1. #1
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    Default Collyers Mansion

    I know that every so offen someone asks what Collyers or Colliers mansion means...well here is a little article in todays NY Times that is very interesting.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/26/nyregion/26feat.html

    FTM-PTB

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    FFFRED link was N/G...


    A Colliers Mansion is a Dwelling (Private Dwelling, Apartment etc.) That is filled with filth, Trash and General Refuse. It is common to find hermits and Junk Collectors with these conditions in thier places of residence.
    The term was coined after two brothers who came from a wealthy family in Harlem (Harlem was a wealthy neighborhood in the Late 1880s to early 1900s) Inherited the Brownstone from their parents. They were recluces. One of the Brothers was blind and the other cared for him. Only leaving at night the brother would leave to gather only essentials and return home.
    Well Since both of the Colliers Brothers were very suspicious of the outside world the one who left created booby traps in the pathways created by reams of papers and Trash.
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
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    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
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    I went to it and copied it for your reading enjoyment.
    -------------
    The Paper Chase
    By FRANZ LIDZ

    Published: October 26, 2003

    Langley Collyer and the mess in which he and his brother, Homer, lived for decades. Their saga confirms a New Yorker's worst nightmare.

    My father never had much use for fairy tales. The fifth of five brothers raised in a one-bedroom tenement on the Lower East Side, he preferred real-life grotesqueries. And so at bedtime, I would listen raptly to his urban horror stories, tales that filled the dark with chimera, bogeymen, golems.

    The most macabre was the tale of the Collyer Brothers, the hermit hoarders of Harlem. In lugubrious tones not unlike Boris Karloff's, my father described the vague aura of evil that had endowed the four-story brownstone on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 128th Street for much of the 1930's and 40's. It was there, barricaded in a sanctuary of junk, that the blind and bedridden Homer Collyer lived with his devoted younger brother, Langley, the elderly scions of an upper-class Manhattan family.

    And it was there that they amassed one of the world's legendary collections of urban junk, a collection so extraordinary that their accomplishment, such as it was, came to represent the ultimate New York cautionary tale.

    The Collyer brothers' saga confirms a New Yorker's worst nightmare: crumpled people living in crumpled rooms with their crumpled possessions, the crowded chaos of the city refracted in their homes. It's not that Gothamites hoard more than other people; it's that they have less room to hoard in.

    Even now, after more than a half century, the Collyer name still resonates. New York City firefighters refer to an emergency call to a junk-jammed apartment as a "Collyer." The brothers are recalled whenever a recluse dies amid an accumulation of junk; as a middle-aged woman snapped at her parents in a Roz Chast cartoon in a recent issue of The New Yorker: "You guys never throw anything out! You're starting to live like the COLLYER BROTHERS."

    The elderly Collyers were well-to-do sons of a prominent Manhattan gynecologist and an opera singer. Homer had been Phi Beta Kappa at Columbia, where he earned his degree in admiralty law. Langley was a pianist who had performed at Carnegie Hall.

    The brothers had moved to Harlem in 1909 when they were in their 20's and the neighborhood was a fashionable, and white, suburb of Manhattan. They became more and more reclusive as the neighborhood went shabby on them, booby-trapping their home with midnight street pickings and turning it into a sealed fortress of ephemera, 180 tons of it by the end. Children chucked rocks at their windows and called them "ghosty men."

    My father recounted in great detail the rotting decadence of what had been a Victorian showplace. The Collyers had carved a network out of the neck-deep rubble. Within the winding warrens were tattered toys and chipped chandeliers, broken baby carriages and smashed baby grands, crushed violins and cracked mantel clocks, moldering hope chests crammed with monogrammed linen.

    Homer went blind in the mid-30's and was crippled by rheumatism in 1940. His brother nursed him, washed him, fed him a hundred oranges a week in a bizarre attempt to cure his blindness and saved newspapers for him to read when he regained his sight. Hundreds of thousands of newspapers.

    Langley was buried in an avalanche of rubbish in 1947 when he tripped one of his elaborate booby traps while bringing Homer dinner. Thanks to my father, I knew all the particulars: how Homer had starved to death, how Langley's body had been gnawed by rats, how the police had searched the city for Langley for nearly three weeks while he lay entombed in the debris of his own house. To my 7-year-old ears, the cruel twist was deliciously gruesome: Homer and Langley had been killed by the very bulwarks they had raised to keep the world out of their lives.

    The shadowy world of Homer and Langley was resurrected this month in an exhibition at the Inquiring Mind Gallery in Saugerties, N.Y. In this show, Richard Finkelstein, a Manhattan painter, has reimagined the brothers' lives in 17 black and white drawings called "Love and Squalor on 128th Street." One sketch depicts the brothers dancing in the debris before an audience of female mannequins, the women in their lives.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

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    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
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    Default 'Collyers' Mansion' Is Code for Firefighters' Nightmare

    July 5, 2006 -- On the West Coast, some firefighters call it a "Habitrail house." In the Midwest, it is often a "packer house." In parts of Nevada, it is a "multiple waiting to happen," meaning a multiple-alarm fire. But in New York City, and along much of the East Coast, a dwelling jammed rafter-high with junk is referred to by rescue personnel, with dismay and no small degree of respect, as a "Collyers' Mansion." As in, primary searches delayed because of Collyers' Mansion conditions. The phrase, as many New York history buffs know, refers to the legendary booby-trapped brownstone in Harlem in which the brothers Homer and Langley Collyer were found dead in 1947 amid more than 100 tons of stockpiled possessions, including stacks of phone books, newspapers, tin cans, clocks and a fake two-headed baby in formaldehyde. The Collyer Mansion is not just a slice of urban lore and a monument to what psychologists now recognize as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is, in New York, an official term of art, taught in the Fire Academy to cadets learning the potential dangers that can await in burning buildings. So, on Monday, after 14 firefighters were injured putting out a three-alarm apartment fire in Sunnyside, Queens, Deputy Chief John Acerno described the scene this way: "They tried to open the door, and they couldn't get it open because of all the debris that was behind the door. In Fire Department jargon, we call that a Collyers' Mansion. There was debris from the floor to the ceiling throughout the entire apartment." The apartment's tenant, Vycheslav Nekrasov, was in critical condition last night at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell hospital. The Breaking News Network, a service run by scanner hounds that some news outlets subscribe to, has sent out reports of "Collyers' Mansion conditions" at least 10 times in the past three months. Once upon a time, the Collyers were routinely invoked by frustrated parents. "Every time my room was a mess when I was a kid, my mom would say, 'My God, this looks like the Collyer brothers' house," said John Miller, the head spokesman for the F.B.I., who said he heard the phrase sometimes when he worked for the New York Police Department as a deputy commissioner. But as 1947 recedes ever further into the past, the facts behind the lingo are fading. A spokesman for the Fire Department, Allan Shaw, who has been a firefighter for eight years, recalled learning about Collyer conditions at the academy, but punted when quizzed on just what the Collyers' Mansion was. "Collyer, I believe, was one of those people who, I guess, at some point, had a house like that," he offered. However widespread knowledge of its origins may be, the term itself continues to spread. An Internet search turned up references to Collyers' Mansions in news and fire department sites in Manassas, Va.; Clinton, Md.; and Cochranton, Pa. The Fire Department Web site in Clearwater, Fla., nearly 1,200 miles from Harlem, noted that at a trailer and house fire this past April, "Companies inside were experiencing Collyers' Mansion conditions as the fire intensified." A former New York City fire commissioner, said that the term communicated crucial information to new firefighters. "What's dangerous is that all this stuff could fall down," he said. "Or it could weaken the floors, and when you put water on it you could have a collapse. You could fall into it and then you have a hard time getting out. You could get caught behind it; your mask could get tangled. I could guarantee you that people have gotten hurt in those kinds of situations." Calls to about a dozen fire departments across the country yesterday yielded a few regional variants on the Collyers' Mansion, though most department officials said they knew of no special phrases. Carl Kietzke of Seattle, the president of the International Fire Buffs Associates, said that up and down the West Coast he had heard the phrase "Habitrail house," referring to buildings there that firefighters have likened to rambling, unkempt rodent cages. Firefighter Scott Salman, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department, said that while the official term for excessive clutter was "heavy debris," firefighters privately refer to "pack rat" conditions. By whatever name, said Jeff Crianza, an emergency medical technician in Queens who moonlights at the Breaking News Network, Collyers' Mansions lurk behind many more doors than the average civilian would suspect. "I see it every day in E.M.S.," Mr. Crianza said. "It's a wonder more people aren't injured in those places."
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
    FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
    FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

    Charleston 9
    "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
    *******************CLICK HERE*****************

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    There was a few minutes on todays news covering this. I think related to a fire in NYC in the last day or so?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    The term Collyer's Mansion is not common in my part of the country, so I made sure I introduced it along with an account of its origins.

    While I was detailed to another station for part of a shift, my crew ran a medical call at a house like this. When I got back, two of my firefighters were still upset by what they had seen - that a person could live in such squalor - to say nothing of the hazard that it presented in a fire scenario.

    I placed a call to Human Services. It is my understanding that an investigator checks things out and decides if the occupant is mentally competent. If they are - things stay just as they are. I do have to say that the HHS investigator got in touch with me within just a few hours of me calling. Not bad for a state agency.

    How do other departments deal with these situations (at least when they're not on fire)?
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    I only recall one call that members of the crew reported -- wasn't quite Collyers' Mansion conditions, but the floors where real spongy. Not just in spots or a step on the porch...we moving the patient inside kind of wondering should we put down dunnage from the Rescue truck to spread the weight out some more. IIRC there were kids in the residence, and it got kicked up to DCF as a mandatory report for the question if this was a safe environment for them.

    I'm sure theres been a few others over the years, but they may have gone through normal small town back channels rather than formal complaints.

    What my town seems to like to do when there is an issue like this is "shotgun" the property -- with everyone going at once, such as Building Inspector, Zoning Enforcement, Fire Marshal, State Police, Health District, etc. We don't do it often, but at least it gives pretty good leverage by having all the violations and safety problems documented up at once. By no means are we nuisance & zoning nazis like some communities...it's really reserved for the worst of the worst.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    I only recall one call that members of the crew reported -- wasn't quite Collyers' Mansion conditions, but the floors where real spongy. Not just in spots or a step on the porch...we moving the patient inside kind of wondering should we put down dunnage from the Rescue truck to spread the weight out some more. IIRC there were kids in the residence, and it got kicked up to DCF as a mandatory report for the question if this was a safe environment for them.

    I'm sure theres been a few others over the years, but they may have gone through normal small town back channels rather than formal complaints.

    What my town seems to like to do when there is an issue like this is "shotgun" the property -- with everyone going at once, such as Building Inspector, Zoning Enforcement, Fire Marshal, State Police, Health District, etc. We don't do it often, but at least it gives pretty good leverage by having all the violations and safety problems documented up at once. By no means are we nuisance & zoning nazis like some communities...it's really reserved for the worst of the worst.
    We do something similar. Last time I remember having a report filed was about a year ago at a residence we were called to, basement stairs missing, spongey floors, kerosene heaters, and children in the residence. What prompted the call was the haphazardly installed firebox for a fireplace and single walled piping leaving scorch marks on the exterior of the house. Called the fire inspector and the matter was looked into immediately and the fireplace condemned.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    I've ran two calls in almost the same conditions. First was a structure fire and we couldn't open the door a quarter of the way. Not much after that.

    Second was a medical call, the subject had the entire house full of stuff she bought at flea markets. Front door could only be opened a few inches, we couldn't open the garage doors without stuff falling out. Even her car was in the same condition.
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    Several years ago, I had a couple of incidents in a house like that. I've been to many homes of pack-rats, but this one takes the cake. First incident, the elderly female occupant fell and could not get up. The woman from "Meals on Wheels" heard her when she went to deliver her food and called 911. I entered through the back door and had a couple of fishing poles that were over the door fall on me and saw piles of junk everwhere. She was easy to find, there were only a few paths in the house through all the debris. She was alert, lucid, not injured and refused all medical assistance.

    Several months later, we get dispatched to the same house for a fire near the furnace. We advance the line to the basement and make quick work of the fire. This is one of those houses that the "A" side first floor is really the second. The basement floor is at ground level in the front with a garage, and the basement is in the rear of the home and is below grade. While checking for extension, we noticed a car radio antenna sticking up from the junk pile in the garage. The car was complety covered. The house was so full, that I think she slept on the floor in a hallway. No one could enter any rooms due to the mess.

    I spoke with the woman after the fire and suggested she stay in a hotel for the night due to the smoke odor and the furnace no longer working. She looked me in the eyes and said "I'm not leaving, I have $40,000 in cash in there."

    Remember the "Meals on Wheels" from the first call? Seems the woman that lived there did not eat the applesauce. She piled it high and wide next to the front door. The nozzleman and I had stepped in it, had it all over our gear and dragged the 1 3/4" line though it.

    A year or so after call, I noticed a large roll-off rubbish container at the house, full of junk. I wonder if they ever found the $40,000?
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    We had a couple living in the twp low income housing like this. Husband is diabetic, been there a couple of times. Wife always opens the door and says, "I just had surgery six weeks ago and can't clean"

    The place is stacked 5 feet high in all but one path through the middle, even up the stairs. The last time I was there, the husband had fallen out of bed into the pathway, and we had a "Denver Drill" type scenatrio. He had to be transported and we had to carry him down the stairs on a sheet, couldn't fit a stairchair through the piles. Saddest thing is, we saw a placque on the wall that shows the guy is a decorated SF vet from Vietnam. We tried to get her to let us help her clean up, she refused.

    Some of the crap they hoard makes you laugh-I tripped over an unopened box for the software for "TaxCut 2001" in 2005-what are you saving that for?

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