FDNY Tales - Fireman Ingenuity

FDNY Tales - Fireman Ingenuity

Van Iderstine was a factory in Long Island City, not far from the railroad yards, where they used animal fat to make soap and glue. The factory had five buildings that were all part of the plant.

In the early days any animal which died on the streets of New York, such as horses that pulled wagons, circus animals, some as huge as elephants, that died when the circus came to town, were taken to the Van Iderstine Factory. There, they were put into a giant funnel set-up that had huge meat grinders at the bottom which ground up their bodies. These smaller more manageable pieces were brought to other buildings on the large factory premises where the fat was rendered to make soap and glue.

Van Iderstine trucks would also go to butchers all over the city to buy their waste fat and bones.

Because of the nature of their business, there was grease everywhere causing many fires; some small and others very large, dangerous fires. In December of 1964, 6 firemen were killed when a heavy roof in one of the buildings collapsed on top of them.

Returning from yet another large fire at Van Iderstine Roy Teverbaugh, a fireman in Engine 261, came back to quarters with all its hoses draped every which way over the fire truck. The hose was so loaded with grease, that it would slip from the hands of the firemen and so not allowing then to orderly fold the hose into the trucks compartment.

The firemen closed off the block and laid the hose in front of the firehouse and tried to clean it with brushes and soap and water. It was not effective.

Roy then came up with his great idea! "Why don't we use the same operation we use to make foam using our big can of industrial detergent in place of the foam." It worked!

The foam created a large detergent blanket of bubbles and water. Using large broom brushes both sides of the hose were cleaned. Other fire hoses connected to hydrants rinsed away the suds.

They came cleaner than they ever were! An impressive and ingenious operation. (Gene Welischar)

Now it's your turn. If you have a story that you'd like to submit, or have an idea for a story please let us know. Send it to: fdnytales@Fire-Police-EMS.com

Thanks, Ira Hoffman