The First 2 Weeks of April 1998

April 1998 is proving to be a very hot month for NYC fire fighters.

On Friday, April 3 fire in a 1 story commercial 100 x 100 structure, located at 338 Scholes Street, required 2 alarms to control. The incident began at 1734 hours in the Southside section of Brooklyn. Before it was over a fire fighter from L108 fell through the roof and suffered nonlife threatening back injuries.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn was hit with a 4 alarm blaze that destroyed a 1 story 60 x 80 commercial garage at 1679 77 Street. This stubborn fire took over 3 hours of "surround and drown" treatment before being brought under control.

Early Friday, April 10 a taxpayer fire went to 3 alarms beginning at 0100 hours in the Wakefield section of The Bronx. Fire had gotten into the cockloft area of the 1 story 100 x 50 building. Impeding the fire fighting effort were aerial power lines that were arcing heavily. Consolidated Edison was called in to turn off the current from the pole. As the fire raged on all interior efforts ceased and an exterior attack began using 2 tower ladders, 3 hand lines and 3 stangs. The building began to collapse about an hour into the fire and it was brought under control at 0352 hours.

This is the first structural fifth alarm of the year and it was a fiery blaze. As Christians around the world celebrated the coming of Christ on Easter Sunday, April 12, Manhattan fire fighters were working at the coming of the Red Devil. Shortly before 1400 hours many tourists and visitors of the South Street Seaport stared in awe as fire blew through the windows of the top 2 floors of 136 William Street; a 6 story 20 x 75 mixed occupancy building nestled between a commercial high-rise and a taller mixed occupancy building.

According to fire fighters on the scene this was a very difficult fire. The narrow street combined with the narrow building contributed by restricting access by tower ladder at first. Most of the fire fight took place from within by using hand lines stretched from the outside of the building to a fourth floor window.

Over a dozen fire fighters were injured in the blaze. Most of them were transported to the hospital with smoke inhalation, minor burns, or exhaustion.

The fire was brought under control at 1647 hours. The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

Less than an hour later, at 1726 hours, lower Manhattan suffered another blow to it's availability when a 2 alarm blaze broke out at 146 Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side. The fire began on the fourth floor of a 6 story 20 x 50 multiple dwelling and extended to the sixth floor (skipping the fifth) causing extensive damage to the rear half of the building. The Red Cross was required to relocate scores of residents.

There were 2 supervising dispatchers scheduled to be working in Queens on Monday night April 13. Since Brooklyn was short a supervisor, the extra supervisor was detailed to Brooklyn.

As luck would have it he sat in Brooklyn most of the night, doing absolutely nothing, and watched Queens chime in with 7 all-hands fires. His attitude: "better them than me." The Red Devil didn't see it that way.

Exactly 36 minutes before his tour ended (0624 hours, Tuesday the 14th) the ERS box on the corner of 4th Avenue and 26th Street was activated; fire reported at the location.

Actually, there was alot of fire at the location and it was focused on 184 26 Street in the Greenwood Heights section. Twenty Sixth Street between 4th and 5th Avenues is lined with fully attached 3 story frame dwellings. These buildings are quite old. Once fire takes hold of one it's a sure thing that it will take an exposure or two; especially if it communicates to the cockloft.

Within minutes fire had consumed the entire 3 story 25 x 60 building and it was making quick work of exposures 4, 4A, and 4B. There was some extension to exposure 2, but that building was brick. It fared much better than it's neighbors.

The fire went to 4 alarms at 0649 hours; 11 minutes before the end of the night tour. By the time the under control signal was given at 0814 hours nothing but the front wall of the fire building remained. Exposures 4, 4A, and 4B were heavily damaged but still standing.

By 0900 hours, when fire fighters change tours, many of the units started coming back into service as day crews relieved fatigued night crews. Relocated units began to make their way home for relief. This was a fortunate event.

At 1055 hours a quick all-hands fire erupted in the East New York section of Brooklyn at 1145 Glenmore Avenue. Luckily it was the contents of the 3 story frame 20 x 60 dwelling that was burning and not the structure itself. The fire was quelled with 2 hand lines and brought under control at 1119 hours; but the Devil had already moved on to the Flatbush section of town.

At 1118 hours a vacant 4 story brick 30 x 70 dwelling with an occupied store on the first floor was gutted completely. The normally congested streets of Flatbush quickly became impassable as 12 engines, 9 ladders, and a host of special units converged at 730 Flatbush Avenue.

This building also was fully attached to similar structures. But being brick buildings, the fire was not able to extend past the side walls. The difficulty in fighting this fire was that the upper floors had been vacant and their stability was undetermined.

Two minutes before the transmission of the 2nd alarm of the last fire (1137 hours), another quick all-hands fire broke out in the Glenwood housing project at 1736 Ralph Avenue in the Flatlands section. The fire was contained to a 3rd floor apartment of the 6 story building.

One can only wonder what the second half of the month will bring.