15 Rescued by Ladders in Fire Fatal to 4

15 Rescued by Ladders in Fire Fatal to 4

Blazing windows face ladder company, left, preparing to use ladder pipe at Brockton, Mass., apartment house fire.scene that greeted first-in companies.fire being brought under control with two ladder pipes working.

Fire was in control of all four floors and going through the roof of a wood frame apartment house when Brockton, Mass., fire fighters rescued some 15 persons over ladders within the first 8 to 10 minutes. Four persons lost their lives in the fire and 58 other occupants escaped, most of them with the assistance of firemen and policemen.

One of the apartment house residents, who was awakened by smoke, ran across the street and pulled Box 1253 at 12:14 a.m. last February 16. Three engine companies, one ladder company and a rescue squad responded to the Redland Apartments at Warren Avenue and West Elm Street under the direction of Deputy Chiefs Morton D. Shurtleff and William H. Cruise.

There were 11 persons, seven of them at third and fourth floor windows, at the front of the building ready to jump and screaming for help when the first companies arrived. The front stairway was entirely involved in fire from the first floor through all four floors and through the roof.

Ladders save lives

Entrance to the building from the front was impossible. The first 2½-inch line was operated into the front hallway but had no effect because of the intense heat. The line was used to protect occupants and fire fighters while all 11 persons were rescued over ladders at the front of the building. Four of these occupants were removed over the aerial of first-in Ladder 1, and ground ladders were raised to all floors at the front of the building to make the other rescues there.

Men from Engine 4, the first company at the rear of the apartment building, were able to make two rear stairways and lead many occupants to safety. These fire fighters were assisted by several police cruiser teams. Firstalarm companies worked with almost superhuman efforts to rescue apartment residents. It was only by these efforts that the loss of life was held to four persons.

The building, occupied by 62 persons, contained 44 apartments with a total of 100 rooms.

Mutual aid called

On arrival of the initial response, a general alarm was ordered, and two mutual aid ladder companies were called to the foreground. At the end of the rescue operations, which took 8 to 10 minutes, the entire front section of the building burst into flames on all floors. 1 responded on the general alarm and took command of the fire.

Stanley A. Bauman photos

Every available Brockton apparatus was dispatched to the fire. In addition to the regular fire engine and three ladder companies, the squad and a tank truck, a spare engine and the new Engine 1, which was not yet in service, were manned and sent to the fireground.

All efforts were now directed to setting up heavy stream appliances. At the height of the fire, the following streams were in operation; five ladder pipes, seven deck guns and four hand lines; a total of 34—2 ½-inch lines. These streams were supplied by 13 engines. Seven of these pumpers were mutual aid companies.

The water supply was excellent; volume and pressure were adequate except for two 750-gpm pumpers on 6-inch mains. Both were supplying four lines and were able to maintain these lines with supplementary pumping.

Several conditions were in the fire department’s favor. The temperature was just above freezing and the wind was very light.

Water curtain saves exposure

The only severe exposure was to the north a three-story deluxe apartment house separated from the fire building by a 12-foot alley. Heavy streams were directed into the alley from front and rear, as well as lines on the roof. As a result of this water curtain, the exposed building was not even scorched. Although the wind condition was favorable, flying embers still threatened a church and several apartment buildings to the northeast.

I have high praise for the fire mutual aid response and assistance from 14 communities. These towns supplied eight engines and three ladders at the fire scene. Five other engines and two ladders covered Brockton stations. A total of 27 companies were involved during the operation; 20 at the fire and seven covering. Mutual aid companies responded from Avon, Abington, Whitman, Rockland, Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Middleboro, Raynham, Easton, Randolph, Stoughton, Holbrook and Hanson.

The deputy chiefs arriving on the first alarm and I all agreed that the loss of life was held to a minimum by the individual and team efforts of the firstarriving units, Engines 1, 4 and 5, Ladder 1, the Squad Company and several police cruiser teams.

The Fire Prevention Bureau and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the fire.

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