#TBT from the NFPA Archives: fire at Baltimore railroad terminal, 1922

Blog Post created by maryelizabethwoodruff Employee on Sep 29, 2016


The photo, taken at the height of the fire, shows the grain elevator where the fire started, and a nearby warehouse.  Both structures were destroyed.


From the NFPA Quarterly v. 16, no. 2, 1922

"Lightning hit Elevator "B" at about 5:30 P.M. A watchman was in the top of this elevator but he escaped injury and turned in a fire alarm immediately from an ADT box, at hand. The private fire brigade responded immediately, taking hose into the building. However, the fire spread so rapidly that the brigade could do nothing with the standpipe and hose in the building and were forced to use the spiral slide fire escapes to get out of the building. The city fire department responded quickly to the first alarm and a "third" alarm was sounded immediately on their arrival, quickly followed by a general alarm, bringing out all the companies in the city (51 engines), more than half of which were held at the fire. All five of the city fire boats and several tugs of various railroads, equipped with fire apparatus, responded. The fire spread rapidly and soon set fire to the warehouse on Pier 5 despite closed iron shutters, Pier 5 being west of Elevator "B" and wind being from the east. At that time streams were being directed on Elevator "C" from outside and also over the side of buildings from inside standpipes. Fire boats were in the slip between the two elevators. About 7:30 to 8:00 P.M. the wind suddenly shifted, due to another storm, and blew from north and west, and toward Elevator "C," setting that building on fire and causing fire boats to abandon their positions. The wind continuing from the north and west, embers and heat were carried to Pier 2, igniting that structure despite efforts to save it. Then wind again shifted to northeast, enabling firemen to save Pier 1 and Annex Pier 2. Twenty-eight standard hose streams were used on the plant water system, with pumps maintaining from 100 to 130 pounds. There was no break in the water lines, nothing went wrong with the pumps, the fire alarm system functioned, the plant fire brigade responded in minimum time, and altogether it would appear that the fire was fought as efficiently as possible, with all the protection, which was excellent, working properly."



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