Friday, January 27, 2017

DENVER POST - 1904


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."

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