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The Waldbaum’s Supermarket Fire and Collapse: FDNY 1978-Honor, Remembrance, Learning’s

Waldbaums Supermarket Fire and Collapse: FDNY 1978

Honor, Remembrance, Learning’s


The Waldbaum Super market fire, Brooklyn, New York occurred on August 2, 1978. Six firefighters died in the line of duty when the roof of a burning Brooklyn supermarket collapsed, plunging 12 firefighters into the flames. The fire began in a hallway near the compressor room as crews were renovating the store, and quickly escalated to a fourth-alarm. Less than an hour after the fire was first reported, nearly 20 firefighters were on the roof when the central portion gave way.


Thirty-four firefighters, one emergency medical technician and one Emergency Services police officer were injured in the fire and the tragedy is remembered as one of the worst disasters in the New York City Fire Department’s history. Brooklyn Box 44-3300


The FDNY members killed in the Line of Duty in the Waldbaums fire included:

  • Lt. James E. Cutillo, Battalion 33

  • Firefighter Charles S. Bouton, Ladder Company 156

  • Firefighter Harold F. Hastings, Battalion 42

  • Firefighter James P. McManus, Ladder Company 153

  • Firefighter William OConnor, Ladder Company 156

  • Firefighter George S. Rice, Ladder Company 153


Please make the time to visit the Facebook page FDNY Remembering the Waldbaums Fire August 2, 1978. Link Here This page is dedicated to the memories of the men, their legacies and families. Learn about the men and their families; Honor, Reverence, Remembrance


The fire started at 8:40 am in Waldbaum’s supermarket located at 2892 Avenue Y and Ocean Avenue in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Nearly 23 electricians, plumbers and contractors were renovating the building when the fire was discovered in mezzanine area.

Box 3300 was transmitted at 08:39 hours and the All-hands transmitted at 08:49 and subsequently a 2nd alarm at 09:02 hrs.


Shortly after 09:20 with 20 firefighters operating on the bowstring truss roof a crackling sound was heard and the center portion of the roof fell into the smoke and flames. Some of the firefighters were seen running toward the edge of the roof; some made it, others nearby fell into the gaping h***. The third alarm was transmitted at 09:18 3rd alarm and subsequently escalated to a Fifth alarm assignment during the rescue and recovery operations.

For a comprehensive posting, please visit  on PennWell’s FireEMS Blog and Follow FGL and Buildingsonfire on Facebook and Twitter @CommandSafety @Buildingsonfire Link to FGL Here


Join us Monday night August 3, 2015 at 7:30pm ET for a special podcast on on Blogtalkradio on Lessons From the Fireground: The FDNY Waldbaum Fire: Insights, Remembrance and Learning's with host Christopher Naum, colleagues Joe Pronesti and Doug Cline and special guests Chief Vinny Dunn, FDNY (ret) and Battalion Chief Jerry Tracy, FDNY (ret)  Link Here

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