Protecting FUEL-STORAGE DEPOTS Against Fire
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Details of an Efficient Fire-fighting Appliance of the Foam Type and how it Proved its Value
AS is well known, the great development, since the war, of motor traffic has brought about an extensive expand sion in the petroleum and petrol-storage facilities, not only in Gt. Britain but in all the. principal eountries of the world. In view of the combustible nature of the oils and the large size of such installations, the question of their. protection against fire and the means for coping with outbreaks, should they occur, is naturally a serious problem and one to which too much attention cannot be given.
It is for this reason that we are devoting space to a description of what is being done in France and, particularly, in the Rouen district, which has become one of the most important • oil and petrol-importing and storage centres in that country. The left bank of the river Seine, near Rouen, is being covered with countless storage tanks belonging to about 20 different oil-importing concerns.
In addition to every precaution being taken to prevent the occurrence of fire, some time ago the different companies joined together in forming a body, with the title Le Grotmement Petrolier Rouennais de Defense centre l'Incendie, the object of which is to equip itself
with the most suitable machines and apparatus for dealing with oil and petrol fires. Although already possessing a certain amount of equipment, the joint brigade is continually on the lookout for improved apparatus, and it has recently acquired two special foam-producing Ere-engines, with which some interesting experiments were lately carried out.
The two machines in question were supplied by theSociete pour l'Exploitation des Precedes Bouillon. rierea; of Rue Jean Joures, Puteaux, Paris, a concern which has for -some years specialized on the production of fire-extinguishing appliances. So far as the chassis is concerned, this can be of any particular type which is preferred by the purchasing fire-brigade or company-in the Rouen example, Delahaye chassis are used-the Bouillon Co. merely adapting-thereto its own special equipment for the rapid production and discharge of foam, which is generated by means of water and a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and a special form of soap powder, • known as " Saponin." This is thoroughly mixed into an emulsion in two tanks which areequipped with agitators.
The Foam-producing Apparatus.
The foam-generating plant comprises two powder recipients, each having a capacity of about 19,600 cubic ins., with adjustable outlets distributing the contents in the requisite proportions to two 100-gallon solution tanks below. The agitators are operated through a wormreduction gear and bevel pinion driven off the pump shaft, each' tank being capable of producing a mixture of 230 lb. per minute of each of the two sorts of powder.
Two gear-type pumps which are driven off the main engine are mounted in series on the chassis, one being in tended for the pumping of water from any available source to the -solution tanks and the other for the delivery of the foam, at a pressure of about 70 lb. per sq. in., through one or more of four 21-in. outlet unions. A watertight compartment of a size to hold 160 bags, each containing 33 lb. of powder, is provided on the rear of the chassis, the sides being made in two parts. The upper portion is hinged at the top and opens upward, whilst the lower one is hinged at the bottom, so that it can be lowered to form an attendant's platform. The cover over the foam-producing plant is also arranged so that, when the machine is working, it can be raised to give headroom to the operators.
Details of the Equipment.
In addition to the foregoing, the vehicles are each equipped not only with a double set of accumulators but also with an acetylene-gas cylinder and headlamp, to ensure that, at night, there shall be no lighting failure. With the idea of preventing loss of time owing to punctures, in 'addition to two spare wheels,' a :compreased-air cylinder -for the rapid inflation of tyres is darned 'on the 'vehicles. There are also a portable electric searchlight, mounted on a tripod, and 164 ft. of cable, five 13-ft; lengths of suction hose, and two reels each carrying '656ft. of 2i-in. hose.
Each of the machines was also supplied with a 3-ton trailer, upon which is
mounted an enclosed tank having a capacity of 440 gallons, in order that, when required in places where no water is available, the vehicle will113e able to take with it a certain quantity of water for the pump. -The machines can also be used as ordinary water-pumping engines or for the discharge of tetrachloride, often used with petrol fires.
For the purpose of test an artificial shallow lake 82 ft. in diameter was formed on the banks of the river Seine. On the signal to start up the pumps only a few seconds elapsed before foam began to he discharged through two hose-pipes, the whole surface of the lake being covered, in less than 10 minutes, with a 4-in. layer of foam.
Later, under the auspices of the French Office National des Combustibles Liquides, a trial of the actual capacity
of the machines to cope with oil fires was conducted. A large and specially 'trengtlietied circular tank 29-i ft. in diameter and 29-i ft. high was erected 'near Roten.` Thecontainer was filled with about 187,000 gallons of crude
petroleum When the whole contents caught alight an immense flame arose to a height of nearly 100 ft. After being ell-owed to burn for about 20 minutes without any signs of the oil being all consumed, one of the Bouillon engines was put into operation and foam discharged under pressure through jets attached to two hose pipes. The foam was allowed to fall vertically on to the flames at a point about 12 ins, from the outer edge of the tank. It took a little time for the foam to have any effect on the flames, but they quickly • began to die down, none being visible within the short space of 41minutes.
The signal to stop the engine was given in 5 minutes 35 seconds. As there was no recurrence of the flames, it was clear that the foam-of which 13,200 gallons had been used-had completely overcome the Ere.
The Bouillon Co. is represented in this country by Knock-Out Fire Extinguishers, Ltd., of Bardwell Street, London, N.7,