Author Topic: My younger Buff years  (Read 488555 times)

Offline R1SmokeEater

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #45 on: May 13, 2009, 03:44:26 PM »
« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 03:47:21 PM by R1SmokeEater »

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #45 on: May 13, 2009, 03:44:26 PM »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #46 on: May 13, 2009, 09:48:41 PM »
I"d certainly like to Thank "r1smokeater" for sharing the two previous You Tube Videos. They do tell stories of what it was like during the War Years in The South Bronx and Bushwick. (Thanks Jamie)
  The month of July, 1977 was probadly the busiest month ever for the FDNY. It was really hot and in the streets of NY it was a common sight to see hydrants open on every street as thousands of gallons of water would flow down the streets, sometimes flooding them. In the ghettos like Brownsville, Bushwick, the Lower East Side, or the South Bronx, this was a real problem. Of course with all these hydrants opened, it certainly would have an affect on fighting fires.
  Around 1976/77, Bushwick was the hot spot. The companies in the neighborhood like E271/L124, E277/L112 were doing over 6,000 runs a year. Somewhere along the line I had heard that 6,000 runs or more was what the FDNY considered to be the Dangerous Magic Number. It meant that the neighborhood was in real trouble. Somewhere around that 1976/77 year, Ladder Cos 112 and 124 were at the top two positions for Runs and workers. By now a lot of the South Bronx had been already burned out and those companies were actually starting to slow down a little. But Bushwick was now where most of the daily fires were.
  Around two weeks before or after the Blackout of July 13, 1977 the FDNYs busiest period of fires in a 36 hour span, The FDNY companies would again battle a historic fire. It would be Engine Co 271 that rolled in first due to what would become a Boro Call, the equlivant of 10 Alarms.
  As I remember it, it was a very hot day and as usual the neighborhood hydrants would all be open. I think it came in as a vacant factory on fire at Myrtle and Knickerbocker Aves. Engs 271, 277, and Lads 124, 112 would be responding on the first alarm. On arrival they found a large four story brick factory, fully involved. As these units prepared to fight this fire, they faced the fact that they had very little water pressure due to all the open hydrants. With very limited water the fire was now spreading to a four story dance hall, accross the street to a church, across another street to a row of occupied four story attached wood frames. Parked cars were burning in the street. By now the fire was spreading in all directions. Companies were called for brand patrol and to shut down as many open hydrants as possible. In the end, I had read that 23 buildings were lost. I went down two days later but I counted a total of 40 buildings lost. Either way, it certainly was a Huge fire that completely wiped out an entire neighborhood. and this within two weeks of the Blackout.
  A teenager admitted starting the fire in the vacant four story factory building. His only concern was if his picture was going to be in the paper.
  As I read that Engine Co 271 will be closed, its certainly a loss to the neighborhood. I saw that company at so many fires then. Even though I really didn"t know any of the guys in that company, I remember their faces. Alot of times their faces were all sweaty and covered with soot. They"d see me there with the camera and scanner, and they all knew what I was there for. Usually, I"d get a nod, or a thumbs up. I think I was only in that firehouse once. Now that company is closing. Let me tell ya, "they sure did their share work" !!!! I can tell you this: "Engine 271, will be gone, but not forgotten". Certainly not by me.
   The Previous video, with Ron Carritue is a picture of that fire as it spreads across the street to the row frames.
   

Offline dillondotcom

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #47 on: May 13, 2009, 11:05:42 PM »
Damn, the first video wont work on my computer.

Offline Bulldog

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #48 on: May 13, 2009, 11:41:21 PM »
Just for everyone's information to watch the video on the last page you need to right click on it and watch it in YouTube, the ability to run it embedded has been disabled. 

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #49 on: May 14, 2009, 09:02:26 AM »
Bulldog, maybe you can help us a little more regarding the video on the previous page. I followed your instructions by clicking on the lower right where it says: "You Tube", but this time all I get is the sound which is music. "NO PICTURE". I thought maybe it was just my computer. But I still can not play it.
  This video was put on here by "r1smokeater". He had sent it to me earlier and was good enough to put it on here for us all to see. Believe me, it sure shows what the conditions were like in those days in the South Bronx. Its about 10 minutes long. If you or anybody can help with being able to watch that video, I"d sure appreciate it. "Its a Great Video". I hope everybody can get to watch this. It brings back memories for the old buffs like johnd248, (sorry John, just had to do it), and for the younger guys, I"m sure they won"t believe what they see.

Offline vbcapt

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #50 on: May 14, 2009, 09:52:28 AM »
The Great Fire of Knickerbocker & Bleeker that I believe nfd referred to  http://www.nyfd.com/box-10-10-767.html
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Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #51 on: May 14, 2009, 11:21:01 AM »
VBCAPT, yes, that is the fire I was referring to. I certainly want to "Thank You" for putting that out there. And it was Knickerbocker and Bleeker. Marcy Ave is near there, but actually the correct address of where the fire orginated was at your Correct Location. I remember seeing a picture, I think in Firehouse Magazine with Tower Ladder 124, trying to flow water from the bucket, but with the very low water pressure, the stream wasn"t even reaching the fire. Thanks Guy.
   Also, if anybody is having problems viewing that video that was posted on the previous page, just send me your E-mail asking for it, and I"ll be glad to forward it to you. It is called Bronx New ork City, and Thanks to "r1smokeater", I have a copy of it. Its worth checking out and I"ll be glad to "Forward" it to you. My E-mail address is: wm.helen.dennis@sbcglobal.net  . If you"ve enjoyed reading the stories and comments by all then I think you"ll want to see this.

Offline Bulldog

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #52 on: May 14, 2009, 12:09:48 PM »
Bulldog, maybe you can help us a little more regarding the video on the previous page. I followed your instructions by clicking on the lower right where it says: "You Tube", but this time all I get is the sound which is music. "NO PICTURE". I thought maybe it was just my computer. But I still can not play it.
  This video was put on here by "r1smokeater". He had sent it to me earlier and was good enough to put it on here for us all to see. Believe me, it sure shows what the conditions were like in those days in the South Bronx. Its about 10 minutes long. If you or anybody can help with being able to watch that video, I"d sure appreciate it. "Its a Great Video". I hope everybody can get to watch this. It brings back memories for the old buffs like johnd248, (sorry John, just had to do it), and for the younger guys, I"m sure they won"t believe what they see.
Just right click and select the option "Watch on Youtube"

Offline vbcapt

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #53 on: May 14, 2009, 12:37:45 PM »
You're very welcome nfd!! I remembered seeing that "big one" on Don VanHolt's nyfd website. Here's a link to his vintage fires page,  http://www.nyfd.com/vintage_fires.html
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 12:43:01 PM by vbcapt »
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Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #54 on: May 14, 2009, 06:53:13 PM »
During the busy War Years, the FDNY decided to put up two portable firehouses. These were two bay, one story metal clad buildings put on a concrete slab. It was thought that these portable firehouses could be moved as neighborhoods changed. The metal clad building could be taken apart and put on another concrete slab where the fires and activity was picking up in another part of the city. The FDNY decided to put one of these buildings on Boston Rd housing then Engine 85 and Ladder 59. The other portable firehouse went in Brooklyn, I believe on Rockaway Ave housing then Engine 232 and Ladder 176. They got the nicknames as "The Tin House". These were busy companies. Although it was the plan to move these busy units and the portable firehouses, we know Engine 85 and Engine 232 is no longer with us, when budget cuts closed these two units.
  One summer evening while chasing the Brooklyn outfits, the two apparatus doors were open housing Eng 232, and Lad 176. These "Tin Houses" had been in service for a while and I said to my buddy, "let"s see if we can go in and check out this firehouse". I was really referring to the building itself. It looked like it was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. So we walked in and figured maybe the guys will tell us about their portable firehouse. The guys gladly answered our questions, and gave us a tour of the place. They all seemed to be very happy and comfortable in their portable firehouse. During the tour, they did get a few runs. They asked us to hang around until they came back. Maybe they were just worried about us because it was starting to get dark, and this wasn"t the safest neighborhood to be hanging around in. Of course for myself and my buddy, it was no big deal for us. this is where we had to be to catch the action. The neighborhood didn"t bother us.
  As the night went on, we got to have one of those Great Firehouse meals with the guys. They asked us to stay and ride with them for the night. Again, maybe it was more for our own protection because of the neighborhood. Anyway, in FDNY War Year style, they feed us, let us ride the rigs on the calls, and gave us a bunk to rest in. My buddy rode the Engine and I rode the Truck. We might have made 15 - 18 runs. I think we caught two jobs, Not much rest, but another great night watching "The Greatest Generation of Firefighters" going to work and doing what they do best. "Putting out fires".
  We had only expected to go in there and ask a few questions about their portable metal firehouse. It was way more than we expected and it was an "Honor" to be with them. We were very Thankful for our visit. The sun had risen on the Brooklyn Tin House and it was almost time for us to leave and for the incoming Day Shift to come in. I asked the guys if they would do us "one more favor". I wanted to get a picture of the crew standing in front of the firehouse. The Captain at the time said: "Sure, no problem". So he got the full crew to come out for the pose. The sun was shining and it was just right for taking the picture. As I went to take it, they all turned, pulled down their pants and gave me a "full moon shot" just as I went to snap the picture. I couldn"t believe it, right on a busy street. Those guys had class. They were the Greatest Firefighters the world had seen, but they loved playing games like little kids.  The picture came out Great too. I made a framed 8 x 10 of it, and hung it in a room of my house. (But not in the Living room like my other FDNY photo). My only regret now is that I no longer have that Great, one-of-a-kind photo, and that I should have made one picture up for the guys at the firehouse. 
  Today both "Tin Houses" are used by the FDNY as EMS Stations. The Bronx Tin House is now EMS Station 26 on Boston Rd and 169th St. The same original location it was first put in about 40 years ago. I believe the Brooklyn Tin House is also at the same location on Rockaway Ave, also as a FDNY EMS Station. They never did move those portable firehouses.

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #55 on: May 15, 2009, 10:45:08 PM »
In May, 1975, I was lucky enough to get a job in a career Fire Dept. I had what I considered to be a good job as a letter carrier, but I wanted to be a fireman. But to do that meant relocating another 75 miles farther away from New York City. It meant that I would Not be able to listen to the FDNY on the scanner like I had before when I was 60 miles from NY. Of course, I made the choice to take the Fire Dept job, but now I"d be 125 miles from the Busiest Fire Dept in the world. There were no on line live radio like today. No turning on the scanner at 2 PM or 2 AM and hear the constant action. In 1975, there sure was Plenty of Action.
   The Fire Dept schedule would allow me to make a buff trip about once a week. I was lucky enough to have a Great Loving wife that understood my hobby and how much I enjoyed going buffing. I would leave my house about 8 or 9 AM. Sometimes I wouldn"t get home until 2 or 3 AM, maybe even 4 AM the next morning. My wife would wake up and the first thing she would tell me is; "You need to go take a shower". The odor of smoke would fill our house. The inside of my car smelled of smoke, my clothes, my hair, everything. There is no question I had been in the area of a few fires.
   When I went on the Fire Dept, there were a few guys that had buffed a little bit in Boston. Boston would refer to their buffs as "Sparks". The guys asked me to join them to a trip to Boston. We went to a place in Boston on Mass Ave called "Whip City". It was actually a Howard Johnsons Restaurant that the "Sparks" hung out at. It was called "whip city" because most of the cars had those old long whip antennas used to monitor Boston on their low band at that time. (33.74 mhz). It was a good time and I caught a second alarm in Boston, and a fourth alarm in Chelsea, which borders Boston.
    It was then my turn to show the guys where I buff. We made our trip down to the South Bronx. This was maybe the summer of 1976. The South Bronx and other NYC neighborhoods were really burning. Each guy had given me about $3.00 for gas. That actually was quite a lot of gas money in those days. I was so sure that they would see fire, I told them, "if we don"t catch a job, I"ll refund all of you, Double your money". We"ll it didn"t take a long time to prove my point. We had just gotten to the New York City border on the New England Thruway, when the Bronx was transmitting a Third Alarm on Prospect Ave. In another 15 - 20 minutes, we were on the scene. Needless to say, my buddies were impressed. After that, it was about noon time and the day was still very young. At least I knew, I didn"t owe them any money now.
   As the day went on, we went from job to job. And I don"t think we left a three square mile area. Besides that, they saw cars on fire in the street, a few huge rubbish fires that from a few blocks away, looked like a building fire. In the end that day, we had caught a total of eleven jobs. They couldn"t believe it. At one job, we were able to get to the roof of an adjoining building from a neighbor next store. I think the reason for that is maybe they thought we were newspaper reporters doing a story on the fires. Why else would we be there, Right ! As we were on the roof of that building, a few blocks away smoke was rising from another building fire at the same time. That fire was in addition to the others we caught, but didn"t count it because we never went to it. Later that evening a few of us ended up riding with Eng 41 (now Sqd 41) on a couple of runs before we left to head home. I remember one of the runs was to Lincoln Hospital while it was being constructed. It hadn"t opened yet.
  My buddies that went that day had never seen anything like it. It was one of them that said to me; "it"s like they opened the gates and let us out". Of course as we left, we were still hearing jobs on the scanner in the car. Other cities like Boston, Newark, Jersey City were all catching jobs too. It was a very busy time for all cities. Those cities had their share of hero"s too. They had their "Greatest Generation of Firefighters" also that went from job to job . It"s just that it was on such a Massive scale in N.Y.C.

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #56 on: May 17, 2009, 09:29:45 AM »
  Fire Buffing was and still is my hobby. But for myself it had another benefit. When the "Busiest Fire Dept in the World" responds to so many fires, they get to learn "The Tricks of the Trade" by their own experience and initiative. Such was the case for the FDNY during the most historic times for fires in the history of America.
  One day while watching a job, and the aerial ladder was raised to the roof, I noticed a firefighter climbing the ladder with both hands free while bring up the roof power saw. I remember trying to carry a heavy power saw up a ladder myself and struggling with it. I watched this FDNY member carry that saw, hands free, with no problem. I was determined to find out how he did that. When things had calmed down, I went over to talk to the guy and find out what the secret was to making this job so much easier. He kinda chuckled as he showed me just a small sling attached with two snap clips to the saw. It was an inexpensive, much safer, much easier way of carrying those heavy saw"s up a ladder. I had never seen that before done by any dept. Today, I would think it"s just common policy for most dept"s to have their saw on a sling.
  One time I took a "pin job" in. A person was trapped in a car and Rescue 3 was on the scene. They were going to use the Hurst tool (Jaws of Life) to pop open the door and get the person out of the car. At that time I really don"t think many, if any ladder companies carried these tools. They were a great tool, but they sure were heavy in those days, and very tough to operate. As the tool was put to work I noticed two guys come over and place a pike pole under the jaws, while a guy on each end held onto it supporting the weight. It was just a simple maneuver that certainly made the job a lot easier.
   I remember a job in the Bronx. It was a fire on the top floor of a typical six story brick building. The windows that needed to be vented were in the rear and difficult to get to. Next thing I know, I hear glass breaking and see smoke and fire blowing out a few windows just as it should be, so the hose line could be moved in. A few more windows had to be vented. On the roof was a Firefighter throwing a halligan bar with a rope tied to it. He would throw the halligan reaching over the roof, breaking the window below. Then pull it back up using the rope and go to the next window. Just a simple idea to reach those tough to get windows.
  They would take an old truck tire tube, cut about one inch strips across the tubes, and use those large circular rubber bands to hold small portable lights onto their helmets. That way, every time you turned your head with your helmet on, the light would follow and point in the direction you were looking. They also used old seat belts from a car, and attached a small hand light to it. They would buckle that around their waist or cross it over their shoulder. This gave them another hands free source of light.
   Today, most of these things we just take for granted. Lights are attached to turnout gear, I think its pretty safe to say that heavy power saws now come equipped with a sling strap, and "Jaws of Life" today are much lighter than the first ones to come out 40 or so years ago. I think the jaws weighed 80 lbs in those 1970s.
    The guys that came up with these ideas to make the job easier were not really concerned about getting a "patent" for their work. They didn"t go around patting themselves on the back saying: "Look what I did". No, these guys were just a bunch of real hard working firefighters that were just trying to make the job more efficient and easier, at no expense to anyone but themselves.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2009, 10:58:33 AM by nfd2004 »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #57 on: May 18, 2009, 11:15:36 PM »
As the "War Years" continued, decent people were loosing their belongings and their homes. Innocent people were being hurt and even killed in these fires. People would sleep in their street clothes because they were afraid, their apartment or building would be next. The fire statics at the time for New York were "Staggering". Where once thriving occupied apartment buildings once stood, they were replaced by Vacant Burned out shells. The City"s tax base was dropping and during the peak of the fires, it was reported that The Bronx could no longer support its self with its desperately needed city services such as police and fire. As the fires continued, it was feared that the other Boros would no longer be able to provide its services. Factories, Stores, and businesses were also being lost to the arson resulting in lost taxes and lost jobs. The fires had started around the late 1960s and were now into the late 1970s. July of 1977 was no doubt the worst. Especially with the historic Blackout, and the Brooklyn Boro Call in Bushwick. Something just had to be done to try and slow this activity down. The City and people were desperate and things were completely "Out of Control".
   A program was started to put an Additional 300 more Fire Marshall"s on the streets. They basically would flood the busy areas of Bed-Sty., Bushwick, Brownsville of Brooklyn, the Lower East Side and Harlem of Manhatten, and the South and parts of the West Bronx. Their job was to investigate and follow up on every fire they possibility could. Building fires, car fires, any fire. They would seek out any witnesses. They would be identified by wearing "Red" Baseball Caps, and the program was to be called "The Red Cap Program". The big campaign was announced how The Red Caps will be out there to make as many arrest as possible to slow down the spread of fire. 
   The program started to work almost as soon as the Red Caps hit the streets. The month after the Red Caps were out there, fires took a dramatic drop. Fires were way down and I remember reading the Fire Bell Club Newsletter and seeing the Multiple Alarm fires drop almost in half. From the previous month of about 100. to now around 50 or 60. As time went on, the reduction in fires continued month after month. The Historic War Years appeared to be coming to an end.
    Now several buildings were starting to be rehabbed. These were buildings that had been completely fire damaged but were still solid enough to be remodeled and put back into livable real estate. But now, instead of using wooden studs covered with wood lathe and plaster, they were now reconstructing these buildings with "steel studs" and sheetrock. Now if a fire starts, under normal circumstances, a fire should be contained to just one apartment.
    Owner occupied single family raised ranch houses began popping up with fenced in yards and driveways in the area of Charlotte St and 170th St. This is where blocks of burned out six story brick apartment buildings once stood.
    As I look back at those busy years, it seems like it never really happened. But it had to change. When I used to look around at the size of New York City at the time, I just figured there was enough around to last my life time of buffing. But that was a long time ago. I now realize that it just couldn"t continue on the way it was. But it is about ten years of my life that I will Never Forget. I learned a lot watching those guys fighting fires. I would come home to my nice place and be very thankful for what I have, because I had just left a place where some of the poorest people lived. In my house I had heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer. In those neighborhoods, it wasn"t safe to go to the corner store at night. I remember waiting in the middle of the winter for an ambulance to take a poor old lady to the hospital, because she fell on the ice and hurt her back. It took an ambulance over one hour to get there because there were just so many more high priority calls going on, and no ambulance available. The Police were just as busy as the Fire Dept. And so were the hospital Emergency rooms. For me, it was the kind of education you couldn"t get from any book. For the Firefighters and Fire Dispatchers of the FDNY during those years, they were a special breed of people that showed what dedication really was all about.
   As I close, I hope everybody enjoyed reading these stories. They are true and all really happened. It was the busiest time for fires, and the FDNY was its leader. I would like to thank all those that contributed to these stories. Especially my friends guartarman314, r1smokeater, and old man johnd248. If anybody has any questions about those busy times, send me a "PM" or E-mail and I"ll do my best to answer them.
   I really enjoyed writing these. Thank You.
   
   
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 08:36:36 AM by nfd2004 »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #58 on: May 19, 2009, 08:43:00 AM »
I am really sorry, I forgot to Thank "vbcapt" for his great contrubition regarding the Web Site and photos of the Big Bushwick Boro Call in Brooklyn. A picture is worth a thousand words, and those pictures sure told the story, and brought back memories to anybody who remembered that. Thank you for putting that out for all to see.

Offline TDSW10

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Re: My younger Buff years
« Reply #59 on: May 19, 2009, 08:13:15 PM »
I can't speak for the others but, I am enjoying the history lesson on the "WAR YEARS".