On 5/18/1927 the Bath School disaster killed forty-five and injured fifty-eight people, 38 elementary school children, most children in the second to sixth grades, and 6 adults attending Bath Consolidated School in Bath Township, Michigan. Bath was a rural village about ten miles from Lansing, the state capital. About 314 students from around the region were enrolled. May 18 was the last day of classes for that year. On that morning at 8:45 a school board member, Andrew Kehoe, upset by a property tax levied to fund the construction of the school building detonated dynamite and hundreds of pounds of pyrotol he planted inside the school. He had killed his wife and set his farm buildings on fire before arriving at the school. As rescuers arrived at the school, Kehoe drove up and detonated a bomb inside his shrapnel-filled vehicle that killed himself, the school superintendent, and several others. An additional 500 pounds of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol were discovered planted throughout the basement of the school’s south wing… “Pyrotol was an explosive available for a time after World War I. It was reprocessed from military surplus. Usually, used in combination with dynamite, it created an incendiary blast. Since it was very inexpensive, it was often used by farmers to remove tree stumps and clear ditches.”
On 5/18/1918 the Aetna chemical explosion in Oakdale, Pennsylvania killed 193 people. “At noon an explosion in a room used to mix chemicals inside the plant triggered a chain of blasts and fires that claimed 193 lives both inside and outside the facility, according to NFPA data. The catastrophe remains the deadliest fire or explosion in a manufacturing plant in U.S. history, according to NFPA. … Only about half of the victims could be identified, … the bodies of the other people lost in the blast had been incinerated among the wreckage of the plant. The company suffered an estimated $2 million in losses, and an additional $200,000 of damage was inflicted on nearby properties. An investigation revealed that the blast occurred because Aetna, which manufactured TNT for the Allied powers in World War I, ignored an order from the federal government to stop using a chemical that was linked to dangerous reactions, … Even so, the company was never held accountable for its actions. The Oakdale plant closed six months after the explosion.”
On 5/18/1971 the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 19B, Standard on Respiratory Protective Equipment for Firefighters was released “requiring” self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during firefighting.
On 5/18/1893 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter “died from injuries he sustained after falling from a ladder at Orchard and Mill Streets.” “The fire in an umbrella company went to four alarms in less than a half-hour after it extended to a lace mill.”
On 5/18/1896 five District of Columbia (Washington DC) firefighters died after lightning started a building fire. “During a severe thunderstorm, lightning struck the branch office of a telegraph office, starting a fire. The fire spread very rapidly throughout the 22 stores that comprised the block, necessitating the sounding of a general alarm. While operating a hoseline inside one of the stores, two firefighters were killed instantly when a floor collapsed, burying them under tons of iron and bricks. As other firefighters attempted to rescue their fallen comrades, there was a sudden collapse of the walls, and more men became trapped under tons of burning rubble. Three additional firefighters were all killed instantly in the second collapse.”
On 5/18/1924 a Leominster, Massachusetts firefighter died “while operating at a brush fire, he was killed when the soda-acid extinguisher he was using exploded. The six-gallon extinguisher was standing upright on the ground and he was standing over it when the bottom blew out. The force of the explosion blew him and the extinguisher about ten feet into the air. He lived for about five to ten minutes after being injured.”
On 5/18/1956 two Chesapeake City / Galena, Maryland firefighters “died from the injuries they sustained while operating at a fire at the Kent Oil Company after two large explosions and several small ones occurred during a fire. One firefighter was fatally burned, and the second was decapitated by flying debris. Eight other firefighters were hospitalized for their injuries, and eight more firefighters were treated at the scene.”
On 5/18/2017 a San Antonio, Texas firefighter “died from injuries received while operating at a four-alarm fire in a shopping center mall in the 6700 block of Ingram Road. Fire crews were searching a gym in the strip mall for any possible occupants as fire conditions rapidly intensified and the structure began to collapse. All firefighters were ordered to exit the building, but one firefighter was unable to do so before becoming caught and trapped. Crews continued to battle the fire but because of conditions, they were unable to reach the trapped firefighter. According to initial reports, another member of the initial search team was also trapped in the fire but was pulled to safety along with an injured member of the Rapid Intervention Team. The two injured firefighters were transported to the hospital.”
On 5/18/1980 Mount Saint Helens in Washington erupted, killing fifty-seven people and causing a massive avalanche. “Millions of trees were scorched and burned by the hot air alone. When the glacier atop the mountain melted, a massive mudslide wiped out homes and dammed up rivers throughout the area. The plume of ash belched out for nine hours. Easterly winds carried ash across the state and as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota.” “Mount St. Helens went from 9,600 feet high to only 8,300 feet high in a matter of seconds.”
On 5/18/1765 in Montreal, Canada 108 houses, containing 215 families, were destroyed by a fire.