Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

BOMBING, LOS ANGELES



Photo: lafire.com
On Oct. 1, 1910, a bomb leveled The Los Angeles Times building, killing 21 people and injuring 100 others. The device, consisting of 16 sticks of dynamite and an alarm clock, was the work of  J.B. McNamara as part of a radical bombing campaign.

Friday, February 16, 2018

OUR LADY OF ANGELS, CHICAGO


On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire at Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago killed 92 students and three nuns. The school had just one fire escape, no sprinklers and no fire doors - and yet it was in compliance with fire regulations. The disaster led to sweeping nationwide changes in fire regulations. It was symbolized in a photo on the cover of Life magazine showing f
irefighter Richard Scheidt carrying the body John Jajkowski, age 10.

...

(Editors Note - Tommy Raymond, 12, a seventh grader, was trapped for 20 minutes in his second floor classroom at Our Lady of the Angels School. Here is his story.)

By TOMMY RAYMOND
As Told To UPI

CHICAGO (UPI) - I hesitated on the window sill thinking about jumping - and how I would look dead - when firemen shouted to me to wait and they'd save me.

Most of my other classmates had got out and I was the last one. But when I walked into the hall the smoke was so thick I ran back into the room. I ran to a window in the room and threw some books out through the glass to break the window. It's funny, but I remember the books - my reader and some text books.

After the window broke I got on the sill and began thinking about jumping. That's when the firemen down below started shouting at me not to jump, but they'd come and get me. So I got back off the sill.

Now that I think back to when it started, I remember we were having a singing lesson. We didn't know anything about the fire until all of a sudden we heard a lot of screams. We couldn't make out what the screams were for a moment, then we knew it was the eighth graders yelling, "Fire, fire, fire."

We started leaving the room like we had practiced in fire drills. You know we had two or three fire drills already this winter because this is an old school and somebody always figured it was going to burn down some day.

For a while I was all by myself in the room and then some girls came running in. They were from another room. I yelled at them to lie down on the floor, because that's what I remember from fire drills to do when there's a lot of smoke.

The girls said kids from other rooms were hanging on one another's belts to form a line to get to the stairs because the smoke had made it as dark as night on the second floor. A man came running through the door and we could see flames on the other side of the building.

The man grabbed a few girls and led them back out with him.

But I stayed by the window, and I was scared. Then the firemen came up and led me down the ladder.

I'm sorry about all the others.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

VALENTINE'S DAY 1958

Photo: nyfd.com
On Valentine's Day 1958, four members of the New York City Fire Patrol and two members of the New York City Fire Department were killed in a building collapse in a section of Lower Manhattan called ``Hell's Hundred Acres.''

The incident was the deadliest in the fire patrol's history.

Box 66-334 for fire at 137-9 Wooster Street was transmitted at 10:15 p.m. and went to five alarms.

Flames extended thorough open shafts, gnawing at timber supports inside the six-story loft building, which stored paper bales.    


The men of Patrol 1 were spreading salvage covers and the firefighters from Ladder 1 and Ladder 10 were venting the roof when the structure gave way.


These are the names of the dead:

Sergeant Michael McGee, Patrol 1, married (according to the Associated Press)
Patrolman Louis Brusati, Patrol 1, married with two children
Patrolman James Devine, Patrol 1, married with two children
Patrolman Michael Tracey, Patrol 1, married three months
Firefighter Bernard Blumenthal, Ladder 10, married three weeks
Firefighter William Schmid, Ladder 1

In the search for their fallen comrades, patrolmen and firefighters contended with flare-ups from smoldering paper bales beneath the debris.

Less than a decade earlier, on Oct. 15, 1949, a building collapse on West 17th Street claimed the lives of  two patrolmen, Daniel Shea and Frederick Lehman.

Monday, February 12, 2018

CONFLAGRATION, CAMDEN, NJ




Photos: dvrbs.com

Camden, New Jersey, was the scene of a conflagration that devoured factories, homes and automobiles on July 30, 1940. Ten people died in the flames and a firefighter suffered a fatal heart attack.


Firefighters manned an estimated 28 hand lines with 1-inch or 1-1/8-inch tips, a ladder pipe with a 1 1/2-inch tip and three turret nozzles with 1 3/4-inch tips mounted on hose wagons at the height of the inferno, according to the NFPA Journal.

A series of explosions at the R.M. Hollingshead Corp. - which manufactured a variety of flammable liquids used in the auto industry as well as soap and insecticides - preceded the fire.

``
The weather at the time of the fire was almost ideal for a conflagration,'' according to the NFPA Journal said. ``The temperature reached a peak of 94 degrees during the fire and averaged 85 degrees for the entire day. A fifteen to twenty-one mile per hour southwest wind was blowing.''


The United Press reported: ``Hoselines were stretched more than a quarter-mile to Cooper River where high-powered pumpers relayed water to the burning paint factory. Police cars were dispatched through the streets of this city of 120,000 with men on the running boards crying to householders to turn off their water so that the city's entire reserve could be placed at the disposal of the fire-fighters.''

Box 61 at 9th and Penn Streets was transmitted at 1:15 p.m. following the explosion. Box 184 at 11th and Cooper Streets was pulled two minutes later. A fourth alarm followed at 1:39 p.m., according to website dvrbs.com. Philadelphia sent Engines 8, 17, 21, 27, 33 as well as Trucks 9 and 23 after a call from Cam
den Mayor George Brunner. Philadelphia was using two-piece engine companies with hose wagons and pumpers in 1940. Other cities helped too.

ST GEORGE HOTEL, BROOKLYN

Photos: brooklynheightsblog.com

On Aug. 26, 1995, flames destroyed a vacant section of the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn - one of the biggest fires in New York City history.

More than 50 engine companies and 27 ladder companies responded - the equivalent of a 16-alarm blaze.

At the time of the blaze, the hotel consisted of nine buildings constructed between 1885 and 1933 and connected by basements.

Flames raced t
hrough shafts from the top down of the 10-story vacant section, extending to all floors and all exposures.

Aggravating the situation, the standpipe system had been vandalized.


Writing in Fire Engineering, Steven DeRosa, deputy assistant chief, described the scene: ``
 Huge embers the size of baseballs were rising over the fire area and falling into the street and onto roofs in the neighborhood. Hoselines were burned. The radiant heat was intense. ''  

The initial alarm, from Box 77-461, was transmitted at 3:33 a.m. for Engines 224, 207 and 226, Ladders 118 and 110 and Battalion 31.

The blaze was declared under control at 7:05 a.m.

Investigators charged a man scavenging for copper with starting the fire.

GARDEN STATE PARK, NEW JERSEY

Photo: Cherry Hill Fire Dept. Facebook page
On April 14, 1977, fire led to the collapse of the wooden grandstand at the Garden State Park horse track in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, during a racing card. Even so, 11,000 people evacuated. Three deaths were attributed to the fire. Two victims died as a result of the blaze and a fire police officer suffered a heart attack. The fire started in a kitchen.

SODDER FAMILY, WEST VIRGINIA


On Christmas Eve 1945, fire destroyed the home of George Sodder, his wife Jennie and nine of their children in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The parents and four of the children escaped. Remains of the other children were never found, leading the Sodders to believe the missing children were kidnapped. They erected a billboard offering a reward for information.