirty steamers means. Chief Swenie, of Chicago, told me not long ago that he could place fifty-five engines around the store of Marshall Field & Co., and no one of them would be obliged to stretch more than 500 feet of hose. I have provided a supply for thirty engines in Detroit, all working through short lines of hose, by placing double hydrants with six inch vaives and eight inch feed pipes on large supply mains. In fire departments, as in all other branches of science and art, there is a disposition to enlarge. Each fire has its lesson and brings its demand for apparatus of greater power. So, while the events of to-day are in the minds of the underwriters and the Fire Chief, the water supply engineer is dealing with the future. He must be planning for the work that is to come, perhaps after he has laid aside the thoughts and burdens of life, and sailed out upon the unknown sea that rolls around the world. And that, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Convention, is what a water supply engineer can do in a fire department.
We may not live to see the improvements that must come in the fire service, but I venture the prediction that a future generation will see fire engines in two parts, pump and boiler, operated and propelled possibly by electricity, with a lifting capacity of 5,000 gallons per minute. We think 3 inch hose is too heavy now, but four-inch will eventually replace it, and 2 ½ inch streams will be the correct size for effective ground work. There is a tradition that the King of France once asked the grim Cardinal Richelieu how he proposed to feed all the soldiers marching out of Paris, and the reply was, ” Sire, that is the enemy’s affair.” How are we to supply these ponderous fire fighting machines. That is the ousiness of the water supply engineers of to-day.