Author Topic: The Other War Years  (Read 23067 times)

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #105 on: November 01, 2010, 09:05:14 PM »
"3511" Thanks for that story about the Bridgeport Fire Dept. It sure was a mini Bronx in those days. And "mack" you're right. We need to give credit for the firefighters who fought the fires in those very busy cities. As with the FDNY in those days, when you showed up in the firehouse, you just expected to catch work.
  On a side note, "johnd248", myself and my brother "georged4997" were all volunteers at Fairfield Engine 3 and Truck 15 in the 70s. My brother George (georged4997) got on the job in Bridgeport in 1977, just as things were really starting to pick up. Most of what I call, "The Bridgeport War Years" lasted up to the early 90s.
  For those who might be interested, I wrote a few stories on www.ctfire-ems.com about Bridgeports Busy Fire Years. If you click on to "Cts Fire Depts General Forum", then go down and click on "Bridgeports War Years".  There's a few stories and pictures guys put up.
  And "mack", I don't know about writing a book, But I sure wish that somebody from Hollywood (maybe Ron Howard, or Mike Leary-who donated a lot to the FDNY) would consider making a movie about those busy FDNY or Other War Years. I certainly think there is an interest in it. Even people who really don't follow fire dept activity. People would NOT believe what it was like.  And it could tell the TRUE Story of just what these guys did. They can start by getting a few ideas from some of these threads on this and a few other sites.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 10:23:52 PM by nfd2004 »

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #105 on: November 01, 2010, 09:05:14 PM »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #106 on: April 01, 2011, 09:26:40 AM »
The City of Hartford has Always been one of Connecticuts Busier Cities. Hartford, like many northeast cities faced the riots of the late 60s, and neighborhoods continued to burn throughout the 70s and 80s. But for some reason, I had never gone to buff Hartford.
  There was a newsletter that was published monthly by a Hartford Firefighter named Keith Victor. It was called the "Alarmroom Newsletter" and would list the Working fires for most of Connecticuts Cities. Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford of course, were always doing the most work. I looked at that newsletter month after month and found that Hartfords Engine 2 and Ladder 3 were catching the most work. So finally in the early 1980s I made my first buff trip to Hartford. And by the way, Keith Victor was the ECC for the very busy Hartford Engine 2 at the time.
  It didn't take me long to see that these two companies were sure catching their share of the work. The main streets in the Northend neighborhood were Albany Ave and North Main St. The familiar tell tale signs of burned out buildings lined those streets. From three and four story bricks with those fimilar black burn marks on many windows, to the many 2 1/2 frames with holes in roofs or no roofs left at all from the fires. Same scene on the many side streets that I drove through.
   And just as I would see in the FDNY then, there were the burned out shells of cars in vacant lots, and every dumpster had the signs of a fire at some point. It was pretty easy to see that these guys were catching it. "It was a sign of the Times".
   Like their Brothers from other cities, like Newark, Jersey City, Providence, Yonkers, Bridgeport, and Boston to name just a few, the Hartford Firefighters of this time era saw a huge amount of work. They too join the ranks of: "The Greatest Generation of Firefighters".
   Soon I hope to tell a few short stories about a few of those Hartford Firefighters.
                          CONTINUED: A Few Hartford Firefighters
                                                       

Offline FlashoverImages

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #107 on: April 11, 2011, 11:33:11 AM »
Bill - Thanks for bringing up Hartford.  As I am of the younger generation of "Buffs" or "Sparks", I wasn't around in those very busy War Years to witness this record breaking fire activity first-hand.  Hartford back then was also home to some of the toughest public housing projects in Connecticut (if not the nation, from what I'm told).  Projects with familiar names such as Nelton Court, Charter Oak, Bellevue Square and Stowe Village were some of the worst.  Most of these communities have now been demolished and are long gone.

From talking to friends who were on the job at that time, these projects were always good for at least a few dumpster and car fires each night, if not a room & contents job - or 2.  Additionally, GSW's, stabbings and other violent crime was routine, especially during the late 80's and early 90's during Hartford's notorious "Gang Wars".  Rival gangs such as the Bloods and Cripts were 2 major components of the violence and hostility in the city at that time.  Guys working the night tour at Engine 2/Ladder 3/TAC-2 at 1515 Main St. could regularly hear the sound of gunfire within the Bellevue Square projects located only a couple hundred yards diagonally across the street.

For the size of the city, Hartford still sure does have it's problems involving gun violence.  The department currently runs with 11 engine companies, 5 ladder companies, 1 Heavy Rescue and 2 District chiefs staffed 24/7. 

« Last Edit: April 11, 2011, 11:35:41 AM by 10-3thebox »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #108 on: April 15, 2011, 09:56:06 PM »
  Continued:  A FEW Hartford Firefighters.
    One of the most Familiar names within the Hartford Fire dept during those busy war years was Eddie Pospisil. He is also a very popular name with the FDNY as he is an Honorary Chief within the Dept. Eddie had worked for the New York City Fire Patrol and was there when the Worst disaster to hit the FDNY prior to 9/11. It was the 23rd St Collapse back in the late 60s that took the lives of 12 FDNY Members fighting a fire in a drug store. Working with the Fire Patrol, Eddie had just left the area when the collapse occurred. It was his detailed description that described exactly where those firefighters were at the time of that terrible collapse and those firefighters were found exactly where he said they were.
  Eddie Pospisil later went on the Hartford Fire Dept during their busy War Years, and retired as Captain from the very busy Hartford TAC 1 (Hartfords Rescue). It is reported that he is one of the most decorated members within the dept. In addition to spending many hours on Hartfords Busiest rig, he has been a regular visitor at Eng 75, Ladder 33, and Batt 19, where he is well respected by the members there.
     Continued:
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 10:21:08 PM by nfd2004 »

Offline Atlas

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #109 on: April 16, 2011, 01:19:53 PM »
I have to add that Eddie grew up in the quarters of Engine 75, Ladder 33, & Batt 19 long before the "War Years" started. From the fire house Eddie entered the Navy, & also served as a paid firefighter in the Washington DC area before heading to Hartford. 

Offline 68jk09

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #110 on: April 16, 2011, 06:10:09 PM »
Ed received the Albert S. Johnston Medal from the FDNY at Medal Day in '67 for his part in the 23rd St. Fire as a Member of the Fire Patrol ...i first met Ed through a mutual friend Artie O'Leary RIP who was also a Fire Patrolman..... then a Hartford FF W/Ed then went on to be a Boston FF until his untimely death at age 57....both Arty & Ed were lifelong Buffs & accomplished career Firefighters....Ed also is an excellent photographer.

Offline 68jk09

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #111 on: April 16, 2011, 06:13:39 PM »
              http://reddevilphotography.net/                      Eds site.                         

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #112 on: April 20, 2011, 10:25:09 PM »
CONTINUED: A Few Hartford Firefighters........... Besides Keith Victor (who published the Alarm Room Newsletter and worked Hartfords Busy Northend), and Eddie Pospisil, there were a few others that I would like to mention. Site Member "Patrickfd" had his father on the job in Hartford during those very busy years. He spent alot of years on that Busy Truck 3. I believe his first name was Marty and both Pat and his father were also FDNY Buffs. They spent alot of time hanging out in the area of Watkins St Eng 231/Lad 120 and the busy 44. I believe they also spent time at Rescue 2. Pat's father "rolled" a large extension ladder to several windows one night and several occupants were removed. I believe they later referred to that as the "Dooley Roll"(his last name). Young Pat later followed in his fathers footsteps when he went on the Manchanster (CT) Fire Dept and a few years later the East Hartford Fire Dept.
  Another retired Hartford Firefighter I had the honor of knowing wasn't really until he actually retired from the job, where he rose to the rank of Captain. He later became Chief of the Willimantic (Ct) Fire Dept. A small city dept with all the fire potential and problems of any larger city. His name was Chief Walsh and he always treated me with respect. I admired him for the job he did during those busy Hartford years, and also as the Dept Chief of Willimantic. Chief Walsh also has two sons on the job now. One in New Britian, Ct and another who is a Lt with the FDNY in Harlem. I believe his son also spent time at the Animal House in the Bronx. (E75/L33).
  They too, are a part of "the Greatest Generation of Firefighters". Just as their Brothers of the FDNY, Providence, Newark, Yonkers, and many others did during those very busy War Years. Those Hartford Firefighters went to work knowing that they would see Fire during their shift. It wasn't "IF" they would see work, But "Where would they see work".
 
« Last Edit: April 20, 2011, 10:30:44 PM by nfd2004 »

Offline fdny1075k

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #113 on: June 26, 2013, 01:38:06 PM »
Thought I'd post some pictures of the "Other War Years", in this case of Bridgeport, CT Fire Department back in the day. Anyone who worked the BFD from the '70's through the '90's can tell you that it was really burning. These shots are by Bill Bernhard, a retired Bridgeport member, one of many who made up the "Greatest Generation of Firefighters". The shots are also posted on www.ctfire-ems.com under the "Bridgeport's War Years" topic.

First up is a shot of a job on Pembroke Street on the city's tough East Side in 1979:



Next up is a shot of two members of BFD Engine 10 operating at a fire in 1990, also on the East Side. Also is a shot of a rear yard on Hallett Street, East Side that same year. The buildings in both photos are gone. The one in the first shot is now very close to the current quarters of BFD Engine 10/Ladder 10, and the Hallett Street tenements are now a park.





Finally, the BFD opening up at a taxpayer fire, and two shots of members of BFD's 2nd Battalion operating at a job at Stratford Ave. and Newfield Ave. in the East End/Newfield section of the city.







Also, a War Years story from Bill Bernhard,

 "Here is one story from my days at BFD Engine 10 / Ladder 10 also known as Camp Putnam. One day I ( Bill Bernhard ) was working an overtime on Ladder 10 when a 'Signal 29' came in for an apartment fire at the Beardsley Terrace Apartments (a very dangerous project). It was a vacant apartment, but was filled with trash and some furniture and heavy smoke was showing out several windows on the top floor when we arrived. Myself and FF Joe Tesla of Squad 5 ran up the stairs to the top floor and crawled to the doorway to the apartment. Joe and I forced the door to the apartment and I crawled in and started putting water on the fire with a 2 and 1/2 and a water extinguisher. Joe crawled in to start a search and I put the first water on the fire. The standpipe connections on most all the buildings in the complex were either stolen or vandalized so the procedure was to gain entry into an adjacent or nearby apartment and drop down a rope. Bridgeport in those days (1970s - 80s) would pull up a booster line, yes a booster and extinguish the fire. The use of a booster line on apartment fires in all the city projects was standard procedure.

 The reason a booster line was used back in the 1970's and 80's was because in the housing projects you never knew when you might come under attack and picking up the booster was very quick so you could make your get away. Nowadays Bridgeport and many other cities don't have booster lines on their fire engines. I am sure they almost never run into those problems we had with vandalized standpipe systems.

 Another interesting housing project fire I went to: it was at the Charles F. Green Housing Project on Washington Ave. and extremely heavy black smoke was billowing from the basement. I was assigned to Ladder Co. 5 ( then called Truck 5 ) and we put smoke ejectors in the doorway or some basement opening to pull out the smoke. I will never forget that when we cleaned the blades on the fan the smoke or carbon / plastic stuck to the blades was at least 5/8 inch thick. What the heck was burning down there? The locals had build a fort of those plastic milk crates and there were several hundred of them on fire. We had those old Scott 2 A's with the elephant trunks in those days with either flat top Aluminum cylinders or steel bottles with round tops."

Online grumpy grizzly

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #114 on: June 26, 2013, 03:05:59 PM »
I think most companies run an 1 3/4' now. I was told by an old Boston cheif you can always make a large line smaller, but not a small line larger. But then again I am not there, thanx for being there!
FAC 20 TASS 68-69 SVN. Hue/PhuBai , Boston Spark from 71-79, Chicago 79-15, Bloomington/Normal 2015- present

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #115 on: October 07, 2014, 12:38:29 PM »
  In 1987 for Bridgeport, Ct., their War Years were starting to wind down. For the previous 12-15 years, similar to their War Years Brothers of the FDNY and many other cities, fighting fires on a regular basis on every shift was the norm. By 1987, many of Bridgeports once thriving neighborhoods were gone because of a record number of building fires never before seen it that city's history. Generally speaking, it was the same in northeast cities such as Newark, Jersey City, Yonkers, Buffalo, Hartford, New Haven, Providence, Worcester or Boston. It was just a routine way of life that existed and was only felt by the members of those departments and the neighborhoods affected. Serious building fires just did not make the nightly evening news broadcast.

  But on April 23, 1987, Bridgeport, Ct would suddenly be on all the news channels throughout the country. And it would be on the news channels for several days to follow. It wasn't about the fires that destroyed almost half the city, but about a major building collapse that would take the lives of 28 construction workers. At a 16 story building being constructed with what was called "Lift Slab Construction" known as L'Ambinance Plaza.

  My brother George, had been a newly appointed Lt assigned to Ladder 5 as the first due truck company, only a few blocks away. With about ten years on the job, he had experienced most of those very busy war years. But he had never faced an event that he would respond to like this on that tragic day. As I remember, the call came in about 10 AM. Of course being only a few blocks away and hearing the building come down, they knew as they left that firehouse, that they would be facing a very serious event.

  No department in Connecticut was ready to deal with such an event. A call was put out to lumber yards and contractors asking for plywood and lumber that could be used for cribbing and shoring. Nobody in Connecticut had been either trained or equipped to deal with such a challenge. That being several construction workers buried under 16 stories of concrete.

  Shortly before this had happened, there had been a major earthquake in Mexico City. Specially trained firefighters from Dade County, Fla., Fairfax County, Va., and the FDNY had responded to this incident. There were pictures in the newspapers of a young baby that was rescued and had survived this incident. Knowing that, I think a call was made to ask for assistance from those three departments (Dade County, Fairfax County, and the FDNY). The only other departments that I remember being trained and so equipped at the time was Phoenix, Ariz. and L.A. City, Ca. I think this was the beginning of the Urban Search and Rescue Teams (USAR) we now have.

  During the first several hours of this incident, mutual aid for police, fire and EMS was still coming in. My parents had called me about 2 pm, about four hours after the initial call, to tell me what was going on and my mother was telling me she is still hearing sirens from responding units.

  I went down to the collapse the next day. By then the members of the FDNY were there, with the other two departments enroute. They brought equipment such as underground listening devices and small movable cameras to be used looking into void spaces. It was the first and only time that I ever saw an FDNY Battalions Chief car parked in the streets of Bridgeport, some 50 miles northeast of New York City.

  Next to this collapse was a major highway called Route 25. When the listening devices were used, police closed off the highway so any sounds could be heard of trapped workers. In addition, over a PA system, the on lookers were asked to be quite. Surprisingly everybody cooperated. Not a sound made for several blocks while they listened. This search for trapped workers went on around the clock for 8 days.

  My parents lived about five miles away. All the cars on the street were covered with dust from the collapse.

  In the end, a total of 28 construction workers were killed. The investigation pointed out the cause as a small metal pin that failed in this "lift slab" construction. Many of Bridgeport's firefighters that fought those busy War Years fires, responded to this incident. I think at the time the Bridgeport Fire Dept consisted of 14 Engines, 5 Ladders and 1 Rescue. (today it's 9, 4, and 1), along with two battalions.

  Video of the incident   

   
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 10:57:29 PM by nfd2004 »

Offline johnd248

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #116 on: October 07, 2014, 05:17:22 PM »
I was working in downtown Bridgeport that day.  I went to the scene early after the collapse and they were still bringing out workers alive.  That did not continue for very long.

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #117 on: April 23, 2017, 01:04:06 PM »

  On April 23, 1987, Bridgeport, Ct would suddenly be on all the news channels throughout the country. And it would be on the news channels for several days to follow. It wasn't about the fires that destroyed almost half the city, but about a major building collapse that would take the lives of 28 construction workers. At a 16 story building being constructed with what was called "Lift Slab Construction" known as L'Ambinance Plaza.

  My brother George, had been a newly appointed Lt assigned to Ladder 5 as the first due truck company, only a few blocks away. With about ten years on the job, he had experienced most of those very busy war years. But he had never faced an event that he would respond to like this on that tragic day. As I remember, the call came in about 10 AM. Of course being only a few blocks away and hearing the building come down, they knew as they left that firehouse, that they would be facing a very serious event.

  No department in Connecticut was ready to deal with such an event. A call was put out to lumber yards and contractors asking for plywood and lumber that could be used for cribbing and shoring. Nobody in Connecticut had been either trained or equipped to deal with such a challenge. That being several construction workers buried under 16 stories of concrete.

  Shortly before this had happened, there had been a major earthquake in Mexico City. Specially trained firefighters from Dade County, Fla., Fairfax County, Va., and the FDNY had responded to this incident. There were pictures in the newspapers of a young baby that was rescued and had survived this incident. Knowing that, I think a call was made to ask for assistance from those three departments (Dade County, Fairfax County, and the FDNY). The only other departments that I remember being trained and so equipped at the time was Phoenix, Ariz. and L.A. City, Ca. I think this was the beginning of the Urban Search and Rescue Teams (USAR) we now have.

  During the first several hours of this incident, mutual aid for police, fire and EMS was still coming in. My parents had called me about 2 pm, about four hours after the initial call, to tell me what was going on and my mother was telling me she is still hearing sirens from responding units.

  I went down to the collapse the next day. By then the members of the FDNY were there, with the other two departments enroute. They brought equipment such as underground listening devices and small movable cameras to be used looking into void spaces. It was the first and only time that I ever saw an FDNY Battalions Chief car parked in the streets of Bridgeport, some 50 miles northeast of New York City.

  Next to this collapse was a major highway called Route 25. When the listening devices were used, police closed off the highway so any sounds could be heard of trapped workers. In addition, over a PA system, the on lookers were asked to be quite. Surprisingly everybody cooperated. Not a sound made for several blocks while they listened. This search for trapped workers went on around the clock for 8 days.

  My parents lived about five miles away. All the cars on the street were covered with dust from the collapse.

  In the end, a total of 28 construction workers were killed. The investigation pointed out the cause as a small metal pin that failed in this "lift slab" construction. Many of Bridgeport's firefighters that fought those busy War Years fires, responded to this incident. I think at the time the Bridgeport Fire Dept consisted of 14 Engines, 5 Ladders and 1 Rescue. (today it's 9, 4, and 1), along with two battalions.

  Video of the incident   

 

  Today, April 23rd, is the anniversary of one of the worst disasters to hit Connecticut. It was on this date in 1987 when a 16 story concrete and steel building under construction would suddenly collapse, killing 28 construction workers. It would bring specially trained members of the FDNY, Dade County, Fla and Fairfax County, VA into Connecticut's largest city.

 For a young, newly appointed Lt of Bridgeport's Ladder 5, my brother, it would bring him First Due into a scene beyond anything any other firefighter in Connecticut had ever seen before.   

Offline nfd2004

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Re: The Other War Years
« Reply #118 on: February 14, 2018, 05:38:29 PM »
 The amount of fire activity for "The Other War Years" was Staggering during the 1980s and 1990s. During that time the fires reached historic proportions much like the FDNY had seen. A city the size of Bridgeport with a population about 140,000 people, in roughly 18 square miles, would respond to dozens of car fires, dumpster fires, and rubbish fires during a 24 hour period. Considered then to be just a routine thing with few of it's citizens ever being concerned.

 Many of the car fires were often set by the owners themselves after they would drop them off on a city street or in a vacant lot. Then they would set them on fire in order to collect the insurance payment on it. Just prior to setting the fires, the owner would report them as stolen. Car fires were very common during those days.

 One area of the city was a favorite spot for this. It was the area around Bridgeport's Engine 10 and Ladder 10 on Putnam St. It was also an area of heavy drug activity.

 With the amount of drug activity going on, the area was often under surveillance by the police. When these drug dealers/buyers were chased by the police they often fled in their vehicles. At times it was very difficult to continue with the pursuit because of traffic and pedestrians in the area. The city came up with a plan on how to capture these individuals.

 The plan was to set up a maze using Jersey Barriers which would block off several local streets and make it easy for the police to wait and catch them as those guys would drive out of that maze. The police would just wait at the end for them to come out. As I remember it was called the "Phoenix Project" in 1993. The city created a maze of dead end streets by blocking off 40 intersections.

 Of course for the fire dept this created a major issue. Right at a time when Bridgeport was doing some of its highest number of building fires ever, averaging about 30-40 serious building fires every month. A company would pull out the doors of their firehouse and see the building burning 2 or 3 blocks away. But because of the cement barriers, it was necessary to ride around another 6 or 8 blocks to get to it. A fire hydrant closer often had to be by passed because it was impossible to get to it. 

 The city tried to eliminate one problem but created another. As I remember, those Jersey barriers remained for about 2 or 3 years. I got to hear the stories first hand as my brother was the captain of Engine 10 at the time.

 Here is the story of those Phoenix Barriers as reported in the N.Y. Times.

 http://www.nytimes.com/1993/05/18/nyregion/to-stop-drug-sales-bridgeport-barricades-its-streets.html

 

 

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