On 8/18/2007 the “Deutsche Bank fire” 130 Liberty Street in Manhattan, New York killed two firefighters on the 14th floor of a building under demolition. Seven FDNY officers were disciplined for their failure to ensure required inspections before the fire. “Numerous issues came out publicly following that horrific loss.” “At approximately 3:40 p.m., a seven-alarm fire broke out on the 17th-floor of the building, caused by workers smoking, carelessly and in violation of the building’s safety rules. By this time, the skyscraper, once 41 stories, had been reduced to 26, with crews removing a floor a week. At the time of the fire, construction crews were removing asbestos. The fire spread in both directions, affecting a total of 10 floors. The floors were filled with a maze of protective polyethylene sheets which were designed to prevent the spread of asbestos but also trapped smoke making fighting the fire extremely difficult. Firefighting was additionally hampered, the building did not have a functioning standpipe, forcing firefighters to raise hoses from the street to combat the flames. The building had not been inspected since March when it should have been inspected every 15 days. The fire burned into the night before being extinguished. The fire killed two firefighters who succumbed on the 14th floor to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning and injured 115 firefighters, 46 seriously enough to require medical leave. Plans to deconstruct the building continued as quickly as possible. In 2008, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted three construction supervisors and the demolition subcontractor, the John Galt Corporation.”
On 8/18/1959 five Kansas City firefighters, and one civilian died, and sixty-two firefighters and civilians were injured in a fire and explosion that led to the term BLEVE, boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. The fire broke out around 8:20 a.m. as two men fueled a gasoline tank truck and spread to four tanks capable of holding 21K gallons of various levels of kerosene and gasoline. At the 2-hour point, the rupture of a tank with 15,655 gallons of gasoline occurred and “rocketed a distance of 94 ft.” resulting in a fireball that engulfed the firefighters… “Although the exact times of the tank failures are unknown, it was thought that the overpressure failure of the tanks was progressive from Tanks No. 1 through No. 4. Tank No. 1, holding 6,628 gallons of kerosene, and Tank No. 2, containing 15,857 gallons of gasoline, both failed at their ends facing the railroad tracks. The heads of these tanks tore loose at the weld with some violence, but the tanks moved only about one foot on the concrete saddles. Tank No. 3, containing approximately 3,000 gallons of gasoline, tore loose at the weld only for a short distance near the top of the tank. Tank No. 4 was the last to fail, approximately two hours after the fire originated. All tanks failed from overpressure, the under-sized vents were unable to relieve adequately the vapors generated from the boiling liquid… Table No. 3 of the Flammable Liquids Code®, NFPA 30, requires a vent for this capacity tank to have a relief capacity of 166,000 cubic feet of free air per hour. For a tank capable of withstanding five pounds per square inch of internal pressure a four-inch free circular opening would be required. Tank No. 4 rocketed a distance of 94 ft. and landed 15 ft. into the street. A large ball of fire from the remaining liquid in the tank covered the remaining 85 ft. of the 100 ft. wide street. It was this ball of fire which caught the firefighters in its path.”
On 8/18/1937 fourteen firefighters died after “lightning sparked a fire in the Blackwater Creek drainage on the west slopes of Clayton Mountain, Wyoming. After burning in the undergrowth for two days, it was spotted by the owners of a hunting camp and a plane that was observing another fire nearby. After it was reported to the Wapiti Ranger Station, a small group of CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) members began working on constructing a fire line; throughout the afternoon and evening of the 20th, the number of firefighters fighting the blaze, now 200 acres, grew to about seventy. The Shoshone Forest supervisor left the fire that evening to muster more men, and CCC camps from Tensleep in the Big Horns and the town of Deaver were called. Fire crews worked through the night, and by early afternoon on the 21st, over 200 men were working on containing the fire… A ranger in charge of the eastern part of the fire line; a little after 3:00, spotted some smoke on the wrong side of the fire line and sent a note to a fellow ranger saying, “we are on the ridge in back of you and I am going down to the spot in the hole. It looks like it can carry on over the ridge east and north of you. If you can send any men, please do so, since there are only eight of us.” At about 3:30, the wind suddenly picked up and began erratically shifting directions, which whipped the fire in the treetops into a frenzy. By the time the call for help reached the command post, there was no way to respond, as the 45 mph gusts had surrounded the men with flames. The forty men abandoned the fireline and were able to escape to the northeast to a higher place on the mountain with fewer trees. Here they were surrounded by the flames and were forced to the ground by the intense heat, which literally started cooking their skin. Four men perished when they panicked and tried to run through the fire to get out. By about 5:00, the worst of the fire was over, and the survivors gradually made their way down through the smoke. Seven men died, and seven more men died in a gulch where they tried to take cover. One of his men survived briefly but died of his burn injuries at the hospital in Cody. 500 men eventually brought the fire under control by the 24th of August, and it was out by the end of the month.”
On 8/18/1908 two London, Ontario, Canada firefighters died after “the collapse of the Westman Hardware Co.’s building at 121 Dundas, which had been gutted by fire. Firefighters had entered the first floor at 7 o’clock, the fire had then been raging for two hours. They were about the center of the building when all the floors collapsed, and the men were buried. One was extricated and was not seriously hurt. The body of the first firefighter was found an hour later and the second at midnight.”
On 8/18/1913 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter “died as the result of fall from the ladder at the Union Petroleum Fire 4-4-4.”
On 8/18/1923 a Dallas, Texas firefighter “died as a result of serious crushing injuries he sustained June 30, 1923, when he and another firefighter were caught under a collapsing wall at a fire at the Texas Wheels & Body Co. The other firefighter died shortly after being dugout. A third firefighter was also seriously injured that day in the collapse, but was able to recover from his injuries.”
On 8/18/1932 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter “succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the Ritz Tower explosion on August 1, 1932. He was the eighth firefighter to die.”
On 8/18/1970 a Richmond, Virginia “firefighter became trapped while operating at a fire and died of smoke inhalation.”
On 8/18/1995 in Tonawanda, New York a fire at a chemical manufacturing facility that produced ammonium, potassium, and sodium persulfate, killed one employee, injured five others, and destroyed a 12,000 square-foot warehouse and several adjacent offices. The fire started from the decomposition of products stored in the ordinary construction warehouse protected by a dry sprinkler system that ignited combustible materials, such as packaging materials and wood pallets that were close to the decomposing commodity and grew large enough to ignite the combustible materials in the roof assembly and to cause a roof collapse before the arrival of the fire department.
On 8/18/1941 the Brooklyn New York Pier conflagration started at approximately 11:45 a.m. in a large pile of sisal twine on the shore end of Pier 27 where the freighter SS Panuco was docked. The five-alarm fire traveled the entire length of the pier within minutes and spread to vessels and nearby structures. Oil drum explosions spread fire onto the water and heavy smoke hampered rescue operations. Thirty-four men were killed in the fire or drowned after jumping off the pier or ships. The cause of the fire was never determined.
On 8/18/1937 a steam line explosion on U.S.S. Cassin, a 1500-ton destroyer, killed four and injured ten at the Philadelphia (PA) Naval Yard.
On 8/18/1936 the Esry Mine fire killed two near Moberly, Missouri.
8/18/1925 Steamer Mackinac boiler explosion killed thirty-six in Newport, Rhode Island.
On 8/18/1895 an Algonquin, Illinois house fire killed and father, daughter, and extended to several buildings.
On 8/18/1878 a fire in Biggs, California destroyed nineteen buildings that originated in an unoccupied building.
On 8/18/1865 the three-story wood-frame Button Factory was destroyed by fire around 3:00 a.m. in Waterbury, Connecticut
On 8/18/1984 the first Volunteer Fire Fighter Recognition Day was held.