26 Years Ago...

Learning From the Past and Taking the Time to Train So We Can Be Better Prepared Is One of the Best Ways to Honor the Fallen Brothers ... Be an "Angelo"

August 2 was the 26th Anniversary of the infamous fire at a Waldbaum's grocery store in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, that killed six firefighters who fell to their deaths when a truss roof collapsed into the fire.

I was working in New York City for I.S.O. at the time and with my partner, a retired FDNY Captain and wonderful man named Angelo Puleo listened on our office fire radio to that horrible fire as it unfolded in 1978.

It was incredible radio traffic that day to say the least. And as we were listening, Angelo started to tell me about that building that he knew from experience and proceeded to spend nearly the rest of the day teaching me about truss construction and the inherit dangers for firefighters.

It was classic "old firefighter teaching the kid" stuff, and some great training. Angelo always did stuff like that wherever we were, only this day it was as it happened and as his heart ripped out hearing the multiple radio transmissions.

Those firefighters left six young widows and 18 children. In all six firefighters were killed, and more than 35 injured, some seriously. Killed in the blaze were covering Lt. James Cutillo 39, 33rd Battalion, FF Charles Bouton 38, Ladder Co. 156, FF William O'Conner 29, Ladder Co. 156, FF James McManus 48, Ladder Co.153, FF George Rice 38, Ladder Co.153 and FF Harold Hastings 40, Ladder Co. 153.

For an excellent account of this tragic fire along with some photos, go to:

Steve is a well known and outstanding Fire Photgrapher -- and has a great site that covers this and other related events including 9/11. Here is another site with additional information as well: www.nyfd.com/waldbaum.html.

Building construction issues continue to contribute to the deaths of firefighters and the more we learn, know and remember about the past, the better we can be prepared to handle the future. So many firefighter injuries and deaths is history repeating itself.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Do an Internet search on this fire and also checkout the two above links. Print the stuff out and use it to educate your crews along with Frank Brannigan

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