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  1. #1
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Default The Buffalo 5.. thirty years...

    From Firefighter nation.com
    Published Friday, December 27, 2013
    On the evening of Dec. 27, 1983, five Buffalo (N.Y.) Fire Department firefighters died in a massive explosion at a warehouse. The incident was the worst disaster and loss of life in the history of the Buffalo Fire Department. We remember those firefighters killed 30 years ago today:
    • Michael Austin
    • Michael Catanzaro
    • Matthew Colpoys
    • Jimmy Lickfeld
    • Anthony Waskielewicz


  2. #2
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Chief, remind me please, this was the illegal 500 pound propane tank inside the build that exploded right?

    Rest in Peace Brothers.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  3. #3
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Correct. The tenant was attempting to move the tank using a forklift, the valve and piping broke off, propane found an ignition soucre and the building exploded with enough force to send the rig (a TDA) that the 5 lost brothers rode to the scene clear across the street.

    From the Wikipedia page...
    At 2023 hours, the Buffalo (NY) Fire Department responded to a reported propane leak in a four-story radiator warehouse located to the corner of North Division and Grosvenor streets. This building was a combination of Type III ordinary and Type IV heavy timber construction that was approximately 50 feet x 100 feet. Engine 32 was the first to arrive on scene and reported nothing showing. Shortly after Truck 5, Engine 1, and the Third Battalion arrived. Battalion Chief Supple assumed incident command.[1][2][3]

    Thirty-seven seconds after the chief announced his arrival, the propane tank detonated. The explosion leveled the four-story building and demolished other structures within a four-block radius. Seriously damaged buildings were noted over a half a mile away. The ensuing fireball started buildings burning on a number of streets. A large gothic church on the next block had a huge section ripped out. A ten-story housing project several hundred feet away had every window broken. Engine 32 and Truck 5's firehouse, which was a half mile away from the explosion, had all its windows shattered.

    The force of the blast threw Ladder 5, an aerial tiller, nearly 35 feet into the front yard of a dwelling, instantly killing all five crew members (firefighters Mike Austin, Mickey Catanzaro, Red Lickfeld, Tony Waszkielewicz, and Matty Colpoys). Two civilians, Alfred and Jessie Arnold, were also killed as they sat in their living room of their home, which neighbored the warehouse. Engine 1 was found across the street, injuring the Captain and Driver inside the cab and pinning them inside amongst burning debris. Engine 32 was slammed against the warehouse, buried in rubble. Eleven firefighters were injured in the initial blast, several of them critically. During the rescue efforts, 19 more firefighters were injured due to the adverse weather conditions. Over 150 civilians were transported to hospitals for injuries suffered in the explosion and many more were treated at the scene
    Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 12-27-2013 at 05:35 PM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  4. #4
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Thanks Chief. I was pretty sure that was the incident.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

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    This is obviously an extreme example, but any of us could respond to a propane leak inside a building. Unlike natural gas, which "lifts" due to it's lighter than air nature, propane is heavier than air and will accumulate in lowest areas (crawl spaces, cellars, service vaults, etc). Unless there is a very strong wind blowing in the perfect direction, opening doors and windows (assuming there are any present) probably will not provide enough ventilation to dissipate propane. Ventilation will have to be provided by FD. we are always told to eliminate sources of ignition, but turning OFF electrical equipment/circuits could provide the spark needed for ignition. Initial actions may be limited to evacuation of structure or area, defining hot zone and stretching precautionary lines and/or supplying unmanned monitors.
    There are strict guidelines for use and storage of propane. During inspections and familiarization visits we must make sure rules are being followed. Call in whatever level of command is necessary. Include the info in any pre-fire planning your department may do.

  6. #6
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    My FD has had two propane in the building calls in the last two weeks. One was a malfunctioning propane stove, the other was some rocket scientist who thought that bringing his gas grill in the house was a good idea...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    A wee bit before my time, came into it in 1990.

    RIP Brothers..

    Thanks Chief for the information.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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