Signal 5-5-5-5 For The 766th Time

For the second time this year the Red Devil struck an awful blow to New York's Bravest. Signal 5-5-5-5 was transmitted for the 766th time.

77-55-2044 Friday 6/5/98
It started routinely in the Brooklyn Central Office. A single phone call at 2022 hours reporting a fire in the basement of 2530 Atlantic Avenue in the East New York section. The caller was relatively calm about it.

Engine 332 & ladder 175 were assigned first due. The firehouse is a mere 8 blocks and 1 avenue away from the 3 story frame 20 x 75 multiple dwelling. They arrived in roughly 3 minutes and went immediately to work.

The basement of the structure was well involved within minutes. Unbeknownst to them the fire had started in the adjoining building, 2528 Atlantic Avenue. Despite the efforts of the Bradford Street fire fighters, the Devil continued to spread upward and outward.

As the fire spread, second and third alarms were transmitted. The members of engine 332 and ladder 176 were searching the top floor of 2030 when it collapsed onto the 1st floor. Cpt. Scott LaPietra, Lt. James Blackmore, Lt. Timothy Stackpole, FF. Terence Quinn and FF. Brian Baiker were plunged into the Devil's pit; flaming debris falling on top of them. Scores of fire fighters rushed in to rescue their fallen comrades.

Lt. Blackmore was pulled from the rubble with severe head and chest trauma. He was transported in cardiac arrest to a nearby trauma center, Brookdale Hospital, but it was too late. The 21 year veteran was 48 years old, decorated 5 times, and leaves behind a wife and 5 children.

Captain Scott Lapiedra, 40, was very seriously burned. He was airlifted to the burn unit in Jacobi Hospital with 3rd degree burns to over 70% of his body. As of June 16, he is still in extremely critical condition. He is a 19 year veteran and has a wife and 4 children. Lieutenant Timothy Stackpole, FF. Brian Baiker and FF. Terence Quinn also received severe burns and they are in critical condition in the burn center.

The fire building was a row of 5 frame houses with 2530 Atlantic Avenue being the rightmost unit. All that remains of the structure is the 2 leftmost units - the fire completely gutted the other 3, and bulldozers razed the remains. It is believed the fire began as a mattress fire in the basement of 2528 Atlantic Avenue.

Addendum: On July 4th, 1998, Capt. Scott Lapiedra became the 767th fire fighter to make the Supreme Sacrifice.