FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 1/23

On 1/23/2005 in the city of New York, the FDNY lost three firefighters at two separate fires in what has become known as “BLACK SUNDAY” … The 1st fire in the Bronx was a three-alarm fire in an apartment building at 236 East 178th Street in the Tremont section. It took the lives of two firefighters both of Ladder 27 and seriously injured six other members when they were forced to jump from the 4th floor of the building after they were trapped by the fire. Four other firefighters from Ladder 27 and Rescue Company 3 were also critically injured at the fire. The six firefighters were searching the rear of the fourth floor for reported trapped occupants. The firefighters jumped from a fourth-floor rear window after they became trapped above the fire. The fire was reported at 7:59 a.m. and was brought under control at 10:13 a.m. Thirty-five units and 150 firefighters were called to the scene. A third firefighter died on November 22, 2011, from the injuries he received at this fire… The 2nd fire in Brooklyn, a two-alarm blaze (Box 1770) at 577 Jerome Avenue took the life of a firefighter assigned to Ladder 103. Ladder 103 was among the first firefighting units to arrive on the scene of the fire located in a private dwelling, which was reported at 1:36 p.m. They entered the basement where the fire started and began searching both for the location of the fire and to rescue any trapped occupants. During these search operations, the firefighter became separated from his colleagues. He was found minutes later unconscious and in respiratory arrest on the cellar staircase.

On 1/23/1947 four Minneapolis, Minnesota firefighters died in the Hull-Dobbs Auto Sales garage in a fire at 2610 Hennepin Avenue South. “They were on the building’s first floor cutting holes to get at flames in the basement when the floor suddenly collapsed. Flames and smoke prevented rescuers from reaching them for more than an hour. When found, all but one was dead, and he was so seriously injured that he later died.”

On 1/23/2014 a fire in the small town of L’Isle-Verte, Quebec, Canada seniors’ home fire killed thirty-two, many dependent on wheelchairs and walkers. The fire started in the three-story building around 12:30 a.m. in -4ºF (-20ºC) temperatures, causing equipment to freeze. Parts of the Residence du Havre, opened in 1997, with a partial fire sprinklers system, that triggered the fire alarm and allowed firefighters to gain access to about one-third of the building. “A 141-page coroner’s report issued February 12, 2015, cited a lack of adequate evacuation and emergency plans, a lack of personnel on duty at night trained to help residents in case of emergency, delay in the transmission of alarms, delay in firefighters arriving on-scene, delay in requesting backup from adjacent municipalities and questionable management and execution of operations once firefighters arrived. “The impacted wing of the building burned to the ground, leaving only the elevator shaft intact. Several residents were taken to the hospital, including 13 people who had carbon monoxide poisoning or fell ill. Officials said rescuers were unable to carry out a complete evacuation because of the intensity of the fire. Many of the victims used wheelchairs and walkers. Twenty-seven bodies were recovered during an initial search, which ended on February 1. A Montreal coroner’s lab was to identify the remaining five missing by forensic DNA analysis of bone fragments and remains from the site. After talking to police, the lone overnight worker at Résidence du Havre told Quebecor Media he is “95% sure” the fire was caused by a cigarette, lit by a resident he refused to let outside to smoke less than an hour earlier. He said black smoke was billowing above the ajar door of the man’s second-floor room, room 206. When he tried to help, he “began to suffocate” and had to leave. On the way to safety, he rescued a man who had broken his leg by jumping from his balcony.”

On 1/23/1926 the Lafayette Hotel fire, 133-137 North 7th Street in Allentown, Pennsylvania killed thirteen occupants and injured thirty-nine others. “With temperatures near zero, most of the 45 guests at the Lafayette Hotel had gone to bed. But in the building’s fourth-floor annex, at least one of them was still awake, smoking a cigarette. For reasons known only to the smoker, decided to throw the still-smoldering butt down a wooden clothing chute. It was 2:20 a.m. on a frigid night, when Lafayette’s night desk clerk, was startled out of his conversation with the linotype operator by cries of “fire!” from upstairs. Almost before both men knew what was happening, smoke began pouring down the lobby’s ancient wooden staircase. They charged up the stairs only to be forced back by an inferno. The oldest hotel in the city, its roots back to 1809 when it opened as the Black Horse Tavern. The building, was a five-story structure, the three first stories built of stone and the two upper ones of brick, and contained 100 rooms. Being of stone and brick the exterior was fairly fireproof, but the interior was of wood construction. In a burst of entrepreneurial enthusiasm for Lafayette’s 100th anniversary in 1909, the hotel’s owners added two stories to the three-story building… In an article published in February 1926 in Fire Engineering magazine, the Fire Chief wrote: “The building, which occupied about eighty feet street front, was in parts four and five stories high and built of stone and brick. The street width was 70 feet, affording fairly sufficient room for the department to work. The alarm was received at headquarters at 2:20 a.m., and the fire was practically extinguished at 5:50 a.m. after the interior of the building had been gutted. The fire-protecting devices on the premises were meager, consisting of 1-quart carbon tetrachloride and soda dust-type extinguishers. The hotel was provided with fire escapes, but flames prevented guests from reaching them. The department responded with two hook and ladder trucks, six pumpers, and three chemical trucks. We had 24 paid men and a volunteer force at work. Upon our arrival, we found the building enveloped in flames, with the weather nearly at zero. Eight fire hydrants were found available, six-inch double and triple, located about 240 feet apart, from which we obtained a pressure of about 80 pounds and operated nine engine streams. The water main was 12 inches, and we used 1½ inch nozzles. We had 2½ inch double jacket rubber-lined cotton hose and obtained good results from the 80-pound pressure. Fortunately, the city is provided with a good water supply, which is obtained from a standpipe, fed from an inexhaustible source.”

On 1/23/1841 two Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighters died of injuries they sustained while operating at a fire at Third and Market Street.

On 1/23/1891 two Buffalo, New York firefighters “died of the injuries they sustained while they were operating at a multiple alarm fire at the Clothing Exchange building on Pearl Street. The interior floors had collapsed, bringing along with it an arch from the top of the building, crushing two, and injuring several other firefighters.”

On 1/23/1907 a Queens, New York (FDNY) firefighter died of smoke inhalation while operating at a four-alarm fire.

On 1/23/1913 thirty firefighters were injured and required medical attention in Los Angeles, California at a fire that is known as the Hotel Brennan fire. The fire originated and did the most damage in the grade floor and basement portion occupied by the Los Angeles Wallpaper Company.

On 1/23/1918 four Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighters “died of the injuries they sustained when they were caught in a collapse of a wall during a fire at the George W. Brooks Public School, at  57th Street and Haverford Avenue. Six other firefighters were also injured; one, a Hoseman, died from his injuries on January 24, 1918, and a Ladderman died from his injuries on January 25, 1918.”

On 1/23/1929 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter died “while fighting a fire at the abandoned McAvoy Brewery at the intersection of 24th Street and South Park Way. He fell down a flight of steps while calling for more water pressure for the Engine 9 hoses.”

On 1/23/1958 two London, England, the United Kingdom, firefighters lost their lives at the Union Cold Storage Company at Smithfield Market fire. When the first fire engines arrived, thick acrid smoke was pouring out of the market’s maze of underground tunnels leading to cold storage rooms. One of the first crews to enter, using Proto breathing apparatus, was that from the local station, on Clerkenwell.  Proto is a type of rebreather that was made by Siebe Gorman. The two firefighters headed down into the dense smoke, never to be seen alive again. Once inside the pitch-black labyrinth of basement rooms and small passages, they searched in vain for the source of the fire but with their breathing apparatus rapidly expiring, were overcome by the thick smoke. Their colleagues found them amongst the frozen meat packets and carcasses and immediately got them out of the tunnels. Many attempts were made to resuscitate both men but tragically they were pronounced dead at the scene.

On 1/23/1961 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter died from the inhalation of smoke and gases while operating at Box 1537, (Berkeley & Marlborough Streets), during a fire at 31 Marlborough Street, in the Back-Bay, around 9:30 p.m.

On 1/23/1983 Peoria, Illinois firefighter “died from injuries he received after a wall fell during a multiple-alarm arson fire at 717-719 Main Street in the area of Main and Perry Streets. Firefighters encountered a large volume of fire in the brick structure.”

1/23/1983 an Avon, New York firefighter died at a fire involving a two-story tavern, which was adjacent to the firehouse. “He helped effect the rescue of several people who were trapped on the second-floor rear roof from the apartments over the tavern. The rescue mission was completed; he then took a line in through the front door to attack the fire on the first floor. Shortly after entering the structure, he fell into a hole that was burnt through the floor and became tightly wedged between the joists. Firefighters worked for an hour to free him, with no results. His self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) was damaged in the fall, and after three changes of bottles, he became overcome by smoke and lost consciousness. His limp body slipped through the joists into the water-filled basement before firefighters could rescue him. Rescuers were able to gain access to the basement and removed him to a waiting ambulance. He was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the hospital. The fire was caused when an ashtray was carelessly dumped into a plastic trashcan when the bar closed.”

On 1/23/1985 the Shell refinery explosion at the Lubricating Unit in Roxana Illinois killed one and injured seventeen including six with severe burns.

On 1/23/1916 a fault (short circuit) in an electrical switchboard in the rear stage of the Tremont Theatre ignited a fire that damaged the stage area and the front of the auditorium to the balcony in Boston, Massachusetts.

On 1/23/1911 Aberdeen, South Dakota a fire destroyed the freight depot, division headquarters, local freight houses, and passenger station of the Milwaukee Railroad.

On 1/23/1910 the Sweet Brothers’ Paper Manufacturing Company in Phoenix, New York was destroyed by a fire that started in the boiler room around 1:00 a.m.

On 1/23/1907 the business section of Middletown, New York was destroyed by a fire that started at 8:45 a.m. on the second floor of the clothing store and quickly extended through the wooden partition into the cigar factory where twenty-one men were working.

On 1/23/1894 eight inmates died in a fire at the Boone, Iowa Insane Asylum caused by an overheated furnace during a furious winter storm. “The thermometer indicating 30 degrees below zero The building on the Boone County poor farm used as an insane asylum was burned down and eight of the nine inmates lost their lives. The fire broke out about 10 o’clock, and when discovered was under such headway that nothing could be done to save the unfortunate inmates in the building.”

On 1/23/1892 Llano, Texas the Courthouse was destroyed by fire at 5:00 a.m. the building was completed in 1885.