Remembrance

Joined
Feb 9, 2018
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3,191
Thanks for the Remembrance Chief - you mentioned Chief Matty Murtagh - 5th Division was in qtrs. with us on 139 St. - Chief Murtagh was co-founder of Fire Tech and used to give out free passes for a semester to guys in the firehouse, to encourage studying - he was a great chief to have at a job, you knew you were in good hands and an even nicer man. I believe that his son recently retired from the job, the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
We had some super chiefs in the 5th back then - Bill Alford commander, Matty Murtagh (RIP), Mike Kearney, Neil McBride (RIP)
Batt. 16 was right there - great chiefs, even better men, Mickey Meagher (RIP) commander, Bernie Cassidy, George Bauer (RIP), Nick Visconti, also Frank Griffin (RIP), Tom Kennedy
Whenever any of these men moved on - the boots were just a little to big to fill!
One remembrance leads to another!

Just came across this photo courtesy of Mike Dick
BC Nick Visconti (left) & DC Matty Murtagh (RIP)
 

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Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
Promoted to Lieutenant August 1969 I covered in the 19th Battalion for five months, then I put in for and was assigned to 50 engine on 1/7/70. Loved the house, loved the men, probably my best years in the department. The Captain at this time was Carlos Rivera who would rise through the ranks and become Fire Commissioner in the Dinkins administration. 50/19 at this time was in the 27th Battalion with E82, 85 and L31. It was during my first few months in 50 that I met Dennis Smith. Smith in 82 was detailed occasionally to 50 to balance the battalion manpower. I was told by the guys that Dennis was writing a book about the job but gave little notice of this at the time. I found Dennis to be a nice guy, easy to talk with and held his own at a job. Smith with his book "Report From Engine 82" did the job proud. The South Bronx during my years there would "wake up" every day around 1300 hours. It would get progressively busier as the day/evening wore on, going "back to sleep" around 0100. I believe strongly that the 1300 wake up time was very instrumental the day of the FDNY strike, November 1973. The strike ended at 1300, 82 missed 11 runs but no real work. By 1400 hours that day there were 3 all-hands going in the 6th Division. If the strike had lasted another hour or two a number of buildings would have burned in the 6th, and, other borough's. 50/19 pretty much ran with the 1300 to 0100 period. 82 on the other hand ran all night and most of the early morning hours. Captain Rivera transferred out of 50 in 1972 to E76 so he could be closer to his widowed mother who lived in upper Manhattan. With no Captains putting in for 50 to replace Rivera a Captain George was lifted in. Understandingly Captain George wasn't a happy guy, and made no bones to the men about it. A few months after his assignment the guys bought a baby pig for a pet and called him George. For some reason Captain George wasn't delighted to have the pig named George and a few weeks later George the Pig was gone and the men were less happy with George the Captain. In May of 70 the second section of 50 was put in the field. 50/19 were moved over to the 26th Battalion with 71/55. I didn't care for the 1st up 2nd up other day rotation but it was necessary as it threw another engine into the South Bronx mix. Even with the 2nd section 50 if I remember right had about 6800 runs in 1970.

I was promoted to Captain April 1973, assigned to 82 engine September 1st, 1973 on the promotion of Captain Grey (Captain Albergrey in Smith's book). Dennis Smith was gone having transferred out a few months before. The first two months were routine, then the troubled years began. In November 1973 the first time in department history the FDNY went on strike. Every firefighter in 82/31 walked out. The Battalion Chief assigned to 82/31 quarters for the strike that morning ordered the 7 house officers (Captain Farrell, L31 was out on medical leave) to drive and man the 82/31 apparatus. None of us being MPO or ladder chauffeur trained refused. The chief accused us of striking and we were fined under the Taylor Law.The Division of Training sent an engine manned by probies to 82's quarters but the men refused to let them enter qtrs. The NYPD Captain told me that if necessary he would arrest the striking firefighters with whatever force necessary if ordered to do so for the probies to enter qtrs.The probies, outside of qtrs. responded to a few fire calls, but no work. A T V crew arrived at qtrs. and interviewed the striking members who gave the city and FD brass a"going-over" interview. The strike divided companies, brought great discredit to the department and achieved nothing. Thankfully it ended at 1300 and the guys immediately went to work. Apparently the T V interview really pissed off the Fire Commissioner John O'Hagan. I was called at home that night that I had to give the Bx Boro 6 names of E82 firefighter for "disciplinary  transfers", if I didn't they, the boro, would just take 6 guys randomly.  The unions fought it and the next day I was told I still had to give them6 names, but, it would be to a company of their choice. Five guys volunteered for different reasons, on Lt. list, enough years there etc. So I only need one non-volunteer. I had 24 great guys assigned to 82 at this time and one meat-ball. The 6th guy was the meat-ball. I had 6 good probies assigned to the company to replace the lifted firefighters. The unions grieved the lifts and won. The men could return to 82 if they wanted to return. The 5 good guys said no thanks, but I had my meat-ball back. Then came the fiscal crisis for the city and another FDNY first, firefighters laid off,. The 6 probies who replaced the lifted firefighters were all laid off. Months later they were asked to come back, 4 said O. K., 2 said no thanks. When the 6 probies were laid off 6 firefighters from other companies were lifted to 82, did not make for a happy house with 12 firefighters,6 in 82 and 6 in 31 forced into the house. The house survived, the war years in the SBX peaked in 1975.

I was promoted to Battalion Chief May 1976 and assigned to the 10th Battalion in Manhattan. Jackie Kennedy lived 3 blocks from quarters, was a very different work area.

 
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
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Chief, Thank You for once again giving us another amazing snapshot into the history of our job, from an era that will never be seen again.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
28,226
Thanks again Chief for the stories

AC Robert Manson (on left) & DAC John M. O'Hagan (R.I.P.):

firephoto152.jpg
 
Joined
May 6, 2010
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^^^^  DAC John M. O'Hagan  RIP  "The Good O'Hagan" .....never to be confused with the 2 Hat wearing COD/FC john t. o'hagan.
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
Sixty years ago today, March 30th 1960 I became a member of the Fire Department City of New York. When I came out of the Navy in 1958 I was lucky as three civil service tests were given within a few months, NYPD, FDNY and NY State Trooper. I took them, passed, and waited to be called by any of them. I actually wanted to be a police officer, but, was first called by the FD. So this date 60 years ago at age 22 I went on the job.

I saw so many changes in the department it would be hard to list them all. As I have posted in this thread my first day myself and 60 or so other probies reported to various divisions, myself to the 6th Division. We were assigned to companies and told to ride with the company, no training, no personal gear, nothing. We did this in different 6th Division units for a month and a half until we went to proby school. This would never happen today, nor should it have then. Some of the better changes were numerous handi-talkies at jobs, 1 3/4" hose, Ladders 3; power saws, bunker gear, foam coordinators, new ropes. The best and greatest was the towers. The towers were a gift from God, because he knew what was coming. The war years started in the mid sixties, the towers came into the job in the mid sixties. Without them the price in health and longevity the men paid for those years would have been so much worse for them and their families.

What never changed, then or today, was the men. All the officers that took us into the war years had first fought in a so much bigger war, World War 2.  My first LT. was a marine, fought at Guam, Saipan and Iwo Jima  My first Captain landed at Normandy. One of our Deputies was a pilot in a B17, another was in the same PT squadron with JFK. My Boro Commander lied about his age, joined the Army and jumped at 16 with the airborne in Normandy. But the men today, all firefighters throughout the country are no different. There was a young firefighter in 16 truck I worked with when I was a chief in the 10th Battalion. Nice guy, quiet, good firefighter. He retired and passed away a year of so ago. Only then did I and so many others know that he had been awarded the Navy Cross as a marine in Vietnam. The FDNY men today, and women, are no different than the men of 60 years ago.

Went to a lot of fires during my years, remember two the most. One I was at, one I wasn't. The first as a new Deputy rolled into a job. Didn't like what I saw and pulled the men off the roof and out of the building with their line. Last man was climbing off the roof, line out of the building and the roof collapsed. We would have lost 6 to 8 men that night. The second was I transmitted an all-hands as a BC at a job. A truck relocated on the transmission. Left qtrs. and only a few minutes later a close first due box came in for them, a baby died at the fire. Forty-two years ago and when I hear or read about a kid dying in a fire I think of that baby. I had a piece of something good. Around 1990 Tom Kennedy who I worked with when he was in 31 truck and was now the President of the NYC Fire Chief's Association called me and asked me if I would write a paper in support of the Association asking the city to enact a residential sprinkler law for new construction. I did, took a number of years but the law was enacted and I believe lives will be saved in the many many years to come.

I believe the saying goes "if you love your job you never go to work." Sixty years ago today I raised my right hand, took the oath, and for the next 37 years never went to work.



 
Joined
Apr 23, 2018
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Thanks for sharing Chief, I'm sure your reflection about FDNY members still holds true today.
 
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May 6, 2010
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******* aka CHIEF BOB.....Congratulations on your Well Earned Anniversary with Best Wishes for many more.....you have 8 years more & several more Gold Stripes on your Uniform Sleeve than I but it was always my Honor to have known you thru your later travels thru BKLYN .... the day a few years ago when you came to Maggie Mays in Bayside  for a nycfire.net late lunch the guys were so impressed to meet you in person ..... a few years ago when you posted that you were running out of thoughts to talk about I & many others hoped that was not the case & gladly you continued on ......do not stop ....you have so much War Years History that should be passed on. 
 
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Jun 15, 2012
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  Thank You Chief, for All You Have Done & Continue Here.
  Congratulations. God Bless Those Who Serve; Here & 'Overseas'.
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
Thank you guys for all your kind words. Age catching up, starting to slow down. Wife refuses to stand a roll call for me anymore so I guess that's over with. Also I went on a diet a few months ago when I hit 220 on the scale. Down now to 190, feel good. All of you stay safe and during these tough days stay well.
 
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
185
No problem Bill. My intent when I started this thread was for other guys also posting about their experiences. I would like to read what so many others have experienced during their service.
 
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