St. George Hotel Fire Report
It was obvious that the 31 story Tower Building that faced Pineapple
in immediate danger. The Incident Commander directed the fourth
and fifth alarm companies to report to the Chief on exposure 3
to assist in evacuating and protecting the Tower Building.
A Battalion Chief was assigned to conduct a survey of the entire
block. It appeared from the street that the Grill, Tower and the
St. George Apartments were separate buildings.1 However, the survey
determined that the interior had been inter-connected to create
one large structure.
When the Incident Commander received this information he informed
DC-1 of the building configuration and directed him to take charge
of both Exposures 2 and 3 (Figure 9). The fireground was now divided
into the Clark Street Branch, which included Exposures 1 and 2
and the fire building, and the Pineapple Street Branch, which
included Exposures 2 and 3. Two Deputy Chiefs were assigned to
direct operations in the two branches, DC-6 on the Clark side
and DC-1 on the Pineapple side. The Incident Commander directed
DC-1 to initiate a separate incident and to communicate directly
with Brooklyn Communications to request resources.
The landmark status of the area mandated that the exterior of
the buildings remain basically the same as they had been before
they were consolidated.
A secondary Command Post was established at the corner of Hicks
and Pineapple and a second alarm assignment was requested by DC-1
to report to the Pineapple Sector, which included the Pineapple
and Crosshall Buildings. The equivalent of a third alarm was requested
to assist the companies that were already operating in the Tower
Additional alarms for the Clark Street side were transmitted
as follows: the sixth at 5:06 a.m., the seventh at 5:09 a.m.,
the eighth at 5:28 a.m., the ninth at 6:15 a.m., the tenth at
7:17 a.m. and the eleventh at 7:20 a.m. The fire was declared
under control at 7:09 a.m
A primary search of the exposures was a major challenge due to
the large number of living units exposed. Although most of the
residents of the Tower Building self-evacuated, the concierge
was receiving calls from numerous residents requesting help. Other
residents called 9-1-1 and their locations were relayed to the
command post by Brooklyn communications. The Sector Commander
prioritized these requests and assigned companies as they arrived
or became available. Fires in several apartments had been ignited
by the flying brands or radiant heat. In an effort to reach the
areas most in need of intervention, apartment doors were forced
open if heat was detected on the corridor side of the door. Entry
ultimately had to be forced into 84 apartments in the Tower Building.
As more Chief Officers arrived, the Tower Building was divided
into sectors. Several floors and companies were assigned to each
Some of the first companies into the Tower Building used the
elevators to reach the upper floors. Some of the later arriving
companies had to climb 20 to 25 stories to reach their assigned
areas. The building’s two stairways became congested with
hundreds of residents evacuating down while firefighters were
advancing up the stairs, carrying their equipment. Smoke in the
corridors and stairways added to the confusion. A specially trained
high rise crew was sent to retrieve the elevators from the upper
floors and to assure their proper use.
As more resources arrived and were assigned, a total occupant
search was completed and all of the apartment fires were extinguished.
Sixteen 2-1/2 inch lines were stretched from the standpipes into
apartments to directly attack the fire in the Clark Building.
The radiant heat from so large a fire continued to present a major
threat and to tax the resources on the scene.
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