GLORY DAYS VIGNETTES

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May 28, 2020
Messages
282
In Brownsville they never bothered to use the blinds on the tinned up windows because nobody of any importance dared to venture there. That's why during the war years Brooklyn got very little press, although we were as busy as the Bronx. The buildings along the Cross Bronx Expressway that were tinned up to make them look like occupied buildings, was because of all the traffic from other states and they didn't want people to know that it was a ghetto they were passing through.
 
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Messages
1,081
FIRE ESCAPES

(Summer 1983). Another hot, sweltering sticky day in the Bronx, hydrants run full blast as the odor of decaying garbage mixed with hot tar fumes from the street permeates the soupy air. Engine 88 has been assigned to the second alarm for a vacant tenement fire at Jerome Avenue near Fordham Road. I’m behind the wheel for the day and in the process of hooking up to a hydrant on Jerome Avenue under the elevated train rumbling overhead. Focused on opening the hydrant to flush, my handy-talkie radio bursts aloud with an excited command; “MAN DOWN, WE NEED EMS FORTHWITH”. Usually a Mayday radio transmission but there is no need for the Mayday to garner attention from the command post, a member has plummet from the fire escape directly in front onto the sidewalk.

The member is E 88 Probationary Firefighter Mike who was operating on the front fire escape second floor landing and unwittingly stepped backwards through the drop ladder opening, and crashed to the sidewalk below.

In New York City fire escapes are archetypal of the city’s landscape. New Yorkers have been using fire escapes to sit outside, hang clothes to dry, storage space for bicycles, growing potted plants and more. After many horrific fatal fires in tenements and especially the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire during the 1800’s, NYC required wrought iron fire escapes to be properly affixed to tenements.

Over time, fire escapes exposed to weather for over 100 years have weakened and rust. Attached to buildings with bolts, the rust eats through components and can cause failure when weight or an impact load is placed on a stair tread, weld piece or landing.

The FDNY relies on the useful advantages of fire escapes and employs them within various procedures. Engine companies can use fire escapes to stretch additional handlines, the Outside Vent firefighter will use the fire escape as a platform to perform vent entry and search, and the Roof firefighter may use the fire escape as a last resort to gain access to the roof.

Random thoughts:
  1. When lowering the drop ladder with a hook, stand beneath the fire escape, should the drop ladder become detached from the track it will fall away instead of on top of you, but make sure that area is clear as well. (Be aware, corrosion or paint may prevent the ladder from sliding down the track).
  2. When climbing the drop ladder; ensure you maintain a constant grip on the rails of the ladder and climb slowly and deliberately. Place the hook high on the ladder, no need to carry.
  3. Climb fire escape steps with feet closer to the edge of the step stringer and not in the weaker middle part of the tread.
  4. Firefighters should be forewarned coming upon broken steps for other defected features.
  5. Members MUST be familiarized with self contained breathing apparatus “reduced profile” maneuver. Many fire escapes are extremely narrow and actuating a reduced profile will be your only option to pass through.
  6. Do not lean against any railing.
  7. Before climbing the gooseneck ladder to the roof which is usually located in the rear of the structure, the firefighter should vigorously tug it from the wall to ascertain stability and climb sliding hands along the beam for continuous contact.

Laddering fire escapes:
  1. Place a portable ladder alongside the fire escape on the structure. Ladder should extend 1-3 feet above the fire escape railing.
  2. Never place the weight of an aerial ladder onto the fire escape.

Rescuing People from overcrowded Fire Escape:
  1. Place a portable ladder opposite the drop ladder to alleviate overcrowding on the second floor landing.
  2. If an additional ladder is needed, place ladder to the second balcony above the drop ladder against structure 1-3 feet above railing.
  3. (TIP) If necessary to control uncooperating tenants evacuating, consider climbing inside the drop ladder, swing around to access the second floor landing.

Operating on and around fire escapes is a paramount concern for firefighter safety, there are numerous instances where firefighters have been severely injured, even when they were very careful. Fire escapes are an accident waiting to happen.

Thankfully Mike returned to work and became a stellar member of L 38 and completed a super career.

Photo by Mike Dick, from "Into the Smoke with NYs Bravest". Thanks Mike.


Fire escape1.jpg
 
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Joined
Feb 7, 2012
Messages
213
Johnny, your "Break out the Banjoes" photo remindes me of a shot that Harvey Eisner once took - it may still be on E94's kitchen wall, but definitely in one of his albums. There was a ripping job in a vacant on Kelly & Intervale. At the end, the chief gave both companies an hour. As they were leaving, a vacant broke out at the other end of Kelly near 163. As companies were heard responding in, the guys all posed smiling in a row with their 6 ft. hooks with fire coming out 3 windows behind them. Great shot!
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
3,205
Always hated BI, did a lotta Harlem shuckin' & jivin' during those 3 hr. stints, but ALWAYS made sure we checked out the condition of tenement fire escapes. Goose neck secure! Treads rusted, loose or missing, etc! Don't overcrowd FE! Always remembered a tip from old timer, when descending FE, go down facing the steps in case tread breaks or is missing (fall into FE rather than off)
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2014
Messages
16,477
Always hated BI, did a lotta Harlem shuckin' & jivin' during those 3 hr. stints, but ALWAYS made sure we checked out the condition of tenement fire escapes. Goose neck secure! Treads rusted, loose or missing, etc! Don't overcrowd FE! Always remembered a tip from old timer, when descending FE, go down facing the steps in case tread breaks or is missing (fall into FE rather than off)
Meet anyone famous on BI Dan....... I feel like that would be a cool topic
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
3,205
Meet anyone famous on BI Dan....... I feel like that would be a cool topic
Butterfly McQueen (Gone With the Wind) lived in Brownstone in our 1st due response area, but never did meet nor see her. Should ask JohnnyG, I'm sure he met a few "famous" people in the days he was hobnobbing down in Greenwich Village (L5)!!!

Relocating to Mid-town once, we saw John McEnroe (without body guard!!!) jogging on CPW, he wasn't known for being a nice guy on the tennis court, honked the horn and he actually waved back.
 
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Joined
Apr 23, 2018
Messages
1,081
Woody Harrelson used to be a regular, he'd come in late at night from a bender and hang out in the HW to chat. After a while we had to throw him out. Michael Broderick and Jessica Parker lived around the corner from the firehouse as did rocker Joe Jackson (Steppin' out./ Is she really go out with him) and we saw them daily. Sandra Berhard gave me the finger crossing in front of L 5 while we were stopped at a light. We had an odor of smoke investigation at comedian David Brenner's townhouse...one of the guys unknowingly stepped in dog $hit and tracked it up the white carpet stairs of hs home, his wife went ballistic when she found out. A few days After 9/11 I sat with Harrison Ford in L 10's kitchen, he stopped in to have coffee with us and pay his respects. Spotted Chuck Schumer the day after his first election to the Senate walking through SOHO with his family. When Mario Batali was a rising star he invited me and my wife to his resturant Po after we did BI in a building nearby. (We went, place was packed to the gills and were treated very well). Rode the subway with Chris Noth, actor on Law and Order as Det Mike Logan.

While a firefighter in DC, I met Sen John Glenn at my firehouse when we received recognition of "Company of the Year". Later Sen. John Warner who was married to Elizabeth Taylor at the time when they both attended the election of Ronald Reagan Senators Ballroom party as a "fire guard".

But meeting Mr. Willy was by far the best!

20210414_174508-1.jpg
 
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Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
5,659
Woody Harrelson used to be a regular, he'd come in late at night from a bender and hang o

But meeting Mr. Willy was by far the best!

View attachment 28131

Great Stories Dan, "johnny gage", plus an excellent quote too.

Quote:
"BUT MEETING MR WILLY WAS BY FAR THE BEST" ! ! !

Thanks Dan, that's exactly how I was hoping you would say it.
THANK YOU BROTHER
 

mack

Administrator
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
13,431
FIRE ESCAPES

(Summer 1983). Another hot, sweltering sticky day in the Bronx, hydrants run full blast as the odor of decaying garbage mixed with hot tar fumes from the street permeates the soupy air. Engine 88 has been assigned to the second alarm for a vacant tenement fire at Jerome Avenue near Fordham Road. I’m behind the wheel for the day and in the process of hooking up to a hydrant on Jerome Avenue under the elevated train rumbling overhead. Focused on opening the hydrant to flush, my handy-talkie radio bursts aloud with an excited command; “MAN DOWN, WE NEED EMS FORTHWITH”. Usually a Mayday radio transmission but there is no need for the Mayday to garner attention from the command post, a member has plummet from the fire escape directly in front onto the sidewalk.

The member is E 88 Probationary Firefighter Mike who was operating on the front fire escape second floor landing and unwittingly stepped backwards through the drop ladder opening, and crashed to the sidewalk below.

In New York City fire escapes are archetypal of the city’s landscape. New Yorkers have been using fire escapes to sit outside, hang clothes to dry, storage space for bicycles, growing potted plants and more. After many horrific fatal fires in tenements and especially the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire during the 1800’s, NYC required wrought iron fire escapes to be properly affixed to tenements.

Over time, fire escapes exposed to weather for over 100 years have weakened and rust. Attached to buildings with bolts, the rust eats through components and can cause failure when weight or an impact load is placed on a stair tread, weld piece or landing.

The FDNY relies on the useful advantages of fire escapes and employs them within various procedures. Engine companies can use fire escapes to stretch additional handlines, the Outside Vent firefighter will use the fire escape as a platform to perform vent entry and search, and the Roof firefighter may use the fire escape as a last resort to gain access to the roof.

Random thoughts:
  1. When lowering the drop ladder with a hook, stand beneath the fire escape, should the drop ladder become detached from the track it will fall away instead of on top of you, but make sure that area is clear as well. (Be aware, corrosion or paint may prevent the ladder from sliding down the track).
  2. When climbing the drop ladder; ensure you maintain a constant grip on the rails of the ladder and climb slowly and deliberately. Place the hook high on the ladder, no need to carry.
  3. Climb fire escape steps with feet closer to the edge of the step stringer and not in the weaker middle part of the tread.
  4. Firefighters should be forewarned coming upon broken steps for other defected features.
  5. Members MUST be familiarized with self contained breathing apparatus “reduced profile” maneuver. Many fire escapes are extremely narrow and actuating a reduced profile will be your only option to pass through.
  6. Do not lean against any railing.
  7. Before climbing the gooseneck ladder to the roof which is usually located in the rear of the structure, the firefighter should vigorously tug it from the wall to ascertain stability and climb sliding hands along the beam for continuous contact.

Laddering fire escapes:
  1. Place a portable ladder alongside the fire escape on the structure. Ladder should extend 1-3 feet above the fire escape railing.
  2. Never place the weight of an aerial ladder onto the fire escape.

Rescuing People from overcrowded Fire Escape:
  1. Place a portable ladder opposite the drop ladder to alleviate overcrowding on the second floor landing.
  2. If an additional ladder is needed, place ladder to the second balcony above the drop ladder against structure 1-3 feet above railing.
  3. (TIP) If necessary to control uncooperating tenants evacuating, consider climbing inside the drop ladder, swing around to access the second floor landing.

Operating on and around fire escapes is a paramount concern for firefighter safety, there are numerous instances where firefighters have been severely injured, even when they were very careful. Fire escapes are an accident waiting to happen.

Thankfully Mike returned to work and became a stellar member of L 38 and completed a super career.

Photo by Mike Dick, from "Into the Smoke with NYs Bravest". Thanks Mike.


View attachment 28081


Tragic 1975 fire escape collapse in Boston.


b1.jpg

B2.jpg

b3.jpg
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
64
Rear fire escape collapsed on a 4 story tenement in Brownsville about 6/7 years ago. Problem was TL-120’s OVM was on it.
 
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Apr 23, 2018
Messages
1,081
L 124 "Tonka Truck." Legend has it during a very busy period of fire duty where L 124 operated, a Brother mentioned to a member of L 124 "You guys are indestructable, your like a Tonka Truck." And one of the best known monikers was born. And one of the most elite truck company in NYC.

Tonka.jpg
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2018
Messages
1,081
NEW YEARS EVE at the FIREHOUSE MEAL

The firehouse meal is steep with tradition and celebration. The meal provides an opportunity for members to get together, strengthen brotherhood and build relationships. Sharing a meal together is the most communal and binding pleasure in almost every place in the world, and that includes the firehouse. Breaking bread with your colleagues is the pinnacle of affection and loyalty that you feel for each other.

On special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years we usually kicked up the meal a notch. I especially liked working on New Year's Eve. I've done my fair share of whooping it up as a maverick, and so I usually swapped Christmas Eve for New Years with a younger burgeoning maverick. The firehouse meal was usually steak and lobster, it was chancey knowing that the meal could be spoiled at any moment, but most of the time we chowed down and had a blast.

In addition, working New Year's you could almost count on a job. Amateur drinkers and partiers at home over drank and became careless and this was usually the case. Except for one New Year's Day working in L 38 we responded to a horrific fire that haunts me still today. That story next.

(Photo is a chicken dinner at L 38, there is a nutty story behind it as well. The Prince, John Koller (RIP) and yours truly.)
Chic L'Orange.jpg
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
28,226
FIRE ESCAPES

(Summer 1983). Another hot, sweltering sticky day in the Bronx, hydrants run full blast as the odor of decaying garbage mixed with hot tar fumes from the street permeates the soupy air. Engine 88 has been assigned to the second alarm for a vacant tenement fire at Jerome Avenue near Fordham Road. I’m behind the wheel for the day and in the process of hooking up to a hydrant on Jerome Avenue under the elevated train rumbling overhead. Focused on opening the hydrant to flush, my handy-talkie radio bursts aloud with an excited command; “MAN DOWN, WE NEED EMS FORTHWITH”. Usually a Mayday radio transmission but there is no need for the Mayday to garner attention from the command post, a member has plummet from the fire escape directly in front onto the sidewalk.

The member is E 88 Probationary Firefighter Mike who was operating on the front fire escape second floor landing and unwittingly stepped backwards through the drop ladder opening, and crashed to the sidewalk below.

In New York City fire escapes are archetypal of the city’s landscape. New Yorkers have been using fire escapes to sit outside, hang clothes to dry, storage space for bicycles, growing potted plants and more. After many horrific fatal fires in tenements and especially the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire during the 1800’s, NYC required wrought iron fire escapes to be properly affixed to tenements.

Over time, fire escapes exposed to weather for over 100 years have weakened and rust. Attached to buildings with bolts, the rust eats through components and can cause failure when weight or an impact load is placed on a stair tread, weld piece or landing.

The FDNY relies on the useful advantages of fire escapes and employs them within various procedures. Engine companies can use fire escapes to stretch additional handlines, the Outside Vent firefighter will use the fire escape as a platform to perform vent entry and search, and the Roof firefighter may use the fire escape as a last resort to gain access to the roof.

Random thoughts:
  1. When lowering the drop ladder with a hook, stand beneath the fire escape, should the drop ladder become detached from the track it will fall away instead of on top of you, but make sure that area is clear as well. (Be aware, corrosion or paint may prevent the ladder from sliding down the track).
  2. When climbing the drop ladder; ensure you maintain a constant grip on the rails of the ladder and climb slowly and deliberately. Place the hook high on the ladder, no need to carry.
  3. Climb fire escape steps with feet closer to the edge of the step stringer and not in the weaker middle part of the tread.
  4. Firefighters should be forewarned coming upon broken steps for other defected features.
  5. Members MUST be familiarized with self contained breathing apparatus “reduced profile” maneuver. Many fire escapes are extremely narrow and actuating a reduced profile will be your only option to pass through.
  6. Do not lean against any railing.
  7. Before climbing the gooseneck ladder to the roof which is usually located in the rear of the structure, the firefighter should vigorously tug it from the wall to ascertain stability and climb sliding hands along the beam for continuous contact.

Laddering fire escapes:
  1. Place a portable ladder alongside the fire escape on the structure. Ladder should extend 1-3 feet above the fire escape railing.
  2. Never place the weight of an aerial ladder onto the fire escape.

Rescuing People from overcrowded Fire Escape:
  1. Place a portable ladder opposite the drop ladder to alleviate overcrowding on the second floor landing.
  2. If an additional ladder is needed, place ladder to the second balcony above the drop ladder against structure 1-3 feet above railing.
  3. (TIP) If necessary to control uncooperating tenants evacuating, consider climbing inside the drop ladder, swing around to access the second floor landing.

Operating on and around fire escapes is a paramount concern for firefighter safety, there are numerous instances where firefighters have been severely injured, even when they were very careful. Fire escapes are an accident waiting to happen.

Thankfully Mike returned to work and became a stellar member of L 38 and completed a super career.

Photo by Mike Dick, from "Into the Smoke with NYs Bravest". Thanks Mike.


View attachment 28081
fireescapemontageMDick.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 23, 2018
Messages
1,081
ABANDONED DERELICT VEHICLE FIRES

Almost every night tour you could expect to respond to an ADV, abandoned derelict vehicle, signal 10-23. ADV’s were the wildflowers of the urban neighborhoods. Practically every street had one or two parked at the curb in front of vacant buildings. Certain vacant lots were littered with them, a ghetto jungle gym.

“ENGINE ONLY; ADV, 88 GOES”...An ADV or vehicle fire was considered a single unit response. When I was first assigned to E 88 our operation was simple, the ECC would pull the rig as close to the ADV without the apparatus becoming an exposure and one of us pulled the booster hose from the back step about 20 feet or so to the dumpster on wheels. Our 1980 American LaFrance had a 1 inch booster line that had to be hand cranked after the operation, so we appreciated the ECC getting the apparatus as close to the action as possible.

ADV jobs were basically nuisance fires, hardly did we even bother to gear up, our customary attire was helmet and maybe a pair of gloves, donning an SCBA was not even a thought or considered. If you did not have the nozzle you grabbed a hook. Some fire officers never left the cab of the rig monitoring the radio, just in case a serious alarm came over the radio, the officer would have us ‘take up’ and take it in.

On occasion we’d come across a stripped down abandoned van blazing away, they were particularly hazardous. Vans were commonly disposed of by junkyards. At times these trojan horses were packed with disconnected gas tanks, jars of flammable liquid waste or drive shafts piled high in the rear from other vehicles. We approached a van fire cautiously from an angle and used a straight stream from a distance.

FDNY Procedure for any vehicle fire, including an ADV parked on the street was to position the hoseline between the vehicle fire and any exposure. The line was stretched, positioned and operated between the car fire and structure, it did not matter if the structure was vacant or not.

ADV fires were prevalent in areas where buildings were vacant or an industrial area with light traffic. The vehicles, mainly stolen, had their plates removed and torched. As soon as we extinguished the fire, local resident mechanics adept at the art of automobile dismantling descended like vultures and proceeded to strip away any undamaged part for resale to the local garage.

FDNY MODIFIES RESPONSE: In 1984 a Queens firefighter from E 297 was struck and killed while operating at a van fire on the Whitestone Expressway after a drunk driver rear-ended the engine where the firefighter was standing. Shortly after that, the FDNY modified its response policy for vehicle fires; Engine booster lines were removed and a pre-connect handline deployed from the front of the apparatus. No longer was a vehicle fire a single unit response, a Ladder Company was now added and would be the blocking force to oncoming traffic while the crews operated in a safe area.
e882.jpg
 
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
282
As a F.M. my partner and I investigated an arson of an ADV on N. Conduit Ave. in Queens right before the Bklyn. border. After the investigation of the burnt vehicle, I noticed an Acura about 20 feet away on cement blocks. As I approached the car I noticed it was still running, so figured after they stripped the Acura they decided to torch the other car. Back then the only way out of a lease was a burnt vehicle. I tried to arrest several people for arson of their vehicle but the Queens ADA's weren't willing to go any further with the case. They owners would claim they drove the car today but the fire records show it was burnt last night. We did call in to the PD the Acura that was still running.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
5,659
In reply # 37 "Johnny Gage", mentions how ADV responses were just a single engine company for the FDNY.
Also on occasion, a company returning to quarters etc., would come across an ADV blazing away and just stop to put the fire out.
Basically considered nothing more than an outside rubbish fire.

As a buff, seeing these car fires from blocks away would look like there was a good job going.
But in those very busy years of the 70s and 80s, there was way to many other more serious fires going on and as I remember, a fully involved ADV was on the LOW Priority of getting a company to respond.

Many cars were reported stolen by the owners who were falling behind on their monthly car payments, so they would drop them off, maybe strip them, then either set them on fire themselves, or pay one of the local ghetto guys to set them on fire.
Meanwhile the owner reported the car stolen and collected the insurance.

What was going on back in the early 1970s in NYC began to spread to other cities.
Car fires began to INCREASE in various neighborhoods throughout Connecticut cities beginning in the 1980s
Same story, a suburban car owner reports his car stolen, then later it was found stripped and on fire in one of those cities.

I know of some Engine companies here in Ct where 2 or 3 car fires each night was somewhat routine.

Sometime in the very early 1990s I remember going to an ADV on fire.
As a single engine company we would just put the fire out and have the police respond to locate the owner having it towed away.

One afternoon, while knocking down an ADV fire, I notice the Chief shows up and watches us.
In my mind, I'm actually a little ticked off because I'm thinking; "What's the matter - he doesn't think we can handle this" ?

When the fire is knocked down he calls me aside.
He says to me; "From now on, when you get a car fire, I want you to call a fire marshal"
I said; "Chief for this" ?
He said; "Yes".

At that point, apparently insurance companies were getting tired of paying off these claims and they put pressure on fire departments to have any car fires fully investigated by a fire marshal.

I guess it worked.
These days I see few, if any ADVs.
I can't speak for other places like NYC.
But there's certainly a lot less car fires around a lot of other cities than there was back then.
 
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