(Photo by Ray Johnson)

This past Saturday, Aug 2, 1010 WINS announced the memorial being held for that fateful and sad day 30 years ago when our city lost six of its bravest in the Waldbaum’s fire. That day comes to remembrance many times, especially whenever I pass by Firemen’s Corner at Ave Y and Ocean Ave. That particular Waldbaum’s supermarket was on my family’s Bay Favorites-List of Best Places to Shop. When news of the fire got around, we were told to stay away from the area where the building was smoldering and I listened. Not so, for our house guests from Canada, who wanted to see first hand what had happened. They visited the site after all was said and done and brought back with them a couple of bottles of warm “pop” (we just called it soda) to prove they had been to the site. I can only give you my ear, nose,and airwitness account, having seen and smelled the smoke dissipating for blocks around and hearing the sirens amidst the commotion. To give you a better idea of the scene that day, Steve Spak, a photographer who also chronicled the 9/11 tragedy years later, gave his eyewitness account of the events and recalls the poignant final wave of a firefighter from the roof of the burning building.

Fast forward to today and we can rest assured that the Fire Department is continually hard at work on Ocean Avenue. According to an incident report filed on July 17, 2008, their swift response to a report of smoke emanating from the G & L Orthopedic Supply at 2806 Ocean Ave, resulted in a complete resolution of the problem. The Bureau of Fire Prevention has fire safety inspections on file-one as recent as July 21, 2008 for the Staples store, indicating no violations and giving it a clean ‘bay-l of health’, so to speak. Additionally, Staples management has assured me that everyone who comes on board receives basic fire safety training and can always refer to the safety “binder in the breakroom”.

Memorials for lost firefighters are the time to stop and give thanks. They are also perfect time to alert us all to fire safety.

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  • Anthony

    I can’t believe this article is almost a year old and not commented on. It’s actually quite sad considering the subject matter. Much like yourself, Ray, I remember the day of that Waldbaum’s fire very clearly. I lived on E 22nd St. between Y & Z and could see the plumes of smoke from my backyard. I remember walking over to Ocean Ave. to investigate. I was horrified to see the supermarket in flames. I stood watching for hours from the diagonal corner (it was a deli or butcher shop then.)

    Indeed, I do remember. The 6 firemen died when the roof collapsed. It was a tragic time for Sheepshead Bay. The acrid smell from the burnt rubble resonated for quite some time. I remember a barricade of plywood being built on the Ave. Y side of the building so us kids could safely walk to school at P.S. 254. while the wreckage was cleared.

    I don’t recall the corner being named Firemen’s Corner but I am glad that the tribute exists. Thanks for remembering yourself and thank you for reminding me.


  • Anthony

    I can’t believe this article is almost a year old and not commented on. It’s actually quite sad considering the subject matter. Much like yourself, Ray, I remember the day of that Waldbaum’s fire very clearly. I lived on E 22nd St. between Y & Z and could see the plumes of smoke from my backyard. I remember walking over to Ocean Ave. to investigate. I was horrified to see the supermarket in flames. I stood watching for hours from the diagonal corner (it was a deli or butcher shop then.)

    Indeed, I do remember. The 6 firemen died when the roof collapsed. It was a tragic time for Sheepshead Bay. The acrid smell from the burnt rubble resonated for quite some time. I remember a barricade of plywood being built on the Ave. Y side of the building so us kids could safely walk to school at P.S. 254. while the wreckage was cleared.

    I don’t recall the corner being named Firemen’s Corner but I am glad that the tribute exists. Thanks for remembering yourself and thank you for reminding me.