Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 51, Part III
By Holice and Debbie
Among more recent and valuable improvements made is that of placing all the wires centering into head-quarters underground in its immediate vicinity, and the introduction of a safety device to prevent damage to the valuable apparatus from the excessive currents from the electrical illuminating wires, which formerly had occasioned much trouble and damage to the apparatus,. And on one or more occasions nearly destroying the entire system.
This was caused by the wires of the department and those of the illuminating companies becoming crossed, whereby the terrific currents of the latter were conducted to the more delicate instruments in the Central Office, burning them up and setting fire to the combustible surroundings. Experiments have been made in the department with underground wires dating back to September, 1884m at which time two six-wire leaden-covered Waring cables were connected along Eighth Avenue, between Seventy-second and Seventy-third Streets, and the overhead wires removed. Since that time the same kind of cables has been put in service in different parts of the department, and with such good results as to induce Superintendent Smith to recommend that all the wires extending from the Central Office be placed underground for a limited distance, as in case of a serious fire in the immediate locality the entire over-head system would be imperiled. The recommendation was approved, and the work of trenching and laying was commenced on Saturday, the 24th of October, 1885, and as far as the underground work was concerned, was completed the following Tuesday. It is hoped that the success of this initial departure from the hazardous overhead system will result in the speedy placing of every fire alarm wire under ground.
Superintendent Smith's report, made some two months after the completion of this work, is as follows;
"All the wires connecting the Central office of this department start from the office switch-board in Waring anti-induction cables, and pass to the basement of the building, where they enter a distributing switch for the greater convenience of the circuits in the different streets. From this point the cables, thirty-four in number, and containing one hundred and ninety (1900) wires, with an aggregate length of about twenty-eight (28) miles, enter the ground and pass under the streets indifferent direction to the junction poles. These poles are situated at a distance from one to four blocks away. Here the cables are carried up the poles in wood and iron boxing, where they are joined to the overhear wires through lightning arresters place in boxes upon the poles. Thirty of the cables contain six conductors each, three have three conductors each, all of the corrugated pattern, and one independent or single wire cables. One of the six-wire cables connects direct to the head-quarters of the Police department and the newspaper press offices in Mulberry Street, and one connects with the conduit of the Western Union Telegraph Company under Broadway. The conduit here mentioned extends south under Broadway to Dey Street and north as far as Fourteenth Street, thence to and up Fifth Avenue to Twenty-third Street. Along this route there are ten street boxes attached to lamp-posts, from each of which extends a Waring cable under the pavement, entering the conduit at a neighboring flush-box or man-hole, and there connecting with the department circuits provided by the Western Union Company, and running the entire length of the conduit, making a circuit of seven miles
"the work of trenching and laying was begun on Saturday, the 24th of October, 1885, and was practically completed on the following Tuesday morning, having caused no interference nor inconvenience to street traffic, although car-tracks were crossed at five different points, and one mass of six cables (thirty-three wires) were laid across Broadway, the most crowded thoroughfare in the city. Upon the completion of the work and connecting in this underground system with the aerial lines, not a fault had developed in any of the cables, and all remain perfect up to the present time. In addition to the cables here spoken of are several Waring cables placed in different parts of the city, which were laid in 1884, and all was perfect in their service as when laid.
"While in constant dread of serious disturbances, to which we are liable, from storms, etc., especially in the winter season, it is a satisfaction to feel that, though limited, we have some portion of the system not within its reach, and with a continuance of successful working, a strengthening of the belief that the proper place for the wires of this department, as a measure of economy a well as safety, is under the streets." The Central Office of the Fire alarm Telegraph is on the third floor of the Headquarters Building, and located at the eat end of a room whose dimensions are 70 by 40 feet. Commencing at the front end of the room is a raised flooring or platform occupying twenty-two feet in width, and extending into the room that same distance, with an extension of three and a half feet, with broad steps leading to tit from the main floor; On the two sides of this elevated portion, and the end where it joins the side of the building, elegant and artistic cabinet work of solid mahogany, beautifully carved, and divided into pilaster and paneling to accommodate the electrical apparatus rises ten feet above the platform, the end portion being placed three feet distant from the front wall of Headquarters to permit a passage between it and the wall, and leave an opening in the center six feet in width to correspond to a window directly opposite, the two wings of the cabinet work joining overhear.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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