Preplanning Pays Off For Boston Chief

Boston District Chief draws a line and keeps troops safe; says first thought upon arrival was Worcester cold storage fire.






Early in July District Chief Pettaway had walked through Norfolk Avenue working on a preplan. Known as the Boston Ice Company, the 200′ x 80′ structure had been vacant since a fire in 1963. Progressive disrepair led the owner of Cumberland Cold Storage next door to shut down the utilities and leave that structure vacant as well. On Saturday evening Engine 14 arrived and struck the second alarm.

The scene at a 9-alarm fire at an abandoned warehouse at 31 Norfolk Ave in Boston. (Stuart Cahill)

2227 Box 1712: E 14-21-3 L 4-23 R-2 D-7
2227 RIT/Rehab: E 17* L 7* W-25 D-9(Rit)
2230 2nd Alarm: E 22-24-37 L 26 TL-10 SU TaC W-12 H-1 D-4(2nd) C-7a D-8a(Act) A-65
2231 All Tower Ladders: TL-17 TL-3
2231 3rd Alarm: E 10-42 L 15
2232 4th Alarm: E 7-50 TL-3
2232 5th Alarm: E 55-33 L 1 FlC
Transfer: Brkl E1-28 Camb E2-33 Quin E2-18 Bra L1-7 Brkl L2-14
2234 6th Alarm: E 49-56
Transfer: Nee E1-30 New E1-51 Som E2-32
2236 7th Alarm: E 28-52 L 19
Transfer: Chel E2-9 Ded E1-48 Win E1-56 Cam L1-15
2240 8th Alarm: E 8-51
Transfer: Eve E1-8 Mil E1-16 Watn E1-37
2240 9th Alarm: E 9-39
Transfer: Mal E3-10 Rev E3-5 Wal E2-41
2301 Transfer: Brkl E1-(28)-42 Wal E2-(41)-28 New L3-TL-10 Som L2-TL-17
2350 1 X Eng & Lad (RIT): E 41 L 16
2350 Transfer: Cam E3-7
0055 1 X Eng 8/22: E 16
0353 Detail: E 20-48 L 21-29
0700 Detail: E 2-4 L 6-18
1200 Detail: E 52 L 15
Courtesy A.65 Belin

As the scope of the fire grew, Pettaway ordered all the department’s tower ladders (3, 10 17) and then struck third, fourth and fifth alarms, all within one minute of each other. Having known the death trap potential both structures held, Pettaway worked the fireground to ensure all companies were operating outside of the collapse zones.

““Firefighter deaths are usually in large buildings like this,’’ Pettaway said. “That’s one of your biggest fears.’’ Pettaway ordered all his firefighters to pull back at least 75 feet from the building, fearing it would collapse. And about 90 seconds later, one side of the building fell in, he said.”
“Questions follow warehouse inferno”, Boston.com

This wasn’t the only multiple alarm for the day. At around 2:00 a.m. a still alarm was struck for the Intercontinental Hotel and Residences. A fire in a basement electrical room led to the hotel’s occupants having to evacuate. A second alarm was struck to assist the evacuation.


“Fire forces evacuation of Hub’s InterContinental Hotel”, Boston Herald
“Guests scramble after Boston hotel fire”, Boston Herald

“Boston Fire Department to launch probe into Roxbury warehouse fire”, Boston Herald
Gallery: 9 Alarm Fire, Boston Herald


“Large Fire Burns At Boston Warehouse”, WBZ
“Chief’s Research Plays Huge Role In Roxbury Fire”, WBZ
Slideshow: Roxbury Warehouse Fire, WBZ

“Officials: Burned Warehouse Unsafe To Enter”, Boston Channel

Stephen Walsh/Box714Imaging: Boston 9 Alarms

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Johnny says his gut is telling him to stay.

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