Water Tower Survives Mishap at Boston Fire
Bells, Buffs and Blazes
Lest anyone say that water towers are as dead as the dodo, consider Boston’s mighty water tower which is basking in its renaissance after what appeared to be certain extinction.
About 11:48 a.m. on a Thursday in Boston, area sparks perked when Box 1552 was struck for a fire at 415 Columbus Avenue in a vacant five-story brick apartment building about 100 x 75 feet in size.
The blaze quickly went to five alarms and as members of the Boston Sparks Association and the Box 52 Association hurried to the spiraling smoke darkening the sky, Division 1 radioed a special call for the water tower at 12:15 p.m.
“This spectacular fire completely gutted the large building,” reports Morris J. Torf, editor of the Box 52 Newsletter. “During the height of the fire, Water Tower 1 came crashing down into its bed, sending its heavy stream directly into the crowd and giving several club members an unexpected bath.
“District Chief Dimono was at the turntable of the tower when it started to collapse and attempted to stop it by grabbing the wheel. He was thrown off the turntable but fortunately was not seriously injured.”
Box 52 reports that the boom was “warped by the impact and many of those present thought that this would be the ‘death’ of this famous piece of equipment, since it was the only tower left in reserve service. However, Chief Kilduff ordered the shops to repair the tower and it is now ready to go.”
Apparently Boston and Baltimore are the last major cities with water towers, and this column would be happy to stand corrected—and report same—if anyone knows otherwise.
Boston, always one of my favorite stopping off places if only for the hospitality of the many sparks and the BFD, is almost as famous for its large fires as it is for baked beans. It seems, however, that staid sparks there are becoming blase about attending club meetings. All of which should be news to clubs elsewhere which seem to have to beat away members and would-be members from meetings.
One spark who always seems to be where the action is happens to be Charles Asbrand, past president of the Boston Sparks Association, a photographer without peer. Charlie was awarded the Eastman Kodak first-place award for excellence in fire photography at the International Fire Photographers Association seminar in Chicago.
Charlie’s eye-grabber was a color slide of a fourth alarm in Everett Square. Battalion Chief George Schuller and Lieutenant Richard Lebak of the Chicago Fire Department Photo Unit made certain Charlie had several opportunities while in that city to shoot some of Commissioner Robert Quinn’s multiples.
Past President Dick Bangs, also of the Boston Sparks, told me in a recent telephone chat that Charlie brought back to Boston exotic tales of a most wonderful new contraption that everyone referred to as a Snorkel.
“But it’ll never take the place of our water tower!” Dick insists.
Truth to tell, Dick says that Boston has two aerial towers on order and that they should be delivered by the time this sees print. And now perhaps I can show my face again in Boston, if only aboard ‘Old Ironsides.’
Anticipating the usual spate of inquiries concerning Boston, interested readers should contact either the Boston Sparks Association, 99 West Fourth Street, Boston, Mass. 02127, or the Box 52 Association, 151 Washington Avenue, Chelsea, Mass. 02150. They don’t come any finer than the sparks of Boston.
Many readers, I have been given to understand, have in the past months made contact with a firm known as Cable Car Publications of San Francisco. Buff A. K. (Kirk) Rosenhan, asks that anyone having financial dealings with the firm contact him at 817 Fairmount, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101.
Editor’s Note: Paul Ditzel regrets he is unable to personally answer letters. Material and questions with the widest appeal to readers will be considered for publication in his column, and should be sent to him, c/o Fire Engineering, 466 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017.