Author Topic: My younger Buff years  (Read 488710 times)

Offline 1261Truckie

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #75 on: May 30, 2009, 02:02:50 PM »
To All,
I have been enjoying your stories and they all bring back meny memories. I was an Auxiliary with L-132 from June 1968 to Feb 1975 and saw our workload steadily rise during those years. If memory serves me correctly, 132 (even though very busy in their own area) was a leader in relocations (especially to 120, before they got TL).

I was riding the night Lt. Hamilton and FF Polera rescued the two guys from 219 out of the basement on Adlephi & Fulton. Heck of a rescue.

Glad to see the buffing spirit is still alive and well

Jim Boyle
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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #75 on: May 30, 2009, 02:02:50 PM »

Offline johnd248

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #76 on: May 30, 2009, 02:09:22 PM »
I knew an auxiliary at Ladder 132 way back and he became a dispatcher and served in the Brooklyn CO for many years.

Online nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #77 on: May 30, 2009, 02:22:29 PM »
Of the many times I"ve been to some of these neighborhoods like The South Bronx or Bushwick, and the other Hot Spots, I can"t remember having any trouble with any of the people that lived there. Maybe we were just really lucky, but nobody bothered us. Either they thought we were reporters because we were carrying cameras, or maybe undercover cops, or that we were "Just Plain Crazy" to be there. These were probadly the WORST Neighborhoods in the Country. And there was no running away. Once you were in it, it stretched for blocks and blocks. But clearly, we were never looking for trouble. I"m sure if we were, we would have gotten it. That is EXCEPT for one time. And it wasn"t the people, it was the NYPD.
  We had had a pretty good day of buffing. We were right around the corner from Eng 82 and Lad 31s Qtrs in The Bronx. As it turned out, we had a friend of ours with us. He was a Career Firefighter in the State of Washington and had been home visiting family members in Connecticut. He asked to come with us because he had never been buffing The South Bronx. Of course he had heard Plenty about it. It was his first trip there and as usual, he came curious, and left astonished. But, it wasn"t only the fires. We were just getting ready to leave when the NYPD pulled us over. As they walked up to the car, they had the guns on us, and told us to get out of the car. I could feel him point the barrel right in the center of my back. It was between Christmas time and New Years. He told me, : "If I breath the wrong way, I won"t live to see New Years". They went through the entire car. There was also another NYPD car that pulled up too. They told us that they got a report of us dealing drugs down there. Whether they did or not, I certainly wasn"t going to argue with them. As it turned out, of course we didn"t have any drugs and they apologized to all of us. But they did suggest that we are in the wrong neighborhood and we should go back to Connecticut. I had NO TROUBLE complying with that.
  As for my friend from Washington State. He NEVER asked again about going to buff the FDNY.
   

Offline Battalion4

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #78 on: May 31, 2009, 09:39:22 AM »
Hey 1261 Truckie, can you tell more of when Hamilton Rescued the engine guys from that basement fire?  It was full of tires wasn't it? I read that the ladder that they went down in warped from the heat when they finally came out? Where they in there long?

It's just amazing what they did in those days....Cottonduck coats, leather helmets and hip boots (optional!)

Online nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #79 on: May 31, 2009, 06:27:27 PM »
Regarding the rescue that Lt Hamilton and FF Polera did, I believe that WNYF Magazine had done a story on that. As I remember Lt Hamilton received severe burns to his hands while performing this rescue. He was then unable to return to active fire duty and ended up spending his last year and a half teaching at the Fire Academy. I believe he then retired to Arizona. There have been some GREAT Super Human Rescues made over the years involving the FDNY. Each is a major story in itself. What Amazes me though is that we are still talking about this particular rescue which happened about 35-40 years ago. I wonder if both firefighters are still with us. They fought the fires during the busiest time for the FDNY. These two brave firefighters "High Light" what is meant by "The Greatest Generation of Firefighters". And there are plenty of other guys besides. I only wish that today they were able to tell us their story in their own words.

Offline Bxboro

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #80 on: June 02, 2009, 08:04:42 PM »
Great stories......I am new to this site and enjoy the stories. Did some buffing myself in the 1980's. Yea, I realize I am not as seasoned as you "older guys" however, I am "hooked" as nfd put it. I especially like to hear about the "war years" and have had the privelidge to talk to DC Curly of Div. 6 (back in the day)!!  Please tells us more !!!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 08:09:43 PM by Bxboro »

Online nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #81 on: June 02, 2009, 09:48:11 PM »
Just as a point of interest, I think when DC Curly of the Sixth Division retired, he became Chief of the U.S. Sub Base Fire Dept in Groton, Ct. From what I"ve been told, he always had a few stories to tell.
   One area that was really hopping in those busy War Years was the Lower East Side. Ave "A", "B", "C" etc. Rivington, Forsyte, Stanton. It was a smaller version of The South Bronx. It had the same burnt out buildings, abandoned cars, rubbish fires, and False Alarms as those busy Bronx Companies. Only this was confined to about a one square mile area. Those guys on E28/L11, E17/L18, and Battalon 4 sure got their share of the workload. I remember taking in a job there and it was the same type six brick MDs as in the Bronx. It was a good smokey job. The place really needed to be vented. This Big Barrel chested Battalion Chief, with his big thick handle bar mustache, wearing un-laced combat boots, a twisted white helmet, and wide open turn out coat gave me a little nod. Then over the handie talkie he says; "Come on guys, I don"t hear enough glass breaking". He then gave me a wink as to say; "Watch this". And then the glass came raining down. A couple of quick squirts of water and in about 5 minutes the fire was out. I"d have to guess it was maybe one or two apartments on one of the upper floors. I don"t think it even went to an all hands. Probadly 2 and 2, and the chief. Fighting fires was just so routine for these busy companies throughout the city. It amazes me to this day, now 35-40 years later, just how much fire these guys would put out without even thinking of getting more help.
   I was only a buff who was there maybe once a week. There were other buffs who saw this stuff just about everyday. I sit back and sometimes think to myself, I sure was born under the right stars. For anybody who had any interest in the Fire Dept, there was no place better to be. Just in my part time status, I probadly saw hundreds of fires. And there were Firefighters who spent half or three quarters of their entire career, fighting these fires during this so-called "War Years". They never knew what it was like to go to work in the firehouse and "NOT" Fight Fires. They NEVER had a quiet night. Not once a week, not once a month, "NEVER" !!!! That"s why I have to say, that They "ARE",,,, "The Greatest Generation of Firefighters" the World has ever seen.

Offline kidfrmqns

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #82 on: June 04, 2009, 06:53:40 AM »
I have been reading these stories from the begining of this thread. I would like to thank all of you guys for telling these stories, they are great! I only wish I was born 10 years earlier to be able to witness some these events. I can remember riding in the car to head upstate on the Deegan and seeing at least 6 or 7 columns of smoke rising over the Bronx on a weekend morning. To think about that day in and day out every day is amazing.

I spoke to a retired member who worked in the South Bronx in the late 60's, 70's and 80's. I asked him "did you EVER work a tour without going to a fire?" He looked at me and said "NO!! NEVER! It wouldn't be worth going to work if I didn't go to a fire."

Online nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #83 on: June 04, 2009, 08:10:18 AM »
Kidfrmqns, Well, Let me say Thank You to you too. That"s a GREAT Story. Yes, those guys just wanted to go to work and fight those fires. I could remember how the morale was extremely high, and they were such a tight group. They just took so much pride in what they did. Strange, but I have been in touch with a few of these guys from those busy times. They have been retired now for several years, but they Still talk about how much they loved it. They went to work in area"s that were probadly the worst conditions that existed in the United States. I think I"ve said before that the area was sometimes referred to as "A Third World Country". The conditions there were terrible. Huge piles of rubbish, rats, abandoned buildings, abandoned burnt out cars. Yet, these guys loved being there.
    A little story of my own. My wife and I had gone down to Washington, D.C. for a little vacation. Of course D.C. has its share of tough area"s. We made our vacation a combination tourism and buff trip. My wife decided she would rather go hanging around with me, then stay at the hotel pool. Just before leaving, I stopped at a Firehouse in a real tough area of D.C. to get a rig photo. The guys of course were great to us. We stayed there about two hours before we started to leave to go home. Believe me, this was one NASTY Neighborhood. My wife really didn"t have too much difficulty with that because she grew up in a pretty tough area in Bridgeport, Ct.
    As we were approaching the NY area, a large lit sign said: "Traffic Delays up to two hours ahead". No problem for me, I knew my way through the South Bronx streets, so we got off and proceeded to skip this long delay. It was a hot summer evening, and the streets were packed with people. It was like a big party was going on. I remember seeing a ladder company going through with air horns blasting, and siren wailing, as we were getting off the highway. We had gone about six or eight blocks and my wife suddenly said to me : "GET ME OUT OF HERE" !!! We had just left one of the Worst Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. a few hours earlier, and she apparently had no problem dealing with that. But these South Bronx streets were a different story. It was completely "out of control". Just another routine evening in The South Bronx.

Offline *******

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #84 on: June 04, 2009, 09:15:55 AM »
I see that DC Curly's name mentioned above.  I recall one evening Chief Curly came into our (E82/L31) quarters. With the chief was a photographer from Life Magazine. This was 1974 or 75. Dennis Smith's book "Report From Engine 82" had been out for several months and was on the best seller list. The photographer had permission from downtown to take photo's of the members and quarters for a human interest spread in the magazine. As we lined up for roll call a first due box came in for both companies. We responded and the chief and photographer followed in the division car. An engine returning from a box in the vicinity saw the smoke from the fire and responded, they came in first. As we arrived I saw that the fire building was a 5 story occupied tenement. There was a front fire escape serving the two middle windows of the building. There were two windows to each side of the fire escape window. On the top floor exposure 2 side of the building a woman was dangling a small child out the window in front of her. Heavy smoke was coming from all 3 apartment windows with some fire at the fire escape window. The engine was stretching. As the aerial went up it would elevate and extend, but was jamming on rotation. I told my guys to get the net off our rig (only time in 37 years that I went to use the life net). A big problem was a front cellar entrance protected by a 6 foot metal picket fence directly under the fire apartments line. If the woman threw the child and it didn't clear the fence the child would be impaled, as would she if/when she jumped. Several hundred people were in the street, half yelling for her to throw the child the other half yelling for her to hold on. FF Tom Neary and his officer Lt. Butler entered the fire building and went to the top floor. Several other members of 31 went for their roof rope. The apartment was fully involved except for the corner of the end room in which the mother and child were in. The fire was out the apartment door into the public hallway. Neary and Butler without a mask or at that time bunker gear entered the apartment crawling. In the street I could see that the mother was about to throw the child, my net was not there yet. This whole sequence took about as long as it takes to read it. Suddenly a firefighter was seen to one side of the woman shielding her,it was Neary. A moment later Butler was on the other side. The tip of the aerial was now about 3 feet from the window. Butler took the child and dove onto the aerial. Neary then threw the woman onto the aerial. Neary then dove onto the aerial head first, his turnout coat was smoldering and his pants were on fire. All 4 went to the hospital with Butler and Neary placed on medical leave. Neary was out for a number of months with the leg burns. Both Butler and Neary received Class 1 awards by the FDNY. Class 1 awards are only given for rescues made under extreme danger. Neary received the FDNY's highest medal that year, the Bennett Medal, which is only given for a Class 1 rescue. That year with 12,000 FDNY members only 43 medals were presented, L31 received 4 of them. I went over to the Life Photographer after it was over and asked him did he get any shots of the rescue for the magazine, they would have been some pictures. He said he was so taken by what he was witnessing that he hadn't taken one picture, a shame.

Neary was promoted to Lt. a few years later and assigned to a ladder company in Harlem. Another fire and another child trapped in a burning apartment with a fully involved room blocking her rescue. Neary took a door from an adjoining apartment and laid on the floor and using the door as a shield slid across the room to the room where the child was trapped. Again no mask or bunker gear. He rescued the child and even though he was wearing gloves his hands were badly burned requiring again many months of medical leave. Neary received another Class 1 award and the Bennett Medal. He is only one or two of FDNY members in its history to recieve two Bennett Medals. Neary retired several years ago with the rank of Deputy Chief. 

Just one story of just one tour during that time.

« Last Edit: June 04, 2009, 01:55:55 PM by ******* »

Offline bklyndisp54

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #85 on: June 04, 2009, 10:25:40 AM »
On a lighter note...  In the late 1960's most all the Brooklyn auxiliaries got their training, as did I, out of the quarters of E280 (by Lt. Ben Poholsky) and in Richmond out of E159 (by Lt. Chris Caccese).  I once managed to horn in on some field training in Richmond and can remember us being in quarters of E159 one Saturday morning with a C.D. pumper.  E159 was out somewhere when a phone alarm came over the Voice Alarm for a house fire in their 1st due area.  We persuaded (begged) Lt. Caccese to let us respond with the C.D. pumper, which we did.  We were 1st to arrive, saw smoke, stretched a 2.5" line and put water on a fire on the 2nd floor of a vacant 2 story frame.  Boy, we young buffs had a blast and were really charged up for the rest of the day.  But the real firemen were not happy with us when they showed up.  Somehow the words "get the **** out of here" come to mind.   ;D



Offline rdm258

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #86 on: June 04, 2009, 12:15:38 PM »
My God, I read these stories and I get the chills. WOW had to be amazing to see in the flesh and blood.

Offline johnd248

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #87 on: June 04, 2009, 01:17:12 PM »
The FDNY had a very tough day back in April 20 1963.  Staten Island had several large brush fires operating and Brooklyn companies were flocking to SI.  I was not officially riding with Engine 248 then but I helped out at fires from time to time.  E248 was directed to relocate to SI and got three blocks from quarters to see heavy smoke pushing out the basement of a 6 brick OMD on the corner of Church and Ocean Avenues.  They called in the fire and went to work; the fire escalated to a fifth alarm and I helped pick up hose when the fire was under control.  Arriving back home ( four blocks from the fire), I heard on the fire radio of a fire at Linden Blvd. and Rockaway Avenue.  The first arriving engine was Engine 240 who had been relocated to Engine 257.  They were met by a huge fire condition with initial fire in an outdoor lumber yard and an auto salvage yard.  The salvage yard contained acetylene tanks which would heat up, take off like rockets, and start additional fire whereever they landed.  It was total chaos.  I grabbed a pair of work gloves (I didn't have turnout gear yet), hopped a city bus and rode out to the scene.  When I got there, the fire was in two city blocks and burning everything in sight.  There were limited companies available due to all of the other fire duty going on at the same time.  I ended up stretching several lines to buildings along with other auxiliaries and buffs.  Every once in a while, you would hear a noise and another tank would lift off.  Queens companies started to flow into the area and the fire was eventually brought under control.  I was wiped and couldn't wait to get home.
I just checked my supply of WNYF magazines and the second issue of 1963 has a good picture of this fire.  I have WNYFs going back to 1955.

Offline grumpy grizzly

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Re: My younger Buff years 4-20-63
« Reply #88 on: June 04, 2009, 04:44:03 PM »
Info on April 20, 1963. Over 2000 calls were received in the 5 dispatch centers. While Staten Island was burning out of control there were other serious fires occurring in the city especally Brooklyn. On arrival at a fire scene that was totally out of control the chief officer asked  for a full fifth alarm assignment. In Bayonne New Jersey a large plastics plant was totally destroyed withno outside help available. At one time 80 engine companies were engaged in either fire supression or covering vacant houses. All engine companies but one were engaged in fighting simultaneous fires in one of the greatest tests in FDNY history. The following extra-alarms were transmitted in one four hour period. 11:47 33-8183 (Queens). 11:50 33-2163 (SI). 11:54 44-1543 (Brook). 12:01 33-1971 (Brook), 12:13 44-4026 (SI),12:30 55-4151 (SI), 12:50 55-1657 (Brook), 1:28 55-1703 (Brook), 1:50 33-100 (SI), 2:43 44-2952 (Bronx), 3:15 55-2125 (Brook) Info from Gus Johnsons  Fire buff handbook :)












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Offline johnd248

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #89 on: June 04, 2009, 08:50:38 PM »
At the fire on Linden and Rockaway, Brooklyn 55-2125, at one point, the Brooklyn dispatcher was so desperate for engine companies, he said: "Is any engine company in Brooklyn available?"  The first response was Engine 215, long since disbanded, from northern Greenpoint; they were told to take in the fire.  I can only imagine how it took to respond.

The same day, Squad 3 in Bed-Stuy came upon a fully involved dwelling somewhere around Lexington Avenue.  Squads back then drove panel trucks resembling bread delivery trucks; they had manpower and tools, but no pumps.  After requesting the box, the Squad was heard about half an hour later: "Squad 3 to Brooklyn, is anyone responding to this fire?"  The dispatcher said he was trying to find some available companies.

 

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