nfd2004 - Any chance you might give some detail on the two separate jobs? Sounds like a very interesting story.
"manhattan", I wasn't there that night but it certainly was the "talk of the town".
These two separate fires occurred in an area that was experiencing some very heavy fire activity during those years. A moving van company from the area of Southern Blvd in the South Bronx had opened up a new office in this area as well. That was a clue that the same kind of people were moving in. In fact at some of the fires, BFD151 and myself would talk to the people. They were familiar with the same neighborhoods in the Bronx that we knew from buffing there.
Throughout the city, the amount of car fires, rubbish fires etc were increasing as well. At times, just like during the FDNY War Years, there just weren't enough companies to go around. That apparently was the case the night of these two fires.
The first fire occurred at the vacant theater. Engine 2 with BFD151's father was first due and he was the MPO. That fire in itself tied up many companies. Mutual aid from surrounding towns was very seldom used in those days.
With many of the companies committed and operating at this fire, a civilian ran up to BFDs father and reported that old school on fire around the corner. As I remember, a few guys grabbed a 2 1/2" line and stretched from Eng 2s rig to the school fire.
Other cities throughout Ct saw an increase in work as well during these years with Hartford and New Haven having their share of stories too. But with Bridgeport being the closest and I-95 making it an easy stop from NYC, it was just the most convenient. In addition to that, Bridgeport offered many of the social services that had been offered in NYC, along with bus transportation if needed.
The reality is that this entire story actually began with the FDNY War Years. But spread like a cancer throughout many other cities as well. Based on the education gained from buffing the FDNY and the conditions that existed, it was pretty easy to almost "predict" what neighborhoods would be next and what buildings would burn.
Buffing the FDNY gave many of us an education we couldn't get from a book. For many of us not only did we learn the best ways to fight fires from watching, but also much about life's social issues as well. On a much smaller scale, what went on in NYC during those days, also went on later throughout many other cities of the northeast with Bridgeport, Ct being one of the hardest hit cities of Connecticut. this condition existed pretty much from the late 70s into the entire 1980s.