“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

-Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910

Mysterious man in Red Bandana

 

You have heard many stories about the heroic acts on 9/11, but did you hear about the mysterious man in the red bandana? Welles Crowther was working as an American Equities trader on 9/11/01 at the World Trade Center. Truth be told, the 24 year old wasn't looking forward to a desk job for the rest of his life. He had further dreams, and plenty of time to fulfill them. When he turned 16, Welles joined the Volunteer Fire Service, joining the footsteps of his father at Nyack Empire Hook & Ladder company.

At the age of 6, Welles' father gave him a red bandana which stayed with him through the years. It became his signature trademark, a link between father and son. While playing lacrosse at Boston College, Welles wore his bandana under his helmet. In 1999, he graduated with honors degree in economics, which led to his career at the World Trade Center; his office was on the 104th floor of the South Tower. At 9:03am on September 11th, 2001, United flight 175 struck the South Tower between floors 78 & 85. Welles called his mother at 9:12am and left a calm message assuring his family he was OK. He fought the smoke and flames down to the 78th floor sky lobby, where he found survivors. Crowther left his trading career in his office and his firefighting bloodlines took over. He was ready to do his job, the calling that was sent for him at a young age. In an authoritive voice, he directed ambulatory patients to the A stairway which he previously descended from his office. He used his red bandana to cover his nose and mouth, and was carrying a woman down 15 flights. Welles job wasn't done, knowing the danger his life was in, he put it aside and went back up to rescue more. 

In May, the New York Times published accounts of 9/11 which Welles' parents were reading. 1 account stood out. Judy Wein, a survivor from the South Tower noted a mysterious man in a red bandana coming to the aide of numerous people. His parents knew immediately, they found what their son was doing before he died.

December 15th, 2006, Commissioner Scoppetta and Chief Cassano posthumously named Welles Crowther Honorary Firefighter with the FDNY. Following Welles' death, his family found a partially filled out application to take the test for the FDNY. Knowing it would be a huge pay cut, Welles' still planned to follow his dream. 

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Remembering Lt Carpluk Jr & FF Reilly

Sunday August 27th 2006, at 1230hrs, Bronx CO received a telephone alarm reporting a store fire at 1575 Walton Ave. Box 2797 was transmitted. Eng.42 transmitted the 10-75 at 1233hrs, heavy smoke venting from the front of a 99ยข Store, a 1 story class 3(non-fireproof) commercial 45x65. The store suffered severe damage 6 years ago (7/17/00) when it had a 3rd Alarm fire. Since then, it underwent extensive alteration that was not consistent with the architectural plans filed.

The fire originated on the 1st floor rear and quickly extended to the ceiling. Combustible stock ignited the Masonite ceiling which was nailed directly to the bottom of the roof joists. Due to the fire load, a 2nd alarm was quickly transmitted.

21 minutes after the arrival of FDNY units, the failure of a cellar column caused a V-Shaped collapse. This collapse took place without warning. A 3rd alarm was transmitted. 10 members fell into the collapse area. 4 members from Engine 92 were immediately removed by FAST. 6 remaining members were trapped in the collapse. TL-44 Can firefighter was extricated aprox 4 minutes. E-75 B/U Firefighter was extricated aproximately 43 minutes in. TL-44 Officer was extricated approximately 56 minutes. Battalion 17 Chief was extricated approximately 1 hour. Lt Howard Carpluk, E-75 Officer was extricated approximately 1 hour 21 minutes. FF Michael C Reilly, E-75 was extricated approximately 1 hour 41 minutes.

FF Michael C Reilly succumbed to his injuries that day. He was appointed to the FDNY on April 11th, 2006, only on the job for a few months. 

Lt Howard J Carpluk Jr succumbed to his injuries 1 day later, August 28th, 2006. He was appointed to the FDNY August 2nd 1986, promoted to Lieutenant March 6th 1999 assigned to Engine 42. He was working PCOT in Engine 75 for this fire. 

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Deutsche Bank Fire

Deutsche Bank Fire

In memory  of FF Joseph Graffagnino, L-5 detailed to E-24 (Posthumously promoted to Lieutenant) and FF Robert Beddia, E-24.

On September 11th, 2001, the Deutsche Bank located at 130 Liberty Street, suffered severe damage from the collapse of the World Trade Center and never reopened for business purpose. August 31st, 2004, Lower Manhattan Development Corp assumed ownership and Asbestos abatement and deconstruction was to take place at different locations within the building. No demolition permit for 130 Liberty was filed or issued, however, a series of alteration permits were filed and issued by NYCDOB. 

On Saturday August 18th, 2007, at 1536hrs, a Telephone Alarm reporting a fire on the scaffolding at 88 Greenwich Street, Box 0047 was transmitted. Initially 2 Engines, 2 Trucks and the Battalion were assigned, but due to subsequent numerous calls, Manhattan Dispatch filled out the assignment to 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, Rescue, Squad, Battalion & HazMat 1 (E-10, E-4, E-6, E-7, L-10, TL-15, Bn-1, Rescue 1, Squad 18). 10 Truck officer transmitted the 10-75 for heavy smoke from the upper floors of the Deutsche Bank with the corrected address of 130 Liberty Street. At 1541hrs, 10 Truck upgraded the box to a 2nd Alarm for fire through the skin of the high rise. At 1547hrs, Battalion 1 transmitted the 10-76(HiRise Commercial fire). Size up was 26 story hi-rise office building182x182 occupying 1 city block and as previously mentioned, undergoing asbestos abatement & demolition. The building was built in 1974, 38 stories tall prior to demolition. All interior elevators were out of service & exterior construction elevators were used to gain access to upper floors. The standpipe was reported by construction workers to be a 'dry system', however when fed from the street, water did not reach the fire floor. It was found that a section was missing in the sub level A. 

The 1st hoseline had to be stretched up the exterior of the building. It took 67 minutes from the initial transmission of alarm until a charged hoseline was in position on the 15th floor manned by Engine 24. The delay in water allowed the fire to extend from the 17th floor to the top 26th floor, also downward to the 16th, 15th, 14th, 12th & 5th floors. 

FF Graffagnino was found unconscious on the 14th floor at 1701hrs. He was removed to Downtown Beekman Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. FF Beddia was found unconscious on the 14th floor at 1710hrs. He was also removed to Downtown Beekman Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

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Waldbaum's Fire August 2nd, 1978

Waldbaum's Fire August 2nd, 1978

August 2nd, 1978, 12 firefighters plunged into a burning Waldbaum's Supermarket when the bowstring truss roof collapsed at the center of the store. 6 firefighters died. Shortly before the collapse, a crackling sound was heard. Some of the 20 firefighters on the roof at the time were able to run to the roof's edge.

The bowstring truss, concealed by a rain roof, failed as a result of the unchecked fire gaining headway.

The fire was reported at 8:30am, escalated to a 5th alarm as a result of the rescue and recovery effort. Built in 1952, the supermarket was undergoing extensive renovations and was open for business. At the time, they were welding in the ceiling. The roof collapsed 32 minutes after initial units arrived. 6 firefighters were killed, 34 injured. 

Failure of 1 truss element can cause failure of the entire truss and a resulting collapse of the entire structure. The danger of truss construction whether a bowstring truss, wooden truss with gusset plates or metal parallel chord truss pose a danger to firefighters. 

Of the 6 members killed August 2nd, 1978 at the Waldbaum's Fire in Brooklyn, FF William O'Connor was the youngest. 29 years of age, he had only 7 1/2 months on the job. O'Connor was reporting for duty that morning, his wife and 3 children drove him to work. As they arrived, the bells were ringing in the firehouse. He ran into the firehouse, thew his gear on and jumped in. His wife followed behind to watch their hero husband/father in action. Unfortunately, they were watching as he was thrown into the collapse. 6 of New York City's bravest were killed, 34 others injured.

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Ritz Tower Explosion

Ritz Tower Explosion

August 1st, 1932 - FDNY Companies were turned out to a reported fire in the sub-cellar of the Ritz Tower. Located at 113 East 57 Street, the Ritz is a 41 story hotel/residential building with stores on the 1st floor. It was one of the tallest residential buildings in New York City. While members were working to extinguish the fire, fumes from the paint shop met the high heat from the fire causing an explosion. Lt James Hartnett, L-16 and FF Thomas S Finn, E-65 were closest to the explosion and were killed instantly. The Incident Commander promptly transmitted the 2nd alarm for box 924. Uninjured firemen near the explosion rushed to remove the injured when, with in 3 minutes of the 1st explosion, a 2nd occured. The 2nd was more powerful and bigger than the 1st, blowing out partition walls, traveling up the dumbwaiter shaft to the 1st floor. 5 firemen were killed in the 2nd explosion and another succumed to his injuries 2 weeks later.

We remember FDNY members killed at the Ritz Tower Explosion Box 66-22-0924 occuring August 1st, 1932 at 113 East 57 Street.

Lt James Hartnett, L-16 August 1, 1932

FF Thomas S Finn, E-65 August 1, 1932

FF James F Greene, E-65 August 1, 1932

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