On 1/2/1984 just before 11:38 a.m., the primary electrical power system failed at The Westin Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, in the sub-basement of the 38-story high-rise tower. A rapid succession of power failures and a series of explosions filled the space with “heavy smoke” activating the fire alarm system and resulting in the evacuation of guests and dispatching the BFD. The occupants of the hotel were successfully evacuated despite the loss of the emergency electrical power systems and the accumulation of smoke in the basement garage areas where the stairways terminated. “As a result of this successful evacuation, a human behavior study was performed to document how properly functioning automatic detection and alarm systems and a trained staff can contribute to the effective handling of an emergency.”
On 1/2/1986 at approximately 5:13 p.m. a fire was detected on the fourteenth floor of the 52-story Prudential Building, an office complex built in 1965, in the Back-Bay section of Boston, Massachusetts. The Prudential Building has an occupant capacity of 5,000 persons; however, because of the unoccupied leasable space, and the holiday season, it was estimated that only 1,500 persons were present. The fire started on the unoccupied 14th floor in a storage area and was detected by a smoke detector in the elevator area. Smoke spread through a stairway, a service elevator shaft, a utility shaft opening, and the building’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to the upper floors. Smoke in the stairway hampered the evacuation of occupants. The emergency evacuation plan for the building was used effectively.
On 1/2/1971 sixty-six scorer (football) fans were crushed to death in a stadium stampede in Glasgow, Scotland as they attempt to leave a game. This was not the first disaster at the stadium. Ibrox Stadium built in 1900 on the south side of Glasgow suffered its first serious incident when the stadium’s wooden west terrace collapsed minutes into a match between England and Scotland on April 5, 1902, and spectators fell 45 feet to the ground. A crush of fans on stairway #13 killed two and several were injured in September 1961. The same stairway in September 1967 was the site of eight serious injuries and in January 1969 twenty-four more injuries; there were no design or safety changes made to the stairway. 80,000 fans watched when the Rangers played the Celtic on January 2, 1971, at the top of stairway 13, a metal-railings bent and collapsed from the weight of the crowd, and people began to fall forward down the stairs killing sixty-six and injuring 145.
On 1/2/1892 three Nashville, Tennessee firefighters died in a downtown fire that destroyed 11 structures. “On arrival, firefighters found heavy fire and smoke showing from the seventh floor of a factory. High winds and freezing temperatures hampered firefighting efforts, allowing the fire to spread rapidly to a furniture company next door. Multiple lines were placed in operation around the fire and the members of Engine 4 were assigned to operate a hoseline on the roof across the alley from the burning furniture store. Without warning, an entire wall of the furniture store collapsed onto the roof where the members of Engine 4 were operating, killing them instantly. The fire burned for five hours, consuming 11 buildings in a square-block area. The three men belonged to the city’s first all-black fire company, which was formed in 1885. There was resistance from the community to the all-black company at first, but later changed to acceptance and admiration when the company proved themselves exceptionally capable.”
On 1/2/1892 a Columbus, Ohio firefighter was killed while operating at a factory fire.
On 1/2/1910 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter “died while fighting an industrial fire at 261 South Wabash Avenue. The fire was discovered in the five-story building shortly after 9:00 p.m. and Truck 1 was the first fire company to arrive at the scene. Firefighters entered the burning building and were operating on the third floor when an officer realized that there were flames both above them and below them. The firefighters were ordered to retreat, but one became lost in the smoke and flames.”
On 1/2/1913 a Portland, Maine firefighter “died as a result of inhalation of nitric acid fumes from a carboy spill, which occurred on January 1, 1913, in the basement at H.H. Hayes Drug Store, at Middle and Free Streets.”
On 1/2/1928 a Chariton, Iowa firefighter “died after being overcome by smoke while operating at a fire in a building where he lived. On the first night of the new year of 1928 at 20 below zero, a fire broke out in the Hollinger and Larimer building, the second bad fire on the Montgomery Ward corner. The fire burned stubbornly all night. Their clothing froze on them. Two firefighters who were holding hoses steadily on the fire were frozen to the pavement and had to be chopped loose. Ladders were frozen to the outside walls and could not be taken down for two days. The building was covered with ice, and icicles were hanging all over it. The firefighter and his wife lived in an apartment on the second floor. The firefighter was out with the fire, his wife had gotten out and was across the square trying to get word to him. The firefighter had gone into the building to look for his wife and was found lying across the bed having been overcome by smoke.”
On 1/2/1928 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter “died while fighting a fire in a vacant barn on West 48th Street. One of the first firefighters to arrive on the scene, he and three other firefighters from his company were operating inside the two-story barn when the roof collapsed. The firefighters were buried in the burning debris. He did not survive his injuries. He had been promoted to captain that morning, and the barn fire was the first alarm in which he was in command.”
On 1/2/1935 two Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighters “were killed when the stairway they were on collapsed and fell into the basement. The three-alarm fire was in a four-story apartment building with fire on the first floor and extended to the fourth floor. The companies had the fire out on the first floor and were advancing hose lines to the upper floors when a backdraft forced the men back. The weight of all the men on the stairwell was too much for the weakened stairs which collapsed. A score of men fell into the basement, which had several feet of water.” The two firefighters were pinned by the stairs and had a hard time trying to keep their heads above the water. Both died en route to the hospital.
On 1/2/1945 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter died following the collapse of a burning building at 13551 South Brandon Avenue. He suffered a fractured skull when the ladder he was standing on slipped during the collapse.
On 1/2/1960 a West Bend, Iowa firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained while operating at a fire at the West Bend Elevator’s Soy Bean Plant.”
On 1/2/1963 a San Francisco, California firefighter died while operating at an explosion and fire in a dwelling at Bernal Heights, 530 Nevada Street. He survived the explosion but collapsed 20 minutes later as he directed fire operations.
On 1/2/1967 a Wallingford, Connecticut firefighter “died after suffering from smoke inhalation.”
On 1/2/1986 a Newark, New Jersey firefighter died from injuries he received on 12/31/1985, “at fire alarm Station 5119, while he was attempting to rescue a woman from the second floor via a ground ladder. The woman jumped, grabbed the firefighter, and fell to the ground. The firefighter suffered severe head trauma and died on 1/2/1986.”
On 1/2/2017 four children died after someone at their home sprayed water on a previously applied pesticide, causing a reaction that produced toxic phosphine gas, in Amarillo, Texas. Five other people were hospitalized in the incident. A family member used water in an attempt to wash away the pesticide, aluminum phosphide, which had been applied under the mobile home. There were ten people inside the mobile home at the time. Crews arrived at the scene just after 5:00 a.m.
On 1/2/2013 one person died, and another was hospitalized at ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa while working at the corn processing plant. The two men were preparing a fermentation tank for maintenance and encountered “an oxygen-deficient environment,” causing them to lose consciousness. The plant processes corn into ethanol and other products through a “wet-milling” process.
On 1/2/2006 a methane explosion at the Sago mine, in Upshur County, West Virginia trapped thirteen miners for over 40 hours. Only one survived; an investigation pointed to a lightning strike as the “most likely” ignition source for the blast.
On 1/2/1963 a meat processing plant explosion and fire killed sixteen and injured fifty-five at the Home Packing Company in Terre Haute, Indiana after an ammonia refrigeration line broke.
On 1/2/1931 more than a dozen buildings were destroyed by fire in Monessen, Pennsylvania after a gas explosion that occurred in a two-story structure. It is believed that a fire in the stoves of a fruit store on the ground floor ignited escaping gas.
On 1/2/1926 the Newport Tar and Turpentine Company exploded in Pensacola, Florida. The explosion and fire killed twelve and seriously injured nine employees one hour after the plant opened. The explosion occurred in one of the fire reactors, destroying the building and spreading fire to other buildings.
On 1/2/1911 the four-story Bitting Office Building and the Hermiss Clothing Company in Wichita, Kansas were destroyed by fire. Escaping gas caused the fire.
On 1/2/1901 the Library in Seattle, Washington was destroyed by fire; the building was built about ten years before the fire.
On 1/2/1894 the Globe Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts was destroyed by a gas explosion and fire at 1:15 a.m. on Washington Street, between Essex Street and Hayward Place after a fire started near the scenery room and spread rapidly through the building. The fire extended to the Globe Cafe, on Hayward Place, and the upper portion of a new building corner of Washington Street and Hayward Place. The Globe Theatre originally called Selwyn’s Theatre, was built in 1867, by the Boston Amusement Company. “The Globe was a fine theatre, with many recent improvements. Many of the most popular stars and combinations played there. Its seating capacity was 2,200 larger than that of any other house in Boston except the enormous Boston Theatre.”
On 1/2/1974, President Nixon signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, setting a national maximum speed limit at 55 MPH, until finally repealed on 11/28/1995.