John Drennan, Captain

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On March 28, three firefighters trapped in the stairwell of a brownstone were burned when they were enveloped in fire while attempting to force their way through a heavy steel door to a second floor apartment. Captain John Drennan, Firefighter James Young, and Firefighter Christopher Seidenburg of the New York City Fire Department were conducting a search when the hot air and toxic gases that collected in the stairwell erupted into flames as other fire crews forced entry into the first floor apartment where the fire had originated. The fire exhibited characteristics of both a backdraft and a flashover. Firefighter Young, in the bottom position on the stairs, was burned and died at the scene. Firefighter Seidenburg and Captain Drennan were rescued by other firefighters. They were transported to a burn unit with third and fourth degree burns over 50 percent of their bodies. Seidenburg died the next day. Drennan passed away several weeks later. The fire cause was determined to be a plastic bag left by the residents on top of the stove of the floor apartment.

Department information

New York Fire Department
250 Livingston Street

Brooklyn, New York 11201

Chief: Anthony Fusco

John Drennan was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.
Age: 49
Rank: Captain
Classification: Career
Incident date: March 28, 1994
Date of death: April 13, 1994
Cause of death: Exposure
Nature of death: Burns
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential