Remembering the Hotel Vendome Fire

Located on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street in the Back Bay, the once luxury hotel suffered a total of four small fires in the 1960s before being sold in 1971. After being sold, the new owners began renovations to the building to include a restaurant, shopping mall and to covert the remaining building into condominiums.

On June 17th, 1972, a construction worker discovered a fire had begun between the third and fourth floor. The Boston Fire Department struck Box: 1571, which unknowingly would change Boston Fire Department history forever.

At 2:35pm Box: 1571 was struck, quickly followed by a 2nd Alarm at 2:44PM, a 3rd Alarm at 3:02PM and a 4th Alarm at 3:06PM. By 4:30PM, the fire was under control and companies were overhauling the building. Without warning at 5:28PM, the southeast corner of the 5 story hotel collapsed, trapping firefighters inside.

In total 9 firefighters were killed due to the collapse, becoming the most tragic day in Boston Fire Department history.

Lieutenant John E. Hanbury Jr. -Ladder Company 13

Firefighter Charles E. Dolan -Ladder Company 13

Firefighter Joseph P. Saniuk -Ladder Company 13

Firefighter John E. Jameson -Engine Company 22

Firefighter Joesph F. Boucher -Engine Company 22

Lieutenant Thomas J. Carroll -Engine Company 32

Firefighter Thomas W. Beckwith -Engine Company 32

Firefighter Paul J. Murphy -Engine Company 32

Firefighter Richard B. Magee -Engine Company 33

50 Years Later… 

Since being built in 1997, Boston Firefighters, both current and retired, have gathered on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at the Hotel Vendome Fire Memorial Monument to remember and pay tribute to their fallen brothers.

Joined by families and friends of the fallen, a memorial service was held. Speakers included Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey, along with Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley, IAFF General President Edward “Edzo” Kelly and recently elected Boston Firefighters Local 718 President Sam Dillon, who all spoke about the tragedy 50 years ago and how it forever changed the history of the City of Boston.