Posts Tagged ‘FDNY’

Firefighters racing to a blaze in 1905 New York

November 21, 2016

Their engine is pulled by horses, and the long coats these smoke eaters are wearing look awfully bulky. But that’s how New York’s firefighters did it in 1905, when this postcard image was made.

fire-engine-1

thegildedageinnewyorkcover-1Amazingly, the city’s fire department had only been professionalized since 1865. Prior to that, various volunteer engine and ladder companies put out New York’s fires, sometimes competing with one another to do so.

Find out more about the rough and tumble early days of the FDNY, when the volunteer companies also served as social and political clubs, in The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910.

The second-worst fire in New York City history

September 11, 2009

You know what the worst is. Next on the list—in terms of loss of firefighter life, that is—comes the 23rd Street Fire in 1966, which killed 12 firefighters.

23rdstreetfirefuneralIt started in a brownstone at 7 East 22rd Street at 9:30 p.m. on October 17. An art dealer stored paint in the cellar, which fueled heavy smoke and a raging basement fire.

Unable to make their way to the source of the flames, firefighters went around the block to 23rd Street to try to enter through a building that shared the cellar.

Firefighters didn’t know that after a renovation, a wall in the shared cellar had been moved, weakening the floor. The entire first floor soon collapsed into the basement inferno, killing 10 firefighters. Two more died in another part of the building.

The city was astounded and distraught. Days later, 10,000 firefighters flanked Fifth Avenue as fire trucks carried coffins to St. Thomas Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Above photo: FDNY. Below: The New York Times)

23rdstreetfire

The site is now home to a high-rise apartment house, just across from Madison Square Park. A small plaque honors the men who lost their lives there 43 years ago.