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Rescue Company #4 and Engine-292

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June 01, 2016 | NEW YORK Larry Woodcock, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Queens, New York is the largest of the five boroughs, with over 112-square-miles, including beach-front homes, many historic sites, and a population of over 2.1-million.

It’s also home to the Belmont Racetrack, which is known to be the longest track for any horse looking to win the Triple Crown. The world’s fair was held here twice, the U.S. Open Championship is played there every September, the Mets play there, the Jets did play there, and it’s maybe one of the most diverse communities in all of New York City.

It does not get as much notoriety as it’s neighbor to the south, Brooklyn, but is equally just as important to the fiber and history of New York City. Recently voted one of the best places to visit by Lonely Planet, it is no longer overshadowed by Manhattan. The neighborhood was originally called "Winfield," named after General Winfield Scott, and was later incorporated by Elmhurst and Woodside, in which people still refer to it as that to this day.

The Winfield War Memorial, dedicated to neighborhood residents killed in WW1, stands at 65th Place and Laurel Hill Boulevard. Saint Mary’s Church of Winfield still bears the name. As with the majority of communities in Queens, the 20th-Century saw unprecedented growth as the subways became available and many Italian and Jewish families settled here in the 1970’s. Most left for the suburbs and were replaced by immigrants from around the world.

As of 2010, there were over 115 nations represented in the borough, a number sure to change. Queens Boulevard and 64th Street is home for the firehouse of Rescue Company #4 and Engine-292. This firehouse is the only home for E-292, which will celebrate it’s centennial in August of 2018. Orginally, they were the second section to Engine-287, 287(2), and were disbanded to form Engine-292 on August 1,1918. Unlike the other rescue companies in the city that were shuffled around to different houses over the years, this has been the only home for Rescue-4 since their establishment in June of 1931.

The firehouse was built in 1914, after a fire destroyed the previous building that stood on the site. On the Father’s Day that landed on June 17, 2001 a fire occurred on Astoria Boulevard and Main Avenue in Astoria, that would simply become known as the “father’s day fire.” In a rather bizarre circumstance, two teenagers spraying graffiti on the backdoor of a hardware store knocked over a can of gasoline in the rear yard. The gas would run underneath the back door and down the stairs, into the cellar. The vapors were ignited by the pilot’s light from the gas water-heater and started a fire that spread to numerous flammable liquids and paints. This in turn allowed the vapor and gasses to build up while the fire department was operating. During ventilation and hose-line operations, an explosion ripped through the block-long-building, blowing out the walls and dropping the first-floor into the basement. Fireman Harry Ford of Rescue-4 and Fireman John Downing of Ladder-163 were killed instantly. Fireman Brian Fahey of Rescue-4 was trapped after landing in the basement, but could not be rescued.

Several other firefighters would be rescued and some suffered career-ending injuries during the five-alarm fire and explosion. Combined, these men would leave behind a total of eight children. As if that was not enough, rescue and the department would suffer even greater loss on 9/11, with the deaths of eight more members, including the Captain. In total, thirteen men have died in the line-of-duty while serving the city of New York and fellow members. As Father’s Day approaches each year, please remember these men, as well as all the other firefighters that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of others.

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Larry WoodcockCorrespondent

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