The relative calm of a quiet Sunday, Father’s Day, June 17th , 2001 was broken at 14:19 hours with a phone call to the FDNY Queens Central Office reporting a fire at 12-22 Astoria Blvd, in the Astoria Section of Queens, New York. For almost 80 years, the Long Island General Supply store has been a fixture in the Long Island City section of Queens serving local contractors and residents with all of their hardware needs. Unfortunately, that included propane tanks and other flammable liquids.
Two structures were involved in this incident. Both buildings were interconnected on the first floors as well as the cellars.
• Both structures were built prior to 1930 of ordinary (Type III) construction, and were two stories in height, each with a full cellar.
• Building 1 measured 2035 square feet and was triangular in shape. • Building 2 measured 1102 square feet and was rectangular in shape.
• Building 1 and Building 2 shared a common or party wall and were interconnected on the first floor and the cellar.
Building to building access in the cellar was through a fire door.
The fire door was blocked open to allow free movement between the cellars which were used for storage.
The hardware stored occupied the first floor and cellars of both buildings. Building 1 had two apartments on the second floor.
Building 2 had an office and storage space on the second floor. Note: A third uninvolved building was attached to the west side of Building 2.
The flat roof system sheathing consisted of 5/8-inch plywood covered by felt paper and rubber roof membrane. The foundation was constructed out of stone and mortar. The support system was a combination of steel masonry posts/lolly columns and wooden support beams.
FDNY Units arrived within 5 minutes of the dispatch and gave the signal for a working fire. Fire fighters were making good progress but at 14:48 hours something went terribly wrong. Witnesses on the scene report hearing a small explosion followed by a huge blast. The shock wave from the blast blew d own every fire fighter on the street and knocked down the exposure 1 wall onto the sidewalk, right on top of fire fighters venting the building.
As members started sifting through the rubble, the chief ordered a second alarm followed almost immediately by a fourth alarm when a radio transmission was received from FF Brian Fahey from Rescue 4. He was in the basement under tons of collapsed material.
“I’m trapped in the basement by the stairs. Come get me.” This was a battle cry to everyone on the scene. Every capable member frantically began removing debris to try and get to Brian and the others. The chief ordered more help. Numerous special calls were made.
There were 144 pieces of apparatus at the scene: 46 engines, 33 ladders, 16 battalion chiefs, 2 deputy chiefs, all 5 rescues, 7 squads, and many more. In fact, with the exception of the fire boats, the JFK hose wagon, the Decon unit, and the thawing units, every type of special unit was at the scene.
Even with the vast resources of the Department, the task took several hours. The members that were on the sidewalk were quickly recovered. • Fire fighters Harry Ford (R4) and John Downing (L163) were removed in traumatic arrest and brought to Elmhurst Hospital were they succumbed from their injuries. • Back at the scene members still were trying to get to Brian while others were trying to put out the smoky fire. The battle went through the afternoon and into the evening. • The fire was being fueled by some of the flammables in the building. • After about four hours they finally reached the basement, but again, it was too late. FDNY Firefighter Brian died in the Line-of-duty.
Subsequent investigations revealed that two local kids were in the rear yard of the building when unbeknownst to them they knocked over a can of gasoline. The gasoline ran under the rear door, into the basement eventually finding an ignition source in the form of the water heater.
When the water heater kicked in, it ignited the gasoline. As fire fighters began working in the building the fire caused the explosion of a large propane tank illegally stored in the basement. The resulting blast leveled the building and caused what will be forever known as the worst Father’s Day in FDNY’s history. (Excerpt of the event description published in www.fdnewyork.com).
The supreme sacrifice was made that day by;
• FDNY Firefighter Harry S. Ford, Rescue Co.4
• FDNY Firefighter Brain D. Fahey, Rescue Co. 4
• FDNY Firefighter John Downing, Ladder Co. 163
Take the time to read the NIOSH Report, and learn the lessons from that event
A fire in a three story multiple family apartment building injured four City of Chicago (IL) firefighters when an interior stairway collapsed during firefighting operations.
The building was constructed in 1927 and consisted of 5456 square feet of space with 3-5 apartment units. Built of masonry wall construction with a wood floor joist system, the fire was reported at 8:43 a.m., in the Type III classified occupancy.
Street View Pre-Fire
The fire began as a basement fire that travelled up two floors, eventually compromising an upper stairway which resulted in compromise and collapsed injuring four Chicago firefighters.
The inherent characteristics of the building and the manner of fire travel and impingement are apparent contributors to the event.
Aerial- Alpha; Goggle Maps
CFD Fireground Operations: Photo Tim Olk
The four firefighters sustained injures during operations when the internal stairwell connecting the second and third floors gave way.
The mayday was transmitted, and a 211 Plan 1 at approximately 09:00 hrs., seventeen minutes into the operation according to published reports issued by Deputy District Chief Lynda Turner. Following the mayday and firefighter removals, defensive operations were initiated.
Two of the firefighters sustained smoke inhalation and two firefighters minor injuries, according to Fire Department officials.
A large warehouse fire in a 211,000 SF complex resulted from from a transformer explosion this morning at the Wix Distribution Center in Gastonia, NC. The building complex was a former textile mill and was built in 1917.
Published report indicate that more than 60 firefighters operated at the scene to control the fire.
It was reported that Fire Chief Phillip Welch stated firefighters started fighting the fires inside the building after the transformer explosion occurred, but it quickly got out of control.“There was an aggressive attack inside, but just because of the storage fight, we were not able to overcome that nor was the sprinkler system,” Welch said.
How prepared is your department for a large scale fire in a large footprint warehouse?
Have you completed pre-fire plans, walk through tours and table top exercises for the key at risk buildings or complexes?
Do you know what the sustained water flow requirements might be for a heavily or fully involved complex or building?
Practices and honed your skills on establishing and managing a complex, multi-operatonal period incident?
Have you looked at creating box alarms or pre-arranged greater alarm response and resource requests?
Have you trained with the departments, jurisdictions and companies that might respond?
Do you have strategies and tactics identified and have you trained on them for operations in large scale buildings? Don’t implment and treat the incident like you would a residential or small commercial fire….
Respect the building and predict with conservative decision-making
Manage and expect compromise and collapse, rapid fire extention and operational challenges to fixed suppression systems and protectivies
Don’t over extend companies while attmtping to operate in the interior: These are typcially closed building ( lack of immedate exiting capabilties) with a special need for air management and accountability and access control.
FDNY Bronx 66-33-2224 Third Alarm at 225 E 149th Street;
A three-alarm blaze tore through a South Bronx building on Saturday morning — leaving at least 37 people, including a child, hurt, according to published reports. The fire started on the fifth floor of the 27-story E. 149th St. building near Park Ave. about o7:40 a.m. More than 135 firefighters were operating. News media is reporting taht the fire was under control in a two hour time span. Fire officials say 37 people suffered injuries as a result of a three-alarm fire Saturday morning at a 27-story building in the Bronx.
From NYC Fire Wire on Facebook
There are almost 500 apartments in the building, along with more than 20 stores. Video Clip and FDNY Interview HERE
The Predictability of Building Performance must take into consideration that in the context of today’s fire ground, buildings and fire dynamics, small changes on initial compartment or structure conditions may often produce and result in large-scale or magnitude changes that affect the long term outcome of the incident.
We have assumed that the routiness or successes of past operations and incident responses equates with predictability and diminished risk to our firefighting personnel.
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past construction systems, occupancies and building types; therefore the risk assessment and size-up process, and resulting strategies and tactics must adapt to address these evolving rules of combat structural fire engagement that challenge anecdotal practices and methodologies.
Today’s evolving fireground demands greater adaptive insights and management with an amplified understanding of buildings, occupancy risk profiling (ORP) and building anatomy by all operating companies on the fireground; demanding greater skill sets and knowledge of building construction, architecture, engineering, fire dynamics and fire suppression methodologies.
The equation for success rests directly on Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.
Don’t be complacent based on alarm type, building or occupancy type…expect fire, be prepared and understand the predictability of building performance. It should not be a surprise upon arrival of the first-due.
Some Training Aide Links from past Ten Minutes in the Streets
Ten Minutesin the Street A Buildingsonfire.com SeriesExecutive Producer: Christopher Naum, SFPE Ten Minutes in the Street; bringing you insightful and provoking street scenarios for the discriminating and perspective Firefighter, Company Officer and Commander; where you make the call. You don’t have to have any special rank to participate in this interactive forum, just the desire to learn and expand you knowledge, skills and abilities in order to better yourself, create new insights, while sharing your experience and perspectives to help you and others in the street in making the right call; so everyone has the opportunity of going home. Access the Series on Buildingsonfire.com and TheCompanyOfficer.com Don’t forget to access CommandSafety.com and TheCompanyOfficer.com . Buildingsonfire is also on Facebook.
Ten Minutes in the Street; Stretchin’ the line on the First-Due, HERE
Ten Minutes in the Street; “But it’s only a Garage..!”,HERE
Ten Minutes in the Street: “I Hear Ya Knockin’, But Nobody’s Home”
Fire in Syracuse: Four firefighters LODD: The 701 University Avenue Fire April 9, 1978
April 9th marks the 35th anniversary of the 701 University Ave. fire that claimed the lives of four Syracuse (NY) firefighters in 1978 while conducting search & rescue and suppression operations at an apartment building on the Syracuse University Campus, in Syracuse, New York.
The fire began when one of the tenants lit a candle in a styrofoam wig stand and left it unattended. At 00:46 hours on Sunday April 9, 1978, an alarm of fire was transmitted for a reported building fire at 701 University Avenue on the campus of Syracuse University.
The Victorian style house was a three story building constructed of wood balloon framing and was built circa 1898. The house had been converted into ten (10) apartments that were occupied by SU students. The gross area of each of the three floors was approx. 1,750 sq. ft., with a predominate rectangular footprint shape measuring 69 ft. x 35 ft. The third floor apartments only had access via a stairway in the rear, down a long narrow corridor that measured only 33 inches wide.
Post Fire View of Building from Bravo Side. Photo CJ Naum, 1978
The building had inherent vertical and horizontal concealed spaces indicative of balloon frame style construction along with additional concealed spaces in the third floor ceiling area. A partial automatic sprinkler system had been installed in the building in order to comply with a 1952 State of New York law. This system provided protection to the basement, means of egress, a storage area and a portion of the concealed space above the third floor.
The fire originated in a second floor apartment, and then spread into the combustible concealed space above the third floor ceiling. Approximately sixteen minutes into fireground operations the first indications of firefighting personnel being in distress were received. The first call to the Alarm center was made at 0045:17 hrs., with the first-due engine arriving at 0048:05 and first water applied at 0051 (est).
The four SFD fire fighters, Frank Porpiglio Jr., Stanley Duda, Michael Petragnani, and Robert Schuler, who were assigned to the Squad and Rescue Companies, entered the house to conduct a primary search of the premises for SU students thought to be trapped in the house.
While operating on the third floor inside, a scalding steam caused by triggered sprinklers prevented the four firefighters from escaping, and they eventually depleted their air supply and suffocated to death. The firefighters were operating with full PPE that was complaint at that time ( 1978) and were utilizing state-of-the art SCBA in the form of the new 4.5 SCBA systems. All the tenants had escaped safely before the fire fighters had entered the house. The fire was subsequently investigated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) at the request of the City of Syracuse and NFPA Report No. LS-3 was published.
Syracuse Post Standard Front Page April 10, 1978
Killed in the Line of Duty on April 9th, 1978:
Syracuse (NY) Fire Department
FF Michael Petragnani, Age 27. ~ Rescue Company – appointed 8/20/1973
FF Frank Porpiglio Jr., Age 24. ~ Squad Company – appointed 8/20/1973
FF Robert Shuler, Age 31. ~ Squad Company – appointed 1/24/1973
FF Stanley Duda, Age 34. ~ Squad Company – appointed 1/24/1973
Remembrance, Honor, Courage and Sacrifice
Post Fire View, East Adams Street and University Ave. Photo: CJ Naum, 1978
Martin J. Whitman School of Management stands today at the corner, Photo CJ Naum, 2013
Memorial Plaque placed in 2005 in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management located on the site of 1978 fire. Photo: CJ NAum, 2013
There’s a tremendous lack of understanding in the American Fire Service as to what accurately defines and comprises a Heavy Timber Bowstring Truss and the Operational and Safety Precautions that must be recognized, implemented and trained on, in order to achieve and maintain operational excellence, company integrity and firefighter safety on the fireground.
All bowstring trusses are not created equal and do not share the same characteristics when found in a building and occupancy.
They may have the same shape, but shape alone does not define the bowstring truss.
Based on the type, design, construction, materials, age, span, spacing, configuration, occupancy and application there are vast differences AND similarities.
There are significant differences in terminology when referring to them and tactics that should be employed on the fireground- and yes there are prominent differences between east coast and west coast types and tactics.
The Bowstring Truss- They are not All the Same
Do you know what they are?
I’m working on an article series for a major fire service publication with on-line accompaniments that will provide uniformity and clarity on the subject and the much needed continuity so were’ talking the same language.For the mean time let me offer the following terms that some of you may be familiar with – in your world. Here are some Bowstring Type Truss terms:
The Heavy Timber Bowstring Truss,
Arch-Rib Bowstring Truss,
Laminate Cord Bowstring Truss,
Lattice Bowstring Truss,
Summerbell Bowstring Truss,
Mono-chord Bowstring Truss
Duo-Chord Bowstring Truss,
Segmental Multi-Cord Bowstring Truss,
Tension Rod Bowstring Truss,
Bowstring Arch Truss,
Split-Ring Bowstring Truss…..to name a few.
We’ll be posting lots more on this on CommandSafety.com as well as expanded coverage on Buildingsonfire.com …. Stay Tuned
Vacant Structure Fire-Three Alarm, Type III Construction
Identifying, Establishing and Managing Collapse Zones
I mentioned in a recent post about on-going research and recommendations being developed for a significant report.
A notable issue that seems to resonate and surface on a reoccurring bais is the identification, establishment and management of collapse zones.
Building type, construction systems and materials, initiating, apparent or contributIng factors have an influence on collapse zone management (CZM).
Perimeter wall compromise and collapse of Type III and IV buildings continue to represent the leading types of collapse that contribute to significant firefighter injuries and line of duty deaths.
The ability to Read the Building, identify obvious and subtle features, conditions and indicators leading to collapse or compromise or the management and control of post collapse conditions is imperative.
Another critical operational factor is managing collapse zones and restricting access with consideration for degraded building conditions and the potential for multiple secondary collapse.
Are you up to speed with criteria for recognizing pre and post collapse indicators?
Do you have SOP/SOGs for collapse OPS?
Collapse Zones At a minimum:
Establish and maintain at a minimim a perimeter Collapse Management Zone (CMZ) of 1.5 x the building height.
Based on building type, height, materials of construction and type of projected collapse type – the potential for materials to travel beyond the CMZ is probable and should be assessed.
Safety Officers MUST maintain control to restrict access and to ensure companies are aware of potential for secondary collapse of compromised building features, assemblies or materials.
Maintain an acute high level of Situational Awareness, know your surroundings and don’t get tunnel vision on your task assignment.
Managing Collapse Zones
Great footage from Birmingham, AL at a three-alarm fire in a vacant building at 1811 1st Avene North with the peel away collapse of the upper wall on the Delta Division. Screenshot of collapse below with video link…
Light Weight construction has given way to Engineered Structural Systems (ESS) which in today’s evolving fireground, have an even more extensive array of performance, operational and integrity issues that affect a building’s performance under fire conditions.To unequivocally state that nothing has changed in buildings, occupancies, fire flow delivery rates and demands for increased proficiencies of our firefighters, company and command officers is absurd, ignorant and dangerous.
“It’s a lot more than just Stretching the Line…and going in….”
Building Knowledge=Firefighter Safety…so we can do our job—and that’s firefighting .Another classic illustration by Paul Combs.
If you’re planning on heading to the Fire Department Instructors Conference, FDIC in Indianapolis please consider making time to attend our classroom session. We’ll make sure we have a seat waiting for you. There’s a tremendous selection of offerings, check out the program listings HERE. If you’re not able to make the class, make sure you contact me if you’d like to chat, I’ll be there the entire week and would love to talk shop and share insights. Take a look at the FDIC site HERE for a complete listing of programs, offerings and activities. It’s an incredible experience and a must for all levels of experience and organizational affiliation.
Adaptive Fireground Strategies for Today’s Occupancies
Adaptive Fireground Strategies for Today’s Occupancies
Combat fire suppression and field operations are being impacted on a variety of levels with demands for increasing adaptability, expanding risk management, and modified tactical protocols. The focus in on the five fundamental core relationships of building construction, risk management, firefighter behaviors, incident operations, and situational safety. Firefighters, officers, and commanders will benefit from the latest insights into emerging fireground tactical theory for effective combat operations, operational excellence, and firefighter safety offered in this session.
Remembrance:Pittsburgh(PA) Bureau of Fire- Post Fire Collapse and Double LODD
NIOSH Report F2004-17: Career battalion chief and career master fire fighter die and twenty-nine career fire fighters are injured during a five alarm church fire -Pennsylvania.
On March 13, 2004, a 55-year-old male career Battalion Chief (Victim #1) and a 51-year-old male career master fire fighter (Victim #2) were fatally injured during a structural collapse at a church fire. Victim #1 was acting as the Incident Safety Officer and Victim #2 was performing overhaul, extinguishing remaining hot spots inside the church vestibule when the bell tower collapsed on them and numerous other fire fighters. Twenty-three fire fighters injured during the collapse were transported to area hospitals. A backdraft occurred earlier in the incident that injured an additional six fire fighters. The collapse victims were extricated from the church vestibule several hours after the collapse. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should
ensure that an assessment of the stability and safety of the structure is conducted before entering fire and water-damaged structures for overhaul operations
establish and monitor a collapse zone to ensure that no activities take place within this area during overhaul operations
ensure that the Incident Commander establishes the command post outside of the collapse zone
train fire fighters to recognize conditions that forewarn of a backdraft
ensure consistent use of personal alert safety system (PASS) devices during overhaul operations
ensure that pre-incident planning is performed on structures containing unique features such as bell towers
ensure that Incident Commanders conduct a risk-versus-gain analysis prior to committing fire fighters to an interior operation, and continue to assess risk-versus-gain throughout the operation including overhaul
develop standard operating guidelines (SOGs) to assign additional safety officers during complex incidents
provide interior attack crews with thermal imaging cameras
municipalities should enforce current building codes to improve the safety of occupants and fire fighters
Recommendation #1: Fire departments should ensure that an assessment of the stability and safety of the structure is conducted before entering fire and water-damaged structures for overhaul operations.
Discussion: Due to the destructive powers of fire, most structures that have been involved in fires are structurally weakened. In this incident, the structural integrity of the bell tower was weakened by a fire of several hours duration, the addition of thousands of gallons of water, and possibly the destructive effect of the backdraft. Analysis of the exterior of the structure should be performed continuously while conducting interior operations. Similarly, before overhaul operations are begun, the structure should be determined safe to work in by the IC and a designated Safety Officer. If necessary, the IC should seek the help of qualified structural experts or other competent persons to assess the need for the removal of dangerously weakened construction, or should make provisions for shoring up load-bearing walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, or as in this case, the bell tower.
Recommendation #2: Fire departments should establish and monitor a collapse zone to ensure that no activities take place within this area during overhaul operations.
Discussion: During fire operations, two rules exist about structural collapse: (1) the potential for structural failure always exists during and after a fire, and (2) a collapse danger zone must be established. A defensive attack was declared within an hour after fire suppression activities began. Part of a defensive strategy is establishing and moving fire fighters outside of the collapse zone.
A collapse zone is an area around and away from a structure in which debris might land if a structure fails. Immediate safety precautions must be taken if factors indicate the potential for a building collapse. All persons operating inside the structure must be evacuated immediately and a collapse zone should be established around the perimeter. The collapse zone area should be equal to the height of the building plus an additional allowance for debris scatter and at a minimum should be equal to 1½ times the height of the building. For example, since the bell tower was 115 feet high, the collapse zone boundary should be established at least 173 feet away from the church. Once a collapse zone has been established, the area should be clearly marked and monitored, to make certain that no fire fighters enter the danger zone.
Recommendation #3: Fire departments should ensure that the Incident Commander establishes the command post outside of the collapse zone.
In this incident, command suffered a serious lapse after the Incident Commander and several company officers were injured in the collapse. The command post from which the IC manages the fireground must be located in an area outside of the collapse zone. The IC must ensure that the command post is protected from danger so that an effective command structure is maintained throughout the incident.1, 5
March 10, 1941: The Strand Theater Fire turned from a routine fire into one of the worst tragedies in Brockton and Massachusetts history when the west section of the roof collapsed, killing 13 firefighters and injuring 20 firefighters.
Check out the comprehensive past post fromCommandSafety.com from 2011
The continuing importance of fire research and the strive to understand fire and its relationship to buildings, systems and firefighting operations is challenging long held beliefs and anecdotal basis; encouraging stimulating debate and discussions- resulting in thought provoking and insightful theories, positions statements and a time of retrospect and critical self-examination that will influence numerous facets of the fire service profession.
It’s not about NOT fighting fires, but rather fighting fires smarter.
Building Knowledge=Firefighter Safety.
The Art and Science of Fire Fighting – Buildingsonfire
Taking it the Streets: Reading the Building
Here’s a simple view from the Alpha street side. I’ll give you the options as to what you’re arrive on or as…Reading the Building requires numerous layers of knowledge and skill based attributes to develop the perspective to “read your buildings” differently.
Reading the Building: Occupancy Type and Occupancy Risk?
Arriving companies and personnel at a structure fire need to be able to rapidly and accurately identify key elements of a building, process that data based upon a widening field of variables present on today’s evolving fireground and implement timely actions that address prioritized actions requiring intervention.
Deterministic fireground models for size-up and suppression have to give way to a more expandable stochastic model of assessment. Key to this is having a broad and well developed foundation of building knowledge.
Let’s identify the building type, age, key features based on its profile, inherent characteristics, projected performance, roof system, perimeter walls, hazards, risks..etc. What is the Occupancy Type and Occupancy Risk?
There is a wealth of information you can talk about-IF you know what to look for. Start the dialog. I’ll post interior views in 48 hours.
I’ve cross posted to allow for some robust discussions. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.
Can you Read this building correctly? Or will your view have an adverse affect on operations if you misjudged or just didn’t know or care…just because ” you wanted to just stretch in and do the job-right?”
New for 2013: Reading the Building: Predictive Profiling for the Modern Fireground. An engaging and interactive Training Seminar addressing the Challenges of Today’s Evolving Fireground.
Been in the field lately looking at your buildings under construction? Here’s a new look at a common Engineered Structural Support (ESS) system.
Here’s today’s Taking it to the Streets session; Take a look at this Engineered Structural Support (ESS) system. There are two critical component systems depicted here in this photo- can you tell what they are? Take a close look at the ESS T…russ components. They are nothing new, but they do cause a stir when they make their way back into main stream fire service discussions as firefighters and officers “rediscover” these type of systems, their use, presence and operational risk and profiling.
So let’s start the dialog:
Can you name the type of ESS Truss, the inherent characteristics, design and function | typical applications | risks and operational concerns.
What impact will fire impingement have on the ESS assembly in either foor or roof systems?
How can you identify these assemblies and building characteristics unpon arrival?
What fireground strategies and tactics would you employ upon arrival at an occupancy with this type of ESS?
Don’t forget to look at the second system component that I mentioned earlier;
Can you identify it? Its relationship to the other system and other inherent performance issues?
Lots to talk about, look at and share. Any street stories to share-please post. I’ve got a few more in this series to post after we get some dialog and insights….
We’ve cross posted this on our BuildingsonfireFacebook page (HERE), if you haven’t checked it out, please follow the link, there’s been some great discussions and insights being shared from around the country…
Don’t forget to spread the word about Buildingsonfire.com \ CommandSafety.com and Buildingsonfire on FB…send the links along and like….Dont forget about CommandSafety on Twitter and Buildingsonfire on twitter also.
Firefighter Brian Carroll reflects on the 2011 Arlington Street Fire and Cold Storage Fire of 1999.
Firefighter Brian Carroll was trapped in the basement of 49 Arlington St. after the second-floor of the three-decker collapsed underneath him and his partner on Rescue 1. He thought his close friend was OK. Firefighter Carroll lay trapped and didn’t learn until after he was freed that Firefighter Davies had died.
“What happened to my brother, the three-decker collapsed in a way no one could predict,” Robert Davies said. “Certainly I think it serves as a lesson going forward, and even if it saves one life going forward, then at least something good came out of it.”
Firefighter Davies, who was 43 when he died, has a son, Jon D. Davies Jr., in the department now as a firefighter.
From the Worcester Telegram & Gazette; A cruel month for Worcester firefighters HERE
NIOSH REPORT Career Fire Fighter Dies and Another is Injured Following Structure Collapse at a Triple Decker Residential Fire – Massachusetts:HERE
On December 3, 1999, a five-alarm fire at the Worcester Cold Storage & Warehouse Co. building claimed the lives of six brave firefighters who responded to the call. These six heros, The Worcester 6, sacrificed their lives to try and rescue two individuals who were believed to be trapped inside the inferno. May the Worcester 6 always be remembered; “Fallen Heroes Never Forgotten.”
The 1942 Luongo’s Restaurant Fire and Collapse in East Boston; Six Boston Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths
Boston Fire Department Box 6153 Five Alarm November 15,1942
Boston Fire Department Box 6153 Five Alarm November 15,1942
A multiple alarm fire and collapse 70 years ago resulting in six Boston Firefighter LODDs was overshadowed by the Coconut Grove Fire which occurred 13 days later. Here’ the story and legacy.
The 1942 Luongo’s Restaurant Fire and Collapse in East Boston; Six Boston Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths
During the early morning hours of Sunday November 15, 1942, a still alarm followed by box alarm 6153 was received for a fire at 4-6 Henry Street located in the Old Armory Building at Maverick Square in East Boston (MA). The address was for a report of fire in the Luongo’s Restaurant. A fire broke out in the rear of Luongo’s Restaurant on the first floor at about 2:26 a.m. The Boston Fire- District #1 report stated the fire originated in the rear kitchen ceiling.
November 16, 1942 New York Times:
The following is a description of the fire from the November 16, 1942 New York Times: “The fire, starting from a fireless cooker in the cafe on the ground floor at Henry Street and Maverick Square, suddenly swept through the building.
The firemen who were killed had just entered a restaurant on the second floor with a line of hose. As the flames ate through the cross timbers the wall collapsed with a roar, burying two men on the stairs and crushing the three others manning the hose. That part of the wall which fell outward felled about forty firemen standing on the Henry Street side of the building beside the new $20,000 ladder truck, which was buried under the wreckage. At the same, a hot air explosion blew a half dozen firemen across Henry Street.”
The Luongo’s Restaurant was housed in what was called the Armory Building a five and one half story Type III Building of ordinary construction (Brick and joist) consisting of masonry bearing walls with approximate dimensions of 35 feet width x 60 feet depth x 65 foot height. The ensuing fire would spread to the exposure building at 10 Henry Street a three story 20 ft. X 40 ft. x 40 ft type III (brick and joist) structure.
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
Fire and Collapse
Upon arrival of the first alarm companies, the fire initially was commanded by Fire Captain Amsler, Ladder Co. 2. District Chief Crowley rapidly assumed command upon his arrival and directed initial fire suppression activities of the companies to interior operations and quickly ordered a second alarm at 03:04hours.
Command was subsequently transferred to Deputy Chief Louis Stickel who ordered a third alarm struck due to fire extension twenty minutes later.
Suppression, ventilation and rescue operations were conducted with the fire under control when at 04:15 hours with without warning, it was reported the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors began to collapse with the brick masonry wall on the Henry Street side collapsing outward into the street. Ladder Company 8, a new 125 ft. aerial ladder, the largest in the United States at the time was buried in the timber and brick rubble and collapse pile. It was reported that as many of 43 firefighters in the street were injured as a result of the collapse.
Search, Rescue and Recovery Efforts
The arrival of Chief of Department Samuel Pope ordered fourth and fifth alarms. This brought Engine Companies 40, 9, 5, 11, 50, 8, 32, 6, 39, 3, 33, 12, 13, 38, 21, 35, 37, 20, 16, 10, 42, 51, 19; Ladder Companies 2, 31, 21, 8 and 3.
First Alarm: 02:27 hrs.
Second Alarm: 03:05 hrs.
Third Alarm: 03:24 hrs.
Fourth Alarm: 04:20 hrs.
Fifth Alarm: 04:35 hrs.
With both extensive interior and exterior collapse conditions with numerous trapped and injured firefighters, rescue efforts and medical assistance was being rendered by all fire service, military, hospital and civilian resources. Local Coast Guardsman were deployed to support the massive search and rescue efforts.
Rescue and Recovery
Six Boston Firefighters were killed in the line of duty as a result of the collapse, all of whom were conducting operations and working on the second floor with hose lines.
Supreme Sacrifice in the Line of Duty:
Hoseman John F. Foley, Engine Company 3
57 years of age | 30 year veteran
Hoseman Edward F. Macomber, Engine Company 12
47 years of age | 24 year veteran
Hoseman Peter F. McMorrow, Engine Company 50
45 years of age | 19 year veteran
Hoseman Francis J. Degan, Engine Company 3
24 years of age | 15 month veteran
Ladderman Daniel E. McGuire, Ladder Company 2
44 years of age | 19 year veteran
Hoseman Malachi F. Reddington, Engine Company 33
48 years of age | 19 year veteran
The Department’s 125 foot “jinx” aerial ladder, reported to be the largest in the nation at that time, was standing beside the falling wall on Henry Street. It was buried in the wreckage. The ladder was originally purchased by the City of Somerville. They found upon delivery that it was too big for their firehouse. Boston bought it. The truck had a series of problems. (additional Story on the 1941 American La France 125′ metal aerial By William Noonan,HERE) Apparatus Info – See Bostonfirehistory.org HERE
Boston Ladder 8 1941 ALF 125 ft. Aerail Ladder Shop#207. Photo Courtesy BostonFireHistory.org
There was some speculation that due to the long ladder and wide bed, the large ladder might have caused the wall collapse. This theory was later ruled out. In fact, some of the firefighters who were on the ladder at the time of the collapse, credit the ladder bed with saving their lives. When the granite and debris began falling, they lay down in the bed and the rubble slid down over them to the street.
Many felt that this was the end to the ladder. But, it was repaired and returned to service in South Boston as Ladder 19. Tragedy would continue to haunt this piece of apparatus. On December 3, 1947, Ladder 19 was out of service conducting tests on its brakes when it overturned and rolled. Provisional Firefighter Joseph B. Sullivan, on the job for less than six months, was killed. The Department took the truck out of service and scrapped
As with many of these incidents, the men involved came from different backgrounds and circumstances that put them on that second floor that fateful night.
Edward Macomber was the father of eight children and considered to be one of the best firefighters in the department according to his superior officers. He was a member of the department for 28 years, and had been injured while on duty more than seven times.
Francis Degan, at age 24 was one of the youngest members of the Boston Fire Department at the time. He had been on the job only 19 months prior to November 15th. His officers thought that the young fireman was well on his way to becoming an officer. Young Degan took great pride in being a firefighter and realized his life’s ambition when he was appointed to the department to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was attached to Ladder Company 1.
John Foley, a hoseman on Engine Company 3, had been a member of the department for more than 30 years. He was planning to retire in a short time. In a tragic case of irony , Firefighter Foley should have been on a day off at the time of the fire, but had changed his schedule in order to get some time off later.
World War 1 veteran Pete McMorrow was a bachelor member of Engine Company 50 and was loved by many of the school children of Charlestown. He had served in the Navy in the first war and was telling his closest pals that he might just be going back to serve again. At age 46, he had carried the colors of the Boston Fireman’s Post #94, American Legion, through downtown Boston. While trapped in the debris for eleven hours, McMorrow’s fellow company members crawled into the space where he lay to tell him to hang on and they’d get him out soon. Throughout the early morning and into the next day the rescue efforts continued. However, when they were finally able to get to McMorrow, it was too late.
This fire and the subsequent six firefighter line of duty deaths were overshadowed by the Cocoanut Grove Fire which occurred only 13 days later on November 28, 1942.
Memorial, Dedication, and Reception
On Thursday November 15, 2012 the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and theBoston Fire Department will be conducting aMemorial, Dedication, and Reception in Recognition of the 70th Anniversary of the Luongo Fire at Maverick Square, East Boston.
The event is scheduled from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at 20 Maverick Square, Boston, MA.
Video: Former Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Christian shares the story of the little-known Luongo fire as well as that of the 8-alarm Thanksgiving Day Fire of 1889. November has been a tragic month in Boston’s fire history. On November 15, 1942, a fire started in the back room of the Luongo Restaurant.
Collapse Scene from Maverick Square
Boston Fire Department 125 ft. Aerial Ladder on Henry Street Side
Fire Department Journal Luongo Restaurant Fire, HERE
Aerial Image of current property block in East Boston (MA). Bing Maps Image
Historical Note: Three and a half story high, with granite faced and brick exterior walls, the interior wooden joisted building at the corner of Henry Street and Maverick Square in 1942 was one of the oldest buildings in East Boston. It was typical of mid 19th century Boston commercial construction. In accounts of the fire it is frequently referred to as “Old Armory Hall”. “Armory Hall” is the name by which it was known in the early years of the 20th century. That building however never was actually an armory as such. There once was an armory in East Boston. It was located at the corner of Maverick and Bremen Streets in a wooden building that preceded the still standing brick Overseers of the Public Welfare Building. The building in which the “Luongo Fire” occurred was built sometime before 1858. It was known originally as “Ritchie Hall” likely from the name of its owner.
Armory Hall Building is to the left of Photo – Circa 1910
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Nothing is ever routine;…… pause to reflect and remember the demands of the job and the inherent risks and the sacrifices made each and every day in this noble profession of the fire service.
Another beloved brother firefighter’s sacrifice, protecting the citizens of his great city.
Chicago Captain Herbert Johnson, 54, suffered second- and third-degree burns during fire suppression operations being conducted in the attic of the residential house at 2315 West 50th Place, according to Chicago FD officials and published media reports. The 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department died Friday night after he and another firefighter were injured in a blaze that spread quickly through the 2-1/2 story wood frame house. The second firefighter injured was reported in good condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a department spokeswoman.
Captain Johnson, was promoted from lieutenant this summer and was assigned to Engine Co. 123 in Back of the Yards Section of Chicago for the night tour but normally worked all around the city.
Companies were called to the 2-1/2-story wood frame house at 17:15 hours on Friday evening. During initial fire suppression operations, a mayday for a trapped firefighter was communicated around 17:30 hours. Immediate RIT and rescue deployments brought the Captain and the other firefighter out of the structure.
Research identifies the residential occupancy building as being built in 1896 (age 116 years) and constructed of a common balloon framing system (type V wood) with a wood gable roofing system. Published photographs suggests that both original wood sheathing and shinges were present with some new outer sheathing materials being added and renovated at some point with some OSB type sheathing installed with rigid insulation boards and an outer vinyl siding system. Records indicate the house was approximately 2000 square feet in size and measured approximately 20 ft. x 60 ft. County documents indicated the roofing system was an asphalt shinge system on a wood plank deck. Post event photopraphs depict the typical framing system components, wall and roof system and collapsed materials.
The firefighters may have been caught in a flashover within the attic compartment according to early reports according to reports from department spokesman Larry Langford. “This fire is under investigation, and our main concern right now is the family,” said Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, Santiago was joined at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Johnson died in the emergency room, by officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Captain Johnson was the first Chicago firefighter killed fighting a fire since two firefighters, FF Edward Stringer and FF Corey Ankum died battling a blaze at an abandoned South Shore laundry in December 2010. (see previous CommandSafety.com coverage HERE and HERE)
Published reports poignantly stated the following;
“On behalf of the people of the City of Chicago, I want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson, who tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice while battling a blaze early this evening,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement. “As we mourn Captain Johnson, we are all reminded of the dangerous job and selfless work of our brave firefighters. Being a firefighter is not simply a job, but a call to serve the public and greater good. In his 32 years protecting Chicago, Captain Johnson certainly exemplified the best traits in firefighters everywhere.”
Chicago ABC 7 News
Division A Streetside Photo by Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Division A, Street View Typical 2.5 story Wood Frame Residential – Google Street Maps.
“On behalf of the people of the City of Chicago, I want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson, who tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice while battling a blaze early this evening,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement.
“As we mourn Captain Johnson, we are all reminded of the dangerous job and selfless work of our brave firefighters. Being a firefighter is not simply a job, but a call to serve the public and greater good. ”
“In his 32 years protecting Chicago, Captain Johnson certainly exemplified the best traits in firefighters everywhere.”
Chicago firefighter Herbert Johnson, left, poses with Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, right, after Johnson was promoted to the rank of captain. Johnson died from injuries sustained while fighting a house fire on the South Side. — Chicago Fire Department
Construction Insights for Typical Gabled Roof Attic with enclosed knee wall voids (typical examples)Occupied or Storage Attic Space Enclosure
Common attic spaces in buildings constructed of balloon framing systems may have the presence of knee wall voids or may have open ridge to eave
Knee wall spaces may be open to the compartment or may be enclosed and used for storage resulting in significant concentrated fire load. Inherent travel paths for fire due to non-fire stopped voids at the wall/eave interface results in concentrated fire impingement and degradation that can lead to isolated or catastrophic system failure and assembly collapse.
Age deterioration over many decades will commonly affect the structural integrity of the collar beams to maintain the structural stability of the roofing rafter system in the attic space. Renovations and alterations may also create operational risk hazards for conducting operations within fire induced attic compartments due to the absence of collar beams that further create unstable structural conditions to flame or heat affected roof components and systems.
Typical Enclosed Attic Voids and Kneewalls
Common Rafter Roof Framing Details- Buildingsonfire.com
Common Rafter Roof Framing Details- Buildingsonfire.com
Common Wood Gable Rafter Framing System- Buildingsonfire.com
Typcial Balloon Framing System with Gable Rafter Roof Framing- Buildingsonfire.com
Don’t neglect to be observant of construction features in contemporary construction such as this attic in a modular prefabricated residential house. Photo by CJ Naum
New NIST Strategic Roadmap Aims to Reduce the Nation’s Preventable Fire Burden by a Third
Fires claim more than 3,000 lives a year, injure more than 90,000 firefighters and civilians, and impose costs and losses totaling more than $300 billion—equivalent to about 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Fire researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) believe that the devastating annual toll can be significantly reduced over the next two decades. Even better, they have a plan that prioritizes and details the research and other work needed to enable that goal.
Crafted with input from fire service organizations, standards and building-code developers, equipment manufacturers, insurers and others, NIST’s newly issued “strategic roadmap“* lays out a clear technological course for reducing the risk of fire in buildings and communities. It calls for tackling the nation’s fire problem on three fronts:
Reducing fire hazards in buildings,
Advancing firefighter technologies, and
Reducing the risk of fire in communities bordering forests and “wildlands.”
The new roadmap is NIST’s most comprehensive effort to establish fire-risk reduction goals for its programs since the influential America Burning report was published in the mid-1970s.
In response to that report, Congress established a center for fire research at NIST. The report’s recommendations served as goals for attacking the nation’s fire problem. Over the last several decades, research-enabled advances have paid off with improvements in fire safety and related benefits.
For example, results of fire research have led to standards for children’s sleepwear, automatic sprinklers, reduced-ignition-propensity cigarettes, modernized building codes, and computer models that can predict the behavior of fire, smoke and toxic products.
Since the early 1980s, the number of fires has been cut by more than half and the fire-caused civilian deaths and injuries have been reduced by nearly half.
“The nation has made major progress in improving fire safety over the last few decades due to the combined and concerted efforts of many organizations,” says Shyam Sunder, director of NIST’s Engineering Laboratory. “But fire losses are still too high, and there are new and potentially costly threats to fire safety that are emerging in communities across the country. At the same time, advances in materials, computing and other technologies present opportunities to launch a new wave of improvements in fire protection and safety.”
Reflecting NIST’s unique technical support role, the new roadmap sets targets for new measurement capabilities that underpin innovation in fire-risk-reducing technologies and best practices. These advanced capabilities are required to overcome technical hurdles that stand in the way of nascent or current technologies with the potential to deliver a wide range of fire safety benefits. These range from earlier fire detection and fire-safety improvements in the design and construction of buildings and communities, to better firefighting equipment and tactics, to more effective approaches to preventing and responding to “wildland-urban interface” fires, a rapidly growing national fire problem.
The new NIST roadmap sets short, medium and long-term goals—from fewer than three years to more than eight—for eliminating these gaps and accomplishing the overall objective of reducing the nation’s fire burden by a third. The publication is available at www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=909653.
To commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, NOVA presented an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. With extraordinary access granted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, “Engineering Ground Zero” follows the five-year construction of One World Trade Center (1 WTC) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. This is an encore presentation originally aired on 09/07/2011.
NOVA captures the behind-the-scenes struggle of architects and engineers to make the buildings safe and highly secure under the pressures of a tight schedule, the demands of practical office space and efficient “green” architecture, and the public’s expectations of a fitting site for national remembrance. The program features interviews with 1 WTC architect David Childs; Chris Ward, the Port Authority’s executive director; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation; and Michael Arad, the man behind the breakthrough concept for the 9/11 Memorial.
Without understanding the building-occupancy relationships and integrating; construction, occupancies, fire dynamics and fire behavior, risk, analysis, the art and science of firefighting, safety conscious work environment concepts and effective and well-informed incident command management, company level supervision and task level competencies…You are derelict and negligent and "not "everyone may be going home".
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past conventional construction; risk assessment, strategies and tactics must change to address these new rules of structural fire engagement. There is a need to gain the building construction knowledge and insights and to change and adjust operating profiles in order to safe guard companies, personnel and team compositions. It's all about understanding the building-occupancy relationships and the art and science of firefighting, Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety (Bk=F2S)
The Newest radio show on FireFighter Netcast.com at Blogtalk Radio… Taking it to the Streets with Christopher Naum. On the Air Monthly on Firefighter Netcast.com. A Buildingsonfire.com Series and Firefighter Netcast.com Production. Advancing Firefighter Safety and Operational Integrity for the Fire Service through provocative insights and dynamic discussions dedicated to the Art and Science of Firefighting and the Traditions of the Fire Service.