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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Apartment building and TV tower 

On Nov. 8, 1956,  a twin-engine aircraft flying in rain and fog clipped a giant television tower in North Bergen and crashed into an apartment building, spewing flaming fuel and scattering parts over several city blocks.

Four people died and 15 others - including a dozen firefighters - were injured, according to the Associated Press. 

The pilot and passenger of the plane flying from Indianapolis to New York City were among the fatalities as was a woman who  "jumped five stories to the street in panic as the building burst into flames," AP said.

"The impact of the crash shattered a part of the southwest wall of the multiple dwelling and the main portion of the plane was imbedded in the top floor," the magazine Fire Engineering reported. "Ruptured fuel tanks sprayed gasoline over the entire south wall starting a fire that involved that face of the building.

"In addition fire involved the entire top floor and the cockloft," the magazine said.

An aircraft engine hit 
a garage at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel School, where more than 200 children were in attendance, AP reported.  Witness Dorothy Mounet said landing gear "bounced like a basketball behind a moving car."

Fearing the steel latticed 810-foot television tower would collapse, officials evacuated hundreds of homes. Workers secured the tower, which residents - rightfully - considered a hazard. It was eventually removed.

Engine 1, Engine 4, Truck 1 and the emergency squad responded on the first alarm at Box 415 at 77th and Broadway. Upon arrival, Acting Deputy Chief Theodore Fletcher 
ordered a general alarm, including mutual aid from neighboring cities to fight the fire and fill in North Bergen's fire stations.

Fire Engineering said:

"The fire from the sprayed gasoline had ignited the wooden window casings of the building and the first fire fighting efforts were devoted to preventing the spread of the blaze from this fuel.

"Two deck pipes were used to wash the side of the apartment house and quickly stopped the fire on the exterior. It was later determined that the only places the fire had entered the building from this source was through windows broken by the intense heat. Spray from the deck pipe streams was sufficient to put out these interior fires.

"When the outside wall fire had been extinguished, all efforts were directed at the fire on the top floor and in the cockloft.

"Two 2 1/2 -inch hand lines had been stretched to the top floor by way of the fire escape and a third 2 1/2-inch line was taken to the top floor over an aerial ladder. The 2 1/2-inch hand lines, the two deck pipes and two ladder pipe streams were used to control the remaining fire."

Total Response

North Bergen: 4 engines, 1 ladder, 1 emergency squad
Guttenberg: 3 engines, 1 ladder, 1 ambulance
West New York:  2 engines, 1 ladder, 1 ambulance
Weehawken: 1 engine, 1 emergency truck, 1 ambulance
Ridgefield: 1 engine
Bogota: 1 Civil Defense rescue
Maywood: 1 Civil Defense rescue