Vendome, In Memoriam

Observed at the Vendome Hotel Fire Memorial, Commonwealth Mall, Back Bay:


Saturday, June 17, 1972:

At 2:35 PM on Saturday, June 17, 1972, Box 1571 was received at Boston Fire Alarm. It would be the first of four alarms required to extinguish a raging fire at the former Hotel Vendome on Commonwealth Avenue at Dartmouth Street. It took nearly three hours to stop the blaze. Apparatus at the scene included 16 fire engines, 5 ladders, 2 aerial towers and 1 heavy rescue. All apparatus had full crews.

Once the fire was out, the BFD commenced a routine overhaul operation. Then, at 5:28 PM, without warning, the southeast section of the building collapsed.

More than any other event in the three hundred year history of the Boston Fire Department, the Vendome tragedy exemplifies the risk intrinsic to the firefighting profession and the accompanying courage required in the performance of duty. Nine firefighters were killed on that day, eight more injured; eight women widowed, twenty-five children lost their fathers; a shocked city mourned before the sympathetic eyes of the entire nation.



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1 Response to Vendome, In Memoriam

  1. joemac53 says:

    We hoped my Dad would retire from BFD after the Vendome. He was home on the Cape, rushed back to Boston as soon as he heard about the fire on the news but missed the tragic event. No instant communication in those days. We were glad he wasn’t there.
    He hung on until the Blizzard of ’78, when he was the only one in his group to get to work from the Cape in 3/4 ton Chevy 4×4. We didn’t see him for 3 weeks. When he finally got home he got his stuff together to retire. He had been with the department since returning from the Pacific in WWII.
    He had a blood vessel blow out in his brain and was dead at 58.
    I still have my keychain with the badge numbers of the dead firefighters from the Vendome. I remind my kids about that fire every year.

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