New York, NY Deaf and Dumb Institute Fire, Jan 1911


Inmates of Institution Leave Burning Building in Good Order and Perfect Silence.


None of the Children Injured---A Number Ran Away During the Excitement, but Were Brought Back.

For many months the 229 little inmates of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes at Lexington Avenue and Sixty-seventh Street have been carefully taught by sign and signal just what to do in the event of a fire. Last night that training along prevented a serious panic, which would probably have resulted fatally for more than one.

About 7 o'clock fire was discovered on the fifth floor, near the Lexington Avenue end of the building. William Geer, an employe[sic], was the first to see the flames, and he called Mrs. Mary Caldwell, the nurse in the hospital on the fourth floor where she was attending three little girls who were confined to their beds. She telephoned to Supt. Harris Taylor, who was in the dining room on the first floor. Most of the children were in that room having just finished supper. The Superintendent and his assistants, about a score in number, proved equal to the occasion. There was no shouting, no ringing of bells, but by well-understood signs the officials marshaled their charges and all in the room marched quickly to the street.

A number of the younger children, whose dormitories are in the rear of the building on Sixty-seventh Street, had gone to their rooms on the third floor before the fire broke out. Policeman Joseph B. Fitzgerald of the East Sixty-seventh Street Station, saw some of them crowding on to a fire-escape. He shouted to them not to jump, and then realizing they they couldn't hear him dashed into the building. By that time the fire apparatus had arrived, and the children were carried down safely.

Fitzpatrick, who had run up to the fifth floor and tried to put out the fire with a hand extinguisher, was overcome by smoke. He was carried out of the building and revived.

After the first excitement was over several of the older inmates joined with the Superintendent and his assistants to prevent a panic. Inspector Titus and Capt. Hughes of the East Sixty-seventh Street Police Station, who arrived soon after the blaze was discovered, did what they could to keep the children in line. The complimented the officials of the institution on the efficiency of the unique fire drill. None of the children was injured.

The Seventh Regiment Armory is directly opposite the institution, and Col. Appleton ordered the big drill shed thrown open. Perhaps 100 of the children who were first taken from the building were sent to the armory, while 50 or more sought refuge in the Neurological Institute and the big Studio Apartments, in Lexington Avenue.

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