History 1940-1942

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1940

January 8, 1940
During the first meeting of 1940, held on Monday, January 8, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported three fires. He also stated a fire school is being started. Ex-Chief James Hindley reported two (traffic) lights will be installed in front of the firehouse. James Balaam reported the Auditing committee had found the books okay. Walter Schoeller reported $75.12 profit so far from the oyster supper. As there are still some returns to be made, the Supper committee was continued. Walter Schoeller also reported on fire police. Charles H. Smith reported on the New Year’s open house. James Balaam requested the company go to the home of Thomas Ackroyd, who died today, in a body on Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. Certain members of the fire company will act as bears at the funeral on Thursday. The Decoration committee was instructed to drape the firehouse in mourning. Charles H. Smith reported trustees will report on insurance at the next meeting. It was reported that Mark Cermele is in the hospital. Chief Anthony Pilla suggested we do something to raise money to help pay expenses for entertaining the Mercer County Firemen’s Association in March. After discussion, it was moved we chance off two blankets or something comparable. Treasurer H. Lee McConahy Jr. asked permission to change the depository for the Fire and Engine account funds. Moved this company designate the Security National Bank as depository and we adopt a resolution to this effect. Moved that in order to close out the accounts at the Trenton Trust Co., last year’s officers be authorized to sign a check for the full amount of the bank balance and date the check December 30, 1939. It was suggested that we reduce the initiation fee as an inducement to get new active members. It was brought that in order to do this an amendment to the constitution would have to be introduced. Moved Walter Schoeller draw up an amendment to change the initiation fee. James Hindley thanked the members for the ex-chief badge.”

February 12, 1940
A fire apparently broke out in the headquarters of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association sometime between the January and February 1940 meetings. Details of the blaze are scarce. All that is presently known is from a brief mention in the minutes of the February meeting. But it is clear that damage was done because the fire company filed an insurance claim. The blaze also apparently sparked concern over the fire company’s insurance coverage for the February meeting was dominated by discussion of the insurance

Minutes of that meeting, held on Monday, February 12, 1940, read: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported two fires – the firehouse and an auto fire. Chief Pilla requested five men volunteer for fire school for 40 weeks. Moved the trustees apply for insurance on the damage caused to the building by fire. (Editor’s Note: No other information has been found about this apparent fire in the firehouse.) Charles H. Smith reported on insurance. He stated insurance on the building was $5,000. But it was brought out that we also have an additional policy on the back building. It was also brought out we have fire and theft insurance on the Sanford but not on the Diamond T. The trustees were instructed to check on this. In regard to the liability insurance the trustees recommended that, as long as we are covered under workmen’s compensation carried by the township, we dispense with the London accident policy. After discussion, during which it was brought out that the two insurance policies are in no ways comparable, it was moved that the recommendation of the trustees not be approved. Moved that if we do not have fire and theft insurance on the Diamond T the trustees be given authority to take out a policy. It was suggested the trustees look into fire insurance policies on the building with the idea in mind of consolidating policies and probably getting a 3-year policy at a reduced rate. Edgar Weart stated that it was his thought that if a letter was written and sent to all property owners in this district asking for a donation of $1 or more that the people would respond. Moved a committee be appointed to carry out this idea. Moved we send a telegram to the Lawrenceville Fire Co. at the Geneva Inn tomorrow night congratulating them on their 25th Anniversary.”

March 11, 1940
During the meeting held on Monday, March 11, 1940: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one false alarm. He also talked about fire school and suggested two additional members join the school. He also suggested the fire company pay the men’s dues. Edgar Weart read the prepared letter to be sent to property owners. After discussion, during which some minor changes were suggested, it was moved the letter be returned to committee with instructions to carry on with power to reword the letter and send it out. President Leo Balaam thanked the committee that served the Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting. The amendment to the constitution concerning reducing the initiation fee of those eligible for active duty was presented for its second reading. It was the consensus of opinion that we should include all applicants, social or otherwise. After lengthy discussion, Walter Schoeller withdrew the amendment. It was moved we open the charter to include all applicants, social or eligible active, for an initiation fee of $2 for a period of six months from this date. Carried by a vote of 22 to 2. A rising vote of thanks was given to the Pig Roast committee. A rising vote of thanks was given Howard Klockner who donated the pig.”

April 8, 1940
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, April 8, 1940, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported 20 fires for the month and one person arrested for starting grass fires. As a matter of record, the members attending fire school are: Anthony Pilla, Mark Cermele, Albert Schoeller, Steve Stanzione, and Paul Radlinsky. Chief Pilla requested something be done about unauthorized persons handling the apparatus, especially when the hall is rented. Matter put in the hands of the chief and active men. Mr. Maxam of Maxam and Groseclose spoke on blanket and workmen’s compensation insurance. The blanket insurance policy covers all members between 16 and 70 years of age and covers accidents and illness resulting from accidents whether on actual fire duty or whether at drills, parades, work around the firehouse, etc. Not covered is hernia, sports or ordinary illness. Workmen’s compensation covers only active firemen and active exempt and covers public fire duty only and not other duties. The secretary read a letter from the Ladies Auxiliary announcing a supper on April 18 and urging members to attend. Edgar Weart read the letter to be sent to property owners and voters. Moved the committee carry on and send out the letter. William Baker suggested fire police have white raincoats. Moved we appoint fire police to act as a committee to raise funds to pay for the coats and they turn any excess profits into the Fire Account.” Also during the meeting 20 men were accepted into membership.

May 13, 1940
During the meeting held on Monday, May 13, 1940, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported five fires and a drill at the Battery. He found that the plug at the Battery would not give sufficient water for one truck. He stated a dam was being installed on Eggerts Crossing Road. William Sharp stated Mr. DiPaulo, property owner upon whose property the dam was being constructed, was now objecting to it. Ex-Chief James Hindley was appointed to straighten this out. Edgar Weart stated the letter to the residents had been sent out. It was suggested we list property owners not living in the district and send them a copy of the letter. He thanked the members for distributing the letter. It was stated there was a fire hazard at Eton’s. Russell Smith stated this will be taken care of. Anthony Pilla suggested we get a dart board. Walter Schoeller stated we had decided to chance off a car. Cost of car is $600. Winner to receive $500 cash or the car. Anthony Pilla suggested we take under consideration the proposition of revamping the building and making a kitchen. Laid over until next meeting.” Also during the meeting, another 10 men were accepted into membership.

June 10, 1940
During the meeting held on Monday, June 10, 1940, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire. He also reported (traffic) lights were received. The township is getting prices on installation. Albert Schoeller suggested we have signs placed 500 yards on each side of the firehouse warning motorists that they are approaching a traffic light. Walter Schoeller reported approximately 600 tickets sold on the car. He asked for further cooperation in selling the remaining tickets. The secretary reported on the Mercer County Firemen’s Association. He reported Joseph Olessi and Frank Freeman had received life memberships and that new delegates should be elected. A letter was received from the insurance company stating that if certain changes were made around the stove in the club room our rates would be reduced 20 cents per $100 evaluation. Letter was turned over to the trustees for action. President Leo Balaam was asked to leave the room. Vice President J. Russell Smith took the chair. Robert J. Ross suggested we get Leo Balaam a wedding gift. After discussion, it was moved Robert J. Ross, J. Russell Smith, and Charles H. Smith be appointed to purchase a suitable gift at a cost not to exceed $15. Under the question of a kitchen, Walter Schoeller suggested that if the car tickets go off okay, we might consider a new building or an extension of the present one on the lot next door. Albert Schoeller suggested we have a committee look into the possibilities. No action was taken however. Charles H. Smith states the building needs painting and the doors need repairing but sufficient funds are not available. Anthony “Jack” Pasquito suggested we buy paint and have members paint the firehouse. Moved the House committee buy paint and brushes and supervise the painting.”


July 15, 1940
Fireline captains and lieutenants were appointed during the meeting held on Monday, July 15, 1940. According to the minutes, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported the following drivers were appointed: Carl Sommers, captain; Paul Radlinsky, 1st lieutenant; and Steve Stanzione, 2nd lieutenant. President Leo Balaam thanked the members for the wedding present.”

August 12, 1940
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, August 12, 1940, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported three fires. He also reported there was a new battery in the Sanford. Chief Pilla reported (traffic) lights installed and in working order. He suggested we contact the Highway Department to determine if we could have light warning signs installed. Walter Schoeller reported the car raffle will go off on August 20. It was requested the committee to contact Lawrenceville ascertain whether or not they would be interested in going in with us on the next car. It was moved we appoint a committee to contact Lawrenceville regarding the car proposition and, if Lawrenceville is favorable, to have full power to act. Charles H. Smith reported the stove was insulated from the building and the insurance company notified, with the result we should get a reduction in rates. Bob Applegate and Joseph Pilla were thanked for doing the work. The Painting committee reports stalemate due to weather.”

September 9, 1940
During the meeting held on Monday, September 9, 1940, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. He reported the men will graduate fire school shortly. J. Russell Smith reported Trenton Water Works will install new equipment to boost the pressure. Walter Schoeller reported the first car chanced off. John Yates was the winner. He reported Lawrenceville will go along with us on the second car, which is expected to be chanced off around October 1. Prize will be $600 or the car. Paul Radlinsky reported on the Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting. He reported Firemen’s Day will be held at the fairground on September 24 and stated firemen were invited to participate in a parade that evening. Moved the question as to whether or not we should enter the parade be left to the chief. Anthony Pasquito reported progress on painting. Clark Arrowsmith of Lawrenceville was given the floor and talked about getting the three fire companies interested in jointly running a carnival next year. He suggested we appoint a committee merely to investigate what could be done. Moved a committee be appointed. Albert Schoeller suggested we make some use of the lot next door, pointing out that it is our property only if we use it. He suggested we clean up the lot and use it for parking. J. Russell Smith will see if he can get a driveway cut in. It was pointed out that members called for duty with the National Guard were allowed moratorium on dues by law.”

October 14, 1940
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, October 14, 1940, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire, a short circuit in a house at Eggerts Crossing. He also reported he had had requests for fire permits. It was pointed out that a township ordinance was necessary, so he volunteered to get the three chiefs together to see township committee. Three representatives of the Ladies Auxiliary were given the floor to present a request for a kitchen. They requested the upstairs ladies room be rebuilt into a kitchen and the lavatory moved downstairs. After discussion, it was the consensus of opinion that the upstairs room would not prove sufficiently large for a kitchen and we should appoint a Building committee to meet with the ladies and determine what could be done. The secretary read a letter from Trenton Water Department which stated they were considering the request to boost water pressure. The secretary read a letter from the state Highway Department regarding the erection of signal light signs. The secretary was instructed to write to township committee with a copy of the state letter. The secretary read a letter from the Highway Department regarding the proposed driveway in the parking lot. Letter and application were turned over to trustees with instruction to make a sketch and send it to the Highway Department. Walter Schoeller gave a final report of the first car raffle – 663 tickets sold, $39.09 profit. He also reported the second car raffle will net the two companies a total of approximately $300. He stated the opinion of the committee was that the money should be kept in the committee treasury until at least the next car is chanced off. House committee chairman Charles H. Smith reported dart board was purchased.”

November 11, 1940
During the meeting held on Monday, November 11, 1940, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire at Prospect Heights. He also reported a change was made to the siren to deflect the sound. He also reported on our attendance at two parades. Fire school graduation will be December 6. J. Russell Smith stated he will take care of signs for the traffic lights. Walter Schoeller reported on the third car chanced off. Only 4 out of 1,000 tickets were unsold.”

December 9, 1940
Highlights from the final meeting of 1940, held on Monday, December 9, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. He reported that skid chains were purchased for the Diamond T. He also reported that Albert Schoeller, Mark Cermele, Steve Stanzione, Paul Radlinsky and himself had graduated from fire school. They were given a congratulatory rising vote. Walter Schoeller reported the last car won by Cecelia McCloskey. All 1,000 tickets sold. He turned over a $300 check to the company. Moved we donate $2 to the Boonton home. Moved we have open house on New Year’s. Howard Klockner offered the company a pig for a roast later on. This was accepted with thanks.”

December 15, 1940
Members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded mutual aid to a general alarm fire in Hamilton Township in the early morning of Sunday, December 15, 1940. The following story appeared in the Trenton Evening Times on Monday, December 16, 1940

“Wreckage of two storage buildings of the Nearpara Rubber Co., swept by fire early yesterday, was still smoldering today as company officials checked the heavy damage. The blaze started in an undetermined manner about 1:30 a.m. yesterday in a 60-by-150-foot corrugated iron building used for the storage of reclaimed rubber. It spread through a long, narrow shed of corrugated iron which also housed rubber. The one-story shed, 12-by-300-feet, belched columns of flame and black smoke. A high wind, taking a fortunate course that swept the leaping flames away from the company’s main factory building, sent tongues of fire licking at a field adjoining the plant. The fire was discovered by a passer-by

“The plant on East State Street near Whitehead Road is a half-block away from the Hamilton Fire Co. headquarters. Men from that station were the first at the scene. At least eleven fire companies sent apparatus as numerous alarms were turned in. Company officials said today large stocks of the plant’s finished product – reclaimed rubber – were destroyed. The loss is partly covered by insurance. The high-leaping flames were visible for miles and, in spite of the early hour, a crowd of several hundred persons gathered. Hamilton police set up fire lines

“Falling embers started several fires in the nearby fields, which were quickly quenched by firemen. The intense heat and repeated flare-ups as the flames reached fresh stores of rubber drove firemen back. The blaze continued through the night. Apparatus were kept on hand yesterday and hoselines continued to pour water on the smoking debris this morning. Trenton sent five engines and a truck with Deputy Chief Thomas Gilligan. Other companies at the scene included Colonial, Enterprise, Rusling, Slackwood, Mercerville, Prospect Heights, Groveville, White Horse, and Pennington Road.”
(Editor’s Note: Lawrence Road firefighters definitely responded to the fire, according to the minutes of the meeting held in January 1941. Therefore, Lawrence Road was either accidentally omitted by the newspaper or confused with Pennington Road.)

1941
According to the 1941 List of Active Firemen filed with the state by the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association, the company responded to 60 fires and attended 12 drills during the calendar year 1941

January 13, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, January 13, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported two fires – one out of district at Nearpara Rubber Co. and a junk fire at Risden’s farm. He reported fire school will start shortly, with the previous school graduates as instructors. The chief reported that orders were placed for 300 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 200 feet of 1.5-inch hose. Mark Cermele sent in his resignation as 2nd Assistant Chief. Nominations were called for and Paul Radlinsky was voted in as 2nd Assistant Chief.”

February 10, 1941
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, February 10, 1941, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. He reported the hose and fire police coats and hats were received. The chief also stated that under law he was now permitted to appoint fire police officers for five years. He took the opportunity to appoint the present fire police to this term. James William Musson, chairman of the Building committee, reported three proposals were under consideration – 1) to divide the clubroom, making one half into a kitchen, knocking out the wall to the quoit room and finishing the quoit room as a club and meeting room, approximate cost $500; 2) a new building; and 3) to bring the pool table upstairs and make the upstairs a recreation and meeting room. After various discussions, it was the consensus of opinion that any change made at the present time should be such that it would not involve a waste of money if a new building was considered in the future. Joseph Pilla expressed his objection to the removal of the quoit ground and suggested if a new building was considered in the future that bids be taken and we forget volunteer labor. James Balaam spoke in favor of using the upstairs room as a recreation room and favored the installation of an oil burner so heat could be had at all times. Walter Schoeller moved that the upstairs room be utilized as a recreation and meeting room and the pool table be moved, and we give the ladies the entire downstairs room to do with as they see fit. Seconded and carried. It was brought out that we should install immediately a 30-gallon hot water heater in time for the supper the ladies were having on the 20th. Mr. Crane offered to donate a 30-gallon boiler he has. Moved we install the hot water heater and boiler immediately, utilizing the donation of Mr. Crane. Everyone expressed pleasure and fullness obtained at the pig roast held previously to this meeting. Howard Klockner promised us another pig next year.”

March 10, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, March 10, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported three gas fires. He also reported that as Paul Radlinsky is now in the Army it would be necessary to elect a new 2nd Assistant Chief. The secretary read the letter of resignation of Richard Walter as treasurer. Thomas Hawthorne was elected treasurer and Steve Stanzione was elected 2nd Assistant Chief. Moved that members drafted for and who volunteer for military service be exempt from dues for the duration of their service and any dues paid in advance be credited to them. The secretary will notify the drafted members of the action taken. Leo Balaam stated he will check the status of active members who were drafted. Albert Schoeller reported progress on the recreation room. He asked the members to come here Friday to help get the room in shape.”

April 14, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, April 14, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported 26 fires for the past month, consisting of one truck, 23 grass, and two out of district. The three chiefs are to draft rules regarding grass fires. Letter received from the Ladies Auxiliary thanking us for the room for the kitchen and for asking Bob Applegate to estimate the cost to remodel the room..”

April 1941
Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded mutual aid to Lakewood in Ocean County to help battle a raging forest fire in April 1941. The following details about the blaze were reported in the Trenton Evening Times on Monday, April 21, 1941:0

“At least 68 homes lie smoldering in ruins in the wake of the most devastating series of forest fires to sweep over central and southern New Jersey in years. Unofficial estimates set property damage between $500,000 and $1 million as weary firefighters, many of them on duty all night, kept watch for fresh outbreaks in the tinder-like pinelands of Ocean, Monmouth and Burlington counties. Red Cross and local agencies set about caring for the homeless and for the thousands of firemen from all sections of the state who answered calls for assistance. The injured list included 15 Fort Dix soldiers – 14 of them in a truck that overturned as they sped to fire duty – and eight people treated for smoke inhalation at Lakewood’s Kimball Hospital. Many others were treated at the scene of the fires. A 52-year-old man died of a heart attack while beating out flames that ignited his Lakewood home. Lakewood, a resort in the Ocean County pine belt, took the brunt of the fire’s fury. At least 46 homes were destroyed and approximately 150 persons were left homeless. Elsewhere in Ocean County, 10 of the 12 homes in the hamlet of Archer’s Corner were destroyed, and seven more homes went down to the flames in Cassville. Five more homes were razed in Holmeson, Monmouth County

“Blackened tree trunks, extending for mile on mile like blunt needles in a brown pin cushion, testified today to the intensity of the flames in the three counties. Fanned by strong winds, the flames in many instances hurdled streams and highways to devour the woodlands that were dehydrated by more than a week of unseasonably hot weather and lack of rain. Wildlife scurried from the burning woods in search of shelter. Col. W.G. Schauffler of the U.S. Army reported seeing a rabbit, its fur ablaze, run across a highway and ignite the dry underbrush on the other side. Firemen reported that the lack of water pressure handicapped their efforts in several localities. State Fire Warden Leroy S. Fales said the state’s mobile tank equipment had worked excellently, but added that the service’s eight trucks had been insufficient for the day’s needs

“Sixty companies fought the Lakewood blaze. Residents in all stations of life formed bucket brigades and employed garden hoses in the fight to save the town from total extinction. While the men manned hoselines and directed traffic, women of Lakewood’s American Legion disregarded choking clouds of smoke to serve coffee and sandwiches. The Red Cross set up temporary headquarters in the municipal building, distributing clothes to those who had lost their homes. When the flames approached his property, Abe Malter, led a cow from his barn and took the animal up to Stony Hill Cemetery, the highest point in town, where he tied it up. Going back home, he found his house destroyed. At one time, flames threatened to level the estate formerly owned by the late John D. Rockefeller but five fire companies checked the blaze. A carpenter shop and several homes across the street were damaged. Dozens of homes were razed on all sides of Kimball Hospital, but the fire spared the hospital. Six new-born babies were taken to the basement for protection against smoke. The fire destroyed bridges across Toms River and Ridgeway Brook on the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s line to Atlantic CityÖ”

The following updated details were published in the Trenton Evening Times on Wednesday, April 23, 1941: “With all the forest fires in scattered sectors on New Jersey reported under control, the state fire service today planned airplane flights over the stricken areas to determine the extent of damage. Preliminary surveys indicated that at least 84,000 acres of pine scrub and underbrush had gone up in smoke since Sunday when roaring tongues of flames began to cut swaths of fiery destruction across southern and central Jersey. Unofficially, the amount of property damage has been estimated at well in excess of $1 million. The toll included the loss of several hundred homes, livestock and wild gameÖ”

May 12, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, May 12, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported six fires – two at Lawrenceville, one at Lakewood and three local field fires. He elaborated on the call to the Lakewood forest fire. The seriousness of the water supply situation in the township was again discussed with the result that it was moved the secretary write the township committee requesting action, with the suggesting that hydrant rental fees be withheld unless the situation is remedied by the city. After discussion about clubs renting the hall and interfering with fire company activities, it was moved that we do not rent any portion of the present building to outside clubs (not including election and service boards) and that the building be used only for fire company activities. Carried.”

June 9, 1941
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on June 9, 1941, include: ‘Chief Anthony Pilla reported three fires – two dumps and one high tension line. He also reported the fire company pumped water for carnival and we are to receive $25 for this service. In regard to the overhead doors, it was moved the same keyway be installed in the new doors and back door. Chief Anthony Pilla appointed Albert Schoeller to fire police.”

July 14, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, July 14, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported on two fires – one house and one electric stove. The house was completely destroyed but the adjoining property was saved. 1600 feet of hose was laid. It was brought out that at this fire there was difficulty in getting the telephone company to put through the correct calls. The secretary was instructed to write to the telephone company. Albert Schoeller reported that the installation of the doors had started. A letter was received from the Lawrence Township Democratic Club asking us to reconsider our ruling prohibiting meetings in the firehouse. After discussion, it was moved that the motion regarding the renting of the hall, as passed in May, be amended to allow the Democratic Club to meet in the firehouse once each month on the first Thursday for the balance of this year for the sum of $2 per meeting. In accordance with their letter regarding refreshments, the use of fire company equipment is not permitted.”

September 8, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, September 8, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire – an ice house. The chief suggested that the weeds be cut down near the dam at Eggerts Crossing. President J. Russell Smith thought the township possibly could do this. Chief Pilla reported it is planned to give fire training for civil defense. It was moved that Chief Pilla appoint a new 1st Assistant Chief until the first of the year..”

September 13, 1941
On Saturday, September 13, 1941, “a two-car, frame garage on Lawn Park Avenue was destroyed by fire of unknown origin. Garden tools stored in the building were lost. Damage was estimated at $300. Lawrence Road Fire Co., directed by Chief Anthony Pilla, fought the fire,” according to a news brief published in the
Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on Sunday, September 14, 1941.

October 1941
Highlights from the minutes of the October 1941 meeting include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported on five fires – one at the ice house, which finally burned down, two field fires and two fires out of district. He reported that a drill was held last Sunday. The chief complained about the poor condition of the siren. It was suggested we write the company from which we purchased it for suggestions as to what is wrong. Albert Schoeller reported the Board of Governors had taken bids on painting the firehouse exterior (two coats, with blisters, etc., scrapped and sanded and windows puttied before painting) and awarded the contract to Theodore Meals. He reported the building was now painted. He asked for 10 or 15 men to be here next Sunday to help with plumbing and electrical work. Walter Schoeller reported this company had made a total of $1,500 profit on the 13 cars so far chanced off. Lee McConahy suggested any purchases for the building that are necessary, like a siren or linoleum for the kitchen, be taken from the Building fund. James Hindley suggested we scrap the radiators and buy unit heaters for the firehouse. It was the consensus of the plumbers present that radiators were best.”

November 10, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, November 10, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported three fires for the months, including one out of district. He also reported a drill was held at the Hendrickson farm where 3,000 feet of hose was laid. The chief reported that on discussion with representatives of the Sterling Siren Co., it was brought out that our siren was practically beyond repair. A price was obtained from the company for a new vertical siren with remote control and pull lever box with a 5-horse power, single phase 220-volt motor, 35-inches high by 38.5-inches long, for $375, allowing $75 on the old siren.”

December 8, 1941
During the meeting held on Monday, December 8, 1941, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported three fires, including a house fire out of district. The chief also reported that, after careful consideration and investigation, it was found that a 2-horse power instead of a 5-horse power siren was satisfactory and would result in a savings of approximately $100. The cost of the siren is $215, plus $20 for the remote control and $50 for the pull lever box, with no allowance on the old siren. It was pointed out that the chief has full power to act in accordance with the best interests of the association. Chief Anthony Pilla reported that civil defense fire school will start shortly.”

December 21, 1941
In an effort to better prepare township firefighters and members of the general public for wartime firefighting, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association convened a fire school in the Winter of 1941. The following announcement of the training was published in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on December 21, 1941: “Chief Tony Pilla announces that so much interest has been shown in the organization of the Lawrence Road fire school that he has expanded the school to include volunteers from the entire township. To date, 52 volunteers have registered, including: Herbert Jaeger, Donald Gallimore, Bertram Gallimore, John Crump, Mr. Higgins, John Cartlidge, John Messic, William Oldenburg, Aubrey Oldenburg, James Balaam, Paul Gessmyer, Ernest Reed and Robert Edwards. Chief Oscar Eggert of Lawrenceville states he will attend the school with volunteers of District No. 1. The course will open with the fundamentals of firefighting being taught and continue through all necessary evolutions, ending with the procedure of extinguishing incendiary bombs. Members of the New Jersey State Fire School Council have offered their services in assisting the school, with Professor J.J. Messenger of Audubon High School planning to show the actual action of an incendiary bomb. The course will include both theoretical and actual evolutions and all members have been asked to wear old clothes. C. Hill will have charge of disciplinary instruction; Albert Schoeller Jr., hydraulics; Chief Pilla, pump operation; and Steve Stanzione, theoretical evolutions. Any resident of Lawrence Township who has not registered for volunteer firefighting may do so at the first class to be held Tuesday evening at the Lawrence Road firehouse at 8 p.m.”

1942
Members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to 42 fires and attended 18 drills during 1942 (according to the report given by Chief Anthony Pilla during the first company meeting held in 1943).

January 14, 1942
An elderly couple perished in a house fire in Eggerts Crossing in the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 14, 1942. That day’s edition of the Trenton Evening Times carried the following account of the blaze


“Two persons, a man and his invalid wife, died early this morning in the flames which destroyed their 2-1/2-story frame home on Elmawr Avenue near Eggerts Road, Eggerts Crossing. Four other members of the family, including two small children, were sleeping in the house when the fire was discovered shortly after 4 a.m., but they managed to escape. Chief Joseph P. Stonicker, of the Lawrence Township police, identified the victims of the fire as Frank Winrow, 83, and his wife, Elizabeth, 73. Stonicker said the husband could have saved himself by crawling from his second-floor bedroom window onto a shed roof and then dropping to the ground, but he refused to leave the side of his wife, who had been bed-ridden since an operation more than a month ago. Members of the family who escaped from the burning house included a son, Joseph Winrow, 25, and his wife, Margaret, 24, and their two small children, Betty, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3. The elder Joseph climbed atop the shed roof in an effort to save his parents, only to suffer a fracture of the leg when he slipped on the ice-covered roof and fell to the ground. He is in Mercer Hospital

“Joseph’s wife, Margaret, discovered the fire shortly after 4 a.m., according to the story she told Chief Stonicker. She said she was awakened by smoke and found the dining room on the first floor of the house enveloped in flames. She carried her two children to safety from their bedroom on the first floor while her husband made a futile effort to reach his parents, who were sleeping on the second floor. Finding the stairway cut off by the fire, Joseph ran outside the house and climbed to a rear shed roof which was directly under the parents’ bedroom window. Joseph said he called to his father through the window and tried to persuade him to leave the house while there was still time, but the father called back he would rather die with his wife. After arguing in vain with his father for several minutes, Joseph said, the flames reached the rear of the house and forced him to retreat to the edge of the roof. There he slipped on a patch of ice, lost his footing and fell to the ground

“Another son, Garton Winrow, who lives in a small one-room shack near the Winrow home, also made an effort to rescue his father and mother, but failed. ‘It was just like pop not to want to leave mother,’ Garton later explained. ‘They had been married for more than 50 years, and they had never been apart. I can’t ever remember one of them going any place without the other.’ The flames spread rapidly through the frame house, which Frank Winrow had built himself some 23 years ago. By the time Lawrence Road and Pennington Road firemen arrived at the scene, the fire had spread throughout all the rooms on the first and second floors. The firemen could do little but prevent the blaze from spreading to adjoining homes. When the fire finally was extinguished at 10 a.m. only the concrete foundations of the house and a brick chimney remained standing. Origin of the fire was undetermined. The charred bodies of the victims were not recovered until shortly before noon. At that time they were ordered removed to the S.S. Dade Funeral Home by Dr. Henry J. Majeski, deputy county physician.”

February 9, 1942
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, February 9, 1942, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire in which two lives were lost. After a discussion of the recent fire at Eggerts Crossing it was decided that the system in effect for summing help in case of a serious fire was adequate and should be followed. President Foster Jemison suggested that the chief inform his assistants of this plan so that it could be followed in his absence. Chief Pilla also reported that he had ordered two all-service gas masks. He said that the siren would be supplied in accordance with the original terms. James Dorety resigned as recording secretary due to the fact he had volunteered for the Army Air Corps. His resignation was accepted with regrets. H. Lee McConahy Jr. was elected to fill the post. William Sharp reported the Red Cross had requested use of the firehouse to store equipment. William Musson requested the use of the firehouse on the first and third Sundays of the month. In line with these requests it was moved and seconded that for the duration of the war emergency the renting and letting of the building be left to the trustees with the understanding that it be let to all service clubs free of charge. These clubs, however, may make donations.”

April 13, 1942
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held Monday, April 13, 1942, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported there were five fires – four fields and one barn. He reported the Sanford has been repaired and that six new Indian tanks and two all-purpose smoke masks had been purchased. No news about the siren. William Sharp reported trustees making progress in securing bill of sale on the Sanford engine.”

May 11, 1942
During the meeting held on Monday, May 11, 1942, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported nine fires, three of which were out of our district. He also requested that the secretary write a letter to Mrs. Joseph Rich instructing her in the proper method of turning in a fire alarm. William R. Sharp reported that the mortgage had been paid off and would be cancelled in the county clerk’s office. The bills for the rebuilding of the coal bin were referred to the House committee. A short recess was declared to permit a picture of the fire school members to be taken.”

June 8, 1942
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, June 8, 1942, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported six fires – two houses, one lumber pile, 1 woods, and two fields. Three drills were held at Bunker Hill Road. Two engines pumped 37 minutes for a total of 26,000 gallons of water. Thomas Hawthorne reported on the siren. It is hard to hear due to its location on the building. An effort is being made to secure an old windmill tower to place the siren on.”

August 10, 1942
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, August 10, 1942, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported there were two fires, including one out of our district. There were four drills. The Sanford needs repairs. The chief reported he has been granted a 60-day deferment by the Draft Board for the purpose of arranging his replacement in the company. A black-out test run was made by Eastern aircraft. A letter of thanks was received and read from J.V. Atchley for our work performed when his property burned. Firemen’s Day at the fairgrounds will be October 3. Trustees reported the insurance policies are all in order except that the mortgage clause in favor of James Balaam should be cancelled. The bill of sale for the Sanford has not yet been secured. The service roll is still being worked on and will take time to complete. Lee McConahy was appointed to see about a windmill platform for the siren. Motion was made that a service flag be purchased. The committing in charge of bond raffling resigned. After discussion it was voted we carry on with the bonds and a new committee was appointed.”

October 12, 1942
Though America’s involvement in World War II was still less than a year old, preparations for civil defense rapidly progressed on the home front. “At a trial black-out, which lasted 25 minutes, we had 26 men, two nurses and a doctor report to the firehouse,” according to the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, October 12, 1942. Also during that meeting, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. He reported that we paraded at the state fair and made quite a hit with our service flag. He reported that Slackwood was called and responded to a fire at the 112th Filed Artillery on Eggerts Crossing Road. Applications have been filed out for six black-out passes. It was reported that at the last Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting, the meeting was turned over to the politicians and no business was transacted. The discussion on the opening of the charter was continued. William Marsh moved that the initiation fee be retained at $5. Motion passed by a vote of 16 to 6. Lee McConahy moved that if the charter is appended within six months of this date, the initiation fee of all members who have joined since August 1, 1942, be reduced to $2 and that the additional three dollars be credited as payment of their dues. Motion passed.”

November 9, 1942
The meeting on Monday, November 9, 1942, was held in Pilla’s gas station because “of the lack of heat in the firehouse,” according to the minutes. Highlights from the minutes include: “The meeting was interrupted by a black-out test. New instructions for fighting incendiary bombs were issued. Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire on Kelly Lane. The fire was out when the engines arrived. He reported there were two field fires on Halloween. The police were notified. Thomas Ettinger injured his ankle at the fire on October 28, 1942. The chief reported that police lights were issued to Joseph Crans, Thomas Hawthorne, William Smith, Andrew Cermele, G.H. DeLieu, and William Baker. The Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting was held at Lawrenceville. The county fire marshal suggested the organization of junior fire companies. The purpose of these units is to combat fires by making the younger boys (15 to 18 years old) fire conscious. The Volunteer Fireman magazine was recommended. It was moved that the company pay 50 percent of the subscription price of the Volunteer Fireman magazine for all who wished to subscribe. Herbert Jaeger donated $5 to be used in payment of the subscriptions to the magazine. Thirteen men subscribed. Chief Anthony Pilla requested that the safe be moved from the engine room. Motion made that we keep the badge price at $1. Motion made that anyone wishing to return their badge would be refunded $1 provided the badge is in good condition.” First nominations of officers for 1943 were also held during the meeting.

December 14, 1942
During the meeting held on Monday, December 14, 1942, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire at Slackwood and two truck fires. He reported the scrap-metal drive was very successful. Two bids have been received, one of $5 per ton and one of $7 per ton. It was voted to send Christmas remembrances to our members serving in the armed forces. The secretary read letters from Maxam and Groseclose acknowledging the renewal of our blanket accident policy, and from the Volunteer Fireman magazine acknowledging the receipt of 13 subscriptions. Officers elections were then held. President Foster Jemison turned the chair over to Joseph Crans, vice-president elect, in the absence of President-elect James Hindley. The company then gave Foster Jemison, retiring president, a vote of thanks for his splendid work during the year 1942.”

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