Fighting factory fires

Fighting factory fires

A column in the June 9, 1904, issue detailed firefighting procedures that went beyond automatic sprinklers and thermostat systems. Because factory fires frequently occurred in the evening, the article said to use the night watchman as the first line of de

A column in the June 9, 1904, issue detailed firefighting procedures that went beyond automatic sprinklers and thermostat systems. Because factory fires frequently occurred in the evening, the article said to use the night watchman as the first line of defense. "The hourly round of the watchman is not sufficient protection. Each part of the factory should be visited at least once each half hour."

The report also suggested watchmen be aided by a system of push-buttons for summoning factory or city fire departments. "These push-buttons may be located near hose reels or fire buckets, so that no time would be lost in sounding the alarm."

Insurance regulations at the time called for 12 fire buckets for each 5,000 ft 2 of space. To make the buckets easier to find, the magazine recommended painting them red — with the word "fire" in large letters.

Because many factories had their own fire crews, the report also described the best personnel to man the teams. The "master mechanic" should be in charge, it said, because "He is, or should be, a man of good judgment, used to dealing with emergencies, and therefore not easily 'rattled.'" Other team members needed to live close to the factory so they could quickly respond to night alarms.

The article recommended practice drills where firefighters would get out hoses, coupling joints, and climbing ladders, and carry fire-fighting equipment to various areas of the plant.

Another fire-safety drill: "In factories employing women and children, the department should be instructed in the best ways to get the timid ones down fire escapes and to prevent crowding on the stairs."


Standardizing machine speeds

In the same issue, editors discussed an idea for standardizing cutting speeds. In this system, a shop would track a machine's cutting speeds for various materials. This information would be tabulated onto a plate and attached to the machine tool. Operators then could reference the data and set proper speeds with a tachometer.

"The spirit of the system is commendable," wrote the editors, "but in this case it is possibly a refinement in the wrong direction." Editors thought metals had varying degrees of hardness and other properties that would impact the metalcutting process. They suggested using skilled operators, who could set optimal cutting speeds without a tachometer, instead of standardizing cutting speeds.

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