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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Collapsing walls killed five District of Columbia firefighters at a blaze in the 1890s.

It happened at the Commission House conflagration on Louisiana Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets, Northwest, on May 18, 1896.

Killed at the general alarm at Box 139:

Thomas Griffen, assistant foreman, Truck Company B
Daniel Conway, private, Engine Co. 9
George Giles, assistant foreman, Engine Co. 9
Joseph Mulhall, private, Engine Co. 8
George Kettler, assistant foreman, Engine Co. 8

A dispatch published by the Trenton Evening Times in New Jersey said:

"The buildings covering the block adjoining the Centre Market constituted practically the entire commission and wholesale produce business of Washington, and while not of great value, their contents burned so fiercely that a great portion of the residents from all parts of the city were attracted to the scene of the conflagration.

"From 7 to 8 o'clock the city was visited by one of the most terrific thunder storms in years and it is thought lightning traveling on telegraph wires entered a Postal Telegraph sub-station and started the flames, which spread rapidly through the highly inflammable materials of the building on Louisiana avenue, Ninth, Tenth and D streets.

"In a few minutes, under general alarm orders, the entire fire department commenced its efforts to check the fire's spread, but exploding barrels of kerosene and gasoline drove them off and led them to direct their energies to preventing the flames from crossing streets to neighboring squares.

"While the firemen of No. 8 engine were working a hose through one of the old buildings the roof fell without warning, burying them in the ruins.

"The wrecked building at once began burning furiously and any attempt at rescue was beyond question. Not until an hour later had the flames sufficiently subsided at this point for the firemen to begin clearing away the debris."