Cood Work by Crand Rapids, Mich., Fire Fighters Confined Blaze to Upper Part of Structure

THE city of Grand Rapids, Mich., suffered a heavy fire loss when, on May 30, fire involved the Masonic Temple. The fire did over $400,000 damage before it was extinguished, according to Fire Chief Frank Burns. The construction of the building was such, with its brick walls and lack of windows, that fire until heavier streams could be placed in service. At 8:21 A.M., Chief Burns ordered a fourth alarm struck, which brought in two more engines. At this time a water tower was set, using a 65-foot aerial. This was not very effective, due to the height of the building, and because there were no window’s firemen had a difficult time getting at the fire. Most of the fire fighting had to be done from within the structure.

The first indication of fire in the Temple was when an alarm box was pulled on the corner of Lafayette and Fulton at 7:17 A.M. This brought out two 1,250-gallon pumpers and one 500-gallon pumper, one 85-foot aerial ladder, Deputy Chief Lewis Johnson and District Chief John Hoogesteger. Upon arrival at the fire, Deputy Chief Johnson found the north section of the basement fully involved in fire, and heavy black smoke coming through the roof. He ordered a special call for Ladder #3, a 65-foot aerial, at 7:22 A.M. Chief Burns responded as soon as the first special alarm came in. In the meantime, at 7:23 A.M., Chief Johnson ordered a third alarm pulled. This brought in two more pumpers (Engines 6 and 8).

Upon arrival of Chief of Department Burns, it was discovered that the fire had broken through the roof, and had fully involved the Amphitheatre on the sixth floor, as well as the Commandery rooms on the fifth. Men were dispatched into the building to man 154-inch building fire hose until 2 1/2-inch lines could be stretched. These l 1/4-inch lines did an exceptionally good job of holding the in that part of the building that could be used for operation of the streams.

A Heavy Column of Smoke Rises from the Masonic Temple Buildng at Grand Rapids, Mich., Where Fire Burned Out the Three Top Floors of the Structure.

The longest ladder the Fire Department had was an 85-looter, and this was used to place an internal line in service on the sixth floor. This can be seen in the illustration herewith, as well as the 65-foot aerial water tower line. Also noticeable in the photo is the lack of windows in that part of the building involved in fire.

By 8:30 A.M. the men had penetrated all floors and the attic and had lines in position to work on the fire effectively. However, at 9:00 A.M. the roof over the burning section fell in. At this time Chief Burns ordered a special call sent in for two additional pumpers which, upon arrival, were set to work operating deluge sets on the roof adjoining the burning section. About 30 minutes later the fire was declared under control.

Chief Burns used nine engines in handling the blaze. Other equipment was pressed into service, however, as well as extra men. Besides Chief Burns, Deputy Chief Johnson and District Chief Hoogesteger, Deputy Chief Esbaugh and District Chiefs Panfil, Slocum and Long responded to the fire. District Chiefs Shears and Palmer remained in service and took charge of the Department. They recalled 100 off shift men, who manned extra apparatus and assisted at the fire.

The fire was fought with twelve 254inch lines, eight 154-inch lines, two deluge sets and one tower line. Most of the available manpower of the Grand Rapids Fire Department was either at the fire or on duty in the various fire stations.

There is little doubt but what the fire was in progress for several hours before it was discovered and an alarm turned in. Starting in the basement, the fire spread up through open conduits to the floors above. It was only a matter of minutes after the fire department arrived on the scene that fire was seen to be in progress on all the floors. The building was considered fireproof, and apparently held the tire within its walls, permitting the flames to spread before being discovered. The one serious fault to the structure, besides having no windows through which fire fighting operations might have been carried on, was the fact that the open conduits carrying air conditioning pipes permitted the fire to extend to floors above without any hindrance. Another thing that hampered firemen was the lack of aerial trucks of sufficient length to reach the blaze with tower lines.

Masonic Temple Fire, Grand Rapids, Mich. Note 65-Foot Aerial Tower Line in Operation on the Right; 85-Foot Aerial Being Used to Place 2 1/2-lnch Hand Line in Service on Sixth Floor; 40-Foot Ladder on Left.

Photo Courtesy of Max O. Lee

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According to hire Chief Burns, the loss to the building was approximately $300,000 and to the contents, such as furnishings and personal property, $100,000, making a total loss of approximately $400,000.

EDITORS’S NOTE: Since the above article teas written. Max Lee passed away as a result of a heart attack while aiding firemen at a recent Detroit blace.

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