TV photographer’s view of Utica, New York fire that killed four & complaints that not enough was done.

May 10, 2011

Heartbreak on Schuyler Street, through a photographer\’s lens

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family and friends of the victims of the Utica, NY fire which occurred at a residence on Schuyler Street on Monday, May 9, 2011. A mother and three young children lost their lives in the fire.

WKTV News Channel 2, Utica, NY posted a heart wrenching video created by Mr. Tim Fisher, a WKTV-TV photojournalist about a fire that occurred on Monday, May 9, 2011 at about 9:30 am in Utica New York. The fire took the lives of a mother and her three young children. Some family and friends were critical of the Utica FD response and their actions at the fire. They did not feel the fire department tried hard enough to find and rescue the four who died.

Those who have read my blogs, articles, and administrator messages in Fireline know that fatal fires happen all too often. I have tried to highlight loss lessons to remind us that these fires are still occurring. Some builders and realtors talk about the minimal cost of adding sprinklers into the construction of a new home as being unreasonable, that this small cost to save lives will somehow interfere with their efforts to get rich. I look at the conscious efforts to prevent future losses like this from happening an unconscionable, and urge everyone to step up and send a message to their legislators that fire sprinklers save lives, property and livelihoods.

Thanks to Mr. Fisher and WKTV News 2 for creating this video. It will be a video that will live on for many years to come.

Thanks to Dave Statter and for their efforts to advertise this video on their web sites and in their e-mail blasts in an effort to bring this to the fire service community.

ASSE’s 100th Anniversary

May 5, 2011

ASSE’s 100th Anniversary from jon schwerman on Vimeo.

The American Society of Safety Engineers is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2011. Founded in 1911 as the United Association of Casualty Inspectors, the Society was formed in the wake of tragic events such as the March 25, 1911, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City where 146 young girls and women lost their lives in a workplace tragedy that drew the attention to the need for workplace safeguards and regulations.

Arson Awareness Week is May 1-7, 2011

May 4, 2011

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) is pleased to partner with the International Association of Arson Investigators; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; USAonWatch; National Association of State Fire Marshals; National Volunteer Fire Council; and the Insurance Committee for Arson Control to announce the theme for the 2011 Arson Awareness Week: Working Together to Extinguish Serial Arson. USFA and its partners will use the week of May 1st to the 7th to focus public attention on the value of a collaborative effort with law enforcement, fire and emergency service departments, and the community to battle serial arsonists.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reports that from 2009 – 2010 there were 88 reported serial arson incidents with an aggregate monetary loss of $4.8 million. Arson in residential dwellings accounted for 49 percent of these incidents. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2007, three firefighters died and 6,100 were injured during response to intentionally set fires.

According to the USFA’s National Fire Incident Report­ing System (NFIRS) data, from 2004 to 2006 an estimated 210,300 intentionally set fires occurred each year in the United States. Intentionally set fires account for 13 percent of fires responded to by fire departments across the Nation. These fires resulted in an average of approximately 375 deaths, 1,300 injuries, and $1.06 billion in property loss each year.

For more information regarding the 2011 Arson Awareness Week, go to

View the press release at

The United States Fire Administration recommends everyone should have a comprehensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and practicing a home fire escape plan.

The Hindenburg Disaster

May 3, 2011

The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937. The German lighter-than-air, rigid frame, passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg left Frankfurt Germany on the evening of May 3. At approximately 7:00 pm, May 6, 1937, it approached Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died. In addition, another person was killed on the ground. The actual cause of the fire remains unknown. There were many hypotheses, but none proven. This crash was the deathblow to the rigid frame lighter-than-air airship era.

The Hindenburg was originally designed to use helium gas. Due to a US embargo on the exportation of helium prior to WWII, hydrogen was used to make the airship buoyant. Hydrogen is extremely flammable and burns intensely in air. As a result of the Hindenburg fire, hydrogen was banned from being used in this application.

Airships are no longer used for passenger transport, but they are used for advertising, sightseeing, surveillance and research. The Goodyear Blimp is a fixture over key football games.

Washburn A Mill Flour Explosion May 2, 1878

May 2, 2011

On May 2, 1878 there was an explosion of the flouring mills at Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Washburn A Mill. 18 workers were killed in the explosion, 14 of them killed instantly. The force of the explosion blew the mill’s concrete roof several hundred feet into the air. It leveled the 7 1/2 story limestone building. As a result of the explosion, the Humboldt and Diamond Mills were also flattened. Evidence investigated after the loss indicated that the Washburn A Mill exploded first, and the force of the explosion hit each of the other mills sequentially. The mill was originally built in 1874 and was declared the largest flour mill in the world. The Washburn A Mill was reconstructed in 1879. At peak production, the Washburn A Mill could grind over 100 boxcars of wheat, almost 2 million pounds of flour per day using 41 grinding stones. A monument to the 18 workers killed in the explosion was erected in 1885 in the Lakewood Cemetery. The inscription on the monument reads, “Labor wide as the earth has its summit in heaven.”