The anniversary of the “Vandalia Avenue fire” and the subsequent loss of 3 Firefighters was yesterday, so we wanted to pass this on for info, passing and learning.
Lt. Joseph Cavalieri – Age 42 – Ladder 170 – 15-year veteran
F/F James Bohan – Age 25 – Ladder 170 – 2-year veteran
F/F Christopher Bopp – Age 27 – Ladder 170 – 3-year veteran
At 0454 hours, on December 18, 1998 Brooklyn transmitted box 4080 for a top floor fire at 17
The 10 story 50 x 200 fireproof building is used as a senior citizen’s residence. By the time companies arrived the fire already could be seen blowing through two windows. 2nd and 3rd alarms were quickly transmitted.
As the 1st due ladder company, L170’s defined task is to search the fire floor. Lieutenant Joseph Cavalieri, and Firefighters Christopher Bopp and James Bohan ascended 10 flights of stairs with extinguishers and forcible entry tools. Their mission was to rescue the resident of apartment 10-D who was believed trapped inside.
Fortunately for the elderly resident she escaped shortly before the forcible entry team arrived. Unfortunately for them, she left the apartment door wide open. The additional air from the hallway fed the inferno within and blew out the windows. The halls were equipped with sprinklers but they were deactivated.
As the Lieutenant and Firefighters arrived at the door, a sudden change in the wind direction forced an estimated 30 MPH wind gust into the apartment, and a 2,000 degree fireball into the hallway. The 3 men only had enough time to get a Mayday transmitted. The high heat asphyxiated them and burned their masks off. Despite the best efforts of the members (fire and EMS) all 3 were pronounced at the hospital. Also injured in the fire were 6 other fire fighters and 4 residents. The cause of the fire was careless smoking.
This fire was a turning point in the way the fire service as a whole looks at wind driven fires.
More if you google “Vandalia Avenue Fire Brooklyn” on how this fire-and the terrible loss of these men – started serious discussions and scientific research about flow paths and wind driven fires. RIP