WHY SPRINKLERS FAIL.
In New England particularly, as well as elsewhere in the United States, there has lately been an unusually .large number of sprinkler failures. Of these failures Everett U. Crosby, an insurance expert, formerly manager of the Underwriters’ Bureau of New England, says that their number is “steadily increasing for various reasons. First, the number of equipments is being added to each year. Second, a great many equipments are becoming old; sprink ler heads in some cases have become inoperative even without fhe aid of corrosive influences. Sprinkler parts and dry valve parts lose their life and spring, and in time become out of order. Piping in some places gradually accumulates sediment, and the pipeor sprinkler orifices become clogged. Then, again, the original sprinkler installation was put in the property of the than who believed in it, and often for scant insurance rebate. Today a majority of equipments are being installed, either for the saving effected in insurance cost, or in order to enable the securing of full insurance otherwise unobtainable.” The most prolific cause of sprinkler failures is the neglect of maintaining in correct working order the system as installed. This can be reduced to the minimum only by “intelligent thought and frequent inspections, which, besides showing the condition of the risk, will train the assured in the proper care of their fire protection and indicate those assured who decline to respond to such training. As a third factor should be mentioned the lack of high-pressure primary water supply. The gravity tubs, erected at a few feet elevation over many equipments, particularly in country risks, cannot be relied upon positively to control a fire. Again, many supposedly satisfactory public water supplies are found on careful inspection to be most deficient not only in pressure, but in quantity of water available.” Sprinkler failures can generally be assigned to one of these three causes, although occasionally some other factor is responsible, as in the recent Monson Woolen mill loss, due to a defective check-valve, and the Whittle Dye works loss, due in part, at least, to “hard” sprinklers. It is not sufficiently realised that high _____est sprinklers furnish very poor automatic service, and. while better than no sprinklers at all. should not be relied upon to the extent customary with automatic sprinklers of ordinary fusing temperatures. The following is a summary of 168 sprinkler failures, as tabulated by the National Fire Protection association; Defective or partial equipment, twenty-nine per cent.; failure due to water being shut off, twenty-one per cent.; hazard too severe for control, fourteen per cent.: faulty building construction and obstruction, twelve and one-half percent.; exposure or conflagration, ten per cent.; inadequate water supply, five per cent.; water supplies crippled by explosion, three per cent.; water supplies crippled by freezing, two per cent.; no watchman, one per cent.; town water out of service, one-half per cent.; unaccounted for, two per cent.—100.
The explosion of a fire extinguisher at a fire in Jersey City, N. J., killed Joseph Campbell, of truck No. 3. It is supposed that in taking the extinguisher from the truck Campbell shoved together the acid and carbonate of soda it contained, and thus produced combustion, the force of which blew out the bottom of the cylinder. The fragment that struck Campbell broke three ribs on his left side, blew away the left side of his face, and fractured his skull. He was at once taken to the hospital, where he died.