The influence of historical fires on modern fire operations allows firefighters an opportunity to learn from the past. A triple Line of Duty Death (LODD) fire event on March 28th, 1994, now known as “The Watts Street Fire” created several lessons learned opportunities that still apply to present-day fires. From their deaths, it is our obligation to learn from history, to prevent a recurrence of the past. After Watts Street, the FDNY made a significant operational update and overcame politics holding back necessary equipment. The fire reinforces the need for all firefighters to be combat-ready when going above the fire to perform any fire ground activities, recognize the warning signs of hostile or extreme fire events, and how actions taken in ventilation limited fires affect the whole fireground. Utilize the lessons learned by brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice to do your best to return home to your family.
Technical Data & Reports to Review
- Official FDNY Investigative Report 62 Watts Street March 28th, 1994
- Division 7 Training & Safety Newsletter June 2018 – 62 Watts Street Manhattan
- Thermal Protective Performance – NFPA 1971, Clothing for Structural Fire Fighting
- Fire Behavior Case Study – Apartment Fire: New York, NY (62 Watts Street)
- NIST – Modeling a Backdraft Incident: The 62 Watts St. (NY) Fire
- Fireman Dies In Battling Blaze in SoHo – New York Times
- Giuliani Promises Firefighters New Gear – New York Times
- Talk of Life And Death Of Firefighter From Widow – New York Times
- There Are No Medals For Common Sense – Vina Drennan
- Diary of a Hero’s Widow – NY Daily News
- Fire Development Changes When A Fire Becomes Vent Limited – UL FSRI
On Monday, March 28th, 1994 at 1936 hours, Engine 24, Engine 55, Engine 7, Ladder 5, Ladder 8, and Battalion 2 responded to Manhattan Box 308 for a telephone alarm reporting smoke on the top floor of 60 Watts Street. Following the FDNY’s standard operating procedures the inside team of the 1st due Truck (Ladder 8) operates in the fire apartment. They perform forcible entry for the Engine, and primary search in the fire apartment. The inside team of the 2nd due Truck (Ladder 5) searches the floor directly above the fire. Unknown to the first arriving companies the fire had been burning inside the fire apartment for over an hour creating a ventilation limited fire. Several updates to the building had occurred since its original construction in the late 1800s. Prior to the fire, the fire apartment had seen several updates to increase its overall energy efficiency that includes energy-efficient windows, extra thermal insulation, and new doors.