San Francisco (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.

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

. (page 29 of 84)
Online LibrarySan Francisco (Calif.). Board of SupervisorsThe municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) → online text (page 29 of 84)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

an insurance company. In the con4
gested condition of the streets, sucK
accidents are unavoidable. The Railn,
way cannot be expected to pay sucW
losses. But as in cases of fire whcil
losses happen, the prudent owner looks
to his insurance to protect him. This
article, however, was not written ti
urge insurance on anyone. But purel
from the angle of one upon whom rest
the responsibility of adjusting honestly
and with such justice as he is capable,
the claims of motorists whose cars are

If street cars are to be operated oil;
schedule they must continue to move aH
a rate of speed that will make the car4
rying of millions of people annually to
and from their work possible. Acci-
dents will happen. But if motorists will
try and remember the weight of a street
car, and the further fact that it is going
to slide in proportion to the speed at
which it is being operated, he will real-
ize that the safest place is as far away
from the tracks as is practicable. The
street car cannot swerve to avoid a col-1
lision and the motorist should not look
to the Railway for reimbursement wher^^
unavoidable accidents happen.


The largest number of fire alarnii
in the history of the Central Fire
Alarm Station was during the fiscaJ
year ending June 30, according to
the annual report of Chief Operator
Chester Balliette to Chief Ralph W
Wiley of the Department of Elec

The total reached 7774, an in_^
crease of 611 over the last fiscal^
year. There \vere 2977 first, 69 sec
ond, 21 third, 1 fourth and 4706 still


T II E M U X 1 C 1 I' A L !•: .M 1' I, ( ) V E E


Overhead Inspection

by the

Department of


By James J. NA'harton

UNDER this branch of the depart-
ment conies the inspection of all
public utility equipment erected upon
the streets, wires over buildings, tem-
porary lighting and wiring used for
special and festive occasions, scaffolds
and hoists used in building construc-
tion, radio equipment upon buildings,
commercial overhead equipment, inves-
tigations and adjustments of complaints
between property owners and corpora-
tions, surA-eys. and special inspections
for the Chief, investigations of acci-
dents and deaths, reports and recom-
mendations to the Chief regarding con-
ditions or equipment being used which
are detrimental to public welfare and
safety or an interference to public serv-
ice, inspection of the Underground
Districts and the enforcement of exist-
ing ordinances creating new districts
and the removal of poles and wires
therein, investigations, both day and
night, of fires, explosions and condi-
tions caused by the elements affecting
public service equipment and equip-
ment of the Department of Electricity.

Construction Specifications
Under the provisions of Ordinance
No. 1564, the placing, installing, op-
erating or maintenance of electrical
wires, appliances, apparatus or con-
struction in or on sidewalks shall be
executed in accordance with plans and
specifications previously approved in
writing by the Chief of the Depart-
ment of Electricity and the inspection
is governed by the rules of General
Order Xo. 64- A, California State Rail-
road Commission. This comprehensive
and what might be termed complete set
of specifications of electrical construc-
tion was the result of a conference of
representatives of the Railroad Com-
mission. Public Utilities. Municipal De-
partments and Electrical Workers'
Unions, and at the present writing is
considered to be on a par with any
used in any state of the Union.

As an explanation to the layman of
what might appear to be a complicated

Important Functions

of an

Important Department


Overhead Inspector
Department of Electricity

mess of wires, cross-arms, transform-
ers, guys, etc., these are standardized
and erected according to the best
known factors of construction, service
and safety. These rules have been rec-
ognized and adopted in many states and
had their fundamental inception in this
city on January 12, 1903, when Ordi-
nance Xo. 621 was adopted. This or-
der has materiall)' reduced the hazard-
ous conditions of workmen and elimi-
nated many conditions that had caused
fires, accidents, and deaths. Almost
all of the Public Utility corporations
now maintain Safety Departments that
make a study of conditions and equip-
ment, recommending and creating im-
provements, and eliminating unsate

Pole Menace Corrected

It is natural that a property owner
is concerned when a pole is placed on
the sidewalk facing his property and
while this department has no jurisdic-
tion in that respect, we can recall as
many as five poles on a twenty-five
foot frontage. With a view toward
correcting this situation, the chief of
this department initiated a movement
that resulted in a conference of cit\'
officials and representatives of the Pub-
lic Utility Corporations, and in 1913,
the Joint Pole Association was formed.
The purpose of this association, which
is maintained by the Public Utilities
with offices in various cities, is to avoid
unnecessary duplications of poles and
equipment, adjust matters of interested
parties, complaints, and allocate equip-
ment and spacings upon poles. The
association upon its inception took im-
mediate steps toward eliminating many
former evils, and as a result, hundreds
of unnecessary and unsightly poles
were removed from the streets of the

In dealing with the subject of inspec-
tion of temporary lighting and wiring,
reference is made to the festive occa-
sions, celebrations, receptions and con-
ventions wherein the electrical display

has contributed many brilliant and gor-
geous efTects and created upon the vis-
itor the impression that San Francisco
is truly the city that "knows how."
Pleasant and lasting memories of by-
gone days are recalled as we think of
the electrical displays used in the re-
ception to the First California Regi-
ment, Grand Army of the Republic,
Knights Templars, Portola Festival,
World \\'ar \'eterans. Democratic Con-
vention. Knights of Columbus, Shrin-
ers, Diamond Jubilee, the yearly dis-
play at Christmas time, and in addi-
tion, the hundreds of smaller displays
by merchants.

No Accidents

It is worthy of mention that hun-
dreds of miles of wire and thousands
of lamps have been used, and no acci-
dent has ever been caused therefrom.

In regard to the inspection of scaf-
folds and hoists used in building con-
struction and covered by Ordinance
6200, the reckless conditions of con-
struction and maintenance which jeo-
pardized the public, employees, public
utility equipment and Fire Alarm and
Police Telegraph Service necessitated
a supervision thereof and these are
now regulated.

Radio reception has contributed one
of the most notable of the numerous
■advancements of electrical science of
late years, and many of the predictions
made by Marconi thirty years ago are
now facts.

The chief of this department, Mr.
Ralph ^^■ . ^\■iley. has ranked for many
years as an authority on wireless trans-
mission, reception and telephony, and
with a knowledge of the conditions that
would arise co-incident with the intro-
duction to the public of the radio re-
ceiving set. he deemed it advisable to
issue a set of radio installation rules
on November 1. 1922. Previous to the
issuance of these rules, a study of con-
ditions, causes, effects and rules in
various cities was made, and as a result
of his expert knowledge, a few safe




and sane but necessary rules were
adopted. A few near-sighted radio
editors and dealers raised a protest
but their first thought seemed to
have a purely commercial aspect
and many a good set was sold
that gave poor satisfaction to the
buyer through improper and inefficient
installation. It is not the idea of this
department to hamper in any manner
the progress of science, but more so to
further it ; but it is also the duty of
this department to advise and protect
the public upon a condition with which
they are not familiar.

Protecting the Public
That these rules have done much
to protect the public from conditions
whereby life and property would be
jeopardized is conceded ; and to il-
lustrate, the necessity is related by
the following facts :

1. A 13-year-old boy using a ball
and string erected two No. 14
antennas across a thickly trav-
eled street over 6600-5000-4500-
volt power circuits. It was a
miracle that he was not killed;
maybe 13 is a lucky number, but
it took four experienced linemen
from the department to remove
the same.

2. A No. 24 gauge lead-in wire
(erected in a commercial dis-
trict) blew out from the build-
ing and contacted with an
11,000-volt circuit, burning up
many meters, motors and caus-
ing damage to other forms of
equipment together with dis-
commoding a large number of
industrial establishments ;

3. Lightning struck the radio pole
of a large apartment building,
burnt up a number of sets and
caused several fires.

4. A radio antenna burnt down a
4500-volt circuit supplying a
hospital ;

5. A boy was killed while erecting
an antenna across the street
over a 4500-volt circuit;

6. A number of antennas attached
to a primary cross-arm withiri
a few inches of high voltage
lines ;

7. Frequent fires caused by im-
proper installation of radio stor-
age batteries;

8. Installations of antennas and
lead-in wires at a distance of
less than eight feet from the
roofs and obstructing the work
of the Fire Department ;

9. Hundreds of radio poles, guys
and wrires attached to fire es-
capes and fire stand pipes on
roofs. In many instances the
fire escapes were so blocked
that they were inaccessible to
the Fire Department.

10. Wooden radio poles attached to
chimneys catching fire, falling
on roofs and causing roof fires;

11. Antennas erected in a manner to
cause interference to the Fire
Alarm and Police Telegraph
equipment of this department.

Copy of these rules may be had upon
application to this department and no
fees are charged ; so while listening to
a radio program, don't be a party to
anv of the conditions mentioned above.

Underground District

In accordance with the provisions
of Ordinance No. 214, the Supervisors
are empowered t(j order the removal of
two and one-half lineal miles of over-
head poles and wires per year, except-
ing wires used for railway purposes.
This ordinance was initiated on August
23, 1899, and was the movement to-
ward what is now known as the L'nder-

ground District embracing that portion
of the city lying between Embarca-
dero. Pacific, Columbus, Van Ness,
Market, Valencia, Mission and How-
ard Streets, with extensions into other
portions of the city districts.

A Word About the Chief

In conclusion, this article would
be incomplete without a reference to
the chief of this department, Mr
Ralph W. Wiley. His ability in the
electrical fraternity is too well known
and needs no elaboration. He has eS'
tablished a department in the city gov-
ernment the efficiency of which is sec-
ond to none. His sterling character and
congenial personality has been an ex-
ample of respect from all the employees
and his policy of courteous and re-
spectful treatment, through his sub-
ordinates, has merited the commenda-
tion of the public.


By Joseph P. Murphy

WITH the close of the fiscal
year 1928-1929, this depart-
ment closed one of the most successful
years in its history. This department
was comparatively little known until
the last few years. The advent of the
traffic signal into the life of San Fran-
cisco placed a great burden upon the
chief of this department, who, being
an energetic man, was equal to the oc-
casion. For the proper and efficient de-
velopment of these signals, a definite
program of progress was laid dow...
This program will be found under
various headings in this issue, as I am
only interested in the office end of this

The office of this department is lo-
cated in the City Hall, where is cen-
tered the business of purchasing all
supplies. This department was c-eated
by charter for the construction and
maintenance of Police and Fire Alarm
systems and inspection of electric wir-
ing, and it is proper that that branch
should be centered at this point. The
inspectors work from this office. The
office force is composed of the secre-
tary, stenographer, cashier, two clerks.
Chief Inspector and two office inspec-
tors. The purpose of the latter two in
the office is to assist the Chief Inspector
in answering all technical questions
over the counter and the telephone.
There are four telephones which are
kept busy all day long with an average
of 300 phone calls per day. Salaries
for the last fiscal year were $206,180.
The amount spent on materials, sup-
|)lies and equipment was $30,000.
These two items do not include Traffic
Signal work. The finances covering
the Traffic Signals is allotted by the
Traffic Committee of the Board of Su-

pervisors. The amount spent in the
last fiscal year on Traffic Signals was
slightly more than $76,000. When we
look at the amount of new cable that
w^as installed underground from Van
Ness Avenue to the Embarcadero, the
number of new signals installed, to-
gether with the surface work which
had to be done on such a busy street
as Market, we can readily see that the
chief of this department is an efficiency
expert as well as chief. We have spoken
about the amoimt of money expended
on salaries and material, but nothing
about the resources. The inspection
branch is self-supporting. The amount
of fees received for this last fiscal year
was $86,790.76. This amount is lower!
than previous years on account of the'
drop in building operations.


1924-1925 $ 86.004.79

1925-1926 131,193.00

1926-1927 1 18,645.91

1927-1928 97,286.80

The secretary is responsible for all
money e.xpended or received. For the
fiscal year ending June 30, 1929, $86,-
590.76 passed through his hands. Aside
from that there was collected $2091.33
for fire tapper service. Outside of this,j
there is another source of income
Gong rentals, which are entered inti
the installation fund. Then we hav
the house-tnovers' fund. House-mov-
ers must deposit $25 with this depart-
ment ever\- time they move a house.
So, as may be seen, this department
controls many branches, every one on
which pertains to the safety of life ana
limb of the citizens of this city. Thq
secretary, therefore, must be able to*
answer many questions pertaining to
this department. ^




T H F. M L' X U" I V A

1-: M

I . () ^' I-:


Shop Branch

of the


By Frank R. Eickhoff

THE shop branch of the Depart-
ment of Electricity in 1900 had
but four mechanics. These were em-
ployed in manufacturing fire and po-
lice' boxes and keeping in "repair the
fire and police instruments.

In 1903 the department made a
feeble attempt to motorize with an elec-
tric storage battery car that was do-
nated by the Fire Department. The
car proved unsuccessful.

City Hall Housed Shop
In 1904, in the new shop building
that was built in the center of the old
City Hall and which contained the en-
tire' department, the shop began the
manufacture of a fire alarm board. The
board was never finished — it was de-
stroyed by the great fire of 1906. A
few' days after the fire the department
proceeded to open a temporary head-
quarters in a two-story building on
Steiner Street, between Pine and Cali-
fornia Streets, which developed imme-
diately into a hotel as well as a fire
alarm' office, taking care of our entire

Our shop being a small hall room,
it was only large enough to accom-
modate three men. Our entire equip-
ment consisted of a few bench tools
and a small lathe. Working under great
difficulties we managed to get iiito
service some fire boxes and engine
house instnunents. After three months
in these crowded quarters the shop was
moved to the pole yard on Sixteenth
Street, near Folsom Street, where we
occupied three small shacks. There,
with a full crew, we manufactured fire
alarm boxes.

About this time the department tried
to motorize again, with a Winton car,
another gift from the Fire Department.
This car proved more successful than
the first one, but after several acci-
dents a street car finished it.

After a year and one-half at the Six-
teenth Street location the entire depart-
ment moved to a new brick building at
53 Fulton Street, which is now the
Civic Center. In this building we had


S/iop Foreman
Drpartment of Eleclricily

a fairlv well equipped shop. In 1908
we made another attempt to motorize
the department. As with our former
gifts, this one came from the Fire De-
partment in the form of an Autocar.
In 1912 the department purchased two
Brush cars and two Flanders, and, later
a few Ford roadsters. I am not exag-
gerating when I say that on numerous
occasions when our motorized fleet was
busy with electrical work it frequently
became necessary to send out an S. O.
S. for a team of husky draft horses to
pull in one or more disabled cars.

Where Expert

Manufacture the

City's Electrical

Times have changed considerably since

Our first big job came when we man-
ufactured the fire alarm board in 1914.
under supervision of our then chief,
James ^I. Barry. When the board was
only half completed we moved into our
present location at 264 Golden Gate
Avenue, where, in 1915, the board was

Traffic Signal Experiments

In 1920, under direction of Chief
Ralph W. Wiley, we started to experi-
ment with trafific signals. In 1922 the

upper left: Chief Ralph If. Wiley explaining to Charles J. Steiger, of the Sleiger
3 Kerr Stoi'e and Foundry Company. v:ho make the iron castings for the Department
of Eleetricily. hov: the traffic signals are assembled. I'pper right: .1 portion of the
room in the cast iron shop. Lower left: Storekeeper Joseph .1 . Rossi checking up
materials in an aisle in the Store Room. Lovser right: .1 portion of the Department
of Electricity's Machine Shop li-here all of the City's electrical equipment is manu-
factured. Foreman Frank R. Eickhoff (^.earing cap) in the foreground.



first traffic signals were installed at
Montgomery and Market Streets. Since
then we have manufactured 434 traffic
signals, 192 pedestrian signals, and at
the same time have kept up with the
manufacture of fire and police boxes.
Since 1918 we have made 376 fire and
145 police boxes.

At present the shop is completing the
manufacture of a progressive, auto-
matic, synchronized traffic signal timer
which, with all the signal system, was
designed by Chief Wiley. The shop
branch of the department employs sev-
enteen mechanics. We keep on hand
for immediate replacement a supply of

parts for the various articles manufac-
tured in the shop. We also service and
keep in repair all of the traffic signals.
The shop garage keeps in first-class
condition a fleet of twenty-four auto-
mobiles and trucks used in all branches
of the Electric Department.

City Purchaser of Supplies Leonard S. Leavy

Heads Blindcraft Drive

S,\N FRANCISCO'S blind work-
ers are calling for help.

The hands of those worthy persons
are idle.

And Blindcraft, that wonderful,
sunny factory at Seventh and Howard
streets, is closed.

"Shut down for lack of funds."
Fifty men and women, all blind, are
out of work. They have been idle for
something like ei.^hteen weeks.

Blindcraft, in the vernacular of the
street urchin, "is broke." Those fifty
men and women, who are willing to
work for their bread and butter, have
been denied that privilege because
there has been no money to buy raw
materials for their skill to convert into
salable commodities.

Such is the condition at Blindcraft.
hut, perhaps, it is only a temporar\-

Mayor Sees Way Out

Mayor Rolph, that wonderful hu-
manitarian, has seen a way out of
Blindcraft's financial distress, and he
has demanded that something be done
for these people. He recently called
into his office a group of representa-
tives of the city's most popular inter-
ests. He stated that San Francisco
has too true a heart to permit Blind-
craft to be without funds for its fac-
tory operation. Then, on July 16. at
a meeting in the chambers of the
Board of Supervisors, with ]\Iayor
Rolph presiding. City Purchaser of
Supplies Leonard S. Leavy was
elected chairman to conduct a drive to funds for the permanent help-
fulness of the San PVancisco Associa-
tion for the I'lind, known as Blind-

At that meeting Mr. Leavy was re-
quested — and gladly .gave his con-
sent—to organize the campaign for
P.lindcraft. The goal of this endeavor
is to raise $125,000. the sum needed
to make it possible for the blind to
go on with their admirable work of
supporting themselves.



Appointed by Mayor Rolph to head

$125,000 drive for the San Francisco

Association for the Blind



"E SHOULD do all we
can to help those less
fortunate than ourselves, par-
ticularly the blind. To help
this worthy institution, in San
Francisco's own affectionate
way, will prevent the sorrow-
ful sight of a blind beggar,
with tin cup in hand, from
being on the street corners of
our city. San Francisco really
"knows how" to be real "Big
Brother" and the real "Big Sis-
ter" when the necessity arises.
The blind went through the
pangs of our 1906 disaster just
the same as did we who could
see. Let us cheer them all we

Mayor Rolph has declared the cam-
paign a "city enterprise," and invited
Mr. Leavy to make full use of the City
Hall and city facilities. Heads of vari-
ous city departments have been re-
quested to communicate with Mr.
Leavy, Department of Purchasing
Agent, Rooin 270, City Hall, and to
procure the necessary blanks for can-
vass of city departments. For such a
start for such a worthy cause, it is
unthinkable that the effort should not

The campaign for the $125,000 will
start shortly. "Please respond imme-
diately," Mr. Leavy urges the public.
"It is a matter of dire necessity."

Mrs. Ruth A. Quinan is general
manager of the San Francisco Asso-
ciation for the Blind. She has labored
for the association for the last four-
teen years. \\'hen Mrs. Quinan took
up her burden for the blind the asso-
ciation was housed in a fiat at 1526
California Street.

Gift of Helen Cowell

Today Blindcraft is housed in a
three-story, modern concrete structure
at Seventh and Howard streets — the
gift of Helen Cowell. a wealthy young
woman who believed ardently in the
cause of "helping the blind to help

Some months back the San Fran-
cisco Association for the Blind, with
characteristic courage, attempted to
launch a campaign for needed funds,
but a drive for funds for another
cause was on at that time and Blind-
craft made no headway. Since then
the factory has closed down and today
Blindcraft appeals to you to come to
its assistance.

It is not a pleasant situation to see
these worthy people virtually denied
the right to self-supporting existence.
I'lindcraft must not go out of exist-
ence. You are asked to give cheerfully
your mite to those whom fate has left




The Department s Secretary

JOSEPH P. MURPKV. secretary in
the Department of Electricity, was
born in Liverpool, luigland, in 1873.
After leaving school he served his time
at the electrical business with Chad-
bome & Son, from 1888 to 1892. After
that he worked on the first elevated
electric railroad in England. Later he
came to the United States and became
an American citizen. During the fol-
lowing years he traveled and studied.
He was in Europe at the Paris Exposi-
tion from June 1899 to 1901 as an
electrician and interpreter for the West-
inghouse Company of London, and
later entered the employ of the United

.States Government. In 1901 he had
charge of the electrical work at the
Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo.
X'. Y. He came to San Francisco
sliortly after the exposition closed and
has been here ever since, having fol-
lowed the electrical business. Mr.
Murphy has been on the City Civil
Service list as an electrical inspector

Online LibrarySan Francisco (Calif.). Board of SupervisorsThe municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) → online text (page 29 of 84)