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)

1903 "Fire Mains," by John C. Trautwine, Proceedings of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia 20(1):42-82 (January 1903)

1903 "Philadelphia High-Pressure Fire Service," by John E. Codman, Proceedings of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia 20(1):83-101 (January 1903)

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

1909 "The New York High-Pressure Water System," Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Convention of the National Electric Light Association 36(2):ii,653-667 (1909)

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

High-Pressure Water Fire Protection Systems

Year City State Remarks
1874 Rochester NY Holly water system

2016 Morris A. Pierce