The FDNY Foundation joins the FDNY in remembrance of the 42nd anniversary of the Waldbaum’s Fire.
The fire occurred on August, 2, 1978 at a Waldbaum’s supermarket on Avenue Y and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. Nearly 20 Firefighters were on the roof of the supermarket when the central portion gave way, plunging 12 members into the flames. Six of them were rescued, but another six members died in the tragedy.
Lt. James E. Cutillo of Battalion 33, Firefighter Charles S. Bouton of Ladder 156, Firefighter Harold F. Hastings of Battalion 42, Firefighter James P. McManus of Ladder 153, Firefighter William O’Connor of Ladder 156, and Firefighter George S. Rice of Ladder 153, made the Supreme Sacrifice that day.
Brian Hastings was 14 years old when his father, Firefighter Harold F. Hastings, was killed. Years later, he and Caroline McManus, daughter of Firefighter James P. McManus married. Brian said, “There were 18 children who lost their fathers in that fire, my childhood stopped on that day. You didn’t have time to be a kid anymore, now all of a sudden, you’re an adult.”
In addition to the FDNY members who sacrificed their lives that day, 34 Firefighters, one Emergency Medical Technician and one Emergency Services police officer were injured in the fire.
Retired Firefighter Danny Prince, who was assigned to Ladder 156 on the day of the fire, said, “We never forget, we never leave anybody behind and we never forget, this is a tribute to remember them every year.”
To listen to FDNY Captain Howard Venetsky (Ret.) recall the events of the Waldbaum’s Fire, please click here
For photos from the Waldbaum’s fire, click here.
For photos of the 40th anniversary memorial mass, click here.