FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 2/6

On 2/6/1923 the last fire horses “were retired from the Chicago Fire Department. Fire alarm box Number 848 was pulled at 12:40 p.m. at State and Chicago Avenues. The loud fire bell then rang in Engine 11’s firehouse at 10 East Grand Avenue, about a third mile south and just off State Street. Teddy, Dan, Buck, and Beauty then unknowingly made their last fire run. The alarm was purposely false, pulled to bring about the last run of a horse-drawn fire engine in Chicago.”

On 2/6/1966 an apartment fire in Miami, Florida caused by a kerosene stove explosion in a 40-year-old slum building killed ten. “Four of the dead children were from one family and three from another. The parents escaped.” … Olin L. Greene, a former (retired) Director of the Division of both Florida and Oregon State Fire Marshal attributes this fire to the development of the Fire Code in Florida. Recently, at a Florida Fire Marshals’ and Inspectors’ Association (FFMIA) meeting he was quoted: “A fire occurred in a two-story wooden rooming house.  This fire killed ten people, including two children under the age of five.  An inebriated individual came in late at night and stumbled over a kerosene heater, and the rest is a sorrowful history.  A predictable fire, and certainly a predictable outcome, but …  Chief Yates assigned me (Greene), Chuck Hasseler, Roger Tompkins, Bill Kennedy, and Danny O’Connell the daunting task of developing a Fire Code. The City of Miami had adopted a Fire Code in 1926.  The City Manager, Melvin Reese, enacted an emergency ordinance for the immediate collection of all kerosene heating and cooking devices within the City.  Picture if you might, uniformed fire personnel with dump trucks going door to door, confiscating every kerosene heater and cookstove within the city.  They were housed in a huge warehouse pending the inevitable lawsuits.  Today, they are a reef in Biscayne Bay.  Oh, the fire code, was developed as “Ordinance 1954, which was presented to the City Commission and adopted as Miami’s first fire code on first reading.”

On 2/6/1838 a Manhattan, New York firefighter died while fighting a fire involving a row of buildings occupied by a tobacco firm, the rear walls collapsed, killing him. He was manning a hoseline on a ladder that was propped against a rear wall.

On 2/6/1912 in Lansing, Michigan the Downey House Hotel fire started on top of an elevator shaft on the sixth floor and spread quickly, injuring three firefighters. The “hotel had been the gathering place for legislators and statesmen” since it was built in 1866.

On 2/6/1920 a Manchester, New Hampshire firefighter died while operating at a dwelling fire, he sustained severe smoke inhalation.

On 2/6/1926 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter died after he fell into a flooded basement at 2731 W. Girard Avenue.

On 2/6/1927 two Chicago, Illinois firefighters died when they were caught in a structural collapse while fighting a fire in the 810 Dix Street Metropolitan Building. “A watchman discovered the fire at around 8:00 a.m., but the five-story brick building was already fully involved when the first responding fire companies arrived on the scene. A 2-11 and a 4-11 alarm were immediately raised, and nearly one-quarter of the city’s fire apparatus responded to the blaze. Firefighters battled the fire for more than four hours, and the flames were successfully contained within the four walls of the building. Recognizing that the fire had consumed many of the building’s interior timbers, rendering it structurally unsound, firefighters were in the process of tearing down the walls when the west wall suddenly buckled and collapsed. Tons of bricks and debris fell onto a group of six firefighters. Rescue operations successfully extracted the six firefighters, but one was already dead. A second was transported to Henrotin Hospital, where he died from a fractured skull.”

On 2/6/1928 a Staten Island, New York firefighter (FDNY) died while operating at a two-alarm fire involving a coal pocket, he fell 80 feet to the ground from a coal hoist and was killed.

On 2/6/1938 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter died while fighting a fire at Tuley High School at 1301 N. Claremont Avenue. “Fifty-seven fire companies responded to the 5-11 alarm fire, which started in the school’s biology laboratory and destroyed twenty-five other classrooms. The firefighter was in an alley placing a ladder against the school when he was struck by bricks and debris that collapsed following an explosion on the building’s third floor.”

On 2/6/1976 an Anchorage, Alaska firefighter died while fighting a fire in a supermarket. “On arrival, firefighters found a fire in the rear of the Bi-Lo Supermarket. An initial interior attack was started with two 1-½” hoselines that were moving toward the rear of the store. Conditions began to deteriorate, the men were ordered to back out of the store. Just as the men reached the front door a violent flashover occurred, separating the men. Everyone managed to get out of the store except for one firefighter. Firefighters attempted to re-enter the blazing store to search for him but were pushed back by intense fire conditions. His body wasn’t recovered until the fire had been brought under control. The three-alarm fire was determined to have been the result of arson.”

On 2/6/1997 two Stockton, California firefighters died while working at a house fire. “Units were dispatched to a report of a house fire. The first arriving officer found a working fire and immediately requested a second alarm assignment. Two houses were on fire and there was a possibility of a person being trapped. Unbeknownst to the initial crews, the house was much bigger than it appeared from the street and there was a large two-story addition heavily involved in the fire. An interior attack was initiated with a 1-¾” hoseline through the front door. Approximately 21 minutes later, with no warning, there was a catastrophic collapse of the entire second floor and roof of the addition. The collapse trapped firefighters working on the first floor. One firefighter was trapped in the burning debris but was rescued through the heroic efforts of other firefighters. He was seriously burned. Two firefighters were killed and could not be rescued. The owner of the house was also killed in the fire and was found later after the fire was extinguished. The second story had been added on by the owner and was made of heavy timber. It had been used as a dance studio.”

On 2/6/2014 eight workers died at the Doornkop gold mine after a rockfall started a fire underground in Johannesburg’s Soweto township South Africa.

On 2/6/2007 twelve people died and ten were injured out of the ninety occupants in a fire at the JSC “Agro Spets Montazh” furniture production plant in a non-sprinklered building in Ekaterinburg (Russia, Ural region). Finished products and preparations of foam, fabric, wooden parts, and glue produced large volumes of toxic smoke.

On 2/6/1950 a hotel fire in Eureka, Montana around 2:45 a.m. started when a furnace exploded in a two-story frame building leaving five dead.

On 2/6/1937 a department store in Muskegon, Michigan was destroyed by fire driven by a 25-mile-an-hour wind.

On 2/6/1922 a fire destroyed the main building of the Mankato Teachers’ College in Minnesota.

On 2/6/1890 a four-story box factory in Rochester, New York was destroyed by a fire that extended to the Trin Company.

On 2/6/1887 a 4:00 a.m. in Mobile, Alabama a fire destroyed a wholesale drug house at No. 14 North Water Street. A man was killed when the rear wall collapsed.

On 2/6/1851 the Black Thursday Forest Fire killed many people and damaged 50,000 square miles of Australia. Exceptional heat and drought contributed to the spread of the fire.

On 2/6/2011 a freight train carrying volatile chemicals derailed in Arcadia, Ohio, 50 miles south of Toledo, causing a tanker fire and forcing evacuations of nearby residents.

On 2/6/1951 in Woodbridge, New Jersey a commuter train plunged off a trestle killing eighty-two passengers and injuring about 500.