Author Topic: My younger Buff years  (Read 363424 times)

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1680 on: December 01, 2017, 08:12:54 AM »
Sorry to rain on your above Bill, but---  Was assigned to 50 engine 1/70 to 4/73 as a Lt., then 82 as Captain 9/73 to 5/76. Both companies were doing around 1800 structural fires a year with 1600 hours of structural work, give or take a hundred or two each year.  Never saw a Red Cap marshal at any fire. The old saying "locking the barn door after the horse got out fit the Red Cap program." The city "allowed" the South Bronx and other inner city neighborhoods to be burned out for 15 years affecting the lives of so many poor families, firefighters and their families. All you have to remember is Bronx Box 2743, Charlotte and 170. A teeming neighborhood in 1965, a burned out Berlin in 1975. The city never would have allowed this to have happened to these families in Yorkville, but did allow it at 2743.

 Chief, you were there as this was happening. I remember seeing exactly what you are talking about on Charlotte St. In just ten short years, that entire neighborhood was destroyed. I wasn't around to see things when it was a much different street.

 As I remember the damage had already been done to many areas of the South Bronx. This is just a guess, maybe once the city succeeded in destroying that area, they never expected the problem to extend beyond those limits into other neighborhoods. As I remember, by comparison when it did spread, it might not have been at the progression rate of the Charlotte St area.

 Engine 82/Ladder 31s quarters were a favorite spot for the buffs to hang out because of the fire activity. I really didn't know about the area until the book "Report from Engine Co 82" came out around 1972. When I decided to go check the place out, I found that I wasn't the only guy who did that as well.

 For the next several years, until around 1976, that was the place I'd be.

 Then came Brooklyn's Bushwick and the fire activity was really taking off. Most of the time during 1976/77, that is where I went. Yes, Chief, by 1975 everything was gone that was left to burn near 82s/31s. It was after this time that the Red Caps came into play.

 I returned to buff the Bronx after that. The area west of Webster Ave and going farther north seemed to be increasing with fire activity, although not at the peak of the previous years.

  So it was sometime "AFTER" 1977 that those Fire Marshall Trailers were set up. I hope there's other guys on here who remember them too.

 Chief *******, let me also say, "I'm really glad to see you on here. Your stories are fully appreciated not only by myself, but many others here too. I know that because guys tell me so. Like so many other GREAT FDNY War Years Firefighters, you were there. And in your case, I guess "you were right there in the middle of it".

 Today, I am honored to have personnel friends who were a part of it. There are also other buffs here like myself and we still talk about those days. One of those guys is my brother who used to come down with me. He became a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct., where much of the same went on there in the 1980s. Bridgeport wasn't the only place either. But what he learned from those FDNY firefighters a decade earlier, certainly helped him with his job for what was referred to as "The Other War Years". 

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1680 on: December 01, 2017, 08:12:54 AM »

Offline *******

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1681 on: December 01, 2017, 10:35:33 AM »
Bill I believe the event(s) that really bothered me the most when there was, repeating myself, Gasoline Gomez. Gomez for about 18 months would hit a building on Charlotte Street about every 10 days or so. It amazed me how bold and vicious this guy was. Same pattern every time. He would set a small rubbish fire first floor rear apartment in a vacant or partially vacant tenement around 1900 hours or so. The assignment on 2743 then was 82,85,45,31,59,B27,Sq2,R3,D9. We would give an 18, stretch the booster and put out this fire. The Battalion would transmit the 10-41 signal. Then around 2300 we would get a little fire again first floor rear apartment either the same building or nearby. Put it out and the Battalion would transmit the 10-41, again. We knew that then around 0300 or 0400 we would get 3 or 4 floors going usually rear of building so the tower couldn't be used. This was the same every 10 days or so for 18 months. The 10-41's had to be transmitted 100 times or more for this box with this guy. The city/department never acted on it. No marshals ever tried after the first or second 10-41 to wait on a roof or something to see the guy carrying the gas can to these buildings in this mostly now vacant area at 0300, why? We had numerous injuries, some severe, civilians and members working these fires over this time period. Again, finally God stepped in and Gomez screwed up and blew himself out a 3rd floor window, he survived serious injuries, arrested, beat the charge, but, never heard from again.I was a BC in the 10th Battalion. I can assure you that if a 10-41, just one, had been transmitted for Jackie Kennedy's building on 85th and 5th, the city "would have responded."

Offline mack

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1682 on: December 01, 2017, 11:30:16 AM »
Bill - the Red Cap program was initiated in the late 1970s, maybe 1978.  Unfortunately at least 10 years too late for the neighborhoods that were incinerated.  I remember Mayor Koch's pictures in all the papers (people read newspapers then) and Koch was taking credit for a program already started.  I forget the name of the Chief Fire Marshal who pushed the program which was very effective - but too late.  Years of a NYC arson epidemic had already passed, starting in the late 1960s.  Incredible high volumes of fire had already taken place in S Bronx, Brownsville, E New York, Williamsburg, Harlem, Bed Sty, Alphabet City.  But it was relatively  high in other parts of city, too, but no one cared other than FDNY companies.  I remember coming in for a night tour in Coney Island in 1971.  Plumes of smoke already showing a busy afternoon for the day tour. The new W 8th firehouse was empty, which was typical.  The 43 Bn returned to quarters and 9x6 chief, BC Harry Dammers, popped out of the rig with a gray shirt.  Turned out to be shirt used to be white that morning.  He was pumped up and said they had back-to-back-to-back jobs all day.  3rd alarm in progress picked up by relocating companies.  But he cussed out inability to get a fire marshal to CI.  CI got nothing. Engine 244 had been disbanded a few years earlier.  Rescue 2 was so busy they only were assigned to CI boxes on the 3rd alarm and Rescue 5 would not be reactvated for another 10 years. That day, gangs were burning each other's CI turf.  Every fire was suspicious.  Dammers claimed with frustration you could see kids with bottles or cans of gas if you drove down Mermaid Ave.  He requested fire marshals in morning but no one was available all day.  They were too busy elsewhere.  Fires continued on night tour.  Every box was a 10-30.  And no fire marshals.  Coney Island was just another unimportant neighborhood quietly destroyed by fire and crime and still not close to the volume of fires fought in the South Bronx and Brownsville. As Chief ******** says, "it was the best of times and the worst of times."
« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 11:36:37 AM by mack »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1683 on: December 01, 2017, 05:32:00 PM »
 The arson plague throughout the city during those years was clearly out of control.

 I found this article that was actually published much later in 2014. But it does reflect on how things were and how it was that the residents themselves tried to put an end to the fires burning out their entire neighborhoods and putting everyone's lives in danger.

 It mentions about the Fire Marshalls trailer but not where it was set up.

 Mack and Chief *******, I certainly appreciate your comments.

 I just wanted to pass on this article for everybody to see. Somewhat interesting reading.

 But I'm sure the Real World Arson is told much better by those who were directly involved in it.

 www.citylimits.org/2014/05/14/how-new-york-city-beat-arson/

Offline mack

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1684 on: December 01, 2017, 06:24:42 PM »
« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 06:26:25 PM by mack »

Offline 811

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1685 on: December 02, 2017, 07:32:44 AM »
In the 1970s there was a worker in Brooklyn, occupied MD at night where gasoline had been spread in the public stairway and ignited.  Tenants had a good idea who the culprit was, and Chief wanted an immediate Fire Marshal response.

Marshals were given the available information, and replied they only would respond to a "high priority" job, such as a "house of worship" or other politically favored occupancy; and an occupied multiple dwelling at night was not one.  No surprise how NYPD wound up with most of the arson jobs.


Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #1686 on: December 05, 2017, 08:00:35 AM »
Bronx Red Caps - 1984:

     http://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/09/nyregion/red-caps-fighting-arson-in-the-northwest-bronx.html

 Thank you "mack" and in talking with the "kid from da Bronx", aka "fdce54", the old fart he is, "does remember that Fire Marshalls trailer used as their office building being set up on the Grand Concourse and 161 St. Then later as the activity picked up further north and west, being set up on Third Ave and Fordham Rd".

  "fdce54" had mentioned that civilians could go into that temporary FM Office and tell what they know about any arson fire etc. He had also mentioned that this was sometime around 1980 and by then, many blocks of the Bronx had already been burnt out.

 No other place at the time had ever faced the arson challenges of the FDNY. But as things started to slow down for the FDNY, other cities in the tri state area such as Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Yonkers, Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven began to see a repeat of the FDNY War Years in their cities.

 Following a huge outbreak of arson fires during that time in New Haven, Ct, that city formed a joint Arson Task Force of Fire Marshalls and Police Officers assigned to investigate suspicious fires. It was the first such joint group in Connecticut that worked together and it became a Role Model for other cities to follow.

 It was a member here, "bjooss", a retired B/C from New Haven, Ct, whose father at the time was a Captain (?) in the New Haven FDs Fire Marshalls Office, who started that highly successful program.