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.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Frank Lunt of Truck 2

On Sept. 20, 1904, nitric acid fumes killed four firemen extinguishing a small fire in the engraving department of The Denver Post.

Lieutenant Charles Dolloff of Engine 4 was the first to succumb to his injuries.

The others were:

John McGlade - known as "Handsome Jack" - of Truck 2

Frank Lunt of Truck 2

Captain Charles Eymann of Truck 1

About a dozen other firemen were injured, including future Fire Chief John Healy.

Nitric acid, HNO3, is a colorless, fuming chemical that is
highly corrosive.

The spill was estimated at about 10 gallons.

Reporting on the effects of nitric acid, the Journal of the American Medical Association provided the following account:

"The Denver Fire Department was called to the office of the Denver Post Sept. 20, 1904, at 4 p. m.

"On arrival they were informed that a carboy of nitric acid had been accidentally broken in an attempt to remove the stopper with a hammer.

"The acid spread across the floor, coming in contact with the zinc used in etching.

"Sawdust was used to absorb it, and, rapidly oxidizing, burst into flame here and there, resulting in the call for the firemen.

"Mr. Bradt, foreman of the department, who was at work in the room, states that the fumes and smoke were not especially irritating until the portable apparatus began playing on the fire."

The article continued:

"Eighteen firemen and two men employed in the office were affected severely enough to demand medical aid.

"Of these, four died, two on the second day, from the direct consequences, and two several weeks later from relapse.

"The immediate symptoms complained of while exposed to the fumes were, in order of frequency, as follows: Dyspnea, pain in the stomach, pain in the chest, headache, dryness of the throat, coughing, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty in walking, and dryness of the nose.

"No unconsciousness was noted.

"Nearly all the firemen returned to their respective firehouses, not considering themselves seriously sick.

"After a few hours many of them sought medical aid, and within twenty-four hours all of them excepting one were patients in the Emergency Hospital."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

MALL FIRE - 1983

Photo: Denver Public Library

On Nov. 23, 1983, fire ravaged the University Hills Shopping Center, the first 5-alarm blaze in Denver Fire Department history.

Flames spread through suspended ceilings and reached more than a dozen stores, many stocked for the holiday shopping season.

Other business sustained smoke damage.

Two of the 150 firefighters at the scene were injured.

Denver Fire Chief Myrle Wise called the blaze "one of the worst" in his 40-year career.

Water from fire engines and aerial ladders turned to ice in near-zero temperatures.

Thirty-five of the city's 41 piece of fire apparatus attended the fire.

According to a Facebook post by Assistant Fire Gregory Taft, police were first on the scene to investigate a burglar alarm and encountered smoke.

The first alarm was transmitted at 12:25 a.m., with Engine 24 - located across from the mall - first due.

Engine 24 and Engine 22 entered the front doors of Yarbro Drug with 3 hose lines while Truck 22's crew climbed to the roof and reported heavy fire venting around air handling equipment and the roof sinking by about a foot, Taft  wrote.  

A special call followed at 12:31 a.m. for an additional engine and truck, with fire dispatchers adding Squad 1 to the assignment.

The 2nd alarm was struck at 12:40 a.m.

The 3rd Alarm at 1:00 a.m.

The 4th Alarm at 1:15 a.m.

Special calls were made between  1:24 a.m. and 2:53 am.

Chief Wise declared the 5th Alarm at 3:15 a.m.

Off-duty firefighters were called back to cover the city.


Photo: Denver Fire Dept.
On Nov. 25-26, 1990, Denver firefighters battled flames at a United Airlines jet fuel depot near Stapleton International Airport for 53 hours.

Dark clouds from the blaze
drifted over the city and health officials warned people with respiratory problems to remain indoors.

About a quarter of the 13 million gallons of jet fuel at the depot went up in flames that reached as high as 500 feet.

"It was a monster," Denver Fire Department spokesman Mike McNeill said.

Temperatures reached 3,500F.

The fire was finally "snuffed out" when Continental Airlines, which owned tanks near the United tanks, hired the private oil well firefighting company Boots & Coots of Texas.

Denver Fire Chief Richard Gonzales said: "The reality is this kind of thing doesn't happen very often and there are very few people who do it on a regular basis."

Boots & Coots president Dwight Williams likened his specialty to "riding bad horses.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ICE HOUSE - 2007

Photo: Pueblo Fire MuseumIn 2007, fire destroyed the Pueblo Ice House at West Sixth and Elizabeth streets. It was contaminated by asbestos and labeled an environmental risk before the blaze.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Photos: City-County of Butte Silver Bow 

On Jan. 15, 1895, a series of powder explosions ripped through the warehouse district of Butte, Montana, killing 57 people - including 13 of the city's 15 firefighters.

Fire Chief Angus Cameron and Assistant Fire Chief John Sloan Jr were among the dead.

Box 72 was transmitted just before 10 p.m., an alarm station that would become known as "Fateful Box 72."

A dispatch to The Denver News said: "There were three separate explosions, the first two breaking nearly every window in a radius of two miles. Men and women were mowed down like grass before a sickle."

Of the two firefighters who survived, 
John Flannery was at the hydrant and Dave Magee, the driver, was shielded by his team.

A fire horse named Jim also survived.

The Manitoba Morning Free Press in Winnipeg printed Firefighter Magee's eyewitness account of the disaster:

"After reaching the fire we laid 1,000 feet of hose, and Flannery stayed at the hydrant. I drove up to the building with the hose and then drove back about 200 feet and stopped.

``A moment later the first explosion occurred in the building and the flames burst through the roof, but no one was hurt by this explosion. The boys then went back to the building again thinking the danger was all over.

``Jack Sloane came over to the wagon and got an axe and started to cut an opening to the building. My brother William got in the back of the wagon and advised me to drive further away for fear of another explosion.

``I told him there was no danger, and got down to blanket the horses. I usually get off on the inside nearest the fire, but this time the horses were between me and the fire and it is fortunate for me that such was the case.

``Just as I pulled the blankets down from the seat and spread one of them out to throw it over the horse the second explosion came. I did not see anything, and only remember hearing the awful roar and being knocked down.

``When I recovered a moment later I found the wagon partly on top of me with the tongue across my breast and the off horse was lying right on top of me. The blankets had caught fire. Pieces of wood were burning all round me and I was momentarily chocked and bewildered.

``I struggled to get loose but I was unable to free myself. People were screaming all round me and crying for help. I could hardly make my voice heard. After a while a man came along and I begged him for God's sake to help me out.

``With his assistance I managed to get out from the the weight that was pinning me down and struggled to my feet I limped along, but was getting along slowly when a couple of men came along and carried me to the Harrison house.

``From there I was brought home. The last I saw of Jack Sloane, he was pounding away at the door, and when I saw Cameron last he was taking the kinks out of the hose between the wagon and the burning building. All of the other boys were close behind Slaone, and they were certainly all killed."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Dramatic photo from Facebook page of Laramie, Wyoming, IAFF Local  946. Date and location of incident unknown.


Fort Carson, Colorado

Laramie, Wyoming
Durango, Colorado 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Missoula, Montana

Cheyenne, Wyoming
Eaton, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado

Farmington, New Mexico
Fort Collins, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado


The city of Casper, Wyoming, protected in its early years by volunteers, hired its first paid fireman in 1912 at a salary of $100 per month.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Photo: Burlington Volunteer Fire Dept.

On Dec. 16, 1945, fire destroyed the Montezuma Hotel in Burlington, Colorado.

The hotel was full for the night, according to the Burlington Volunteer Fire Department website, yet there were no injuries.

A person reported as missing was found at home.

Another major fire struck a few months later at Shank's Cafe on July 13, 1946.