03 December 2010
THE AHRENS-FOX FIRE APPARATUS AND THE FDNY
Ahrens-Fox fire apparatus -- quality, power, impressiveness, longevity. These are all qualities associated with this brand of fire apparatus. These vehicles served many departments, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
Although not the largest fleet of Ahrens-Fox fire apparatus to serve any one department, fifty Ahrens-Fox rigs protected New York City during a period that spanned six decades, beginning in 1915, and lasting into 1972. During this time period, the Ahrens-Fox apparatus fought some of the most spectacular and historic multiple alarm fires in New York's history. The fifty rigs included pumpers, both piston and centrifugal models, aerial ladders, and even an airport crash rig, converted from a pumper, and believed to be the only Ahrens-Fox airport crash unit in service anywhere.
New York City's Ahrens-Fox story begins with the delivery of six Model MK-2 piston pumpers in 1915. These vehicles were ordered on April 23, 1915 and were placed in service from October 15, 1915 through March 16, 1916. They were among the earliest motorized gasoline powered pumpers to enter F.D.N.Y. service, predated only by a 1911 Waterous 750 gpm piston pumper and two 1913 Nott 500 gpm rotary gear pumpers which lasted only until 1918. These six units carried AhrensFox serial numbers 801 through 806, had open cabs, right hand steering, solid rubber tires, chain drive, lantern-style lamps for head lights, hand cranked sirens and no windshields. Their front-mounted piston pumps were rated at 750 gpm at 120 psi pump pressure. At least one of these pumpers (803) was later retrofitted with a deck pipe while another (806) had an overhead ladder rack installed.
Before delivery of the 1915 order had been completed, another contract was placed with Ahrens-Fox on February 8, 1916, for two additional MK-2 pumpers identical to the 1915 models. Both of these, carrying Ahrens-Fox serial numbers 817 and 818, were placed in service on July 16 and August 16, 1916, respectively. Several of the MK-2 models remained in service into the late 1930's and one (817) remained on the roster as a training unit until 1945.
Over a decade would pass before another Ahrens-Fox apparatus would be placed in service in New York, with predominantly American LaFrance and a hand full of Robinson pumpers being purchased in the intervening years. This lone rig was a 1927 model HP-2 piston pumper carrying Ahrens-Fox serial number 744 and rated at 1000 gpm at 160 psi. It was tested for two days, June 1 and 2, before being placed in service in midtown Manhattan on June 4, 1927. This pumper was considered a showpiece and was assigned to the theatre district where it would be seen, not only by many New Yorkers, but also by millions of out-of-town visitors. It was also an open-cab model without a windshield, closely resembling the 1915 and 1916 pumpers in design but larger, and was the first F.D.N.Y. pumper to be equipped with pneumatic tires, having single, rather than dual rear wheels. It also had right-hand steering, which was common for that time period. Unlike other pumpers of this era being purchased by New York, it was never equipped with a deck pipe. Towards the end of its service life, the rear half of its ball-shaped air chamber was painted a dull red to cut down on glare from the sun, a common complaint from its chauffeurs. The HP-2 remained in service until the late 1940's. It was valued at $14,450 when delivered.
New York purchased American LaFrance, Mack, and Seagrave pumpers from 1928 through 1933 but returned to Ahrens-Fox for two 1000 gpm AHP model piston pumpers ordered on November 25, 1932. These two units were placed in service on May 24, 1933, and were high pressure open-cab models equipped with windshields, deck pipes, overhead racks for the scaling ladders, left hand steering, solid rubber tires, and had an overall length of 27 feet 3 inches. Other Ahrens-Fox innovations on these units included two running boards (one at the chassis level), a solid bar front bumper, fold down windshield, chromed hood vents, a spotlight, and four-wheel brakes, which was rare for that era. These "modern" items were placed on vehicles that also contained a mix of traditional features: spoke wheels, Dietz lanterns, and the fuel tank mounted atop the hose bed, to mention a few. They carried Ahrens-Fox serial numbers 4003 and 4004. At the time these were the largest Ahrens-Fox pumpers ever built. The solid rubber tires were replaced with pneumatic tires several years after delivery. When this was done, the dual rear solid rubber tires were replaced with a single pneumatic tire.
Following the two AHP models were four almost identical pumpers of the same capacity ordered under two separate contracts during 1933 and 1934 and designated NT-2 models. They were assigned Ahrens-Fox serial numbers 3410 through 3413 and were built at a cost of $13,850 each. These 1934 models were delivered with pneumatic tires, again having only single rather than dual rear wheels and, in a backward move, reverted to righthand steering. Both the 1933 AHP models and the 1934 NT-2 models remained on the roster into the late 1950's as spares.
Seagrave and Mack pumpers were purchased for several years before the next Ahrens-Fox purchase. The units delivered under this contract were the first of a model, perhaps most associated with New York, and were ordered on July 27, 1937. Two Model HT pumpers, serial numbers 3423 and 3424, actually purchased by the 1939 New York World's Fair, were delivered on April 30, 1938. These units had closed cabs, Hercules engines, Invincible deck pipes with 2-1/2 inch barrels, 1000 gpm pumps, subway straps and a windshield over the back steps. They also had a split front windshield with either side capable of opening independently and were quite different in appearance from earlier Ahrens-Fox pumpers. These same units were also delivered with three floodlights, a feature uncommon for New York pumpers. However, these were later removed. The pumpers had a wheelbase of 209 inches and an overall length of 27 feet 2 inches. The now common, but still unusual, Ahrens-Fox feature of single rear tires, rather than dual rear wheels, were again incorporated on these pumpers. A spare tire was carried on the left rear running board behind the rear fender.
The World's Fair also purchased three Ahrens-Fox centrifugal pumpers built on Schacht chassis, which were delivered on April 20, 1938. These units were designated SC models, had closed cabs, Hercules engines, Hale pumps rated at 500 gpm at 120 psi, carried serial numbers 9043 through 9045, and were much smaller than the pumpers being purchased by New York at the time, having a wheelbase of 168.5 inches and an overall length of 21 feet 9 inches. Their cost was $5700 each.
On January 7, 1938, New York also ordered twenty HT model piston pumpers that were virtually identical to the two World's Fair HT models. However, the pumps on these rigs, although also of 1000 gpm capacity, were slightly smaller in size with a different stroke and bore, while their Morse deck pipes, with three-inch barrels, were slightly larger than those on the two World's Fair HT pumpers. They had a wheelbase of 212 inches, three inches longer than the World's Fair units but were 27 feet 1 inch in length, one inch shorter than the World's Fair HT models. The three floodlights delivered on the World's Fair units were omitted on these pumpers. These units comprised the largest single F.D.N.Y. Ahrens-Fox contract and were delivered on May 21, 1938. All twenty were placed in service on June 25, 1938, less than six months after they were ordered. They carried Ahrens-Fox serial numbers 3425 through 3444 and were delivered at a cost of only $12,145 per unit, less expensive than the 1934 NT-2 models
Another order was placed with Ahrens-Fox on December 28, 1938 for six additional HT pumpers, which were delivered during June and July, 1939. The cost was only $11,880 per vehicle, $265 cheaper than the previous year's model. These were assigned serial numbers 3449 through 3454. Visually, the 1939 models differed from the 1938 models by having a belt driven friction siren mounted under the hood, rather than an electrically operated mechanical siren mounted in front of the pump and by the suction hose that was mounted beneath the scaling ladder, instead of above it as on the 1938 models. Otherwise, they were exact replicas of the 1938 order. Most of the HT models remained on the roster into the late 1950's.
The only Ahrens-Fox aerial ladders to be operated by the F.D.N.Y. were placed in service on December 14, 1940 and were delivered at a cost of $15,327 per vehicle. These four units were tillered rigs with open-cab tractors, belt driven mechanical sirens, a twelve-inch bell, were 63 feet long, with 85-foot, two-section wooden aerials equipped with spring-raised hoisting mechanisms. Their power plant was a six-cylinder Waukesha engine. They were designated Model W-85, carried serial numbers 2069 through 2072, and were the last aerial ladders to be built by Ahrens-Fox. It is interesting to note the large overhang of the aerial ladder at the rear of the apparatus, something that modern day tillermen do not have to deal with. The distance from the rear axle to the tip of the aerial was 17 feet 6 inches while the distance from the rear running board to the tip of the aerial was 11 feet 8 inches, a considerable distance behind the tillerman that had to be considered at every turn made
Each of these W-85 aerial ladders were delivered with quite a large amount of equipment that included: a 25-foot, a 20-foot and two 35-foot straight ladders, 16foot and 30-foot extension ladders, 10-foot, 12-foot and 15-foot roof ladders, and a 16-foot, a 12-foot and two 14-foot scaling ladders. All ladders were of wood construction. Hand tools included two 10-foot, a 20-foot, a 25-foot and six 6-foot wood hooks, four 8-pound flat head axes, a 3/4-inch bar cutter, a steel maul, two steel crow bars, a tin roof cutter, a Hale door opener, a twin cutter with insulated handles, two square shovels, two 4-tine pitch forks, a hydraulic jack and handle, a steel ram and wall cutter and a tool kit. Other equipment included soda and acid and foam extinguishers, four brass lanterns, 150 feet of 2-1/2 inch rope, an Atlas life net, and a sub-cellar pipe and nozzle. After delivery, the New York City Fire Department Shops installed a 1250 watt Homelite generator, a 250 watt and two 500 watt floodlights on each rig.
At the conclusion of the 1939-1940 World's Fair, the Fair's five Ahrens-Fox pumpers (two HT models and three SC models) were turned over to the department. The two HT models were assigned as regular apparatus of engine companies. However, the three smaller SC models begin another chapter in New York's Ahrens-Fox history. These rigs were assigned as the second piece (hose wagon) of engine companies. One (9043) had an overhead ladder rack added to carry a portable 35-foot metal extension ladder, an innovation at the time. Another (9045) was equipped with a bank of eight manifolded carbon dioxide cylinders, each with a capacity of fifty pounds, and two hose reels, each having 1000 feet of one-inch hose to discharge the carbon dioxide. The conversion of this unit was accomplished by the Carbon Dioxide Fire Equipment Company of Newark, New Jersey, in 1941 and was "state-of-the-art" for airport fire protection at that time. The "new" crash truck was assigned to the LaGuardia Airport Crash Unit on April 19, 1941. When the New York Port Authority assumed responsibility for aircraft crash-fire-rescue at the city's airports, this rig was reconverted back into a pumper.
During February, 1941, five HT model pumpers, three from the 1938 order (3426, 3432, 3433) and two from the 1939 order (3449, 3452) were retrofitted with the unique feature of a hinged rear step. The rationale for this was to enable these pumpers to be placed in a vehicle elevator which operated from the center of the Queensborough Bridge down to Welfare (now Roosevelt) Island, located in the center of the East River. Prior to the construction of the Welfare Island Bridge, this elevator was the only practical method for responding units to reach Welfare Island. When compared to other contemporary pumpers, such as the 1937 Mack pumpers which were 26 feet 4 inches long, the HT models were almost a foot longer, having an overall length of 27 feet 1 inch (the World's Fair HT models were an inch longer). With the step in the folded position, additional clearance of slightly over one foot was provided.
The first permanently mounted ladder-pipe on any New York aerial ladder was installed on Ladder Company 45's W-85 aerial (2070) on June 12, 1942, and eventually led to the disbanding of the water towers when all future metal aerial ladders were purchased with lad der-pipes. This installation included tips of 1-1/4 and 1-1/2 inch in size and 3-inch hose. The ladder-pipe had a capacity of 600 gpm.
On January 9, 1945, while operating at a multiple alarm fire, a collapse occurred which killed several firefighters and virtually destroyed the tractor of Ladder Company 40's W-85 aerial (2072). The tractor was extensively rebuilt, the chrome radiator grille removed, the location of the Ahrens-Fox emblems changed, and body work completed. This resulted in a tractor still carrying Ahrens-Fox name plates but, one very different from its original appearance. The final product actually appeared to be an older model than it was because of its lack of "modern" styling.
After years of hard use, the Ahrens-Fox aerial tractors were worn out, although the trailers and aerial ladders remained in relatively good shape. All four of the original tractors were replaced during the first four months of 1962 with Ward LaFrance tractors which resulted in greatly extending the life span of these aerials. All four of these Ward LaFrance tractors had been used previously under late-1920's vintage American LaFrance and Seagrave aerial trailers. A 1947 Ward LaFrance tractor was placed under registration number 2072 replacing the rebuilt Ahrens-Fox tractor at Ladder 40. The other three original 1940 Ahrens-Fox tractors were replaced by 1948 Ward LaFrance tractors. These tractors were powered by six-cylinder Continental engines. The installation of these tractors actually resulted in units that were even slightly longer in overall length as the "new" tractors were slightly longer than the original AhrensFox tractors. The last Ahrens-Fox aerial (2070) remained on F.D.N.Y.'s roster as a spare and later as a training vehicle. It was finally disposed of on August 4, 1972.
The F.D.N.Y. unit most associated with Ahrens-Fox apparatus would have to be Engine Company 65, located in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Engine 65 was the only unit that operated every model of Ahrens-Fox piston pumpers on New York's roster at one time or another. Starting on January 1, 1916, with an MK-2 (804), Engine 65 next received an HP-2 (749) on June 4, 1927. This apparatus was replaced by an AHP (4003) on May 24, 1933, which in turn was replaced by an HT (3432) on June 25, 1938. The HT remained in service at Engine 65 until replaced by a 1947 Mack. Ahrens-Fox pumpers served Engine 65 continuously from 1916 to 1947, but the story doesn't end there. In May, 1951, after several years of requesting that their Ahrens-Fox be reassigned back to them, Engine 65 was assigned an HT (3423) which had been assigned to Engine 71 and was one of the two HT models purchased by the World's Fair. It was necessary to assign Engine 71 a pumper with a shorter turning radius when that unit switched bays in its firehouse as a result of Rescue Company 3 having been relocated there.
Most apparatus historians assumed that this was the end of New York's Ahrens-Fox story but, several years later, an interesting development occurred. In the late 1950's, a 1938 HT model (3427), having been deemed as surplus, was turned over to the State of New York to provide fire protection at the Otisville State Hospital in upstate Orange County. This had been common practice over the years and many former F.D.N.Y. apparatus had been turned over to other city, state, and even federal agencies for fire protection at various institutions. In most cases, these rigs served several years until the respective institution was able to obtain a newer apparatus. This apparently was the case in Otisville. Fortunately, however, this HT was somehow preserved a little longer than expected. During the late-1970's, this rig was "discovered" and moved to the New York State Museum in Albany where it is currently on display with several other pieces of fire apparatus, as the only surviving example of an F.D.N.Y. Ahrens-Fox.
This photograph shows a red Doberman kissing an exhausted fireman. He had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, while he continued to fight the fire. She is pregnant. The firefighter was afraid of her at first, because he had never been around a Doberman before. When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest. A photographer from the Charlotte, North Carolina newspaper, "The Observer," noticed this red Doberman in the distance looking at the fireman. He saw her walking straight toward the fireman and wondered what she was going to do. As he raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had saved her life and the lives of her babies, and kissed him, when the photographer snapped this shot.
01 December 2010
THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE LAS VEGAS SUN PLEASE CHECK THE ARTICLE OUT AT LAS VEGAS SUN RED ROCK VANDAL'S
Courtesy Friends of Red Rock Canyon
Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 | 2:12 p.m.
- Vandals hit ancient art at Red Rock (11-29-10)
Metro Police said vandals responsible for recent graffiti at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area are associated with a local gang sometimes referred to as the "Nasty Habits Crew."
Police said the gang identifies itself by the letters "NHC," which also has other meanings.
The vandals use the graffiti monikers of "RODO," "64C" and "PWE," which can be spelled "Pee Wee," police said.
Metro's graffiti investigation detail is working with the Bureau of Land Management to find those responsible for the vandalism. The crime carries a possible five-year jail sentence and a fine up to $100,000, authorities said.
The Red Rock art panels — varying in size from 3-by-6 feet to 8-by-9 feet — were covered with maroon spray paint. The vandalism happened in the Willow Spring/Lost Creek area, officials said.
The panels included pictographs, defined as paintings and drawings on rock, and petroglyphs, drawings scraped and ground onto the surface of the rock. All were severely damaged, officials said.
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that restoration will cost about $10,000. The vandalism is the most severe case in Red Rock in the past several years.
Friends of Red Rock Canyon and the Conservation Lands Foundation are offering a $2,500 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the conviction of those responsible for the graffiti.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555 or to visit www.crimestoppersofnv.com.
28 November 2010
Fire damages double-wide home in NE Las Vegas
Page Last Updated: Friday November 26, 2010 2:00pm PSTFive people were displaced from their double-wide trailer home when it caught fire Friday.
The blaze was reported around 1 p.m. Friday in the 6000 block of Yellowstone in the northeast section of Las Vegas.
The fire did most of its damage from the inside of the home. The fire department estimated damage at $50,000.
No one was home at the time and no one was injured
27 November 2010
The History of Fire Fighting
Fire Fighting, techniques and equipment used to extinguish fires and limit the damage caused by them. Fire fighting consists of removing one or more of the three elements essential to combustion-fuel, heat, and oxygen-or of interrupting the combustion chain reaction.
The Roman emperor Augustus is credited with instituting a corps of fire-fighting vigiles ("watchmen") in 24 BC. Regulations for checking and preventing fires were developed. In the preindustrial era most cities had watchmen who sounded an alarm at signs of fire. The principal piece of fire-fighting equipment in ancient Rome and into early modern times was the bucket, passed from hand to hand to deliver water to the fire.
Another important fire-fighting tool was the ax, used to remove the fuel and prevent the spread of fire as well as to make openings that would allow heat and smoke to escape a burning building. In major conflagrations long hooks with ropes were used to pull down buildings in the path of an approaching fire to create firebreaks. When explosives were available, they would be used for this same purpose.
Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, fire brigades were formed by insurance companies. The government was not involved until 1865, when these brigades became London's Metropolitan Fire Brigade. The first modern standards for the operation of a fire department were not established until 1830, in Edinburgh, Scotland. These standards explained, for the first time, what was expected of a good fire department. After a major fire in Boston in 1631, the first fire regulation in America was established. In 1648 in New Amsterdam (now New York) fire wardens were appointed, thereby establishing the beginnings of the first public fire department in North America.
Fire Departments in the United States
In the modern sense, fire departments constitute a comparatively recent development. Their personnel are either volunteer (nonsalaried) or career (salaried). Typically, volunteer fire fighters are found mainly in smaller communities, career fire fighters in cities. The modern department with salaried personnel and standardized equipment became an integral part of municipal administration only late in the 19th century.
In some cities a fire commissioner administers the department; other cities have a board of fire commissioners with a fire chief as executive officer and head of the uniformed force; in still other cities a safety director may be in charge of both police and fire departments. The basic operating unit of the fire department is the company, commanded by a captain. A captain may be on duty on each shift, although in some fire departments lieutenants and sergeants command companies when the captain is off duty. Fire companies are usually organized by types of apparatus: engine companies, ladder companies, and squad or rescue companies.
Fire-alarm systems came into existence with the invention of the telegraph. Today many communities are served either with the telegraph-alarm system or with telephone call boxes. Most fires, however, are reported from private telephones. Many large cities have removed all or many of their street alarm boxes because of problems associated with maintenance and with false alarm transmissions. Some boxes have been replaced with telephones.All alarms are then transmitted to the fire stations. In large cities, alarms are received at a central dispatch office and then transmitted to fire stations, frequently with the use of mobile teleprinters and computers. Apparatus is dispatched according to the nature of the alarm and location of the fire. Many modern departments are now equipped with computer-aided dispatch systems that can track the status of all units and provide vital information about the buildings where fires occur.
Typically, on a first alarm, more apparatus is sent to industrial sections, schools, institutions, and theaters than to neighborhoods of one-family dwellings. Additional personnel, volunteer or off duty, is called as needed. Fires that cannot be brought under control by the apparatus responding to the first alarm are called multiple-alarm fires, with each additional alarm bringing more fire fighters and apparatus to the scene. Special calls are sent for specific types of equipment. Mutual aid and regional mobilization plans are in effect among adjacent fire departments for assisting each other in fighting fires.
Perhaps more important than fire fighting itself in many modern industrial countries is fire prevention. In Russia and Japan, for example, fire prevention is treated as a responsibility of citizenship. Fire fighters in the U.S. are trained in basic fire-prevention methods, and fire companies are assigned inspection districts in which they attempt to prevent or correct unsafe conditions. Fire departments are charged with enforcement of the local fire-prevention code and of state fire laws and regulations. A fire-prevention bureau in the fire department usually directs fire prevention activities. It handles the more technical fire-prevention problems, maintains appropriate records, grants licenses and permits, investigates the causes of fires, and conducts public education programs. All commercial or multiple-dwelling buildings are inspected at regular intervals, and orders are issued for the correction of violations of fire laws. If necessary, court action is taken to compel compliance.
In some communities protected by volunteer or part-time paid fire departments, fire prevention is the responsibility of a state or county fire marshal or of a professional fire staff in an otherwise voluntary organization. In addition, fire departments usually inspect commercial buildings for what is called prefire planning.
Private dwellings may also be inspected as part of a fire department's educational program to impress the importance of fire safety on the inhabitants and to check for any unsafe conditions.
Many modern fire departments spend a decreasing amount of overall activity in fighting fires. Instead, fire fighters typically respond to all kinds of emergencies. For example, in the U.S. approximately 70 percent of all emergency medical calls are handled by the fire service. The same is true in many other countries.
The enormous increase in transportation of hazardous materials or dangerous goods has resulted in intensified training for fire fighters, and their departments often provide them with chemical protective clothing and monitoring equipment. Fire departments also prepare and equip their members to handle emergencies that result from earthquakes, plane crashes, and violent storms. In addition, fire fighters handle incidents that require extricating trapped people from fallen structures, from cave-ins, and from other situations.
Fire Departments Outside the United States
Although fire fighting is largely a matter of local jurisdiction in the U.S., many countries have more centralized fire departments. Italy has a national fire service (Corpo Nazionale-Vigili del Fuoco) organized into 92 provinces, administered from 12 regional centers. In Great Britain, local fire departments are organized into county, borough, and special district departments, all under a chief inspector of fire services. In France, fire protection is administered in sectors, except in Paris, where the fire department is operated by the Sapeurs-Pompiers, a brigade of the French army, and in Marseille, where it is administered by the navy. The Japanese government administers 43 regional and 3 metropolitan fire departments. In Denmark, local governments contract for fire-fighting services with companies under supervision of the Ministry of Justice. In Germany, professional fire brigades operate in large cities; volunteer brigades serve the small towns.
In all industrial countries fire fighters undergo training, beginning with probationary fire fighters' school and continuing throughout a fire fighter's career. Great Britain has several fire training centers. In Russia, fire schools are in Moscow and Saint Petersburg; Sweden and Denmark have similar schools. In some European countries fire protection and fire fighting are among the courses included in teaching safety engineering. International fire service and fire protection associations bring together leaders of the fire services of many nations. In Europe ComitŽ Technique International de Prevention et d'Extinction du Feu (CTIF) has over 30 member nations, including Russia. The Organizaci—n Iberoamericana de Protecci—n Contra Incendios (OPCI) brings together the fire service leaders of all Latin American countries. The Asia-Pacific region is served by the Asian Pacific Fire Safety Association (APAC).
Fighting the Fire
Most fire fighting consists of applying water to the burning material, cooling it to the point at which combustion is no longer self-sustaining. Fires involving flammable liquids, certain chemicals, and combustible metals often require special extinguishing agents and techniques. With some fuels the use of water may actually be dangerous.
The first fire engines, which appeared in the 17th century, were simply tubs carried on runners, long poles, or wheels; water was still supplied to the fire site by bucket brigade. The tub functioned as a reservoir and sometimes housed a hand-operated pump that forced water through a pipe or nozzle to waiting buckets. The invention of a hand-stitched leather hosepipe in the Netherlands about 1672 enabled fire fighters to work closer to the fire without endangering their engines and to increase the accuracy of water placement.
At about the same time the development of pumping devices made it possible to draw water from rivers and ponds. In the early 19th century copper rivets replaced the stitching on hoses, and 15-m (50-ft) lengths coupled with brass fittings enabled fire fighters to convey water through narrow passages, up stairways, and into buildings, while the pumps operated in the street. Cotton-covered rubber hose was developed around 1870. The steam-pump fire engine, introduced in London in 1829 by John Ericsson and John Braithwaite, was used in many large cities by the 1850s. Most steam pumpers were equipped with reciprocating piston pumps, although a few rotary pumps were used. Some were self-propelled, but most used horses for propulsion, conserving steam pressure for the pump. Steam fire engines were used in fighting the Chicago fire of 1871.
With the development of the internal-combustion engine early in the 20th century, pumpers became motorized. Because of problems in adapting geared rotary gasoline engines to pumps, the first gasoline-powered fire engines had two motors, one to drive the pump and the other to propel the vehicle. The first pumper using a single engine for pumping and propulsion was manufactured in the United States in 1907. By 1925 the steam pumper had been completely replaced by motorized pumpers. The pumps were originally of the piston or reciprocating type, but these were gradually replaced by rotary pumps and finally by centrifugal pumps, used by most modern pumpers.
At the same time, the pumper acquired its main characteristics: a powerful pump that can supply water in a large range of volumes and pressures; several thousand feet of fire hose, with short lengths of large-diameter hose for attachment to hydrants; and a water tank for the initial attack on a fire while fire fighters connect the pump to hydrants, and for areas where no water supply is available. In rural areas, pumpers carry suction hose to draw water from rivers and ponds. Current standards for pumper fire apparatus require that a fire pump have a minimum capacity of 2840 liters (750 gal) per minute at a pump pressure of 10.35 bar (150 psi). They also call for a water tank capacity of at least 1893 liters (500 gal).
Auxiliary vehicles are equipped with specialized equipment for effecting rescue, ventilating buildings, and salvage. Aerial ladders that typically extend to 30.5 m (100 ft) are carried on "hook and ladder" vehicles that also hold various kinds of tools and equipment, including heavy-duty jacks and air bags, extrication tools, oxyacetylene torches, self-contained breathing apparatus, and resuscitators. Other more basic equipment includes axes, shovels, picks, battering rams, power saws, hooks, and wrenches. Elevating platform trucks can raise fire fighters and equipment, including the water delivery system, as high as 30.5 m (100 ft). Rescue trucks carry a wide assortment of specialized emergency equipment, including the type that might be used in building collapses and cave-ins. Field communications units carry sophisticated electronic equipment for use in managing fire and emergency operations. Salvage trucks carry implements for reducing water damage, including large waterproof covers, dewatering devices, and tools for shutting off water flow from sprinkler heads. Hazardous materials response units are staffed with specially trained personnel equipped with protective clothing and monitoring devices for use at chemical spills and similar incidents.
Shipboard fires present special problems ranging from small fires in cabin cruisers to tanker fires involving thousands of metric tons of oil. Some of the special problems include complicated ship layouts, the danger of capsizing, and the difficulty of pinpointing and gaining access to the source of the fire. Fireboats, in sizes ranging from small, high-speed, jet-propelled rescue craft to large fire tugs, carry substantially all the fire-fighting equipment found on land apparatus. These include pumps, ladders, and rescue equipment, as well as special equipment necessary for marine fire fighting and water rescues, including rotating and angled nozzles, portable pumps, floating booms, foam-making apparatus, and special extinguishers such as carbon dioxide systems.
At the Fire
The basic tactics of fighting a fire can be divided into the following categories: rescue operations, protection of buildings exposed to the fire, confinement of the fire, extinguishing the fire, and salvage operations. The officer in charge, usually designated as the fireground commander, surveys the area and evaluates the relative importance of these categories. The commander also estimates what additional assistance or apparatus may be needed. Rescue operations are always given priority. Fire fighter safety has assumed increasing importance.
Once the fireground commander has appraised the situation, fire fighters and equipment are deployed. Pumper, ladder, and other truck companies, as well as rescue squads, are assigned to different areas of the fire, usually in accordance with the number and types of hose streams the fireground commander considers necessary to control the fire and prevent its spread.
In accordance with standard procedure for first alarms, fire companies go immediately to their assigned locations without waiting for specific orders. Special plans cover contingencies such as a fire covering a large area, a large building, or a particularly hazardous location. Usually on a first alarm one of the pumpers attacks the fire as quickly as possible, using preconnected hose lines supplied by the water tank in the truck, while larger hose lines are being attached to the hydrants. Members of the ladder and rescue companies force their way into the building, search for victims, ventilate the structure-break windows or cut holes in the roof to allow smoke and heat to escape-and perform salvage operations. Ventilating the structure helps to advance the hose lines with greater safety and ease, and also serves to safeguard persons who may still be trapped in the building.
Temperatures within a burning building may exceed 815¡ C (1500¡ F). Brightly burning fires principally generate heat, but smoldering fires also produce combustible gases that need only additional oxygen to burn with explosive force. The hazards to which fire fighters and occupants of a burning building are exposed include the breathing of superheated air, toxic smoke and gases, and oxygen-deficient air, as well as burns, injuries from jumping or falling, broken glass, falling objects, or collapsing structures. Handling a hose is difficult even before the line is charged with water under pressure. Nozzle reaction forces can amount to several hundred pounds, requiring the efforts of several people to direct a stream of water.
Types of Nozzles
Various nozzles are capable of projecting solid, heavy streams of water, curtains of spray, or fog. Fire trucks carry a selection of nozzles, which are used according to the amount of heat that must be absorbed. Nozzles can apply water in the form of streams, spray, or fog at rates of flow between 57 liters (15 gal) to more than 380 liters (more than 100 gal) per minute. Straight streams of water have greater reach and penetration, but fog absorbs heat more quickly because the water droplets present a greater surface area and distribute the water more widely. Fog nozzles may be used to disperse vapors from flammable liquids, although foam is generally used to extinguish fires in flammable liquids.
A variety of chemicals may be added to water to improve its ability to extinguish fires. Wetting agents added to water can reduce its surface tension. This makes the water more penetrating and facilitates the formation of small drops necessary for rapid heat absorption. By adding foam-producing chemicals and liquids to water, a fire-blanketing foam is produced. Foam is used to extinguish fires in combustible liquids, such as oil, petroleum, and tar, and for fighting fires at airports, refineries, and petroleum distribution facilities. A chemical additive can expand the volume of foam 1000 times. This high-expansion foam-water solution is useful in fighting fires in basements and other difficult-to-reach areas because the fire can be smothered quickly with relatively little water damage.
Salvage & Overhaul
This term refers to the methods by which fire fighters protect merchandise, household goods, and the interiors of buildings from smoke and water damage. Objects are covered with waterproof covers, and water is removed by water vacuums, mops, squeegees, water chutes, and portable pumps. Almost all fire departments carry salvage equipment in their apparatus. Fire departments in some large cities maintain special salvage companies.
Forest fires, often called wildland fires, are spread by the transfer of heat, in this case to grass, brush, shrubs, and trees. Because it is frequently difficult to extinguish a forest fire by attacking it directly, the principal effort of forest fire fighters is often directed toward controlling its spread by creating a gap, or firebreak, across which fire cannot move. Firebreaks are made, and the fire crews attempt to stop the fire by several methods: trenching, direct attack with hose streams, aerial bombing, spraying of fire-retarding chemicals, and controlled back-burning. As much as possible, advantage is taken of streams, open areas, and other natural obstacles when establishing a firebreak. Wide firebreaks may be dug with plows and bulldozers. The sides of the firebreaks are soaked with water or chemicals to slow the combustion process. Some parts of the fire may be allowed to burn themselves out.
Fire-fighting crews must be alert to prevent outbreaks of fire on the unburned side of the firebreaks. Fire-fighting crews are trained and organized to handle fires covering large areas. They establish incident command posts, commissaries, and supply depots. Two-way radios are used to control operations, and airplanes are employed to drop supplies as well as chemicals. Helicopters serve as command posts and transport fire fighters and their equipment to areas that cannot be reached quickly on the ground. Some severe wildfires have required more than 10,000 fire fighters to be engaged at the same time. The U.S. Forest Service maintains research laboratories, which develop improved fire-fighting equipment and techniques, and a school that trains fire fighters in the latest fire-fighting techniques. International conferences on wildland fire prevention and fire fighting have been held with greater frequency in recent years.
Private Fire Protection
Commercial and industrial buildings usually have some sort of internal, or private, fire-protection system installed.
A sprinkler system is an integrated system of underground and overhead piping, designed in accordance with fire protection engineering standards, and connected to one or more automatic water supplies. The system is usually activated by heat from a fire, and the sprinkler heads then discharge water over the fire area. Sprinkler systems are nearly 100 percent effective. Many sprinkler systems are supervised electrically from a central station, and alarms are transmitted to a fire department whenever the sprinklers operate or when a valve in the sprinkler system closes for any reason. If a fire-fighting unit arriving at a fire finds that the sprinkler system is not receiving sufficient water and pressure, a pumper is connected to the sprinkler system to supply additional water.
Many high-rise or other large buildings have an internal system of water mains (standpipes) connected to fire-hose stations. Trained occupants or employees of the building management operate the hoses until the fire department arrives. Fire fighters can also connect their hoses to outlets near the fire.
Buildings may also be equipped with detection systems that will transmit an alarm. Some detectors are designed to respond to smoke, and others to heat. In many jurisdictions, detection systems are required in public buildings, apartment houses, and sometimes even in private homes.
Two major types of smoke detectors are available. One is an ionization device that contains a small radioactive source for ionizing the air molecules between a pair of electrodes, permitting a very small current to flow between the pair. If smoke particles from a fire enter this space, they reduce the flow of current by adhering to the ionized molecules. The drop in current sets off a buzzer or other alarm.
The second type of smoke detector uses a photoelectric cell. In some of these detectors, smoke that enters obscures a steady beam of light; in others, the smoke scatters a light ray from a diode so that the cell can detect it. In either case the change sets off an alarm. The alarm may sound locally, or it may be designed to alert a central station with notification to the fire department. Photoelectric detectors are slower than ionization detectors, and sometimes both principles are combined. Both types can be run by batteries or by building current.
The Now Famous Book And its Cover. (As a side note this is now and has always been one of my favorite books of all time.)
25 November 2010
Engine Company 72
Engine Company 71