What a Water Supply Engineer can do in the Fire Department.

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.

What a Water Supply Engineer can do in the Fire Department.*


What a Water Supply Engineer can do in the Fire Department.*



IN January, 1893, at the burning of the High School building, one of our largest Amoskeag Engines (No. 3), was located at a four-inch hydrant, the branch and feed pipe being of the same diameter. The main was a sixinch and connected within 500 feet with a thirty-inch supply main. The static head at that point at that time was twenty-eight pounds. The number of engines employed at the fire was six. On this occasion No. 3 had out two lines of 600 feet, (300 each) of three-inch hose with an 1 ¾ and 1 1/4-inch nozzle and with plenty of steam could only get too pounds of water pressure without registering a vacuum pressure.

In order to furnish data for this paper 1 had a test made on June 9th, 1894, at the same hydrant with these results:

Engine No. 3, first size Amoskeag, capacity of 1,200 gallons per minute.

The engine was then moved to another location and connection made with a six-inch hydrant, fed by 36 feet of eight-inch pipe, with eight-inch branch on a thirty-inch main.

Four hundred feet of three-inch hose, two lines of 200 feet each, I ⅛-inch nozzle.

•Paper read at the Itoatun Convention of the New England Water Works Association, by lames E. Tryon, of Detroit,

No. 1 engine, (same size Amoskeag) was then called and this result obtained :

Eour hundred feet 3-inch hose, two lines of 200 feet each*

Both engines were worked at their maximum speed, greater perhaps than would ever be required at a fire, but in order that the best results could be secured.

In my judgment the utility of this test is the demonstration that whereas, the four-inch hydrant can be relied upon to supply one good stream, it cannot furnish two. At a fire if the chief of the department demands more water or orders two lines from one engine, there should be no excuse that the hydrant will not supply them.

After each fire I received a report of the condition of the water supply which shows :

First: Location.

Second: Whether the hydrant or reservoir was used and the condition it was in when left.

Third: Pressure at the enginewhileat work.

Fourth: Pressure on the combination gauge at the same time, and while theother engines were working.

Fifth: Pressure on the engine when at rest.

Sixth: Number of feet of hose worked through and number of lines.

Seventh: Size of nozzle used.

Eighth: Time worked.

Correct answers to these questions will show the character of the streams furnished. Copies of these reports are forwarded to the engineer of the water works for his information and the benefit of both departments. Eor a fire of any magnitude, these results are tabulated, and if there is a deficiency in the supply the weak spot is located if possible.

The ruling passion of the majority of engineers of fire engines is “ pressure,” Frequently more water than is required is forced through the hose, and poured into some insignificant building that happens to be on fire, but in the case of a sweeDing fire when powerful streams are worth gold mines, how often do we see firemen working through eight hundred feet of hose, when half that length would be ample ? I hope the day will come when all fire departments can afford to have an officer on the ground at all large fires, who shall be clothed with sufficient authority to see that if too much hose has been laid out on the first stretch, the line is broken and the surplus thrown out, and that for the ordinary stretch of three hundred feet of hose, all that is required at the big fires in the business district where hydrants are plenty, not to exceed a hundred pounds pressure is observable at the engine. It frequently happens that much of the energy of a steam fire engine is wasted because of the lack of judgment displayed by those having it in charge. The superior officer at a fire is too busy generally, to look after such details as these, and they are usually allowed to go by default. A short time ago I saw three engines serving a water tower working at a fire whe e the huge stream that was really required was broken and uneven in its delivery. Going about to the different engines f found that one had out a line of three-inch, and two had 2J^inch hose, that one had 240 pounds water pressure, another 180 and the third 140, and that the three lines of hose were practically of the same length. Here was the work of the water tower practically nullified because of the absence of some one with the knowledge and power to regulate the work of the engines. The Detroit pipe lines, laid for the purpose of making the fire boat available for fires at least one-half mile distant from the river, were planned by and laid under the supervision of the compiler of this paper, and a brief description of them may not be out of place. These lines consist of three long lines, two thousand feet each, and three short lines of a thousand feet each, or nine thousand feet in all; for these lines the eight-inch steel pipe,such as the Standard Oil Company uses, for piping crude oil from the oil fields to tide water, was selected. The pipe had been subjected to a test of one thousand pounds hydraulic pressure. Connection at the river is made with a three or a five-way Siamese with three and one-half-inch openings, with a clack valve over each to enable the boat to start its pumps as soon as the first connection is made. Hydrants having two threeinch and one four-inch openings are set at intervals along the ine with a manhole opposite each., At the end of the pipe is an air valve loaded to remain open until the water comes, and a relief valve set at 250 pounds, which will open when the pipe is filled and the recoil renders it necessary for something to give way.

At the Edson Moore & Co. fire above mentioned the falling of inclosing walls early in the fire suggested the question what would be done with the pipe line in the event of the demolition of a hydrant. There was but one course open and that was to shut down the pumps, dig away the debris and plug the broken pipe. This would take time. This problem had not suggested itself when the line was planned and it needed experience, the best of all teachers, to demonstrate the necessity of solving it. The solution was reached by providing for a dividing gate by which the hydrant or the main could be shut off. One of these was placed in every manhole except the upper one so that in the event of a break it is possible to shut off a section of the pipe line without any stoppage at the boat. I do not know that any statement o’ the work of the pipe line would be of interest. In fact, since I told some gentlemen of our throwing a t ¾” stream horizontally 484 feet and saw the look of polite incredulity that came over their faces I have been very chary about speaking of results. But I can say that we gave the Boston Alderman an idea of what 6 1 ¾’streams looked like 2,000 feet distant from the river. And a short time prior to that occasion we gave some Boston gentlemen an exhibition of a 2⅛ inch stream, two lines of three inch hose 100 feet each, being siamesed intoone length of 50 feet of 3^ inch with 120 pounds hydrant pressure with the water flowing. We have had three 1 ¾” inch streams flowing through 100 feet lengths from hydrants one block apart, the gauge showing 100 at the lower and 95 at each of the upper hydrants.

(To be Continued.)

Lawrence Wallace, of Fanwood, N. J., who is under bail to answer half a dozen indictments of incendiarism, found against him by the Union County Grand Jury, was, on June 29, confronted with new and damaging testimony which had been placed in possession of the State. Heretofore all the evidence against Wallace has been circumstantial, but by the confessions of William Adams, George Shea and Thomas Shelley, three prisoners in the County Jail, the State has direct testimony that Wallace was the leader of a band of unknown firebugs who, for over a year, frightened the inhabitants of Fanwood by their exploits. Wallace was a member of the Fanwood Fire Department. Prosecutor Marsh sent for Wal. lace and his lawyer, and for an hour they listened in the courtroom, at a private hearing, to the statements made by Adams and his confederates, and the counsel for the accused fireman was unable (o shake (heir testimony much.