The Second 2 Weeks of April 1998

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

When I wrote that line I had no idea that before the month was over signal 5-5-5-5 would be transmitted for the 765th time.

66-22-898 1340 hours 4/29/98
Careless smoking. That's the preliminary cause of a fire that started on the 10th floor of 340 West 55 Street in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan. The fire started on the 10th floor of the 12 story 50 x 100 high rise multiple dwelling.

Numerous calls were received by the Manhattan Central Office indicating trapped occupants on the floors above the fire. Fire was blowing out of 7 windows by the time water reached the fire floor.

Raymond Nakovics, 49, was the chauffeur of engine 39. They were assigned 2nd due on the 1st alarm. After he finished hooking the rig to a hydrant, he reported to the chief in charge that he was experiencing crushing chest pains. Paramedics immediately responded to the fireground and transported him to St. Clare's Hospital.

Throughout the ride to, and while in the hospital, Raymond was alert and oriented. Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen joined him at the hospital and spoke with him. Everyone was hopeful that he would soon recover.

Then, according to Commissioner Von Essen, "Things changed for the worse very quickly." He went pale and lost consciousness. Doctors tried in vain to revive him, but he succumbed to what is described as an aortic aneurism.

Raymond was a 27 year veteran and worked in the East 67th Street firehouse throughout his career. He was #1 in seniority and according to the remainder of the company's compliment he was #1, period. He leaves behind a wife and 4 grown children; a 19 year old son being the youngest.

The task for his brothers still at the fire was still at hand. Despite their emotions they had a fire to fight. It took over 40 minutes to bring the fire under control.

66-22-810 1304 hours 4/29/98
A less spectacular, but just as potentially deadly, fire broke out in the Met Life building (nee Pan Am building) at 200 Park Avenue in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The 59 story 380 x 340 structure also has a helipad on the roof that was used when Pan Am owned it.

The 30th floor fire was contained rather quickly but some tense moments were had by civilians who were trapped in a stuck elevator. Rescue 2, special called to the box on the 2nd alarm, removed the occupants.

The remainder of the day tour was active, but relatively uneventful:

77-75-413 1106 hours 4/29/98
206 Front Street in the Brooklyn Heights section, fire in a 3 story brick 20 x 40 structure.

77-75-343 1325 hours 4/29/98
584 Broadway in the Williamsburg section.

77-75-937 1406 hours 4/29/98
473 Gates Avenue in the Bedford Stuyvesant section. A top floor fire in a 4 story brick 50 x 25 dwelling.

99-75-71 1421 hours 4/29/98
11-11 Hazen Street in the Riker's Island penitentiary. Fire in a 2 story brick 150 x 100 support building.

88-22-1833 1513 hours 4/29/98
A 2 alarm brush fire at Olympia & Slater Boulevards in the Midland Beach section.

66-22-2737 1610 hours 4/29/98
1288 Hoe Avenue in the Crotona Park East section. Second floor fire in a 5 story brick 50 x 100 multiple dwelling.

77-75-1873 1641 hours 4/29/98
1308 Loring Avenue in the East New York section. Fire in the ventilation ductwork of the Louis Pink housing project. Eight stories, 40 x 200 multiple dwelling.