December 1960 Plane Crash

2014-04-28 13.46.08 10653684_613241015447323_5314456593887027808_n 10846304_613236035447821_3944249869862158673_n

December 16, 1960-
At 10:34, on a foggy morning, two planes collided over NYC. One plane crashed at Miller Field in Staten Island. The second plane, struggled to stay aloft only to crash into one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city: Park Slope in Brooklyn. A wing clipped an apartment house as the plane drove into the street and a row of buildings at Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue. An elderly man startled by the crash, pulled the fire alarm box sending Engines 269, 280 & 219 along with Ladders 105 & 132 to Box 1231. The first due units arrived quickly to find 11 buildings in flames. Within minutes Battalion 48 had transmitted a 2nd & 3rd alarms. Lt. Bush of L-105 split his men and tried to cover the flaming fuselage of the plane and a blazing apartment building. As the officer and his team crawled into the burning building, Firemen Rogan & Dailey entered the blazing plane armed with only extinguishers. As Dailey held back the flames, Rogan cut two people from their seats and pulled them from the blazing wreckage. Amazingly the passengers were still alive.
Inside the apartment, heavy fire was filling the first and fifth floors as jet fuel fed flames burned up the outside and in through broken windows and gaps in the damaged structure. Fireman Browne found an elderly woman and together with Lt. Bush carried her to safety. They then found and removed an injured man just as the flaming building collapsed. Within ten minutes of the initial alarm, a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th alarms and special calls for Rescue 1 & 4 had been transmitted. The plane’s fuselage crashed into the Pillar of Fire Church which was completely destroyed by the resulting fire and explosions. Engine companies stretched lines and began battling the row of buildings set ablaze by flaming jet fuel.
The neighborhood was now in a complete panic. Mothers and their children fled from their homes onto the snowy streets. Others opened their doors to a wall of flames and had to escape through the rear. Rumors a school with 1500 students inside had been hit, only increased the drama. (Luckily the school was okay).
Despite the intense heat, and tottering walls, Rescue, Squad and Laddermen moved into the blazing areas covered by attack lines. Team after team advanced across the shattered debris and into the raging fires. In all 38 lines were stretched and operated. Thirty one engines, six ladder companies, three rescue companies, and four special units operated at this fire.
When the smoke finally cleared, the toll was devastating: 84 passengers on the Brooklyn plane were killed. Six people on the ground were killed, fifteen civilians and seventeen firemen were injured. In Staten Island all 44 people on the plane had been killed.
In Brooklyn, 200 off-duty firemen responded and worked at the scene. The firefighting and recovery efforts at this, the worst commercial airline crash (at that time), would go on for several days.
For the next several days members of the FDNY combed the wreckage of the crashed airliner, and searched the shattered neighborhood buildings. Pockets of fire were extinguished as the devastation left behind became evident. The six people killed on the ground were: an elderly church caretaker, a sanitation worker shoveling snow, two men selling Christmas trees on the sidewalk, a butcher in his shop and a man walking his dog.
A total of 134 people had lost their lives.
For their heroic rescues upon arrival, Lt. Bush, Firemen Browne, Dailey and Rogan of Ladder 105 were later awarded medals. John Rogan was also treated at the hospital for second degree burns.

Paul Hashagen

The Equitable Building Fire

January 9, 1912 . Five alarms and a Borough Call. Numerous heroic rescues, millions of dollars in damage and six lives lost, including Battalion Chief Walsh. The square block, interconnected composite structure (actually made up of several buildings) proved to be one of the most difficult and dangerous fires the FDNY has ever faced. More of the “chilling” photos to come. Brrrrr!


Wearing their Fire Helmets backwards…

Why are these Dogs wearing their helmets backwards… …..Read on….

 Jacobus Turck of New York City is credited with inventing the first fire cap around 1740. It was round with a high crown and narrow rim and was made of leather. A man named Mathew DuBois improved the design by sewing iron wire into the edge of the brim to give the helmet shape and strength, and provide resistance to heat, moisture, and warping.

The more familiar “modern” helmet was developed between 1821 and 1836, by a gentleman named Henry T. Gratacap, a luggage maker by trade, and a volunteer firefighter by choice. He brought his professional skills to his volunteer duty, creating a helmet made of leather that was specially treated to provide unequalled durability and withstand wetness without rotting – many of the same qualities he’d built into his successful luggage designed for ocean travel.

Moreover, Gratacap designed the first “eight comb” (a design composed of eight segments) fire helmet. It was named the “New Yorker” and officially adopted by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) in the late 1800s. Made of Western cowhide a quarter-inch thick, the peaked shape was reinforced with leather strips which rise like Gothic arches inside the crown.

The Gratacap design also introduced the long duckbill, or beavertail, which sticks out at the rear. While the original purpose was to keep water from running down the firefighter’s neck, these helmets were sometimes worn backwards so the beavertail would protect its wearer from the searing heat encountered while fighting fire. Some early Tillermen would also wear them backwards to protect their faces from rain and snow, since they were exposed to the elements in their seat at the back of the aerial ladder trucks.

Later, the Cairns Brothers, who operated a metal badge, button and insignia company in New York City, offered a useful modification – mounting an identification badge to the front of Gratacap’s helmets. Sometime around 1825, a more ornamental touch was added, an eagle was mounted atop the crest. The idea for the eagle derived from a cemetery monument for a firefighter that had been created by a sculptor; there was no history or significance to it, but it captured the imagination and fancy of firefighters and so became part of the Leather Helmet story.

Gratacap and the Cairns Brothers worked together until Gratacap’s retirement in 1850, at which time a renamed Cairns & Brother took over the legacy and continued to lead the development of firefighter helmet technology.



Five-story loft building collapse-Feb. 18, 1963

Feb. 18, 1963. At 2:43 in the afternoon, a water tank on the roof of a five-story loft building collapsed and fell six stories into the basement. The plunging tank pulled the flooring and equipment on each floor with it into the basement. Box 308 was transmitted and Brooklyn companies raced to 61 Clymer St. With reports of a man pinned in the wreckage Fireman Bethel of Ladder 119 entered the dangerous collapse area. Bethel worked his way through the fallen timbers and debris. He found the imprisoned man, then sawed through a beam freeing him. He carefully lifted the man to safety.
For his heroic actions Fireman Bethel was awarded an FDNY medal of valor.10906310_624725727632185_8561194004835804313_n

Manhattan subway fire January 6 1915

One Hundred Years Ago- Today:
It was 8 in the morning on January 6, 1915, when Manhattan fire alarm Box 570 was transmitted for a fire in the subway. Units rushed to Broadway and 53rd Street where they encountered a major fire and emergency.
A relatively small fire originated in a splicing chamber where numerous electric cables were collected. These cables were covered with inflammable insulating materials including combinations of cotton and tars. The fire was limited to these cables, but a thick, noxious and deadly smoke filled the subway tube for blocks. Arriving FDNY units, without the benefit of breathing protection, entered the smoke filled subway to locate the fire and remove the thousands of people stuck within the dark smoky subterranean tunnel.
As the fire burned, clouds of thick smoke laced with phosgene and chlorine gas filled the tracks and station. Thousands of rush hour passengers were choking and gasping for breath. Two trains were stalled in the tunnel between stations and firemen pressed into the deadly mixture in search of those trapped. Above, every effort was made to ventilate the tracks below. Gratings were removed along the sidewalks to help elevate the noxious smoke. A second alarm was transmitted and then 200 additional firemen, without apparatus were called to the scene.
Despite the best efforts of the firemen, a panic swept through many passengers only making matters worse. In all more than 200 people were rescued and hospitalized. One person died and dozens of firemen were overcome by the smoke.
Tomorrow: The FDNY’s answer to this new and deadly problem.10868095_626227187482039_2010415101360450188_n 10924384_626227184148706_6221901532479358604_o 10915302_626227357482022_6806716771833514396_n