2/16/1968 Senator Rankin Fite completed the first 9-1-1 call in the U.S. in Haleyville, Alabama. The Alabama Telephone Company was the service provider, this Haleyville 9-1-1 system is still in service today. On February 22, 1968, Nome, Alaska implemented the second 9-1-1 service.
2/16/1955 six Baltimore, MD firefighters were killed while operating at a six-alarm fire at the Tru Fit Clothing Company. “Box 12, Baltimore and Frederick Street was sounded at 9:02 p.m. for a fire at 507-509 East Baltimore Street. Confronted with a very smoky fire in a three-story commercial building, additional alarms were sounded quickly, the sixth alarm at 10:17 p.m. Shortly before 10:55 p.m. a collapse of the rear a one-story section of the building occurred which buried many fire fighters who were involved in the overhaul operation. The Chief of the Fire Department who was also injured, ordered three additional alarms from “the adjacent box” which happened to be the “house box” of Truck Company 1 on Gay Street just south of Baltimore Street. This call summoned additional units to assist in the rescue and recovery of those who were buried and trapped in the debris. It was under control by 10:45 p.m. Disaster struck five minutes later. It wasn’t until the next afternoon that all six bodies were pulled from the rubble.”
During the years that Baltimore City used a fire alarm system based on bells, street boxes and prescribed responses based on box assignment cards, only six alarms would be listed for each box. If additional alarms were needed the next closest street box would be used and was known as “the adjacent box”.
2/16/1964 four Dallas, TX firefighters died while fighting a working fire in a restaurant. “As the first alarm companies began to attack the fire on the first floor, the entire floor collapsed into the basement. Four men were killed in the collapse and six others narrowly escaped the same fate by running up the floor as it began to collapse. It took rescuers 11 hours to recover the bodies of the dead men. The five-alarm fire was determined to have been arson, but the case was never solved.”
2/16/1882 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter “died as a result of the severe skull fracture sustained while operating at an alarm on February 11th.”
2/16/1939 a Leavenworth, KS firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained after a wall had collapsed, while operating a fire that destroyed a garage and damaged three residences on February 15, 1939. The fire was intentionally started by a 25-year-old man who stated he just wanted the satisfaction of starting a fire, and had no intention of harming anyone or damaging any property. A firefighter also died the day of the fire from the injuries he sustained in the collapse.”
2/16/1945 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter died after being overcome by smoke at a fire at 365 W. 42nd Street.
2/16/1948 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter died while working fire involving the cellar and two sub-cellars of a five-story brick/stone furniture store. “Firefighters were taking a pounding in their attack against the blaze and additional alarms were struck as the men began to fall due to the heavy smoke and illuminating gas fumes. He suffered severe smoke inhalation and died as a result of its effects after collapsing in the station. While operating at the five-alarm fire, a total of 108 firefighters were overcome by smoke and gas fumes.”
2/16/1956 a Des Moines, IA firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained while operating at a two-alarm fire when a brick wall had collapsed on him.”
2/16/1962 a Windsor, Ontario, Canada firefighter died after he collapsed and struck his head while advancing hose at a fire at the abandoned Walkerville Brewing Company.
2/16/1985 a Brookline, MA firefighter died while stretching a 2-½-inch line up the stairs at a fire in a 2-½-story frame dwelling.
2/16/1987 an Everett, Washington firefighter died of asphyxiation while battling an arson fire at Everett Community College. “The college had a large atrium between the main buildings, near the library. During the call, a Captain led a party of six firefighters into the atrium to start knocking down flames, everything was clear. There was no smoke. Within 20 minutes, the fire and smoke curled through the ceiling surrounding the fire attack team. The firefighters had trouble communicating with the firefighters outside. The crew was running out of air and asked for fresh packs. The atrium filled with thick, black smoke. They followed the fire hoses outside, as they were trained to do. By then, the victim and the others were “buddy breathing.” They could see the flames dancing around on the ceiling as they were crawling out on our lines. When they got outside, some of the men collapsed, gasping for air. They took a head count and knew right then that one firefighter was missing. The Captain wanted to go back, but someone grabbed his air pack away to stop him. Others tried to get back in, but they couldn’t get through the heat and flames.”
2/16/2015 a train hauling crude oil from North Dakota derailed near the town of Mount Carbon, WV about 30 miles southeast of Charleston, around 1:20 p.m. resulting in ten of the CSX train’s 109 cars exploding in a slow-moving chain reaction and spirals of flame and black smoke pouring from the burning wreckage.
2/16/1983 an “Ash Wednesday” forest fires killed seventy-six in Australia, in the south-eastern Victoria and South Australia a series of bushfires driven by 68 mph winds a severe drought and extreme weather caused widespread destruction, many deaths resulted from firestorm conditions.
2/16/1907 Annville, PA a dynamite explosion in a house killed the mother and fatally injured her two children in their home. The husband “placed three sticks of dynamite in the stove to thaw and went to work, neglecting to tell his wife that the dynamite was in the oven.”
2/16/1902 Jackson, MS an inmate died after setting a fire at the State Lunatic Asylum around 5:00 a.m. in the 4-story brick main building, all 600 inmates were able to escape.
2/16/1890 Little Rock, AR a boiler room fire destroyed one wing of the insane asylum; no injuries to the nearly five hundred patients were reported. “There is no insurance, the last Legislature having failed to appropriate money for the purpose.”