12/1/1958 the Our Lady of the Angels elementary school fire killed ninety-five (92 students and 3 nuns) and another one-hundred were seriously injured in Chicago, IL at the intersection of West Iowa Street in the mostly Italian-American middle-class community; after smoke, heat, and fire cut off their escape. The two-story structure built in 1910 held approximately 1,600 students, kindergarten plus eight grades, located in Humboldt Park. The fire began in the basement at the foot of the northeast stairwell in a cardboard trash barrel between about 2:00 p.m. and 2:20 p.m. Classes were due to be dismissed at 3:00 p.m. The facility was part of a large Roman Catholic parish consisting of a church, rectory, convent of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and two parish halls. The north wing was a two-story structure originally built in 1910 and remodeled several times. the building initially consisted of a first-floor church and a second-floor school. The entire building became a school when a newer church facility opened in 1939. A south wing dating from 1939 was connected in 1951 by an annex to the north wing. The two original buildings and the annex formed a U-shape, with a narrow-fenced courtyard. “Although the cause has never been officially determined, all indications point to arson. A boy (age 10 at the time, a fifth-grader in room 206) later confessed to setting the blaze, but subsequently recanted his confession. He was more afraid of confessing to his mother and step-father than to the police. The boy confessed to setting numerous other fires in the neighborhood, mostly in apartment buildings. In his confession, he related details of the fire’s origin that had not been made public and that he should therefore not have known. While there was strong evidence that he was indeed the culprit, neither he nor anyone else was ever prosecuted, at least in part because the catholic judge in the case felt he should protect the Church. Officially, the cause of the fire remains unknown.”
12/1/1994 around 3:45 a.m. an accidental fire occurred in a board and care facility in Broward County, Florida that left six residents dead in the one-story, a single-family dwelling that had been modified for use as an adult assisted living facility (board and care facility). The building was modified to include the construction of several bedrooms, the installation of a building-wide fire alarm system with single-station smoke detectors, and the installation of at least one exit door in every bedroom leading directly to the exterior of the building; however, fire officials were unable to determine the capabilities of the residences. The fire started in a resident’s bedroom causing heavy damage in the room of origin and the adjacent dining area, smoke migrated to all rooms. Eight residents and a staff person were able to self-evacuate; six residents were rescued, and four died in the building, two of the rescued occupants died later.
12/1/1890 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter died at a fire “when he was buried under a falling wall at the Crenshaw Cotton Mill, on Venice Island & Robeson Street. Within minutes the nine-story building was fully involved.”
12/1/1904 a Queens, New York (FDNY) firefighter “died as a result of severe smoke inhalation and burns he sustained while operating at a four-alarm fire at the Queens County Court House on November 26th.”
12/1/1932 a Cleveland, OH firefighter “died as a result of injuries he sustained in a fall while operating at a fire.”
12/1/1934 a Denver, CO firefighter was fatally injured from a wall that collapsed at the Midwest Trunk & Bag Manufacturing Co., 1524 15th Street at 8:34 p.m. A whoosh of air sent flames rocketing up an elevator shaft 75 feet into the night sky. The fire was started in an overheated coal stove.
12/1/1962 a Cleveland, OH firefighter was killed when he was caught under a collapsing roof while operating at a fire.
12/1/1984 a Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighter died from carbon-monoxide poisoning after he was overcome by smoke at Saint Ann’s School fire in Brooklyn Heights. The firefighter got lost in the smoke-filled library on the sixth floor, directly above the burning theater. Seventeen other firefighters suffered minor injuries.
12/1/1990 a firefighter for Alcan Rolled Products Company Fire Brigade in Oswego, New York “was investigating an extinguished fire that had occurred beneath an aluminum rolling machine when he collapsed for unknown reasons. He was transported to a local medical facility where he succumbed to an undetermined cause.”
12/1/2016 a Wilmington, DE firefighter died “after spending more than two months in the hospital fighting her injuries, The Wilmington Fire Department has reported the death of a third firefighter, injured while trying to rescue her fellow firefighters who were trapped after a floor collapsed in a brick row home fire on September, 24th. Two Wilmington firefighters were also killed in the fire and the third firefighter, who has since been released from the hospital, was seriously injured. The family in the home at the time of the fire, including six children, managed to escape through the back of the residence. One of those residents, Beatrice Fana-Ruiz, the daughter of the homeowner, has been charged with arson and murder for intentionally setting the fire.”
12/1/1977 a fire on the sixth floor of a luxury hotel in Bermuda killed three people and burned the length (almost 500 feet) of the undivided corridor in the occupied hotel undergoing renovations. The renovations created an excessive combustible load in the corridors in the “T” shaped building with six guest floors. The non-combustible metal frame building with spray-on fireproofing on the columns and main beams with gypsum board on metal-studs interior construction was protected standpipes for FD use and included hose reels located throughout the corridors. A manual fire alarm with heat detection in closets, storage areas, and other hazardous locations sent a pre-signal to the telephone operator’s station and in the building engineer’s office. There were several simultaneous fires in Bermuda at the time of the hotel fire because of civil disturbances which left fewer firefighters available to fight this fire.
12/1/1889 Minneapolis, MN Tribune Building fire killed seven in the eight-story brick building at the corner of First Avenue South and Fourth Street, that printed three daily, and a weekly newspaper. The building had been considered dangerous, not only in case of fire but in its apparently loose make-up construction; the uses of heavy machinery in the job room frequently shook the building. There was only one fire escape, located on the north side of the building, where the fire started, one interior narrow spiral stairway, that followed the elevator shaft from top to bottom of the building, and one ordinary size elevator. The Trades and Labor Assembly petitioned the owners, the Fire Department, and the city to have the building put in the proper condition or condemned, but no action or repairs occurred. Around 10:00 p.m. the fire alarm was sounded but was not regarded seriously, although many of them started down the stairs. The fire started in the unoccupied Union League Club room near the elevator shaft. In an attempt to extinguish the fire a window was opened, bringing in a draught of fresh air that caused flames to shoot across the hall and up the elevator shaft cutting off the escape of those who had delayed. The fire was brought under control at about 2 o’clock.