On this date 32 years ago, six firefighters perished in what, at the time, was the largest loss of firefighters in a single fire in Brooklyn history. At approximately 9:02 a.m., the roof of Waldbaum’s at Avenue Y and Ocean Avenue (where Staples is today) collapsed, sending at least 12 firefighters into the inferno. In battling the blaze to save the lives of their fellow laddermen, 34 firefighters were injured.

The heroic firefighters who died in the blaze on August 2, 1978, are FF George Rice, 38, Ladder 153; FF James McManus, 48; Cov. Lt. James Cutillo, 39, 33rd Battalion; FF Harold Hastings, 39, 42nd Battalion; FF Charles Bouton, 38, Ladder 156; and William O’Connor, 29 of Ladder 156.

On the anniversary of their supreme sacrifice, John Dwyer of JGDwyerPhotography put together the above slideshow. Dwyer has been photographing the FDNY in action since the 1970s.

In 1999, the city renamed the corner “Firemen’s Corner,” in what is said to be the last public dedication to honor the fallen heroes.

A Facebook page frequently visited by family and friends also keeps the memory of those who passed alive, as does an annual mass held this morning at St. Brendans Church. You can also read the account of Steve Spak, another FDNY photographer on the scene that morning.

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  • zen3344

    I remember the day like it was yesterday. My best friend lived across Avenue Y at the time.

    May the souls of the six firefighters lost that day rest in eternal peace and may The Almighty watch over their families.

  • Kev

    Isnt it STILL the largest loss of firefighters in a single fire in Brooklyn history?

  • bagels

    That was a very poignant slide show which totally captured the sadness of that terrible day.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    The smoke was so intense I smelled it from a half mile away. And it was visible. I got there about 10 minutes after the roof collapsed. It was one of the most horrific things I ever got close to.

  • Beth

    We lived directly across the street. My little sister was watched the whole thing from our fifth floor window and was in tears when she called me at work to tell me what happened. A very sad day, indeed.

  • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2010/08/midweek-photo-in-memorium/ Midweek Photo: In Memorium | Sheepshead Bay News Blog

    […] of a wreath placed on Firemen’s Corner (Ocean Avenue and Avenue Y) last Monday, on the anniversary of the 1978 Waldbaum’s Fire. See photos of a memorial mass held last […]

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