Since last year the Paris Fire Department has been experimenting with different types of electric auto-mobiles, such as fire pumps, hook-and-ladders, hose-carriages, etc., and these have proved very successful in general. They present a decided advantage over the old forms in allowing a quicker start from the station and an immediate putting in use when on the ground. The value of this increase of speed is apparent, where the gain of a few minutes may be of vital importance.
The first machine to be tried was a "fourgon," or wagon carrying six men, hose, ladders and fire-extinguishers. The motor, of the Bouquet, Garcin & Schivre type, is of 4,000 watts capacity and the accumulators, which give 200 ampere hours, weigh 1,500 pounds. This vehicle measures about 6 by 10 feet and weighs 4,840 pounds, or 6,820 pounds when in running order.
The electric fire pump was the next to be tried. It carries a pump worked by an electric motor and fed by a water-reservoir containing 150 gallons; this water supply (or other fire-extinguishing liquid) is utilized until the hose can be connected directly to a fire-plug. The same motor is used to drive the vehicle and, when on the spot, to work the pump. In this way it starts almost instantly and upon arriving at the fire sets immediately to work. It has a front seat with the steering devices and in the center is the battery-box, suspended below the vehicle; above it is the motor, of the same type as the first vehicle, which drives the rear wheels. The reservoir is in the rear and above it is the hose-reel, the water being taken to the hose through the hollow axle. The pump, back of the reservoir, has three vertical cylinders, and delivers 20 gallons per minute at a pressure of 4 atmospheres. The vehicle has an electric brake, besides a cord-brake; it weighs 5,060 pounds, or 6,380 pounds when fully equipped, including 3 men and 100 gallons of water. The motor gives 4,000 watts and the accumulators 180 ampere hours. An arrangement is provided for using part of the current for lighting the scene of disaster by incandescent lamps, or even by arc lamps.
These two machines have been repeatedly tried in actual service and have proved quite successful. A newer. machine is the hook and ladder, which is rather in the experimental stage.