This was a real dandy. The Fire Alarm office calltaker and dispatcher was the late Dick Hyland. You can also hear Bob Phelan as well as Matt Tomlin briefly on the radio and Al Andersen was the switchboard guy that handled most of the radio stuff. I took this job in. What a night this was! The DDC was Ed Altman way before his commissioner days and the responding District Chief was Louis Galante (which explains why this wasn’t a 5-11). Some other voices you may find familiar Jim Corbett on truck 12, Bob Welch as “3a”, Bill O’Boyle on Squad 1.
I’m sure there are many more to be recognized upon further review. This fire turned into a real spectacle. It ignited a scrapyard at 14th & State that went to a box and it also burned up El ties along the tracks for about 2 blocks. To top it off Snorkel 1 got stuck in the partially raised position and members had to be rescued via ground ladder as the radiant heat was getting brutal. After the building collapsed they found a guy who was sleeping in a vehicle next to the fire building who had to be extricated with a hurst tool since the car was squashed by the falling wall.
I was standing too close at the time of the collapse and as I was running saw a member get knocked down by flying bricks. I believe he broke his leg … a narrow miss for me. This was a real all time classic job. I will never forget it.
With things in Chicago being fairly slow lately, I thought I would share some images of a historical nature. This would be one of the more memorable fires of the past 50 years. The abandoned 9-story Continental Grain Company Elevator at 32nd Place & Benson Street stood on the east side of the South Branch of the Chicago River. Just after 7:00 pm on May 25, 1966, the structure went up in flames. The fire was elevated to a 5-11 with 4 Specials in under 20 minutes. People old enough to remember this need no description, but for those younger fans, the history of the department is an important thing to bring back into circulation from time to time. The photographer is unknown and the images are part of my personal collection.
These images were taken around 1950 by an aspiring photographer whose last name was Augustyn but I do not have a first name.
The fire was on the Northeast corner of Diversey and Pulaski on the same lot as the Walgreens that is next to Engine 91’s house. The fire was in the Rainbo Lanes Bowling Alley. The truck closest to the building is Truck 35 and the one with its aerial up looks like Truck 13 although it is hard to read. The Water Tower is #2. Hope you enjoy them.
This image is from January 1986 … a dark day in the CFD. This was the Mark Twain Hotel, 111 W Division, and Lt Edmund Coglianese of 98 was killed here. The fire ocurred on Super Bowl Sunday, when the Bears played New England. The real scope of this tragedy was overshadowed by the super bowl victory … a terrible situation made so much worse by the hooplah of the victory. This was a dumpy SRO with tiny cubicle-like rooms. I believe the the Lt either had a mask malfunction and or ran out of air. They had an aweful time getting him out of the building.
I can only imagine how bad conditions were in this case … maze-like interior, zero visibility, severe fire conditions, difficult searches, and a tough time getting a line down what must have been a long nasty hallway. I had recently met Edmund when he brought his son’s Boyscout troop up to the office for a tour. A nice man who left behind a wonderful family. I will never forget the fact that he was the one who answered me on the amplifier when I gave him what turned out to be his last run … this still stays with me 30 years later. I can only imagine the pain his family must still feel every day.
Fall River, MA had a 3-alarm fire today and it brought back some memories of the big mill fires in Fall River and New Bedford that I witnessed while growing up in Somerset, MA (across the
Taunton River South Watuppa Pond from Fall River). Here are some scans of Kodachrome slides that my dad (Michael F. James) took of the Kerr Mill fire in January, 1987.
I remember standing near the Route 6 signs watching this fire with my dad. I was 14. The big mill fires tended to draw a huge crowd of onlookers from Fall River and Somerset, and of course a huge assortment of apparatus and firefighters. You’ll spot the Civil Defense Rescue 1 squad in the one shot. The flames and smoke were so bright and high that they blotted out the sky and landscape along the Taunton River behind the mill.
The mill fires were fought defensively (surround and drown) and firefighters worked hard to protect any surrounding exposures. These fires were huge and impressive, garnered headlines in the next day’s Fall River Herald News and were the talk of the town for days after.
Trevor James Fire Scene Photography
Going into the way-back machine for this fire on the northwest corner of Belmont and Pulaski. This building still stands today and is still a corner tavern. Kind of a neat series of images as the unknown photographer catches companies pulling up with smoke pushing out the side door. As the fire is brought under control, you can see a dog mounted on top of Engine 91’s Ahrens-Fox. The final image is kind of funny as a car goes driving down Belmont with a couch tied to the roof. I could not find any markings to identify either of the trucks, and in the final image there is what I believe is a squad on Pulaski to the far right.