The Waldbaum’s Supermarket Fire and Collapse FDNY 1978 Thirty Five Years ago: The Waldbaum Super market fire, Brooklyn, New York occurred on August 2, 1978. Six firefighters died in the line of duty when the roof of a burning Brooklyn supermarket collapsed, plunging 12 firefighters into the flames. The fire began in a hallway near the compressor room as crews were renovating the store, and quickly escalated to a fourth-alarm. Less than an hour after the fire was first reported, nearly 20 firefighters were on the roof when the central portion gave way.
The FDNY members killed in the Waldbaum’s fire included:
• Lt. James E. Cutillo, Battalion 33
• Firefighter Charles S. Bouton, Ladder Company 156
• Firefighter Harold F. Hastings, Battalion 42
• Firefighter James P. McManus, Ladder Company 153
• Firefighter William O’Connor, Ladder Company 156
• Firefighter George S. Rice, Ladder Company 153
Comprehensive incident insights, photos and building construction diagrams on past post here on CommandSafety.com
The approximately 120 ft. x 120 ft. primary building was originally built in 1952 as a supermarket and at the time of the fire was undergoing extensive renovations and was open and operating. Constructed with exterior masonry bearing walls of with timber roof trusses with a 100-foot clear span, supported on pilaster columns embedded in the exterior walls, it was classical Type III construction. The truss system supported an ornamental tin ceiling and 18 inches below that concealed space a conventional suspended acoustic ceiling tile panel system was present. Reports indicated the tin ceiling was attached directly to the bottom cord of the truss system. A two story mezzanine and machine room was located at the north wall of the original building. Access through the truss loft area was accessible through man-doors at the plane of each truss.
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