On 9/25/2003 a four-story nursing home fire killed fourteen, and injured twenty-five (twenty critically) in Nashville, Tennessee. Most of the 120 residents were bedridden and unable to escape; firefighters carry many elderly occupants downstairs and ladders. The concrete building had no sprinkler system. “The building was a classic 1960s multi-story nursing home of concrete construction that had been renovated numerous times, often without permits to avoid retrofitting of fire sprinklers. The only smoke detectors were in the common corridors. Little, if any training, had been provided to the staff. None of the fire evacuation training had been witnessed by any state or local agencies. Evidence suggests two staff were actually inside the building at the time of the fire. Staff reported smelling an odor for some time before the fire but did nothing to find the source. The fire originated from an electrical issue on Bed #2 in a dual occupancy patient room (bed closest to the window, farthest from the room door). Every two patient rooms shared a common bathroom. A system smoke detector in the corridor several feet from the room of origin was the first device activated. At the time of the fire, the door to the room of origin was open. Staff responded and initially attempted to extinguish the fire on the patient’s bed and when the fire continued to grow, they pushed the patient on bed 1 out into the hallway, leaving the door to the room of origin open. The staff pushed the patient and the bed several feet down the hallway and then ABANDON the patient in the hallway when conditions deteriorated. The staff exited the building down a stairway. No patient room doors were closed by staff. Several patients attempted to self-evacuate, but they were told by staff to stay in their rooms. The building had a long history of false alarm activations. When the first engine arrived the crew, in station uniforms, entered the first-floor lobby and went to the annunciator panel. No staff was there to meet them nor was any staff seen. There was no indication on the first floor of the fire that was underway on the second floor other than the panel indicating an alarm on the second floor. Believing this to be yet another false, alarm the crew went up the stairs and upon opening the door to the second floor encountered very heavy smoke conditions. There were two stairways in the building and just by chance the crew went up the one near the room of origin. The crew returned to the engine, donned full personal protective equipment (PPE), and returned to the second floor. While the full post-incident analysis documented the failure of the crew to properly don PPE before their initial entry, the fire dynamics analysis and timeline showed that the short delay had no proximate cause to any of the fatalities or injuries. Upon discovering the abandoned patient, firefighters assumed other patients had been similarly abandoned, so the crews initially concentrated on patient evacuation without any staff assistance. Compounding the evacuation was the fact that the elevator keys (the elevator had fire service), were not on-site but were in the possession of the maintenance person at his residence. There were fatalities and injuries not only on the fire floor but throughout all of the patient room areas (Floors 2, 3, and 4) which all had to be evacuated down the two stairways. One of the fatalities was the mother of one of the department’s assistant chiefs.”
On 9/25/1832 two Manhattan, New York firefighters “were killed while operating at a fire at the Jesse Delano’s Iron Chest Factory on the corner of White Street and Gouverneur Lane after midnight. The seven-story building was totally destroyed by the fire. At three o’clock, the rear wall fell onto several other smaller buildings destroying them. Around six in the morning, the members of Engine 42 (East River) were on a lower floor extinguishing several pockets of fire when the front wall fell to the street burying several members. One firefighter was killed outright, and the second died several days later.”
On 9/25/1852 a Manhattan, New York firefighter “was operating at Palmer’s Chocolate Factory when he was killed. The fire started in the drying rooms on the third and fourth floors around eight in the morning. The building and all of its contents, chocolate, and machinery, were destroyed, valued at $50,000. The firefighter asked what to do and was told to stay outside and help with a hoseline. After a while, he entered the building only to be driven out by the heat and smoke. He was leaving the building when the hoisting wheel gave way and landed on him. He was killed instantly.”
On 9/25/1910 a firefighter was crushed beneath a falling wall and killed at the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, Nebraska, the church was totally destroyed by the fire. The church building was erected in 1888 and had a membership of over 700.
On 9/25/1915 a Sheldon, Iowa firefighter “died while operating at a fire at the Royce Hotel Annex.”
On 9/25/1942 a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania firefighter died from smoke inhalation.
On 9/25/1985 in Davie, Florida a muffler shop explosion left four people dead, eight injured and damaged all 34 stores at the Davie Shopping Center across the street. It is believed a leaking 250-gallon liquefied petroleum gas tank may have detonated.
On 9/25/1873 near Wapello, Idaho a balloon fire and crash killed the pilot.
On 9/25/1963 the Bun Hirama rubber shoe factory fire killed fourteen in Kobe, Japan.
On 9/25/1978 a Pacific Southwest Airlines jet collided in mid-air with a small Cessna over San Diego, killing 153 people.