We wanted to specifically highlight today’s date, as it is one of the most devastating-if not the most devastating days related to the Line of Duty Deaths of Firefighters in various locations.
The following information was taken from our daily FIREFIGHTER HISTORY page here:
21 CHICAGO FIREFIGHTERS KILLED:
12/22/1910 Chicago, IL Union Stockyards cold storage fire killed twenty-one firefighters in the six-story refrigerated warehouse building with wood interior walls and floors that were soaked in animal fat and grease. Several hundred cured hogs preserved with saltpeter (a strong oxidizer) filled the structure, numerous physical obstacles restricted the fire fighting efforts. About 5:00 a.m. a massive explosion killed the Chief, Assistant Chief, three captains, four lieutenants, and twelve firefighters (a total of 21 firefighters). “It was very difficult to fight a fire in there because there were no windows. It was eight stories high, and so they knew there was going to be a battle, but it just so happened that a wall came down unexpectedly, and buried them.” At 5:08 a.m., 59 minutes after the first alarm, a six-story brick wall, buckled by the expanding superheated air in the building, crashed through a wooden canopy onto a loading dock, killing the firefighters. The tons of flaming debris buried them alive. “At about 0500 HRS, the pressure inside the warehouse could no longer be contained. One firefighter on scene said he saw the walls bulge and immediately shouted a warning to others on scene. The building exploded, causing the entire structure to crumble. A 6′ wall of the building collapsed onto the nearby loading dock, killing the 21 firefighters. The blast also caused a second fire to start in a nearby seven-story warehouse, making the scene even more chaotic. But many firefighters paid little attention to the second fire. Instead, they made a desperate attempt to uncover the 21 men who had been buried in the rubble. They frantically dug with their hands, throwing bricks off the scorching-hot pile in a futile attempt to rescue those who had obviously perished. They had to be ordered to stop digging and continue with the fire-fight. With what little command structure was left, several additional alarms were called, which resulted in more than 50 engine companies and hundreds of off-duty firefighters responding to the scene.”
13 PHILADELPHIA FIREFIGHTERS KILLED:
12/22/1910 thirteen firefighters and a police officer were killed, and thirty-three firefighters and four police officers were seriously injured at the Friedlander Leather Remnants factory fire in Philadelphia, PA. Fed by bales of leather scraps in the basement, the walls of the factory collapsed killing and trapping several responders. “The building was 58 years old and inspectors attributed the collapse partly to the age of the structure, according to a New York Times report the day after the fire. The article said the department suspected arson due to how quickly the fire spread even though the factory’s normal contents weren’t inflammable.”
13 INDIANAPOLIS FIREFIGHTERS KILLED:
12/22/1892 an Indianapolis, IN firefighter “was the 13th and last firefighter to die as a result of injuries sustained in the building collapse at the bookstore fire of March 17th, 1890. He never fully recovered from his injuries.
MARYLAND FIREFIGHTER KILLED:
12/22/1925 a Baltimore, MD firefighter while fighting a grain elevator silo fire. “The tall silo was filled to the top with oats and corn and was burning fiercely. The four-alarm fire was surrounded with hand lines and was knocked down. Afterwards, several members entered the silo to complete the extinguishment, when the top wall gave way and showered the men with debris. Four men were caught under the collapsing concrete. The other three men were dug out and eventually recovered.”
MASSACHUSETTS FIREFIGHTER KILLED:
12/22/1959 a Revere Beach, MA firefighter died while operating at a spectacular general-alarm fire that destroyed a sprawling 3-½-story frame ballroom.
FDNY FIREFIGHTER KILLED:
12/22/1963 an East Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY (FDNY) firefighter died of smoke inhalation while operating at a single-alarm fire.
2 RACINE WISCONSIN FIREFIGHTERS KILLED:
12/22/1980 two Racine, WI firefighters died shortly after arrival at an arson fire in a restaurant, they were making an interior attack on the fire when a portion of the roof of the two-story structure suddenly collapsed on top of them, killing them. “At 2258 hours fire fighters from Engines 1 and 6, Snorkel 1, Rescue 1 and Car 41 were dispatched to a reported fire at the Taster’s Choice Restaurant and Lounge, 1651 Grand Avenue. Upon arrival two minutes later, Rescue Company 1 reported a “Code 1,” or confirmed working fire. An aggressive interior attack was made. About 45 minutes into the battle, as firefighters went about their task, the second floor and roof collapsed without warning. As a head count was being taken outside the building, an unattended hose line was discovered leading into the bar area. Fellow firefighters desperately attempted a rescue using saws and axes; some digging through debris with their hands”
CHICAGO FIREFIGHTER KILLED:
12/22/1989 a Chicago, IL firefighter died when “the roof collapsed on him during a three-alarm fire at the Rose of Sharon Church on W. Warren Boulevard. The firefighter was crawling through the church searching for victims when the roof collapsed around 7:00 p.m. Search and rescue teams labored for more than sixteen hours before his body, buried under debris in the church’s basement, was recovered around 11 a.m. the next morning. An autopsy indicated that he had died from asphyxiation and severe burns.”
INDIANA FIREFIGHTER KILLED:
12/22/1991 a Hammond, Indiana firefighter “was killed when a fire flashed/roof collapsed severely burning him. He was using a company forklift to move wood pallets (flammable cornstarch) stored in the burning warehouse.
3 IOWA FIREFIGHTERS KILLED:
12/22/1999 at 8:24 a.m. a multifamily dwelling in Keokuk, Iowa left six dead including three firefighters. When the fire was reported the Keokuk FD had just completed operations at a motor vehicle accident. On arrival at 8:28 a.m. units found heavy smoke showing from a two-story multifamily dwelling with three children still inside the apartment. “At approximately 0835 HRS, another firefighter went up to the front of the structure to begin an active fire fight and noticed that the hoseline was free-flowing, the hoseline had burned through and flames were protruding from the entrance. Note: It is believed, through interviews conducted, evidence at the scene, and a fire model developed by NIST, that the dining room flashed, causing secondary flashovers in the living room, and ventilation conditions created a path of least resistance up the stairs, injuring and disorienting the three firefighters enough to prevent their escape from the structure.”
2 CHICAGO FIREFIGHTERS KILLED:
12/22/2010 two Chicago, IL Firefighters die when wall collapses on them. The “firefighters were killed in a collapse at a fire at the former Sing Way Cleaners which had been abandoned for over five years, at 1744 East 75th Street. The fire went to three alarms and injured nineteen other firefighters. The burning building had been vacant for years, but the firefighters went in anyway, just in case squatters started the blaze and were trapped inside. Then the heavy-timbered roof and a wall collapsed.”
May they all rest in peace.
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.