Fire Fighting at the Olympic Games

Firefighting at the Olympic Games

Firefighting was an event featured at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris as an unofficial sport. Competitions were held for both professional and volunteer firefighters. While the firefighting event is not considered by the International Olympic Committee as an Olympic event, the report of the 1900 Games, prepared by A. G. Spalding, devotes multiple pages to the competition.

The international competition (which France chose not to compete) included teams of both professional and volunteer firefighters. The teams were required to extinguish a fire and perform a rescue.

The instructions were (in French) “Le feu s’est déclaré au 3e étage d’une maison d’habitation à six étages; le 4e étage et les escaliers des parties hautes sont impraticables. Des personnes sont à sauver aux 5e et 6e étages Opérer les sauvetages et l’extinction”, which roughly translated is “The fire started on the 3rd floor of a house six floors; 4th floors and stairs the upper parts are impassable. People are saving the 5th and 6th floors. Operate rescue and extinction.”


There were three teams made up of volunteers – England (Lyton), Hungary (Buda-Pesth) and Portugal (Oporto). The winning team was Oporto from Portugal, followed by Lyton and then Buda-Pesth.

There were just two professional teams – Italy (Milan) and the United States (Kansas City) – won by Kansas City of the USA and “its famous engine and hook and ladder company No.1.”

Image Sources – Firefighting at the Olympics

Fire Fighting at the 1900 – Image 1 – link

Weird Olympic Sports – Image 2 – link

Flamengo Training Ground Fire

Famous Fires In Sport – Flamengo Training Ground Fire

Netflix has released a documentary Dreams To Tragedy: The Fire that Shook Brazilian Football. The documentary details the tragic events that occurred on February 8th 2019 at the Flamengo Training Ground. We will delve into the logistics of what happened.

Tragedy struck the football world as a devastating fire engulfed the training centre of one of Brazil’s most storied football clubs, Flamengo. This horrific event claimed the lives of ten promising young players. It sent shockwaves through the global football community, prompting discussions about safety standards, club responsibility, and the fragile dreams of young athletes.

Dreams To Tragedy: The Fire that Shook Brazilian Football

Across three episodes, the Netflix documentary follows the professional careers of some of the fire’s survivors. Young people who spent a part of their lives at Ninho do Urubu and whose careers have very much moved on. It also features journalists, football professionals and the victims’ families, as they search for answers. In moving accounts, parents voice their pain and reveal how they have been fighting to get justice for their children. Ever since the tragedy occurred. 

In addition to personal accounts, the series features never-before-seen images of the fire and recreates moments from that night. This is all done through scenes dramatised and shot by director Pedro Asbeg. The reconstruction plays an important part in the debate about the causes of a tragedy that has left a lasting mark in the history of Brazilian football. To offer a social reflection in memory of the victims and to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again, it also deals with the direct consequences of the judiciary’s inertia about the fire.

The Ninho do Urubu: A Place of Dreams and Development

The training ground, known as Ninho do Urubu (Nest of the Vulture), was more than just a place where footballers honed their skills. It was a symbol of hope and aspiration for young athletes from across Brazil. Nestled in the western Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of Vargem Grande, this facility was where dreams were meant to take flight.

Flamengo are one of Brazil’s most popular and successful football clubs. The club invested in the training ground to provide its youth players with the necessary facilities. Ninho do Urubu was complete with several pitches, dormitories, a gymnasium, and classrooms. This is where aspiring footballers not only learned the intricacies of the game but also received education and support for their personal development.

The Tragic Fire

In the early morning hours of February 8, 2019, a fire broke out. The location of the fire was the temporary living quarters in a newly expanded section of the campus. The location had only been permitted by the Rio de Janeiro government as a parking lot. The dorms that were there had already been subjected to 31 fines and a lawsuit owing to the lack of safety. The blaze quickly spread through the makeshift sleeping quarters where young players, some as young as 14, were resting after a day of training. The intensity of the fire and the speed at which it spread left little chance for escape.

Ten young players lost their lives in the fire, sending shock and grief throughout Brazil and beyond. The victims were identified as Athila de Souza Paixão (14), Arthur Vinícius de Barros da Silva Freitas (14), Bernardo Pisetta (14), Christian Esmério Candido (15), Jorge Eduardo dos Santos Ferreira Sacramento (15), Pablo Henrique da Silva Matos (14), Vitor Isaías (15), Samuel Thomas de Souza Rosa (15), Gerdson Santos (14), and Rykelmo de Souza Viana (17).

The tragedy not only claimed the lives of these promising athletes but also left three others with severe injuries, including Cauan Emanuel Gomes Nunes (14 years old), Francisco Dyogo Bento Alves (15), and Jhonatha Cruz Ventura (15). The survivors faced a long road to physical and emotional recovery. Young lives were forever changed by the events of that fateful night.

Investigations and Questions of Responsibility

In the aftermath of the fire, investigations were launched to determine the cause of the tragedy. This would go alongside investigations to ascertain whether proper safety measures were in place at the training centre. The initial findings pointed to a faulty air conditioning unit as the likely cause of the fire. Reports indicated that the unit caught fire and quickly spread flames and smoke throughout the wooden structure of the dormitory.

Questions were raised about the club’s compliance with safety regulations. It was revealed that the training centre lacked proper permits. The club had been fined multiple times for infractions related to fire safety. The tragedy prompted a broader conversation about the responsibilities of football clubs in ensuring the safety and well-being of their young players. Particularly for those in their care at training facilities.

Mourning and Solidarity

The football world came together in mourning for the young lives lost in the fire. Tributes poured in from clubs and fans around the globe. Gestures of solidarity and support for Flamengo and the families affected by the tragedy. Players, coaches, and officials from rival clubs set aside their differences. Expressing their condolences and calling for improved safety standards across the sport.

Flamengo, while grieving the loss of its young talents, faced scrutiny and legal challenges in the wake of the fire. The club pledged to cooperate fully with investigations and to provide support for the families of the victims. The Brazilian football federation, along with government officials, vowed to enact stricter regulations to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.

Links – Flamengo Training Ground Fire

Image 1 – Brazil’s Flamengo Soccer Club Training Ground – link

Netflix Documentary – link

1994 German Grand Prix

Famous Fires in Sport – Jos Verstappen 1994 German Grand Prix

The world of Formula 1 has witnessed its fair share of dramatic moments throughout its rich history. One such incident that left an incredible mark on the sport occurred during the 1994 German Grand Prix. The race at Hockenheimring not only showcased the speed and skill of the drivers but also highlighted the inherent dangers of motor racing. This accident showed the world of motorsport the dangers behind refuelling and what could happen if something went wrong.

Background Behind the 1994 German Grand Prix

The 1994 Formula 1 season was plagued by tragedy, with the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola earlier in the year. Safety concerns were at the forefront of everyone’s minds, prompting a closer look at the sport’s regulations and the design of the cars. The 1994 German Grand Prix was to take place on July 31st 1994. This German Grand Prix would then go on to remind the world that danger still loomed on the track.

The Incident

Jos Verstappen, (father of current Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen) was behind the wheel of the Benetton-Ford when the incident occurred. During a routine pit stop on lap 18, the fuel nozzle malfunctioned, causing a spray of highly flammable fuel onto the car. In a matter of seconds, Verstappen’s car became engulfed in flames. This was due to the heat of the car igniting the spilled fuel.

Chaos ensued as the Benetton crew and nearby marshals rushed to extinguish the fire. The severity of the situation was evident, and the fear for Verstappen’s safety gripped both the pit crew and spectators alike. Miraculously, Verstappen managed to escape the inferno, suffering only minor burns on his nose and right foot.

When interviewed about the incident Jos Verstappen said this –

“I remember coming in for what I thought was a regular pitstop. Sitting in the car, I would always open my visor because when I stood still I would sweat a lot, so as I came to a halt I opened my helmet to get some fresh air.”

“Then I saw the fluid coming. This was before I could smell anything, and that is why I was waving my arm. Then everything went up [in flames] and it was suddenly dark and black, and I couldn’t breathe. It was a situation you don’t normally think about: it is like you are suddenly put in a dark room, and then you think, ‘I need to get out..’”

“It was a struggle to get the steering wheel off, and that took me a couple of seconds. Then I had to release the belts. So there were a lot of things I had to do before I stood up and realised what had happened.”

Immediate Aftermath

The fire was put out within a matter of seconds, but there remained frantic scenes inside the Benetton garage as the team tried to get to grips with what had happened.

The Benetton crew even had to start getting ready for Schumacher’s second stop, before his retirement meant the focus could shift to treating the burns of those caught up in the fire.

Impact of the Event on Formula 1

The incident raised serious questions about the safety procedures in place during pit stops. Investigations revealed that a valve in the refuelling rig had failed, leading to the uncontrolled release of fuel. As a result, changes were implemented to improve the safety of pit stops, including modifications to the refuelling equipment and stricter regulations regarding fuel handling.

The Jos Verstappen fire incident at the 1994 German Grand Prix served as a stark reminder of the dangers inherent in motor racing. While strides have been made to enhance safety in the sport, this incident underscored the need for constant vigilance and improvements in technology and regulations. 

In 2010, 16 years later, refueling was banned from Formula 1. This meant that cars would have to carry all the fuel for the whole race from the start. This came with safety concerns for the drivers. This rule could not be implemented before the 2010 season with the cars being too small to hold that much fuel. But along with the regulation changes in 2010 this allowed for the removal of refueling.


The 1994 German Grand Prix will forever be etched in Formula 1 history not just for the intense on-track battles but also for the terrifying incident involving Jos Verstappen. The resilience of both Verstappen and the sport as a whole was on display that day, prompting a renewed commitment to safety that continues to shape Formula 1 to this day.

Image Sources for Famous Fires in Sport – Jos Verstappen 1994 German Grand Prix

Photo 1 – Benetton Pit Fire (Germany 1994) – link

Photo 2 – From The Archives – link

Famous Fires in Sport - Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Famous Fires in Sport – Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

The Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020 will forever be etched in Formula 1 history for a harrowing incident that unfolded on the first lap. The Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean experienced a horrific crash that sent shockwaves through the motorsport community. This crash was seen on major news and most people knew about the incident at the time, even if they were not into motorsports.

This crash was part of the Netflix Formula 1 documentary ‘Drive to Survive’ and was the key aspect of the Season 3 Episode 9 ‘Man On Fire’. The Netflix documentary brought a lot of viewers to the sport, and this documentary gave a great insight into the behind-the-scenes of Formula 1 that the viewer could not see before. This episode gives a great look into the crash and what happened that weekend.

The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

The race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020. As the lights went out for the start, chaos ensued. Romain Grosjean, starting from 19th on the grid, found himself involved in a dramatic incident just a few corners after the race began.

The Crash

Grosjean’s Haas car collided with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, sending him off the track and into the barriers at a high speed. The impact was so severe that the car split into two, with the front section penetrating the barrier, and erupting into flames. This sort of crash is very uncommon, that is what made it so terrifying.

The most remarkable aspect of this incident was Grosjean’s miraculous escape. After freeing himself from the constraints inside the cockpit, he hoisted himself out of the fire and climbed over the safety barrier. The prompt response of the track marshals and the effectiveness of the safety features in place played a vital role in preventing a more tragic outcome. The marshalls did an excellent job rushing to help Grosjean out of the flaming cockpit as well as extinguishing the fire with fire extinguishers as soon as possible.

A full investigation by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) was taken out of the cause of the fireball that was caused in the crash. Their statement read – 

“The car suffered extensive damage during the impact including separation of the power train assembly from the survival cell. The fuel tank inspection hatch on the left-hand side of the chassis was dislodged and the engine fuel supply connection was torn from the fuel tank ‘safety bladder’; both providing primary paths for the escape of fuel from the tank.”

“The high voltage Energy Recovery System (ERS) battery was significantly damaged, with some parts of the ERS battery assembly remaining with the powertrain and others remaining attached to the survival cell. The fire was ignited during the final moments of the barrier impact, starting from the rear of the survival cell and progressing forwards towards the driver as the fire grew.”

Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Safety Measures

Formula 1 has continuously evolved its safety standards, and Grosjean’s crash highlighted the effectiveness of these measures. The ‘Halo Device’, a safety innovation introduced in 2018, played a crucial role in protecting Grosjean’s head from the barriers during the impact. When the ‘Halo Device’ was introduced into Formula 1 back in 2018, many drivers and people around Formula 1 said they were not a fan and it ruined the look of the car. This device since its introduction has gone on to save countless lives and prevent many bad injuries.

The fire-resistant Nomex racing suit that the drivers are made to wear gave Grosjean the crucial seconds he needed for him to escape the flames.

Medical Intervention

Following his escape, Grosjean was immediately taken to the medical centre for examination. He suffered burns to his hands and a sprained ankle but was otherwise remarkably unharmed, a testament to the advancements in safety technology and the meticulous planning of the FIA.

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Investigation and Changes after the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

The FIA launched a thorough investigation into the crash, analysing data from the car and the circuit. Changes were subsequently made to the barrier design and other safety protocols to further enhance driver protection in similar incidents.


Romain Grosjean’s crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020 was a terrifying moment that showcased the resilience of both the driver and the safety measures in Formula 1. The incident prompted a reassessment of safety protocols, leading to improvements that continue to shape the future of the sport. As we reflect on this remarkable event, it serves as a stark reminder of the risks inherent in motorsport and the relentless pursuit of safety to minimise those risks.

Image Sources for Famous Fires in Sport – Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Man on Fire – Image 1 – – link

Crash Diagram – Image 2 – Crashalog – Grosjean 3D Crash Animation – F1 Bahrain 2020

Hands – Image 3 – Formula 1 – link