Tradition The first member of the Brooklyn Fire Department to die in a line in duty was William Baldwin. William Baldwin, was the foreman of Brooklyn's Steam Engine 16. While fighting the fire at the Otto Huber Brewery, the wall collapsed crushing William Baldwin, it took him three days to die. There is a monument for William Baldwin at his grave site in the Evergreen cemetery in Brooklyn. At one time, I was a member of Brooklyn Engine 216. I had never heard of William Baldwin and never knew that engine 16 became engine 116 and later to 216. When I finally did find out only a few years ago after retiring, I was very sad and disappointed that I never knew of this brave man. I went to the Evergreen cemetery and found not only William Baldwin but also a 40 ft. monument of him in his honor. He has stood there silently since 1880 showing the way of our tradition and pride and selfless dedication. I took a photograph of his monument, and placed it at the very top of the listing of all of the line of duty deaths in the New York City Fire Department since 1865. Upon the celebration of Brooklyn Engine Co. 216 's 125th anniversary I witnessed the Fire Department brass walking into the apparatus floor carrying a brass plaque honoring Captain William Baldwin for the first time since 1880. He can now rest in peace and we can continue our tradition of the bravest. Every tragedy for some reason, like the fire triangle, has three elements to it.
There is actually a name for this phenomenon , " THE CASCADING EFFECT " If at any time you can identify two of the elements of an eminent disaster about to happen, do everything possible to eliminate at least one of the two before the third one comes in . Firefighters expect danger, they also know not everyone of them will survive a full career. Civilians on the other hand do not expect to die when they go to work for the day, and they suffered the greatest losses over 6,000. Firefighters will still charge into a burning buildings, even knowing what has happened at the World Trade Center, to save the civilians who can count on them in times of utter despair. We must all ask ourselves what were the three key elements that led to this disaster and horrendous loss of life. Was it a breakdown in our intelligence community? What caused the catastrophic structural failure of the building? Should civilians and the fire department have more say in the building codes? It will take along a long time to answer these questions, but these losses will pave the way for a better society and a safer world for all of us. My heart goes out to all that have given their lives in this tragedy, they will not be forgotten and they will show us the way to a better future. Don-Webmaster,THE UNOFFICIAL HOME PAGE OF FDNY