Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Photo: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Battalion Chief Gunther E. Beake
On Friday, May 13, 1949, a truck hauling 80 drums of a restricted chemical from Jersey City to Manhattan triggered a fire inside the Holland Tunnel that blistered the tiled interior of the Hudson River crossing.

The blaze started about 3,000 feet from the New Jersey portal.

The fire was very difficult to extinguish due to thick smoke, heavy fumes and close quarters, requiring the assistance of both the New York and Jersey City fire departments," according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The tunnel's ventilation system helped save the day.

"Firemen entered the eastbound tube from the New Jersey entrance and worked their way through two lanes of parked vehicles formed by more than 100 automobiles, buses and trucks," the port authority said.

The Holland Tunnel disaster injured more than 60 people and led to the death three months later of a New York City firefighter,
 Battalion Chief Gunther E. Beake, who was overcome by smoke and chemical fumes.