Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Technology High Pressure Fire Systems

High Pressure Water Delivery for Fire Service

Many communities developed separate high pressure water systems dedicated to fire protection.  Most of these systems had dedicated pumping stations using fresh or salt water, but in some cases the piping network was arranged so that fireboats could deliver water during a fire.  These systems were generally confined to dense built-up areas and high value areas such as naval bases and factories..

The first of these was built in Rochester, New York in 1874, which is still in service. 

Some later systems were discontinued as motor-driven fire pumpers became more robust and dependable.

1884 "High Service Water Supply for New York," Engineering News 11:102 (March 1, 1884)

1904 "Salt Water Fire Protection for New York City," Scientific American, 90:170 (February 27, 1904)

1923 Comparison of high pressure water systems for fire protection, by Chester Orlando Avery, and Laurence E. Barstow, Thesis, Department of Mechnical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Existing Standpipes

Year City State Remarks
1851 San Francisco CA Ordinance given to Conrad K. Hotaling, but system not built due to lack of local support.
1863 Worcester MA
1873 Rochester NY Dedicated fire protection system, still in use
1882 New York City NY Proposed Holly system using salt water, not built.  (see 1908)
1889 Milwaukee WI Pumping from four fire boats.
1891 Providence RI
1903 Philadelphia PA
1906 Lawrence MA
1906 Coney Island NY
1907 Winnipeg AL
1908 Brooklyn NY
1908 Manhattan NY
1908 Toronto ON
1911 Jacksonville FL
1912 Baltimore MD
1913 San Francisco CA Two steam plants and fire boats
1913 Cleveland OH
1917 Toledo OH
1921 Miami FL
1922 Boston MA
1922 Buffalo NY Fire boat connections
1923 Cincinnati OH Not completed yet

2016 Morris A. Pierce