San Francisco (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.

The municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) online

. (page 27 of 84)
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possible. It is most important that these
fire alarm boxes are at all times in per-
fect order. They are each tested once
a month. There are eleven tapper cir-
cuits and the same number of alarm
circuits, which connect the Fire .Alarm
office with the various fire houses.
These tapper and alarm circuits and
also the fire alarm box circuits are al-
ways under constant supervision as to
open lines, grounds, crosses and other
trouble that would interfere with the
proper operation of the same. These
fire houses are being rewired and mod-
ern .A-C bells are being installed to
replace the old style battery type which
had to be renewed every year or two
at much expense. The signal boards
in the engine houses have also been re-
wired and we are changing the local
circuits from the series system to the
multiple system. In the old series sys-
tem if the local circuit opened all the
bells in the house were out of order,
which often happened in the old horse-
drawn days, when a horse would not

be released by the let-goes and pulled
the whole apparatus off the stall. With
the multiple system now in use. this
would be impossible, as part of the
circuit could be open and the remainder
of the bells on the circuit would operate.

Trunk Cables

^\'e have trunk cables running from
the Fire Alarm office to the county line
and also to all parts of the City. From
these main cables are lateral cables
which connect with the fire alarm bo.xes
and engine houses. The type of cable
which this department uses is some-
what diflferent from other fire alarm
cables as we use a No. 18 gauge triple
wrapped saturated paper insulation
which makes a much smaller cable to
handle than the old style rubber No. 14
gauge which is used in most fire alarm
cables in other cities.

Not manj' years ago we had ver\-
little underground cable in service : in
fact there was only one small trunk
cable going down Market Street from
the Fire Alarm office. 55 Fulton Street.
We now have all the downtown district
from the Embarcadero to \"an Ness
.\ venue and also many other parts of
the City with complete underground
circuits. This department has installed
many miles of underground cable in
the downtown district in the last year,
which was necessary for the installa-
tion of the new Traffic Signal system.
At the present time we are installing
the new type traffic and ]iedestrian sig-
nals on Market Street from Spear

Street to \'an Ness Avenue, which is
the invention of Ralph W. Wiley,
Chief of this department.

Police Telephone System
This department also installed and
maintains a complete telephone system
in each of the thirteen Police Stations.
This system is a combination tele-
graph and telephone circuit, operating
on a 48-volt storage battery with the
latest type Kellogg switchboard equip-
ment — which equipment we have stand-
ardized both on the switchboards and
in the patrol bo.xes on the street. There
is also on these boards a complete wire
chief test set with a volt meter and
keys for locating any trouble that may
occur on these circuits. There is a vast
difference from the old type police tele-
phones and boards of years ago, when
the patrolman using the street box had
to shout in an endeavor to make the
Sergeant understand what he was sa\-
ing. With our new type one can speak
in a whisper and be distinctly under-

319 Patrol Boxes
• We now have 319 of these patrol
boxes in service at the various Police
Stations. The Central Police Station
has six telephone circuits and the other
stations have two to three circuits

This department also recently in-
stalled and maintains a complete tele-
type system from the Hall of Justice to
each of the thirteen Police Stations.
This, with the telephone system, is the




most modern and up-to-dalt- equipment
in the country.

In our overhead line construction we
liave attained a high standard which is
on a par with any of the public service
cori)orations in this City. All of our
overhead lines are built with No. 12
triple braid hard drawn copper wire
which has proven very satisfactory in
this climate. We have very little trouble
with open lines or grounds. This type
of construction is in accordance with
General Order No. 64-,\ of the State.
Before we adopted this type of con-
struction every winter it was necessary
many, many times to call out every
available lineman to help restore the
service, which often meant working all
night long as many parts of the City
were left without fire alarm protection.

At that time there were many poles
that had been standing for years and

were rotten at the butt. Consequently
in a heavy wind they blew over, carry-
ing all the lines with them. Since the
adoption of the joint poles by the pub-
lic service corporations this department
has transferred its equipment to these
new poles, which makes a very satis-
factory arrangement. Now an open
line is something we very seldom have.
The department keeps pace with the
city's .^■rowth. Where we used to get
an order occasionally to install a fire
alarm box we now receive from fifty
to 100 at one time. Where we previ-
ously used 200 cross-arms in a year
we are now using 1 500. The same ap-
plies to wire and to other equipment.
Where we formerly used 500 pounds
of line wire we are now using six and
one-half tons, which is equal to sixty-
five miles of lines.

In the line and underground con-
struction four trucks are being used.
One, a 2y2-ton White truck, recetitly
purchased, is equipped with the latest
apparatu.s for installing the under-
ground cables. We also have a number
of automobiles which are used by the
wireman and troublemen. With the
equipment on our White truck we are
able to pull in about 3000 feet of cable
a day, which is some contrast with the
old gas engine and winch which wc
formerly had to use.

The personnel of the Plant depart-
ment consists of the following : Super-
intendent of plant; two line foremen;
fourteen linemen ; one foreman laborer;
eight laborers ; one cable splicer ; one
store keeper ; one battery man ; two
wiremen ; one messenger ; one repairer.

Inspection Bureau, Department of Electricity

By Samuel C. Curtis

THE Inspection Bureau of the De-
partment of Electricity under
Chief Ralph W. Wiley is one of the
subdivisions of the Department of
Electricity. It has the enforcement
and inspections of all electrical power,
heat, lighting, wiring, appliances, elec-
tric signs, and electric fixture installa-
tion in or on all buildings in the City
and County of San Francisco and the
enforcing of Electrical Ordinances
Nos. 5192, 5230, 5231, 1009, 5268 and
5785, New Series, of the City and
County of San Francisco, pertaining to
same ; also the enforcement of the Elec-
trical Safety Orders of the Industrial
Accident Commission of the State of
California in or on all commercial
buildings and industrial buildings where
rules and requirements guard employ-
ees against electrical accidents, life haz-
ards and electrically caused fires.

This bureau and its inspectors also
enforce the requirements of the Na-
tional Electrical Code of the Board of
National Fire Underwriters in regard
to its approved methods of electrical
installations, wiring, lappliances, and
materials that go into a building in this
city and county. This branch of the
Department of Electricity is located in
Room No. 205 on the second floor, Citv

Bureau's Former Location

This bureau originally was located
before the fire and earthquake of 1906
in the basement of the Old Hall of
Records Building in the City Hall,
which was located at McAllister and
Hyde Streets. The force consisted of
one Chief Inspector and three District



Chief Inspector

Drpartment of Eltulruily

Inspectors. Immediately after the fire
and earthquake, the office in the base-
ment of the Hall of Records, being
destroyed, a temporary Fire Alarm and
Inspection Bureau office was estab-
lished in an old two-flat building on the
east side of Steiner Street near Pine
Street, under Chief Hewitt, who was
Chief of the Department of Electricity
at that time.

Electrical inspections were made and
fire alarms were sent out of that ofifice
of the Department of Electricity until
a temporary two-story brick building
was built on the south side of Fulton
Street on city property where our new
City Hall now stands. This building
housed the Chief's office, the Inspection
I'ureau, Fire Alarm office, and the
sho])s. This building was torn down
to make room for the present City Hall,
and while this was being done, the

Chief's office and the Inspection Bu-i
reau were moved into the Whitcomb
Hotel Building on Market Street,^
which was used as a temporary halll
for San Francisio until the new City
Hall was completed.

Force Has Increased ii

The force of this bureau has in- ■
creased from one Chief Inspector and
three District Inspectors and two clerks
to the present force consisting of one
Chief Inspector, one Office Inspector,
eighteen District Inspectors, one Elec-
trical Overhead Line Inspector, one
cashier and two clerks.

The inspection applications filed, in- 1
spections made and fees received by 1
this Bureau have increased from 1907 1
to 1929 in the following proportions.

Fiscal Years

1906-1907 1928-19291
Applications filed 4,755 20,574/
Inspections made 12,251 67,271 i
Inspection fees....$9,400.00 $86,790.00|
Approved instal-
lations 4,600 25,220|

Inspection fees from 1925 to 1928J
were as follows :

Inspection Fees

1925-1926 $131,193,00'!

1926-1927 118,645.00

1927-1928 97.287.00 J

Radical Changes

The whole electrical industry and i
systems of wiring and tyj^es of systems,
types and kinds of electrical material
and electrical appliances and electrical
motors and motor starters and quantity
ol same in use. and rules governing in-



T H !•; .M U \ I C 1 I' A I. !•: .\I PLOY E 1-.


Back rov:. left to right: Inspector Osgood K. Jones. Inspector U'ilfred P. Roche, Inspector George .1. Spottis^ood. Inspector Nicholas
J. Siggins. Center rov:, left to right: Inspector Joseph A. Del'ecmon, Inspector l^alter Smith. Inspector Edward H. Collins,
Inspector Bernard F. fCiesinger, Inspector Peter B. Simmons. Inspector Ifilliam J. Kennedy. Inspector Harold L. Gerher. Inspector
Julian McFarland. Front ro<a, left to right: Overhead Inspector James J. H'harton, Inspector Albert E. Cohn, Inspector Maurice
Levy, Chief Inspector Samuel C. Curtis, Inspector James E. Foran. Inspector Frederick S. Desmond. Secretary-Inspector Joseph P.

Murphy, Inspector Frank A. Biedcrmann.

spection and installation of same, have
gone through a radical change since the
year 1898. Every following year sees
the introduction of new electrical wir-
ing systems and appliances which must
be covered by new rules for their safe
installation from fire and accident

In 1898-1900 there were practically
no rules for electrical installation ex-
cept the National Code of the Xational
Board of Fire Underwriters. There
were only a few types of electric light
and power wiring systems used in San
Francisco. Open knob and tube and
ix)rcelain cleat wiring, wires installed
in wooden moulding and paper conduit
were the only class of wiring installa-
tions used at that time.

Installations of electric power and
light wires in iron rigid conduit and
armored cable and the approved fittings
and outlet bo.xes that go with this class
of installations were practically un-
known. Lighting systems were 110-
volt D. C. or A. C. single phase. In-
candescent lamps were the old tvpe ear-
In m filament. 8. 16 and 32-candlepower
type. i)nc hundred and ten-volt carbon
arc lights were used to light up stores
and halls. In a few cases 4000-volt
and 6000-volt commercial series arc
circuits were brought into buildings to
light up large areas.

Power installed consisted mostlv of
110-volt and 220-volt D. C. motors.
We had practically no electric signs,
electric ranges or heaters. From this
early stage the electrical industrv and
wiring systems and electrical appli-
ances have developed to such an extent
that in all first-class electrical installa-
tions, a much higher grade of insulated
electric wire is pulled into iron con-
duits or raceways terminating in ap-
proved metal outlet boxes and fittings.
Lighting Wiring Systems

Lighting wiring systems have
changed from 2-wire 110-volt branch.
660-watt double fused circuit systems
to 2 and 3-wire 110-220-volt, I'OOO to
1500-watt single fused identified branch
circuits, a white or gray being used for
the identified wire which must be the
neutral wire of the system, and on .\.
C. current must be grounded at the
point of entrance to the building: this
wire under no conditions to be fused,
while the other or live wires must be
fused. Tungsten and gas-filled globes
have taken the place of the old carbon
incandescent lamps. .V newer and later
system of incandescent lighting and
power wiring systems is the -1-wire
"Y" connected A. C. secondary dis-
tributing system.

Electric ranges for cooking and elec-
tric air heaters for heating homes, and

various other electrical convenience
appliances are now being installed in
nearly every home, and new ty-pes are
coming on the market every day.

Electric motors for power have gone
through a cycle of changes in the last
few years. Where a few years ago
practically 110-volt and 220-volt single
phase and 110-220-volt D. C. electric
motors were used for power, they were
first replaced by 220-volt 2-phase elec-
tric motors, and finally in the last few
\ears by 220-volt and -140-voIt 3-phase
electric motors, except in the fractional
horsepower sizes. The general practice
now is that when a large lighting, heat-
ing or power load is supplied to a build-
ing or industrial plant, to bring the high
tension wires underground into a fire-
proof transformer vault in the build-
ing, and step the voltage down to the
required voltage for light and power
through high tension oil-cooled trans-
formers in the vault.

Industrial Advancement

Through the advancement of the
electrical industry and electrical in-
spection departments, open type cutouts
and open type knife switches have been
replaced with dead front cutouts and
externally operated knife switches
which are inclosed in iron cabinets and




are labeled as to which circuit they con-

The hanging of electrical wiring sys-
tems and different types of systems and
voltages and the increased use of new
electrical appliances for heat, lighting
and power; the use of new electrical
wiring installation materials, and the
rules and ordinances governing the in-
stallation of the same, and the great in-
crease of buildings which has occurred
in San Francisco since the fire and
earthquake in 1906 — and still continues
— has kept the electrical inspectors of
this department busy.

Inspection Requirements

The requirements for an electrical
inspection to be made, are as follows :
That an electrical contractor who is
registered with this department and
who has been required to pass an elec-
trical examination by this department
and has paid a $50 registration fee and
$50 license fee in advance ; or an owner
electrician who will be required to ac-
tually perform the electrical installation
himself without employing help, and
on his own property only; or a plant
electrician, which means a competent
maintenance electrician employed
steadily by a firm or corporation
whose electrical installation of power,
heat and lighting justifies the employ-
ment of such plant electrician.

It will be required by this department
that it be notified at least one day in
advance before making an inspection.
Xo electrical power, heat or lighting
wires or electrical conduit shall be con-
cealed or covered by any part)' con-
cerned until inspected by the district
electrical inspector. If approved by
him, he will post a blue tag on the
meter board, empowering the building
contractor or owner to conceal or cover
up that part of electrical installation
noted on the blue tag and signed by the
electrical inspector. If the installation
is not approved by the district inspec-
tor, he will post a yellow tag at the me-
ter board which does not allow the cov-
ering up or concealing of any installa-
tion. It is unlawful for the building
contractor or owner under these condi-
tions, to cover or conceal the electrical
installation until the complaints which
caused the posting of the yellow tag are
corrected and a reinspection ordered.
After reinspection is made and installa-
tion is found to be correct, the inspector
will place a blue tag in place of the yel-
low tag, and the building contractor or
owner may conceal the installation pre-
viously condemned. .Ml electrical in-
stallations must he inspected during
progress of installing for what is

termed "a rough-in" inspection. All
electrical, lighting, heating and power
conduit systems must be installed com-
plete before any wire is pulled into the

Electric Wiring Inspection
All electric wiring inside of electric
signs must be inspected by an inspector
of this department before the electric
sign is sealed up and again inspected
when electric sign is installed on the
building and finally connected. All
electrical power, heat, and lighting in-
stallations shall have progress, or rough
and final inspection by inspectors of
this department, and no electrical in-
stallation will be allowed to be con-
nected up to a power companj^'s source
of supply or an electric meter installed
and connected until a green tag is
posted on the electric meter board em-
powering the serving power company
to connect up their service and meter
to the building service. When the elec-
trical installation is completed on a
building and approved by this depart-
ment, a certificate of approval for elec-
tric wiring or electric fixtures will be
issued to the electrical contractor who
made the installation and who, in turn,
will give this certificate over to the
owner or tenant of the building for
whom the electrical installation was

Installation Safety

The main function of electrical in-
spection by our inspectors is to see that
a safe electrical and mechanical instal-
lation is made in all buildings in the
City and County of San Francisco
with regard to fire, property, and loss
of life hazard.

One of the most difficult conditions
that our department and inspectors
have to contend with is — before and
after an electrical installation is com-
pleted; the addition to the installation
of sub-standard and cord wiring in-
stalled by janitors, handymen, owners,
tenants, and locksmith electricians who
go to a 5, 10 and 15 cent store or elec-
trical hardware store and buy cheap
electrical material, such as a coil of
cord, tape and iron staples. They begin
to make extensions to the original wir-
ing outlets by stapling cord around the
woodwork, across ceilings, on picture
moulds, through walls and connecting
additional electrical appliances to these
sub-standard additional outlets, increas-
ing the number of outlets on original
circuits, thus overloading same. When
the proper size, 15 ampere fuses, pro-
tecting these circuits blow out, they
will replace these fuses with 30 ampere
fuses, and if 30 ampere fuses will not
hold, they use pennies or copper wire
wound around the fuses. Fuses are
safety devices to properly and safely
protect the circuit wires and electrical
appliances connected to the circuit.

from overloading, short circuits, or
grounds which may develop on circuit ;
the fuse element being of proper sizi
for this protection would blow if abovi
condition should happen, opening thi
circuit and so protect wire and appli-
ances from being burnt out or a fire
hazard being developed therefrom.

Fuses are to the protection of an
electrical circuit and the appliances on
the circuit what a safety valve is to a
steam boiler. If the safety valve is tied
down, and the .steam pressure should '
raise above the safety point, the boiler
is likely to blow up; and if the fuse>
protecting an electrical circuit are over-
fused or coppered or pennies used be-
hind the fuses, the circuit wires ma)
become hot from overload, short cir-
cuits, or grounds, setting fire to the in-
sulation on the wires and adjacent in-
flammable material.

Life Hazard

Another problem we have from a
life hazard standpoint, and we have had
several deaths caused as a result of this
hazard, is defective sockets, brass sock-
ets, and extension cords in bathrooms
kitchens, and laundries. There should
be no extension cords used in bath-
rooms and no lamp or cord should be
handled in any way while one is in
the bathtub or is in contact with a
grounded surface or water faucet.
There should be no open type knife
blade switches in an industrial or com- '
mercial building.

Conduit Inspection
The difference of making an inspec-
tion of electrical conduit installation in
a building from inspection of other
building installations such as, gas and
water piping systems, concrete, iron
and woodwork, is that the electrical
inspector has to see that proper sizes
and types of conduit and fittings an
installed for the size and number of
wires that are required in the particula'
type of conduit used; that the conduii
is properly installed and secured befori
he will allow same to be covered up or
concealed on the rough inspection. An-
other inspection must be made when
the building is finished and the in-
spector must again check up the nun
her of wires, sizes of wires, and si
that wires have proper type of insula
tion in each conduit; that all join!
and splices made on wires and cabl^
are made in proper size outlet an
junction boxes, and that these joini
have been properly soldered and tape!
In other pipe or raceway systems sue
as water, gas, air. or oil. all that if
required is that the pipe be of proper
type, that it be properly put together
and properly secured, but what goe.-
into these pipes is not inspected, while
in electrical conduit both wires and
conduit must be inspected.

THE M U X I C I P A L F. ^[ P L O Y E E


The Central Fire Alarm Station, Department

of Electricity

By Chester L. Balliette

F^HIS station, the nerve center of
i the Fire Department and Traffic
ignal control, is located in the center
f Jefferson Square Park ; housed in

one-story and basement fire-proof
uilding of Class A construction.

Its location in the center of a public
ark, with no buildings nearer than a
lock away, makes for almost perfect
iolation and safety in case of such a
weeping fire as that of 1906, and in
^hich the original Fire Alarm office,
>cated in Brenhani Place, opposite
'ortsmouth Square, was destroyed.

No Outside Exposures
The building has no outside expos-
ires and all openings are protected by
irire glass ; the only inflammable ma-
erials inside the building are the office
hairs and telephone switchboard.

The Fire Alarm switchboard is semi-
ircular with the front composed of
our different colored sections of
narble. The back of the board is en-
losed by metal cabinet doors. The
nstruments mounted in front are prac-


Chief Operator

Central Fire Alarm Station

Department of Electricity

tically all products of "home industry,"
made in the Department of Electricity
shop, 264 Golden Gate Avenue. In
justice to the equipment and its quality,
I'll state that we haven't had a mechan-
ical failure on it since the board
put in service. February 28. 1915.


All wires of the Fire .-Marm system
enter the building underground. There
is an extensive underground terminal
rack in the basement of the building.
The termini of fire alarm circuits,
telephone exchange, traffic signal cir-
cuits and other miscellaneous features
are operated to and from this office.

Two-Position Switchboard
The telephone switchboard is a two-
position board providing space for 2V^^
circuits and forty trunk lines, and is
normally operated by one operator
handling ninety-nine locals, twenty-
three trunk lines to Central and di-
rect lines to Police Department and the
City Hall exchange.

This office and its operations are
probably the least-known among the
various units of the city government,
but are far from being the least im-

Online LibrarySan Francisco (Calif.). Board of SupervisorsThe municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) → online text (page 27 of 84)