FDNY Bronx Fire 1968

From the Vault:
July 27, 1968 Bronx firefighters battle a blaze that started on Elliot Place, spread along Jerome Avenue and into East 170th Street. An aggressive attempt was made to cut off the fast spreading blaze by making a stand in a supermarket. The supermarket ceiling collapsed injuring three firefighters. Regrouping, it took several hours, four alarms and the Super Pumper to extinguish the fire. In all 23 members were injured.

The Equitable Building Fire 1912

From the Vault:
January 9, 1912 Five alarms and a Borough Call responded to Manhattan Box 24, the Equitable Building, at Broadway, Cedar, Pine and Nassau Streets. It took up the entire square block. Chief John Kenlon and Commissioner Joseph Johnson watch as FDNY firemen battle the flames and the freezing temperatures. Battalion Chief Walsh lost his life when the building collapsed. Five members were awarded medals for their heroic actions at this monumental blaze.

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FDNY Rescue 1 Quarters Destroyed

From the Vault:
Spectacular photo by John Lee Gill of the 10-alarm fire that destroyed the quarters of Rescue 1 on Jan. 23, 1985 on West 43rd Street in Manhattan.. This was a verbal alarm transmitted by off-duty members of Rescue 1. Box 798 was transmitted at 1926 hours. At the fire’s height flames were venting out more than 80 windows. This 2nd shot was taken by Harvey Eisner, (a great friend, writer & photographer- miss you!) It shows the flames leaping from every window of the former piano factory. The building was 90 X 125-feet eight-stories high. That night the neighborhood truly was “Hell’s Kitchen!”  Paul Hashagen

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FDNY Before Go Pro!

From the Vault: Before Go Pro!
Here is an interesting shot of an NBC camera man filming a Rescue 1 “response” for the Du Pont Show of the Week television series. The episode “Fire Rescue” aired on Sunday night September 30, 1962. The film crew shadowed the rescue firemen for three months and caught film of a huge 5-alarm fire in the Bond’s Clothing Store in Jamaica. (Rescue 4, 2 & 1 operated). Ah several Go Pros and suction cups would have gone a long way! www.saltydogapparel.com


Salty Staches

​Why do so many firefighters have moustaches? The story is really quite simple. Before the days of the self contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, firefighters had to come up with a way to prevent the inhalation of potentially toxic smoke. Firefighters would grow large moustaches and would dunk them in water before entering a structure that was on fireand would only breath through their nose. The wet moustache would essentially act as a filter. As time progressed so did technology and now firefighters have elaborate and expensive equipment to protect their lungs from harmful smoke. However, no matter what new piece of equipment is introduced the tradition lives on…”

Third Alarm Fire FDNY

This 3 alarm fire at Manhattan Box 99 occurred in the same area ravaged by the Great Fire of 1835 (where 600 buildings destroyed). This December 23, 1923 blaze was ignited by a pile of oily rags left by painters inside this eight-story building at 321 Pearl Street. The danger of the flames spreading was so great that Deputy Chief James Heffernan requested all apparatus south of Delancey Street to the scene. Due to the determined actions of the chief and his men the fire was contained. Firemen are seen here operating lines from the elevated subway tracks and working on fire escapes.


How FDNY got their Bravest nickname

New York’s Fire Department can trace their Bravest
nickname back to French military commander Michel Ney, the ‘bravest of the brave’

New York City’s smoke-eaters have earned their nickname a thousand times over since it was first applied to them in the late 1800s — but its origins may have more to do with the military than firefighting.

According to historians, the “bravest of the brave” was a Frenchman named Michel Ney, a fearsome and formidable foe on the battlefield who waged war alongside Napoleon from 1803 to 1815, during the Napoleonic Wars.


Ney was known to his troops as “Le Rougeaud,” or the red-faced one. But after one particularly daunting stretch of warfare, the Emperor dubbed him “le brave des braves.”

It might never have been attached to the FDNY if it weren’t for their brothers in blue, the NYPD.

As early as 1874, the city’s police force was being referred to as the “Finest,” according to historian and author Barry Popik.

The nickname is most commonly traced to Police Chief George Matsell, who once declared that he would make “the finest police force in the world.”

By the early 1880s, a play about cops titled “One of the Finest” cemented the name, Popik said. Not to be outdone, firefighters soon began referring to some of their most heralded members as the “Bravest.”

In 1862 a newspaper article saluted Capt. John Downey as “the bravest of the brave.”

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In 1886, a play appeared about city firemen called “One of the Bravest” — which pretty much sealed it in the eyes of the public and among the rank-and-file.

Before long, city dwellers were lining up to buy tickets to what became annual baseball games between the “Finest” and the “Bravest,” Popik said.

FDNY Squirts

From the Vault:
Say, I didn’t know they had one of those…
This is an unusual photo showing one of the two Mack pumpers the FDNY purchased in 1970 that were equipped with 54-foot “Squirts”. This fire was in August of 1971. The Squirts did not catch on.