Remembrance

mack

Administrator
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
13,431
******* said:
Worked a night tour in 50 on March 16th, 1971. The next morning 5 or 6 of us were going to the city to march in the parade. Several of us in our class A's were standing in front of quarters around 0930 when a civilian in a car drove up and yelled to us that there was a fire around the corner off Washington Avenue. I ran down to the corner and saw a heavy column of smoke off Washington. There was an alarm box on the corner (seem to remember box 2541), pulled it and waved to the guys to come with me. Found heavy fire second floor of an occupied tenement. I ran into the building and up the stairs. The fire apartments door was open and the fire was venting out and into the hall. At an apartment at the other end of the hall was a mother with two kids afraid to go out into the hall to the stairs. I just ran up grabbed a kid and pulled her and the other kid to and down the stairs. Went outside and we saw a man and woman at an open window in the apartment above the fire apartment. They were trapped in the apartment as the fire was venting onto the fir apartment fire escape. 50 and 19 were arriving. We took a 24' extension ladder off 19 and raised it (myself and several other off duty guys) to below the trapped people, we were short 5 or 6 feet. We then took a scaling ladder off 19. One of the guys, Bernie Casey, was lead on the ladder I backed him up. He raised the scaling ladder to the window and took the woman first, then the man out and down to the street. Fire went to a second with the fire apartment occupant DOA. We put the ladders back, went to the parade, marched, celebrated and came back and did a second night tour. I wrote Casey up, he received a Class B for the rescues.


 
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
15,895
Near the finale of one of my favorite movies "State Of Grace" there are several clips of The Band marching on St Patricks Day led by Big Jim Corcoran RIP.
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
This will probably be my last post to this thread as I have run out of any worthwhile remembrance from my years in the department. I was once asked once what I thought was my greatest achievement after these 37 years. My answer was simple and easy, that after my tours all my guys went home. But that was a gift from above as my leadership/experience factored little as luck played the main role so many times in why we went home. I held every rank/grade in the department from probationary firefighter to acting Chief of Department (fire emergency response not administrative). Thinking hard I believe there were two times I made a difference that last till today and will tomorrow, one a fire and the second a paper request.

I made Deputy in 1980 and was covering a vacation tour in the 11th Division. I relieved the 9 bye chief (Chief Hoyler, RIP) one night and talking to him he told me that he had a job that tour and pulled his guys out of the building moments before there was a collapse. He said to me "when in doubt pull them out." It wasn't that tour but a few night tours later when I responded to a second alarm for a commercial garage fire. I don't remember the box or avenue in Brooklyn only that it was a major wide avenue. When we pulled up we were across the street from the fire building. The building was a one and a half story taxi garage. There was heavy fire in the cockloft and through the roof. There were 4 firefighters on the roof operating. An engine company had a 2 1/2" line through a large overhead roll-up door hitting the fire, with heavy fire on the half story mezzanine office showing. As I got out of the car a Battalion Chief was running by checking on the exposures. At that exact moment I heard Hoyler saying, that gift from above, "when in doubt pull them out." I yelled to the BC, get the guys off the roof and back that hand-line out. No argument he immediately gave the orders. If asked I couldn't really give an intelligent operational reason why I pulled the guys out at that moment, I was just told to.  As I was putting on my gear the line was out on the sidewalk and the last firefighter on the roof was swinging onto the aerial to descend. At that moment the roof firefighter yelled out that "hey the roof just collapsed."  Two thirds of the roof came down in less than a second. Fortunately I will never know but I believe that we would have lost the four on the roof and three or four on the line. The fire went to a 4th, everyone went home.

Around 1992 I received a call from D.C. Tom Kennedy who was the President of the FDNY Chief's Association.  I knew Tom well as he was a firefighter in 31 truck when I was the Captain of 82. Tom said to me that the Association was going to ask the Mayor and City Council to enact a life saving Residential Sprinkler law for the city. Tom asked me if I would write a support paper to be forwarded with the law request. I said sure and did so. The first time submitted the request was turned down, after much objection from building owners etc. Recently there was a fire in one of Trump's buildings. The building had no sprinkler protection and Trump had been one of the major voices opposing the law. A few years later with lost firefighter lives in a residential building fire the  Fire Chief's Association resubmitted the law request and it was passed and became law. I believe today a residential building under construction in the city with 3 or more apartments requires automatic sprinkler protection. I will always be thankful that I had a small part in this laws enactment.


 
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
4,036
******* said:
This will probably be my last post to this thread as I have run out of any worthwhile remembrance from my years in the department.

Chief, I certainly hope that will not be the case.  Every post you have made (and I've read them all) has been interesting, informative, and an easy read.  While you may think you're out of stories at the moment, I'd be willing to bet that there are many more that you'll think of in the upcoming days.  As to whether they are worthwhile . . . I don't think I'd be alone in saying just about anything you have to say about the FDNY and firefighting in general is well worth listening to.  Thank you, sir.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
5,652
raybrag said:
******* said:
This will probably be my last post to this thread as I have run out of any worthwhile remembrance from my years in the department.

Chief, I certainly hope that will not be the case.  Every post you have made (and I've read them all) has been interesting, informative, and an easy read.  While you may think you're out of stories at the moment, I'd be willing to bet that there are many more that you'll think of in the upcoming days.  As to whether they are worthwhile . . . I don't think I'd be alone in saying just about anything you have to say about the FDNY and firefighting in general is well worth listening to.  Thank you, sir.

Chief, with OVER 5,000 views since you started writing these stories in September, 2018, "raybrag" is not alone in reading your stories. We all have been interested in following your stories. You are a member of The Greatest Generation of Firefighters, who was the Captain of the Busiest Engine Co ever. So busy that they even wrote a Best Selling Book about it called: "Report from Engine Co 82".

I have had the privilege and honor of meeting you when you made a special trip to Bayside Queens. I remember talking to you. In fact, I probably remember just about every word you said to me that day.

During those busy years I learned a lot. I learned from the best by watching what guys like you did the best. I learned about life's best and worst conditions. As you so often say; "They were the Best and the Worst of Years".

I'm sure there are many guys here that might like to hear where you worked during your years with the FDNY. As we have seen in the past here, sometimes there could be a connection between guys who never knew that before.

Your stories and contributions have made this site what it is today. We are all very fortunate to have you as a part of it.

THANK YOU Chief. 

 
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
15,895
^^^^^  ******* I hope this not your last post....i would think that a post someone puts up might bring back another recollection.









 
Joined
Jun 27, 2007
Messages
3,412
I agree 100% with "raybrag" and "nfd 2004", please continue with your posts. Information and experience that is locked away is of no good to anyone. We must learn from the experience and knowledge of others. And you sir fit that bill.
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
Thanks guys, but, I'm not going to stick my head in a gas oven yet or jump from a tall building. I hope to post on other threads when/if I have anything to contribute. My wife refuses to stand for a roll call for me any longer so, you guys are my best connection(s) to a job I loved and a occupation, calling, that I'm very proud of, and you guys.
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Messages
24
Chief, your posts are filled with a wealth of great history, knowledge and experience, and I always look forward reading and learning from them! I couldn't agree with you more, regarding sometimes we just get lucky. I often left a tough job and thought, did we just get lucky, or was their some divine intervention at work with us tonight. It does take a knowledgeable and experienced chief in charge of a good job to stay ahead of deteriorating fire conditions, and to know when its time to keep the aggressive push going, or to pull us out. As a company officer nothing was more reassuring to me, than when operating at a good job to have an extremely competent chief over seeing operations. At company drills after going over our operations at good jobs, I would go over what the chief's perspective might have been from the street, often much different from ours on the fire floor. Thank You Again Chief for your posts, and for the years of getting the men home safe. Many of those men, have sons on the job today.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
1,210
Chief, stories that we think may be boring, uneventful or mundane many times capture the interest or make the biggest impact on the reader. Please, never stop telling your story! This holds true for many on this site!
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
1,421
Chief,
You and several others here keep the history of the FDNY alive, particularly the Era known as "The War Years". It is very important that you and the others keep writing about this period because as we have seen, the newest generations have a way of forgetting, or at least diminishing, what happened in the past.
Please keep sharing your stories with us.
Jim B (aka 1261truckie)
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
1,557
Chief,

One thing I?d like to point out.  If I?ve missed it being said, please accept my apology.

As I understand it, a number of the members on this site are active Firefighters. I?m sure that they take with them a lot more than ?war stories? after reading your memoirs.  What you contribute here may well keep people alive or unhurt when one of your lessons kicks in when someone is wondering if he should pull his people off the roof because of a gut instinct or any of a million other circumstances.  Your story-telling abilities are wonderful, but remember that they also carry ?Lessons Learned? that can not only keep Firefighters alive and uninjured but also serve the people of the City of New York. 

And I?d ask all the other experienced contributors to keep that in mind. You?re each a very valued contributor and educator.

This isn?t merely a site for living vicariously, it?s more an educational site.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
5,652
manhattan said:
Chief,

One thing I?d like to point out.  If I?ve missed it being said, please accept my apology.

As I understand it, a number of the members on this site are active Firefighters. I?m sure that they take with them a lot more than ?war stories? after reading your memoirs.  What you contribute here may well keep people alive or unhurt when one of your lessons kicks in when someone is wondering if he should pull his people off the roof because of a gut instinct or any of a million other circumstances.  Your story-telling abilities are wonderful, but remember that they also carry ?Lessons Learned? that can not only keep Firefighters alive and uninjured but also serve the people of the City of New York. 

And I?d ask all the other experienced contributors to keep that in mind. You?re each a very valued contributor and educator.

This isn?t merely a site for living vicariously, it?s more an educational site.

"manhattan", you make an excellent point. Something that probably many of us here don't even consider. Reading some of these stories could actually save lives.

 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
It would be great if what we write on this site could save a life, or a home. Unfortunately though we can't teach "go with your gut." My first days, fires, in the FDNY my gut was saying to me "what the hell am I doing here?" Your gut grows as your experience grows. Will your gut always be right, of course not. I remember an early morning fire in 82, was a first floor restaurant fire in a 5 story residential building. We were first due. We could see flame burning behind the front show window of the restaurant, not a lot of flame just flickering. Going through the restaurant front door was a 30 foot hallway and then a right turn into the restaurant proper. We got water, bled the line, 31 forced the door. As we were going to advance the hallway "gut" said wait. My nozzle-man was Mike Hartnett. I grabbed Mike's shoulder and said "wait." Two seconds later there was a back-draft, the hallway was all fire rolling out to the street. Later Mike (he retired as a Deputy Chief) asked me "how did you know?" didn't have an answer. Gut was right. Battalion Chief in the 10th Battalion 1977. Early morning fire 90th Street and 1st Ave.Fire was in the cellar  of a 5 story tenement with the first floor a hardware store. 13 truck forced the outside cellar street doors. Some fire was venting from the cellar. Fire was red but had a blue and green color mixed in with the red. Gut said wait, possible gas fed fire. Held the line back and had 13 shut off the curb gas building valve, took about 5 or 6 minutes to do so. After the valve was shut the time delay led now to heavy fire venting from the cellar doors. Fire went to a 3rd, took the building. Later that morning I observed an elderly woman standing in the crowd outside the building, she was crying. I asked her if she was O. K. She said that she had lived in the building for 50 years, first home with her new husband, raised her family here. Husband was gone, kids grown and gone, now so was her home. If I had allowed the line to advance immediately I believe 22 could have knocked down the fire. The fire wasn't gas fed. I spoke to the store owner and he said he had received a 50 cartons of plastic bags that day, it was the plastic burning that gave off the different colors. Gut was wrong, but, if I had the same fire the next night I would have made the same call. Always listen to your gut when it's telling you something, there will be many times when it won't. 
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
4,036
I knew you had more in you, Chief. Keep 'em coming! It's not just in firefighting that you had better listen to your gut . . . it's in many, many professions.
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
My largest fire as a firefighter, company officer or chief officer was on January 23rd, 1985. I had the City Wide Command Chief (CWCC) duties for that night tour. During my time at 1700 hours a staff chief, usually a Deputy Assistant Chief, had the CWCC duties. The CWCC had the responsibilities to respond to 3rd alarm or higher fires/emergencies, 3 or more 10-45 code 1 incidents, any incident which could bring discredit to the department or as directed by the Fire Commissioner or Chief of Department. At that time we were quartered in the Command Center which was in the basement of Police Headquarters. Quarters had a kitchen, office and 3 or 4 small bedrooms. The center was manned by 4 light duty firefighters working 24 on and 72 off tours. We had just finished the evening meal around 1900 hours when a 2nd alarm came in for a commercial building fire on West 42rd street in Manhattan. It seemed like one minute later a 3rd was transmitted, we responded, I was car 12B.  While responding a 4th was transmitted. On my arrival I found the fire building to be a 9 or 10 story mill constructed commercial factory building, fire was showing, venting, from every window on every floor of the building threatening to extend to all exposures. Exposure 4 was Rescue Company 1's quarters.  I transmitted a 5th alarm. The fire building ran street (43rd street) to street (42nd street). I sectored the fire off having the 3rd Division Chief, DC Hovsepian command the 42nd street side of the fire, to special call units as he saw fit. I was told that all of our members were out of the building. One of the beauties of being a FDNY chief is I could say to the boro dispatcher "special call an additional 10 engine companies to the fire," and 20 minutes later or so 10 additional engines would have arrived. We couldn't set up outside streams (tower ladders, engine stangs) in front of the fire building on the 43rd street side as we knew that the fire building would eventually collapse. Directly across the street was a 9 or 10 story commercial building. We had  10 or so engine companies stretch into this building with 2 1/2" hand lines and attack the fire from the buildings windows. Chief of Department John O'Rourke (RIP) arrived and assumed command. We did position one tower ladder, L14, far back on 43rd street in front to the fire building eventually. The main concern was exposure 4A, a 6 story residential building. The fire was threatening and extending to several floors in this building. I assigned DC Matty Murtaugh, D5 (RIP) to take command of the firefighting in exposure 4A. In all 10 engines operated in exposure 4A extinguishing fire in a dozen or more apartments throughout the fire. The next day the tenants of this building hung a large sheet out of several windows writing on it "God Bless the FDNY," was appreciated by the guys.  L14 operated about 20 minutes, was doing nothing really when we had them lower the bucket, bring the men out and leave the truck where it was (was a spare). Twenty minutes or so later the building collapsed, L14 was untouched. 14 was raised again and the lines from the building across the street continued to hit the now rubble for several more hours. Rescue's quarters were destroyed by the collapse, but that was the only exposure heavily damaged by the fire. Fire was 10 alarms. I don't know how many engines and trucks operated but 40 to 50 engines and 20 to 25 trucks may be a good guess. As always, the guys did a great job.
 
Top