Author Topic: Boro Call / Largest Response  (Read 2096 times)

Offline BritishAndy

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Boro Call / Largest Response
« on: January 09, 2018, 03:02:33 AM »
Hi Guys,

Forgive the question which maybe pretty straightforward to you guys, but asking from the UK across the pond.

With two 7th alarms transmitted in the last week I noticed on the individual topics for these incidents people make reference to a boro call. One of the guys explained it pretty well, that if a fifth alarm had been transmitted and a further response was required, the officer in charge would request a 2nd alarm from a different borough and then that assignment would respond to the incident?

Have I understood this correctly?

This leads me to the question, aside from 9/11, what is the largest response to a single incident in recent times within the FDNY?

A few incidents that I have read about, either on this excellent site, in books or on other websites include;

The Knickerbocker Fire, Brooklyn - 10 alarms?
The Jamaica Gas Explosion, Queens - 13 alarms?
Greenpoint Terminal fire - 10 alarms?
St Georges Hotel - 18 alarms?

Would be really interested to hear your thoughts.

Best wishes

Nycfire.net

Boro Call / Largest Response
« on: January 09, 2018, 03:02:33 AM »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 07:47:03 AM »
'BritishAndy", as a buff, I'll tell you what I remember about the "Knickerbocker Fire" in Brooklyn.

 It happened in July, 1977 on one of the hottest days of the year. Hydrants were illegally opened and water was a problem. The city had just faced the Blackout of 1977 about two weeks before, the busiest night for fires and looting in the city's history. Actually the fires went on beyond the night for about 24 hours, even during day light.

 This neighborhood, of Knickerbocker Ave is located in a section of Brooklyn called; Bushwick. There had been a dramatic increase in the number of fires in that neighborhood in just a few short years. For myself and a few buff buddies, we had decided to hang out in that neighborhood. I remember being there my first time and within one hour we caught a second alarm in a row of three story frames on Evergreen Ave. In no time the fire had spread across the entire cockloft of the entire block.

 The Knickerbocker fire was set by a young child in a large vacant factory. That fire had spread to a church and I think about 30 surrounding buildings, going in all directions. With little water pressure from so many open hydrants in the area, the fire dept was completely overwhelmed. I had gone down a day or two later to view the site and I could not believe how many buildings were burned in all directions.

 I also remember when that juvenile was caught his statement as posted in the newspaper was; "Am I going to get my picture in the paper" ? Apparently this young guy was more interested in his moment of fame than any remorse for what he did.

 After this Bushwick fire and the recent Blackout, as I remember it, the city finally admitted that something needed to be done about the serious arson problem that NYC had faced during the last 10-15 years. Entire neighborhoods were being destroyed. So as I remember it, it was shortly after that, the city hired an additional 300 Fire Marshalls. They would be referred to as the "Red Caps", for their red baseball caps giving a more visible sign throughout some of the hardest hit areas. It didn't end the arson because the 1980s were busy as well. But I do think that Red Cap Program did have a success rate and change the way arson was looked at.

 Interesting today is that during those very busy years, you couldn't give a vacant lot or property away in these areas. Now, most of us couldn't afford to live there as property values in most areas of NYC has skyrocketed.

 The Jamaica Gas Explosion, I only remember as a kid watching it on the TV news in black and white, before the invention of color TV.

 The St George Hotel fire was also in Brooklyn. I only remember it being in the area of Pineapple St (?).

 I don't have too many details of the Greenpoint Terminal Fire but that was in Brooklyn as well.

 I know that you can find stories and photos about these historic fires on the internet. I know there is a series of photos from the Bushwick, Knickerbocker fire.

Online raybrag

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 08:01:27 AM »
Frank Raffa has a nice summary of the St. George Hotel Fire, including all units assigned, on his web site: http://www.fdnewyork.com/stgeorge.asp


The hotel had a nice, big swimming pool . . . we used to go there in the evening for something different.  They made you wear one of their swim suits.                   
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 09:27:48 AM by raybrag »
Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Offline BritishAndy

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 08:47:14 AM »
'BritishAndy", as a buff, I'll tell you what I remember about the "Knickerbocker Fire" in Brooklyn.

 It happened in July, 1977 on one of the hottest days of the year. Hydrants were illegally opened and water was a problem. The city had just faced the Blackout of 1977 about two weeks before, the busiest night for fires and looting in the city's history. Actually the fires went on beyond the night for about 24 hours, even during day light.

 This neighborhood, of Knickerbocker Ave is located in a section of Brooklyn called; Bushwick. There had been a dramatic increase in the number of fires in that neighborhood in just a few short years. For myself and a few buff buddies, we had decided to hang out in that neighborhood. I remember being there my first time and within one hour we caught a second alarm in a row of three story frames on Evergreen Ave. In no time the fire had spread across the entire cockloft of the entire block.

 The Knickerbocker fire was set by a young child in a large vacant factory. That fire had spread to a church and I think about 30 surrounding buildings, going in all directions. With little water pressure from so many open hydrants in the area, the fire dept was completely overwhelmed. I had gone down a day or two later to view the site and I could not believe how many buildings were burned in all directions.

 I also remember when that juvenile was caught his statement as posted in the newspaper was; "Am I going to get my picture in the paper" ? Apparently this young guy was more interested in his moment of fame than any remorse for what he did.

 After this Bushwick fire and the recent Blackout, as I remember it, the city finally admitted that something needed to be done about the serious arson problem that NYC had faced during the last 10-15 years. Entire neighborhoods were being destroyed. So as I remember it, it was shortly after that, the city hired an additional 300 Fire Marshalls. They would be referred to as the "Red Caps", for their red baseball caps giving a more visible sign throughout some of the hardest hit areas. It didn't end the arson because the 1980s were busy as well. But I do think that Red Cap Program did have a success rate and change the way arson was looked at.

 Interesting today is that during those very busy years, you couldn't give a vacant lot or property away in these areas. Now, most of us couldn't afford to live there as property values in most areas of NYC has skyrocketed.

 The Jamaica Gas Explosion, I only remember as a kid watching it on the TV news in black and white, before the invention of color TV.

 The St George Hotel fire was also in Brooklyn. I only remember it being in the area of Pineapple St (?).

 I don't have too many details of the Greenpoint Terminal Fire but that was in Brooklyn as well.

 I know that you can find stories and photos about these historic fires on the internet. I know there is a series of photos from the Bushwick, Knickerbocker fire.

"NFD2004" wow! what a story, thank you so much for taking time to reply. It sounds like the members had the 'perfect storm' on their hands with the Knickerbocker fire.
When I visited NYC for the first time in April 2017 we took the subway out to the quarters of E233 on Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn - we wanted to see Field Comm, from there we walked to the quarters of Squad 252 in Bushwick. It was certainly interesting walking around the area but the members at each firehouse treated us like royalty, the guys at SQ252 were real history buffs and took great delight in showing us round their historic quarters.

I did wonder at the time would I be able to walk those same streets back in the 1970's when the 'War Years' were in progress, maybe not.

Thanks again for some excellent information.


Offline BritishAndy

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 08:48:40 AM »
Frank Raffa has a nice summary of the http://nycfire.net/forums/Themes/default/images/bbc/underline.gifSt. George Hotel Fire, including all units assigned, on his web site: http://www.fdnewyork.com/stgeorge.asp


The hotel had a nice, big swimming pool . . . we used to go there in the evening for something different.  They made you wear one of their swim suits.                 

Thank you Ray, I will have a good read. Crazy those guys making you wear their own swimsuits though!!  :o

Online raybrag

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 09:30:14 AM »
It was, Andy.  The worst part of it was that the girls' suits made them look like something out of the 1930s (which was probably when the suits were bought) . . . no bikinis there  :'(
Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Online raybrag

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 09:42:14 AM »
There was also a good article in the January 1996 issue of Fire Engineering about the fire:

http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-149/issue-1/features/16-alarm-fire-brooklyn-new-york.html

The fire was blamed on Louis Foressie, a 61-year old retired Parks Department employee, ex-convict  and career criminal from Bensonhurst.  He was scavenging for copper in abandoned parts of the hotel, and lit some newspapers on fire because he had forgotten to bring a flashlight (torch to you, Andy).  Of course, the newspapers lit other stuff, and you can read about the result:




Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Offline fdhistorian

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 02:49:27 PM »
Hi Guys,

Forgive the question which maybe pretty straightforward to you guys, but asking from the UK across the pond.

With two 7th alarms transmitted in the last week I noticed on the individual topics for these incidents people make reference to a boro call. One of the guys explained it pretty well, that if a fifth alarm had been transmitted and a further response was required, the officer in charge would request a 2nd alarm from a different borough and then that assignment would respond to the incident?

Have I understood this correctly?

This leads me to the question, aside from 9/11, what is the largest response to a single incident in recent times within the FDNY?

A few incidents that I have read about, either on this excellent site, in books or on other websites include;

The Knickerbocker Fire, Brooklyn - 10 alarms?
The Jamaica Gas Explosion, Queens - 13 alarms?
Greenpoint Terminal fire - 10 alarms?
St Georges Hotel - 18 alarms?

Would be really interested to hear your thoughts.

Best wishes
For single incidents, add the 43rd St fire in Manhattan in 1985 that resulted in the collapse of the fire building onto the quarters of Rescue 1, destroying their firehouse.

Among multiple simultaneous incidents that severely taxed resources, some include:

9/11 (two incidents)
Queens airliner crash shortly after 9/11
Numerous occasions during the War Years when all units were committed within a Boro due to multiple fires
Storm Sandy - more than 75% of units committed to calls
Staten Island brush fires in 1963 - 83 engines committed
April 20, 1963 - simultaneous multiple alarms during a 5 hour period.  4 5th alarms, 3 4th alarms, 3 3rd alarms, 1 2nd alarm, working fires, 2nd alarm boro call, and mutual aid to Bayonne NJ.
Four of those multiple alarms were dispatcher's multiple alarms due to the citywide shortage of units.

Offline 68jk09

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 05:26:31 PM »
In regard to Willy's reply # 1 above on the 10th Alarm on Knickerbocker Ave ...the Fire was in the afternoon & the temperature was 104 Degrees.....the original bldg was also the site of two Third Alarms in one day around 2 years before that....the 1st one was around 0730 hrs & foam was used in the basement due to a large amount of heating oil on the floor.....that afternoon as companies were still overhauling they washed a lot of the foam away to gain access to Fire still burning in some cieling areas & the oil reignited requiring another Third Alarm.... the NYPD 83 Precint sits on the site today.....    https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=RURVWpbgGMfs_QbZprygBw&q=480+Knickerbocker+Avenue%2C+Brooklyn%2C+NY&oq=480+KNICKERBOCKER+&gs_l=psy-ab.1.3.0l3j38l5.2912.10519.0.13959.18.18.0.0.0.0.86.1067.18.18.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.18.1067...0i131k1j0i3k1j0i22i30k1.0.tXnnVe0LwIM
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 05:39:15 PM by 68jk09 »

Offline 68jk09

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 05:55:27 PM »

Offline lucky

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 08:56:56 PM »
I was working the day tour of the second 3rd alarm. Like the Chief said, we were cutting through the floor to expose the heavy wood beams below and some sparks dropped into the oil covered water in the basement. The air was fine and all of a sudden you couldn't see your hand in front of your face with the dark smoke of the fuel oil. The building had an eight foot wide moat around it filled with the oil and it made for a spectacular fire. We were down to 1 engine and 1 truck at the time and we took some kidding from the members of the arriving units.

Offline BritishAndy

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 04:04:08 AM »
Some great replies, thanks a lot guys, really enjoyed reading them.  :)

Offline entropychaser

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2018, 10:19:28 AM »
A true boro call would involve the response of engine companies only assigned to the running card of the second boro. A favorite Box of Manhattan dispatchers for calls from Brooklyn was 174.....Canal Street at the Manhattan Bridge.

Offline IRISH

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 10:43:14 AM »
The '93 WTC bombing was 23 Alarms if im not mistaken
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Offline BritishAndy

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Re: Boro Call / Largest Response
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2018, 07:24:38 AM »
Thanks entopychaser and IRISH, 23 alarms - wow  :o