NARROW ESCAPES OP FIREMEN.

NARROW ESCAPES OP FIREMEN.

During the past week some of the firemen of Manhattan, New York, have had more than ordinarily narrow escapes from death. Besides those at the tenement-house blaze on West Fifty-third street, that of John Duffy, driver for Battalion Chief Sloan, is very noticeable. At the Cowperthwaite furniture warehouse fire on Third avenue he was on the first floor and was ordered to telephone to fire headquarters. Central, as usual, was slow in responding, and the fire in the basement below him was waxing so fierce as to make the flooring most uncomfortably hot. A watchman and the battalion chief were standing alongside of him, when suddenly the fire rushed up through the floor. The heat was nearly unbearable; but they cotdd have stood that, had it not been for a column of smoke, flame and cinders which swept the chief and the watchman off their feet and hurled them through the plate-glass window into the street. Chief Sloan and the watchman were badly cut and bruised; but that did not hinder the former from remembering that the last he saw of his driver was hanging on to the telephone, whose call central, with her accustomed aggravatingness, persisted in ignoring. At last the tinkle of the bell was heard. This time Central was unanswered, for Duffy, still standing by the telephone, had sunk down unconscious. As Chief Sloan was being carried away to be patched up (only to return again shortly), he called out that Duffy was inside. Fireman Weiss, of engine company No. 14, at once reversed his helmet, tucked his coat about his ears, and, with Fireman Fitzpatrick, of the same company, dashed into the smoke and flame. Then, groping about for some time, they found their man; hauled him out, dropped him in the street and themselves sat down dazed and almost overcome, hut perfectly conscious all the time of the insistent and persistent ringing of the answering telephone bell. Duffy was in very bad shape. His feet and hands were burned; his hair was singed; his clothes were afire; and he breathed as if he had inhaled some of the flame. He was taken to the hospital, and will live—to telephone again. Two nights afterwards, while fighting a cellar fire in a factory at 6-10 First street, eleven firemen came near being drowned. They were dragged out by a rescue party just in time. The fire was very fierce in the one cellar, and they were in that adjoining it. In the smoke and darkness the men could but just feel their way, though they keenly felt the heat from the blaze on the other side of the wall, which thev had to breach before they could throw water. They had been hardly five minutes at their post before a back-draught swept through the elevator-shaft down upon them. Thev dropped their hose, and, with hands to their mouths and nostrils, tried once more to grop their way back to the street entrances. The water pouring out from the nozzles had. risen to their armpits and they could not move quickly. All they could do was to give a momentary and smothered cry for help. The roar of the back-draught had been heard by their comrades. The chief on duty called to his men to get down into the cellar to haul out the others, and instantly Lieut. Hughes, of engine company No. 15; Lieut. Connolly, of truck company No. 20; Lieut. Elliott, of truck No. 5, and Lieut. Griffin, of engine No. 25, rushed to the rescue. Elliott and Griffin laid hold of one lot and dragged them out one by one, like fish from a pond. Hughes and Connolly groped after another set, but got only one at the first dive. They could hear the others threshing the water far in the darkness. With difficulty they made their way towards the point where the sound came from and came upon a second, on to the skirts of whose coat was hanging a third, and between them they were supporting a fourth, the first man acting as pilot. Two of these men (the first two) in this last gang, when the back-draught struck them dived for safety. They were against the partition, and one came up; the other stuck, and his comrade had a hard fight to save him. Just as he got him to the surface, so that he could handle him, the fourth of the crew bumped into him unconscious. He, also, had to be handled skilfullv, so as not to fall back into the water. The brave O’Leary, however, never lost his head and landed both his men safely on the cellar steps, where the whole of them were treated by one of the department’s physicians. Some had to be sent back to their quarters. The rest went back to get dried, or, probably, still further wet by the flames.

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