This page tells the tragic story of the Maverick Square Fire and Collapse, which occurred in the early morning hours of November 15, 1942. The fire in Luongo’s Tap, a restaurant within the former East Boston Lyceum, quickly escalated to 3 alarms. Later, without warning, the brick wall from the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors on the Henry Street side of the building collapsed burying many firefighters in the rubble. 4th and 5th alarms were transmitted. Also buried in the rubble was Ladder 8’s 125ft aerial ladder truck, the only white-colored apparatus in the history of the Boston Fire Department. This rig became known as the ‘White Elephant’ due to its checkered history of service.
Nearly fifty firefighters were injured or trapped in the collapse. Upon removal of all firefighters present at the scene, six died as a result of their injuries. The six firemen killed in the Line Of Duty at the scene equaled the record number of Line Of Duty deaths suffered by the Boston Fire Department at a single incident in the Department’s history. That incident was the Merrimac Street Fire and Collapse of 1898.
The fire took place in a 5&1/2-story, 35ft x 65ft, 2nd class brick building housing a liquor store on the first floor, and a tavern andrestaurant on the first and upper floors. The building was owned by Ralph Luongo and John & Raffaelle Luongo. The liquor store was operated by Arthur Pilato and John Fronduto. A dine & dance cafe was located on the second floor. Over 200 couples were in attendance in the cafe when it closed for the evening at midnight.
The fire originated in the ceiling above the kitchen on the first floor. The fire extended throughout the entire building and extended to an adjoining building, a 3-story, 20ft x 40ft, 2nd class brick building at 10 Henry Street. That building was owned by Concetta Sennato.
The Boston Fire Department transmitted a Still Alarm at 0226 hours for Engine Company 40 and Ladder Company 2 to respond. Box 6153, Meridian Street at Maverick Square, was transmitted at 0227 hours. Engine Company 9, Engine Company 5, Engine Company 11, Ladder Company 31 and
the Acting District Chief Jacob Berninger of District 1 responded to fill out the full First Alarm assignment.
A 2nd Alarm was transmitted by District Chief Crowley at 0305 hours. A 3rd Alarm was transmitted by Deputy Chief Louis Stickel at 0324 hours. Moments later, at approximately 0400 hours, without warning, the brick wall on the Henry Street side of the collapsed. There was no buckling of the wall prior to the collapse. Many firefighters were trapped in the interior of the building and the ladder truck of Ladder 8 was crushed beneath the debris. Rescue operations ensued immediately, which were affected by the +12 degree temperature and stiff winds. Chief of Department Samuel Pope ordered a 4th Alarm at 0420 hours and a 5th Alarm at 0434 hours. A call for assistance went out to military forces and request for a crane. The Boston Globe reported 175 Marines, Coast Guardsmen and police officers and three cranes aided Boston firemen in the rescue effort.
The aerial ladder of the crushed ladder truck was used as an escape route from the rubble, as well as a platform from which the long task of dig-out and rescue was performed. Hoseman Macomber’s body was the first to be removed, at approximately 0900 hours. At 1330 hours, Hoseman Degan’s body was removed. Hoseman Reddington was removed alive and transported to Boston City Hospital, where he expired during the evening hours. Hoseman McMorrow’s body was found at 1600 hours, followed shortly thereafter, at 1630 hours, with the discovery of Ladderman McGuire’s body.
Hoseman Foley’s body was found at 2145 hours by Coast Guard Seaman Burton Rought and
Chief Boatswain’s Mate A.P. Brooks, a former Boston fireman. At 2215 hours, Hoseman Foley was the last firefighter removed that evening, 18 hours after the collapse. The All-Out was sent at 2331 hours. The tragedy left six firemen dead and forty-five firemen injured.
Several investigations into the fire and collapse began immediately. The Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau, the Police Department’ Arson Squad, and state’s Fire Marshal’s Office each initiated probes. A victim’s aid fund was established and many contributions were received from throughout the Greater Boston area. Under state law, annuities of $1000 to each of the widows and $250 to each of the children were granted.
The following is a brief biography of each deceased department member and details on the funerals held for each.
Hoseman John F. Foley, age 57, was born in Lynn, Mass. on September 9, 1885. He was a machinist before being appointed to the Boston Fire Department on November 1, 1912. He was assigned to Engine Company 3 for his entire career. He was promoted to Acting Apparatus Engineeer on April 18, 1919. He was not originally scheduled to work the night of the fire. He was working because he had swapped shifts with another hoseman assigned to Engine Company 3. He was survived by a daughter Gertrude and a son James. His body was the last body removed, at 2215 hours.
The funeral for Hoseman Foley was held on November 19, 1942 from his home at 81 Falcon Street, East Boston, followed by a Requiem Mass at Sacred Heart Church, 303 Paris Street, East Boston. Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden followed.
Hoseman Edward F. Macomber, age 47, was born on November 6, 1895 in South Boston, Mass. He was employed as a Teamster before being appointed to the Boston Fire Department on September 27, 1918 and assigned to (Fireboat) Engine Company 44. He later transferred to Engine Company 2. He was promoted to Acting Apparatus Operator on June 10, 1927 and to Apparatus Operator and transferred to Engine Company 12 on May 31, 1929. He returned to the rank of Hoseman, at his own request, on May 27, 1940. He was married with several children and resided at 725 East Sixth Street, South Boston. His body was found just before 0900 hours.
The funeral for Hoseman Macomber was held on November 18, 1942 from his home at 725 East Sixth Street, South Boston, followed by a Requiem Mass at St. Brigid’s Church, East Broadway, South Boston.
Ladderman Daniel E. McGuire, age 44, was born on March 22, 1898 in Boston, Mass. He was a packer before being appointed to the Boston Fire Department on February 1, 1924, and assigned to Ladder Company 2. He spent his entire career assigned to Ladder Company 2 except for a brief assignment to Engine Company 5. He resided at 205 Saratoga Street, East Boston, having recently moved from 175 Trenton Street. He was married with one daughter. His body was found at approximately 1630 hours.
The funeral for Ladderman McGuire was held on November 18, 1942 from his home at 205 Saratoga Street, East Boston, followed by a Requiem Mass at Sacred Heart Church, 303 Paris Street, East Boston.
Hoseman Peter F. McMorrow, age 45, was born on July 6, 1897 in Roxbury, Mass. He was a piano tuner before being appointed to the Boston Fire Department on February 1, 1924, and assigned to Engine Company 12. After several subsequent assignments, he transferred to Engine Company 50 on May 3, 1935. He was single and resided at 75 Moseley Street, Dorchester, with his father and sister. His body was found just before 1600 hours.
The funeral for Hoseman McMorrow was held on November 19, 1942 at his sister’s home at 15 Roseclair Street, Dorchester, followed by a Requiem Mass at St. Margaret’s Church, Columbia Road, Dorchester.
Hoseman Malachi F. Reddington, age 48, was born in County Waterford, Ireland, on April 2, 1894. He emigrated to the United States in the early 1910’s and later served in the military in World War I. He was a trackman before being appointed to the Boston Fire Department on February 1, 1924 and assigned to Engine Company 33. He spent his entire career assigned to Engine Company 33. He was single and lived with his sister at 1454 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan. Hoseman Reddington died at Boston City Hospital, after he was rescued alive after the collapse.
The funeral for Hoseman Reddington was held on November 18, 1942 from his home at 1454 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan, followed by a Requiem Mass at St. Angela’s Church, Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan.
Hoseman Francis J. Degan, age 24, was born on April 10, 1918 in South Boston, Mass. He was a lifeguard before being appointed to the Boston Fire Department on August 6, 1941 and assigned to Engine Company 3. He resided at 190 L Street, South Boston. He was single and was the son of
Ladderman John J. Degan of Ladder Company 1, Downtown. His body was found at 1330 hours.
The funeral for Hoseman Degan was held on November 18, 1942 at his home at 190 L Street, South Boston, followed by a Requiem Mass at Gate of Heaven Church, 615 East Fourth Street, South Boston.
Running Card for Box 6153, Meridian Street at Maverick Square.
|Engine 40||Ladder 2||.|
|Engines 9, 5, 11||Ladder 31||.|
|Engines 50, 8, 32, 6, 39||Ladders 21, 8||.|
|Engines 3, 26, 33, 12, 13||.||.|
|Engines 38, 21, 35, 37, 20||Ladder 3||.|
|Engines 16, 10, 42, 51, 19||.||.|