At 20:23 hours, December 27 1983, the Buffalo (NY) Fire Department responded to a reported propane leak in a four-story radiator warehouse located to the corner of North Division and Grosvenor streets. This building was a combination of Type III ordinary and Type IV heavy timber construction that was approximately 50 feet x 100 feet. Engine 32 was the first to arrive on scene and reported nothing showing. Shortly after Truck 5, Engine 1, and the Third Battalion arrived. Battalion Chief Supple assumed incident command.
Thirty-seven seconds after the chief announced his arrival, the propane tank detonated. The explosion leveled the four-story building and demolished other structures within a four-block radius. Seriously damaged buildings were noted over a half a mile away. The ensuing fireball started buildings burning on a number of streets. A large gothic church on the next block had a huge section ripped out. A ten-story housing project several hundred feet away had every window broken. Engine 32 and Truck 5’s firehouse, which was a half mile away from the explosion, had all its windows shattered.
The force of the blast threw Ladder 5, an aerial tiller, nearly 35 feet into the front yard of a dwelling, instantly killing all five crew members (firefighters Mike Austin, Mickey Catanzaro, Red Lickfeld, Tony Waszkielewicz, and Matty Colpoys). Two civilians, Alfred and Jessie Arnold, were also killed as they sat in their living room of their home, which neighbored the warehouse. Engine 1 was thrown across the street, injuring the captain and driver inside the cab and pinning them inside among burning debris. Engine 32 was slammed against the warehouse, and buried in rubble. Eleven firefighters were injured in the initial blast, several of them critically. During the rescue efforts, 19 more firefighters were injured as a result of the adverse weather conditions. Over 150 civilians were transported to hospitals for injuries suffered in the explosion and many more were treated at the scene.
There is now a memorial at fire call box 191 at the intersection of where the tragedy occurred. Each year on December 27, at 2020 hrs, the Fire Department rings out the alarm 1-9-1 to honor the five firefighters of Ladder 5.
The gear of a typical firefighter is 45#.
This workout will honor these men and women. Those who gave some and those who gave all.
191 step ups
1 rope climb
32 bag ground to shoulder
5 8 count bodybuilders
191 step ups