FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 3/18

On 3/18/1951 Sparky® the Fire Dog was born; Happy Birthday Sparky!  “The legend of Sparky the Fire Dog began with a small Dalmatian puppy sitting outside a fence surrounding a school. The Dalmatian pup loved to watch the children at play. One day he decided to follow two of the children home. Tired from the walk, he decided to nap under a tree outside the house. He was awakened to see the children’s house on fire. The puppy ran to the nearby fire station to alert the firefighters. Under the pup’s direction, the firefighters rushed to the house and extinguished the flames. After putting out the fire, the firefighters noticed the pup shivering under a tree and gathered him up in their arms. They introduced him to the children’s family as the hero who saved them. The firefighters named the Dalmatian, Sparky the Fire Dog, and kept the brave pup at his new home at the fire station from that time.”

On 3/18/1937 the Consolidated School in New London, Texas was destroyed by a natural gas explosion that claimed the lives of 294 students. Ten minutes before the end of classes there was a huge explosion of wet gas (a waste gas less stable with more impurities than natural gas). The blast was felt by people 40 miles away. The school sat in the middle of a large oil and natural gas field, an area dominated by 10,000 oil derricks, 11 stood on school grounds. “Officials at Consolidated School were persuaded to save money by tapping into the wet-gas lines operated by Parade Oil Company that ran near the school. At the time, it was not completely uncommon for consumers living near oil fields to use this gas. At 3:05 p.m. Thursday afternoon, 694 students and 40 teachers were looking forward to the final bell, which was to ring in 10 minutes. Instead, a huge and powerful explosion literally blew the roof off of the building and leveled the school. The blast, came without warning because natural gas had no smell.  Most victims were killed instantly. People rushed to the scene to pull out survivors; hundreds of injured students were hauled from the rubble. Miraculously, some students walked away unharmed; 10 were found under a large bookcase that shielded them from the falling building. First-aid stations were established in the nearby towns of Tyler, Overton, Kilgore, and Henderson to tend to the wounded. Reportedly, a blackboard at the destroyed school was found that read, Oil and natural gas are East Texas’ greatest natural gifts. Without them, this school would not be here and none of us would be learning our lessons. The exact cause of the spark that ignited the gas was never found, although it is now known that the gas could have been ignited by static electricity. As a result of this incident, wet gas was required to be burned at the site rather than piped away. More importantly, a new state law mandating the usage of malodorants (a chemical compound whose extreme stench attacks the olfactory senses and/or trigeminal nerves of the person introduced to the chemical) in natural gas for commercial and industrial use was put into place after the incident. This would provide a warning to anyone in the area of a natural gas leak, and hopefully prevent large casualties such as the ones felt in this explosion.”

On 3/18/1878 a Denver, Colorado firefighter was killed in a fire at the Eastbrook Stables.

On 3/18/1890 three Indianapolis, Indiana firefighters “died as a result of injuries sustained in the building collapse at the bookstore fire on March 17th. The second firefighter died March 22nd, and the last man injured in the fire died December 22, 1892.”

On 3/18/1900 a Newark, New Jersey firefighter “was crushed by a falling wall at a third-alarm fire at W.V. Snyder and Company Dry Goods Store located at the northwest corner of Broad and Cedar Streets. He died from his injuries that day.”

On 3/18/1924 a Branford, Connecticut firefighter “died of smoke inhalation and heart attack while fighting a fire in the Toole Block on Main Street.”

On 3/18/1939 a Woodside – Queens, New York (FDNY) firefighter “was killed when he fell from a ladder. A disoriented man was on the railroad embankment at 31st Street. The man was going to jump if a ladder was not brought to the overpass. The aerial ladder from Ladder 163 was raised at an awkward angle due to the railroad overpass passing over an “EL” track. The man was caught and brought down the ladder. The firefighter fell from the ladder and was instantly killed.

On 3/18/1955 a Toledo, Ohio firefighter died from injuries he received on February 3, 1955, at 8:17 a.m. Engine Company 4 responded to a fire alarm at 2242 North Detroit Ave. where they found fire coming from the second floor of a commercial structure. The firefighter and three other firefighters were exposed to toxic smoke from a burning x-ray and other medical equipment. The firefighter suffered the worst of all injuries, and was hospitalized for four weeks before succumbing to his injuries on March 18, 1955.”

On 3/18/1985 a Morris, Illinois firefighter died while fighting a residential basement fire. “He was leading the initial attack line and descending into the basement when a backdraft occurred. The firefighter suffered fatal injuries in the explosion.”

On 3/18/1996 at approximately 11:30 a.m. a roof collapsed during a building fire in an auto parts store killing two firefighters in Chesapeake, Virginia. When the fire department arrived, they found nothing showing on the exterior of the building. The two firefighters entered the building and found a small amount of fire at the rear of the store that was extinguished, while checking for extension, approximately 15 minutes after their arrival, the roof collapsed. The 12 years old building had lightweight wood trusses with a clear span of 50 feet. The fire started after a utility worker damaged the electric service drop conductors on the outside of the store and arcing inside the store ignited wood trusses. The majority of the fire was hidden in the concealed space above the store’s ceiling.

On 3/18/2001 two Osceola, Missouri firefighters died while fighting a fire in a two-story residential occupancy. “Upon their arrival, two firefighters entered the structure with a hoseline and extinguished a small fire on the stairwell that led from the first floor to the second floor. Smoke conditions worsened and the firefighters who were not wearing self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) were forced to leave the structure. Three firefighters donned SCBA and reentered the structure on a hoseline to continue firefighting efforts. As the team proceeded into the building, the low air alarms for two firefighters began to sound. The chief instructed one firefighter to lead the other firefighter out of the structure by following the hoseline. The chief remained on the nozzle and continued to suppress the fire. After about three minutes, the chief officer began to withdraw the hoseline from the structure. As he neared the exit, he was knocked down by falling debris. Unable to move on his own, he threw his helmet through the front door to get the attention of a firefighter on the exterior. Firefighters were able to remove the chief; he suffered second and third-degree burns to his head, face, and hands. The two firefighters had not exited the structure. No functional SCBAs were available to mount a rescue effort until the arrival of mutual aid firefighters. Mutual aid firefighters arrived approximately one hour after the initial alarm and they assisted with firefighting and rescue efforts. The two firefighters were discovered in a laundry room and removed from the structure. Both firefighters died from asphyxiation. It is unknown if either firefighter had a personal alert safety system (PASS) device.”

On 3/18/1986 an early morning fire at the киришском oil refinery near Kirishi Russia, about 85 miles southeast of Saint Petersburg, while filling the tank with a capacity of 10 thousand tons burned for 85 hours.  Firefighters stood in the mixture of water and petrol up to her chest during the extended operation. “The course of extinguishing the fire has repeatedly shown examples of real heroism, a little stroke of brilliance, non-standard technical solutions.”

On 3/18/1996 the Ozone Disco Club fire in Quezon City, Philippines broke out shortly after midnight that killed 162 of the 390 occupants. Six employees of Westwood Entertainment were tried for criminal charges of “reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and multiple serious injuries” the president and the corporation’s treasurer were found guilty and sentenced to a four-year prison and fined 25 million pesos each.

On 3/18/1925 fire destroys two hotels, the Breakers and the Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Florida. The fire started on an upper floor of the south wing of the Breakers Hotel and extended to the Palm Beach Hotel.

On 3/18/1949 in Seabrook, New Hampshire the Charles Adams and Myron Brown Woodworking Mill was destroyed by fire.