History 1981-1982

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1981

January 30, 1981
At 5:26 a.m. Friday, January 30, 1981, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched to assist Station 23 personnel in battling a blaze that destroyed the upper floors of the Larchmont mansion on Lawrence Road. All three engines responded from Station 22. The last Lawrence Road firefighters were not released from the scene until about noon. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Saturday, January 31,
1981:

“An early morning fire caused extensive damage to a Lawrence Township mansion and sent its owners scrambling down a hastily erected ladder to safety. The fire destroyed one wing of the mansion, named Larchmont, and caused water and smoke damage throughout the rest of the house. But no one was hurt in yesterday’s blaze, which is believed to have started in the first-floor kitchen. A guest staying at the house, who was awakened at 5:15 a.m. by the smell of smoke, climbed out on the porch roof and let herself down by hanging from the ledge, police said. She went for help from a neighbor, who placed a ladder against the porchso the owners, Carl Jones and his wife, could escape.

“Police who arrived at the mansion on Route 206 at about 5:30 a.m. found the southwest corner of the house engulfed in flames. Firemen from the Lawrenceville, Slackwood, Lawrence Road, East Windsor and Pennington fire departments fought the fire for more than two hours under the direction of Lawrenceville Chief Earl Wilbur. Wilbur said the first-floor kitchen, second-floor laundry room, and third-floor apartment and portions of the roof were destroyed. Morning traffic on Route 206 was detoured at Franklin Corner Road and at Province Line Road as firemen laid 2,700 feet o hose to reach at hydrant on Greenwood Avenue. Water tanker trucks from East Windsor and Pennington were also used....”

February 6, 1981
From 11:01 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. on Friday, February 6, 1981, Lawrence Road firefighters helped battle a blaze on Province Line Road. Lawrence Road laid 900 feet of 4-inch hose. The following story was printed in the Trenton Times on Saturday, February 7, 1981: “About 50 firemen from Lawrence Township and Princeton Borough battled a one-hour fire that destroyed the second floor and roof of a two-story home at 4566 Province Line Road yesterday. The blaze was the second in a week in the area. Last Friday, fire destroyed a wing of Larchmont, the home of Carl Jones on Route 206. Chief Earl Wilbur of the Lawrenceville Fire Co. said yesterday’s fire started in a boiler-utility room on the first floor and was probably caused by a defective oil burner. The roof and second floor of the frame and stone house were engulfed in flames when firemen arrived a little after 11 a.m. Firemen had to lay hose about 4,000 feet to the nearest fire hydrant at Rosedale and Province Line roads. The Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies and Princeton Borough’s Hook & Ladder and Mercer Engine 3 responded…”

March 11, 1981
From 9:05 a.m. until 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11, 1981, Engine 22-2 stood by at Bucks County Station 39 (Union Fire Co.) in Morrisville, Pa. At the time, firefighters from several Bucks County fire companies were busy fighting a blaze that gutted one apartment and damaged two others at the Capitol View Court apartment complex on Clymer Avenue in Morrisville.

April 20, 1981
At 4:33 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 1981, Engine 22-2 was dispatched to cover Station 32. The engine was later moved up to the scene of a fire in a trash dump in Ewing Township and pumped from a hydrant on North Olden Avenue. At 7:02 p.m., Engine 22-3 was dispatched to recover Station 32 and an engine from Mercerville Fire Co. was relocated to stand by at Station 22. Lawrence Road Firefighter John Fleming suffered a leg injury at the fire and was transported to Mercer Hospital. Lawrence Road firefighters did not return to Station 22 until 10:40 p.m. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Tuesday, April 21, 1981:

“Flames at a garbage pile at the Ewing Trenton Transfer Station in an industrial section of Ewing Township raged out of control for more than two hours yesterday, prompting fire officials to call for stricter control on the open trash heaps. High winds and few hydrants hampered more than 150 firefighters from at least six suburban volunteer companies as they battled the 4 p.m. blaze for five hours. No injuries were reported. By 7 p.m. the fire was under control. At 9 p.m. the fire was out weary firemen began leaving. ‘If a private citizen did this they’d never be able to get away with it,’ groused Chuck Heenan, chief of the Prospect Heights Fire Co. as he surveyed the flaming pile of garbage. Firefighters frequently are called to the Stokes Avenue transfer station to put out smaller fires, Heenan said, and the station has been cited by federal Environmental Protection Agency officials for maintaining the open garbage piles...”

May 23, 1981
After attending a parade near Hershey Park in Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 23, 1981, Lawrence Road firefighters discovered a motor vehicle accident near the park’s entrance. The crash involved a motorcycle and a fuel spill. Lawrence Road firefighters were in service and operated at the scene until local emergency services arrived. (Also, Lawrence Road won the first place prize at the parade that day.)

June 23, 1981
At 9:04 a.m. on Tuesday, June 23, 1981, Station 22 personnel were dispatched to a working fire in the 2.5-story residence at 751 Lawrence Road belonging to Dr. John Franzoni and family. Slackwood Fire Co. assisted with Engine 21-3 and Snorkel 21. During the blaze, Engine 23-2 stood by at Station 22. The following details were included in a report written by township sub-code official John Kubilewicz:

“There was extensive fire damage to the right rear bedroom and additional fire damage to the unfinished attic above. Heat and smoke damage was evident throughout the second floor. It was necessary to break several windows for ventilation. Several holes were cut in walls and ceilings to check for spread of fire due to the balloon construction of the building. The actual fire damage was confined to the right rear bedroom which is approximately 10-by-16 feet, with the heaviest concentration of fire damage being in the closet area. The only source of ignition found in this area was the remains of a light which was evidently plugged into an outlet located on the rear wall of the closet at floor level. The switch controlling this outlet was found to be in the ‘On’ position. Richard Laird, Station 22 firefighter, related he advanced the first hoseline into the building and found that the fire was heaviest in the closet area of the right rear bedroom. The fire was accidental in origin and was probably caused by heat from the shadeless electric lightbulb setting fire the nearby clothes.”

August 7, 1981
Lawrence Road’s new 1,250 gpm Hahn pumper, Engine 22-1, responded to its first call on Friday, August 7, 1981, when Station 22 was dispatched at 6:53 p.m. to a transformer fire on Bunker Hill Road. (Editor’s Note: The old Engine 22-1, the 1969 Maxim, was retired from service and sold a short time later.)

August 8, 1981
Flames destroyed an unattached garage at the rear of the residence at 1401 Lawrence Road on Saturday, August 8, 1981. Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to the blaze at 6:15 a.m. Engine 22-1 took a position near the fire building and deployed two handlines. Engine 22-2 laid 200 feet of 3-inch hose across Lawrence Road to supply water from a hydrant on Berwyn Place. Engine 22-3 positioned itself and used a booster line to protect two exposures (a car and dwelling, both of which sustained minor heat damage). The following narrative was written on the incident report by Chief Patrick Quill: “Upon arrival, building was fully-involved with fire. Fire was brought under control in approximately 15 minutes. After some investigation it was determined that the fire started just inside the front door. Fire was determined suspicious in origin at this time. The matter was turned over to Lawrence police and the Lawrence Township sub-code official for investigation.”

August 15, 1981
At 2:38 a.m. on Saturday, August 15, 1981, Engine 22-2 was dispatched to stand by at Station 32 after a blaze broke out at the Morris, Wheeler and Co. at 82 Stokes Avenue in Ewing. While Engine 22-2 was still en route to the cover assignment, it was ordered into the scene. Engine 22-1 was also requested to the fireground. Engine 22-2 hooked up to a hydrant on Ingham Avenue and pumped to Ladder 31-5 and Engine 22-1, which placed its deluge gun in service on the fire. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene for four hours, during which time Station 22 was covered by apparatus from West Windsor. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Sunday, August 16, 1981:

“An early morning fire which has been labeled suspicious destroyed one of two buildings at Morris, Wheeler and Co. Inc. in Ewing yesterday, closing down the steel fabricating plant temporarily. The blaze was reported by a motorist at 1:59 a.m. When the West Trenton Fire Co. arrived at the plant, located at 82 Stokes Avenue, one building was already engulfed in flames that could be seen from Pennington Avenue and the Prospect Heights section of the township. Officials believe a loud explosion which occurred 30 minutes after the firemen arrived was caused by a propane gas tank. Firemen remained at the scene through the night. A second building, separated by a firewall from the gutted structure, remained undamaged. Ewing police Lt. Raymond O’Rourke said the fire was labeled ‘suspicious’ because officials could not immediately determine the cause of the blaze...”

August 21, 1981
Saturn Chemical Co. was destroyed by a raging fire on Friday, August 21, 1981. Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 2:32 p.m. and remained on the scene until midnight. During the fire, crews from Pennington Road, West Trenton and Nottingham fire companies stood by at Station 22. Much equipment, including some turnout gear and hose, was damaged in the blaze. This was printed in the Trenton Times on Saturday, August 22, 1981:

“A spectacular fire, fed by a series of chemical explosions, destroyed a Lawrence Township chemical plant and spewed a dark pillar of toxic smoke over the area, forcing the temporary evacuation of hundreds of residents from nearby homes. Firefighters poured thousands of gallons of water on storage tanks at the Saturn Chemical plant on New York Avenue to prevent a major explosion that, they feared, could unleash lethal fumes over the area.

“The major explosion was averted and authorities said the levels of toxic fumes released in the general alarm blaze yesterday posed no hazard to health. ‘The main thrust of our fire attack was to hold the flames down and keep the (10,000-gallon storage tanks filled with volatile chemicals) from exploding,’ said John Kubilewicz, emergency management director in Lawrence. ‘From a public health standpoint, it turned out not to be dangerous.’

“Nevertheless, nearby businesses and homes were evacuated and some residents were taken to the Slackwood firehouse. Others were urged to stay home and keep their windows closed. Traffic was detoured from Route 1 through Lawrence Township as approximately 175 firemen battled the fire. One fireman suffered a minor cut on his face and two others were treated for smoke inhalation. No serious injuries were reported. Firefighters from 13 area fire companies brought the blaze under control about 90 minutes after it was reported at 2:30 p.m. The fire was out by 5:15 p.m. and area residents were allowed to return to their homes.

“When firemen first arrived, flames surrounded two large tanks containing mineral spirits and naptha – the tanks officials feared would explode. ‘Getting water on it was the main things,’ said Slackwood Fire Co. Assistant Chief Dale Robbins, one of the first firemen on the scene. ‘That kept the whole thing from going up.’ Several vats of unidentified chemicals did explode after firemen began arriving, authorities said. ‘As soon as we got here and started putting water on it, there was a big explosion,’ said a Slackwood volunteer. ‘A whole lot of stuff went up at once. It was just like in Vietnam. I’ve never seen anything like it. The fire was whipping around like a tornado.’ Investigators said the fire began somewhere in the plant’s main building, which housed several vats containing thousands of gallons of chemicals.

“A Saturn supervisor who would not give his name said he first saw flames in the plant’s main building near a vat of paint resins. ‘When I first saw the flames, I just got everybody out,’ he said, adding that about 10 employees were at the plant at the time. ‘I didn’t see what was on fire. When a chemical fire starts, you run and look at what’s burning later.’ The supervisor said that after all the employees had safely fled, something in the plant exploded. An employee of the neighboring Hydrocarbon Research Inc. plant said thick black smoke rose from the Saturn plant moments before a loud blast. ‘After the first explosion, that was it. The roof just opened up with flames,’ he said. ‘I could hear people screaming -- I’ve still got chills from it. And after that, there was another explosion. It shook the whole ground and then everything was going.’ The screaming, the Saturn supervisor said, was him yelling to other employees, ‘Get the hell out.’

“Saturn has permits for 27 storage tanks at the New York Avenue site, according to Tony McMahon of the Enforcement Division of the state Department of Environmental Protection. These permits show the tanks are used to store mineral spirits, zylene, styrene, vinyl toluene and butyl acrylate. The chemicals are used at the plant in making ingredients for paint, enamel and insulation. Air samples taken by state health and environmental officials after the blaze broke out showed the presence of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison; xylene, a suspected carcinogen; and styrene, also a suspected carcinogen. But Paul Giardina, director of the DEP’s Division of Hazard Management, said the concentration of all three chemicals in the air were less than half the levels that are considered dangerous....”

September 28, 1981
The Chauncey Guest House on the grounds of Educational Testing Service (ETS) was damaged by fire on Monday, September 28, 1981. Lawrence Road firefighters helped fight the blaze from 4:39 p.m. until 5:55 p.m. The following news brief was published in the Trenton Times on Tuesday, September 29, 1981: “A fire started by a painting crew’s blowtorch damaged a house once used by the founder of the Educational Testing Service on Rosedale Road, police said. The fire at 4:39 p.m. yesterday was confined to a room on the second floor of the Chauncey Guest House and a small section of the roof by members of the Lawrenceville and Lawrence Road fire companies. The guest house, adjacent to the Henry Chauncey Conference Center, is a converted farmhouse when ETS founder Henry Chauncey once lived. It is now used to house educators attending conferences at ETS. Police said painters using a blowtorch to burn off paint in the roof started the fire, which was put out within 40 minutes. No injuries were reported.”

October 3, 1981
The press box on the football field at Notre Dame High School was destroyed by fire on Saturday, October 3, 1981. The alarm was transmitted at 4:19 a.m. and the building was “fully-involved” when Station 22 personnel arrived on the scene. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Sunday, October 4, 1981: “In separate but apparently related incidents, vandals burned down the press boxes at Steinert High School in Hamilton and Notre Dame High School in Lawrence between 11:45 p.m. Friday and 4 a.m. yesterday, according to police. The schools’ football teams played yesterday at the Steinert field and Steinert beat Notre Dame 35-14… Deputy Fire Chief James Yates of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. said two empty paint cans were found near the scene of the fire at Notre Dame. Yates said he did not know what was in the paint cans but the contents will be sent to the state police for analysis… In an unrelated incident Friday, police said, two rolls of toilet paper were set on fire in a Lawrence High School rest room at 2:45 p.m. The fire melted a plastic window in the rest room…” Two Hamilton teenagers were arrested a week later and charged with arson for setting the Notre Dame blaze.

October 6, 1981
At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6, 1981, Engines 22-1 and 22-2 were sent to the scene of an explosion and fire on Louisiana Avenue in Ewing Township, while Engine 22-3 was dispatched to cover Station 32. The following story was printed in the Trenton Times on Wednesday, October 7, 1981:

“One man was killed and two others were seriously injured in an explosion and fire that leveled a home in Ewing Township and rocketed one of the survivors 35 feet into the yard. The initial blast and six smaller explosions feeding yesterday’s fire may have been touched off by two men working on a propane-fired water heater in the basement of the house at 148 Louisiana Avenue, authorities said. Owner Lonnie Willis, 67, who was critically burned, had built the two-story home on the same site where his previous home burned to the ground five years ago. The initial blaze, described by one man as ‘just like Vietnam,’ shook nearby homes – including dormitories at Trenton State College about four blocks away – and was heard as far as three miles away.

“The first blast at 4:30 p.m. was followed by six smaller explosions that sent flames shooting 40 feet into the air, touching off a blaze that took about 200 volunteer firemen from six companies nearly an hour to put out. At 8:15 p.m., nearly four hours after the explosions, the body of John Johnson, 54, was recovered from the smoldering rubble. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Johnson and Willis were working on a water heater in the basement when propane gas leaking from a basement line somehow exploded. The explosion knocked out the walls of the two-story house, trapped the two men under thousands of pounds of rubble, and blew 51-year-old Robert Burke out the back door. Neighbors George Lum and Eddie Gant said they dragged Burke away from the house to safety. ‘It blew him right out of the house,’ said Lum. ‘Then he told me his dad (Willis) and John were in the basement so we went over to get them out.’ Lum and Gant said they talked to the two trapped men but couldn't reach them.

“The two men said that as soon as they talked to the trapped men, the smaller explosions erupted, causing the house to burst into flames. ‘I thought I saw the basement entrance,’ Lum said. ‘But then the fire started. It got awful hot in that corner and we had to get away. I don't see how he (Willis) survived.’ Two Pennington Road Fire Co. members, however, managed to pull Willis from the basement, according to Fire Chief James Jobst. Willis, who suffered burns over 80 percent of his body, was taken to Helene Fuld Medical Center and later was transferred by helicopter to the burn center at St. Agnes Medical Center in Philadelphia. His condition was listed as critical. ‘It looks like they had a liquid propane gas leak in the basement somewhere,’ said Trooper Robert McCarty of the state police Emergency Management Unit. He added that investigators were trying to determine whether work on the water heater sparked the propane...”(Editor’s Note: Lonnie Willis died of his injuries several week later at St. Anges Medical Center.)

October 12, 1981
During the meeting held on Monday, October 12, 1981, “President Fran Przechacki reported that Tom Furch is our new paid driver.” Also during the meeting, “Chief Patrick Quill reported a buyer been found for our old truck at a price of $10,000.” The apparatus to be sold was the 1969 Maxim, which was formerly known as Engine 22-1. The company decided to sell the 1969 Maxim instead of the 1964 Maxim (Engine 22-3) because the 1969 Maxim suffered some pump damage after pumping for nearly a week straight during the water crisis of 1975.

1982

January 2, 1982
St. Ann's Church was heavily damaged by a fire in the early hours of Saturday, January 2, 1982. Station 22 was dispatched at 5:48 a.m. Lawrence Road firefighters, who were in service for about four hours, used 500 feet of 4-inch hose, 500 feet of 3-inch hose, 150 feet of 2.5-inch hose, 300 feet of 1.75-inch hose and 600 feet of 1.5-inch hose. Supply lines were laid to three hydrants located on Lawrence Avenue, Millerick Avenue, and Marlboro Road. Assisting at the scene were crews from Slackwood, Lawrenceville, Pennington Road and Prospect Heights. West Trenton Fire Co. stood by. Lawrence Road Firefighter Tim Kasony Sr. was injured when he stepped on a nail. (The damaged church was later razed and entirely rebuilt.) The following details appeared in the report written by Mercer County Fire Marshal George Lenhardt: “Fire originated in kitchen area in basement hall. Spread to entire kitchen area and to ceiling above kitchen. Smoke and heat damage to entire church area. Fire originated in wall at location of a wall switch box that controlled both the ceiling lights and counter lights located in the kitchen. Circuit breaker was in tripped position. Two fuses that supplied this switch were blown.” The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Sunday, January 3, 1982:

“An early morning blaze caused between $150,000 and $300,000 in damage yesterday at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in Lawrence, warping and blackening stained glass windows and destroying the sanctuary floor. The blaze caused considerable damage to the parish hall in the basement of the church on Route 206. The fire began in an electrical box in a basement kitchen wall just below the altar, according to Chief Pat Quill of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. Quill said he assumed the fire had smoldered two to three hours before it broke out in the kitchen and rose through the false ceiling of the basement to the floor of the altar. Six fire companies fought the two-alarm blaze, which began about 5:48 a.m., and brought it under control in about an hour, he said. Mercer County ire Marshal George F. Lenhardt said the fire was discovered by Msgr. Thomas J. Frain, pastor of the church, as he was on his way to open the building. Frain said he saw smoke in the driveway between the rectory and the church and smelled a ‘terrible rancid odor.’ He said he touched the basement door at the rear of the building, found it hot, and called the fire department, which is located across the street from the church....”

January 6, 1982
The old Princessville Inn was destroyed by flames on the morning of Wednesday, January 6, 1982. At 4:20 a.m. Engine 22-2 was dispatched to the scene of the fire and Engine 22-1 was sent to stand by at the Lawrenceville firehouse. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Thursday, January 7, 1982:

“The historic Princessville Inn – which Lawrence Township officials once planned to burn down for a firefighting drill – was destroyed by fire yesterday, less than one week after the building was leased to a pair of private investors. The early morning fire reduced most of the 173-year-old inn to a pile of smoldering rubble and left only two chimneys and a gutted 15-by-30 foot section of the building still standing. ‘We had a lot of hopes and they’re all smashed,’ said Janice Baykal, the real estate agent who represents the two local investors. The two had planned to convert the deteriorating building on Princeton Pike into a fashionable restaurant and bar.

“Investigators said the blaze appeared to have started accidentally near an electric stove, but they have not ruled out the possibility of arson. The fire was first spotted by a newspaper delivery truck driver who alerted police at about 4:15 a.m. yesterday. When firefighters from the Lawrenceville and Lawrence Road fire companies arrived, two-thirds of the 2.5-story wooden structure was ‘heavily involved and disintegrating’ with flames reaching from the floor through the roof, according to Lawrenceville Fire Chief Richard Hocking. It took firefighters just 25 minutes to put out the blaze. An electric stove in a second-floor room on the northern side of the inn ‘appears to be our point on origin,’ said Assistant County Fire Marshal Joseph Lenhardt. A live 240-volt power line ran into the stove, Lenhardt said…”

January 25, 1982
On Monday, January 25, 1982, the Trenton Times published a front page story about Lawrence Road’s first two female firefighters, Suzanne Tramontana and Michelle Wolf. The women were voted in as members during the company meeting held on Monday, January 11, 1982.

March 4, 1982
At 3:26 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, 1982, Station 22 personnel were dispatched to a working fire at 138 Drift Avenue. The blaze, which started in a sofa, was contained to the living room, although heat and smoke damage was sustained to the rest of the dwelling. All three Lawrence Road engines responded. The following was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, March 5, 1982: Three people were left homeless when fire heavily damaged their house at 138 Drift Avenue yesterday. The cause of the 3:26 p.m. blaze, which extensively damaged the living room and caused smoke damage throughout the house, wasn’t immediately determined. But James Yates, assistant chief of the Lawrence Road Fire Co., said the fire appeared to be accidental. About 20 firemen from Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies fought the blaze. Their efforts were hampered at first because several people who telephoned the police dispatcher mistakenly reported that two people were trapped in the house. ‘Our initial efforts were to search the house,’ he said, adding that the men started working on the fire once they learned that the two people were at a neighbor’s house…”

April 30, 1982

At 11:49 p.m. on Friday, April 30, 1982, Engine 22-1 was dispatched to the scene of a structure fire in Hopewell Township and Engine 22-2 was sent to stand by at Station 51. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Saturday, May 1, 1982: “A fire that broke out shortly after 11 p.m. last night destroyed the two-story frame home of William and Jean Weasner at 2393 Pennington Road in Hopewell Township. The Weasners and their two sons, aged 13 and 10, were at home at the time but escaped unhurt. A neighbor said at least 20 fire trucks were on the scene. The cause of the fire in the large colonial-style house one-fourth of a mile north of I-95 was not immediately known. Mrs. Weasner said the family was watching TV and was on its way to bed when they smelled smoke on the second floor. They saw flames and tried to call the fire department but the telephones weren’t working so the 10-year-old son ran next door to make the call. ‘When we got there, the whole left side was engulfed,’ a neighbor said. ‘It was spectacular to see.’ ”

May 26, 1982
A murder and suicide was the situation found by Lawrence Road firefighters called to assist police at a fire at 44 Fairfield Avenue on Wednesday, May 26, 1982. Police called Station 22 by phone at 8:10 p.m. and requested that Engine 22-1 respond to the Bieksza residence to check an extinguished cellar fire. Inside were the bodies of Catherine Bieksza, 62, who had been bludgeoned to death, and 70-year-old Frank Bieksza. Both husband and wife had been in failing health. Engine 22-1 was on the scene for three hours 45 minutes. This report was filed by Mercer County Fire Marshal George Lenhardt: “Body of wife, Catherine Bieksza, found in front bedroom. Body of Frank Bieksza found in basement, rear section of floor. Fire burnt itself out due to lack of air because of house being closed up tight. Numerous containers found in basement area with what appeared to be a flammable solvent. Containers were open with partial contents spilled on basement floor. It appears Mr. Bieksza spilled liquid and set fire to himself.”

July 12, 1982
On Monday, July 12, 1982, James Tramontana resigned as secretary of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. Sam Pangaldi was later elected to fill the vacant secretary post.

July 13, 1982
On Tuesday, July 13, 1982, Patrick Quill resigned as chief of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. During the following days, Deputy Chief Patrick Kent served as Acting Chief. On Monday, July 19, 1982, a special company meeting was held for the purpose of electing a new chief. James Yates was elected chief at the meeting. Charlie Commini was later elected to become 1st Assistant Chief and Wayne Hannon was elected as 2nd Assistant Chief.

October 9, 1982
A major structure fire broke out at the old state fairgrounds in Hamilton Township during the late evening of Saturday, October 9, 1982. At 11:36 p.m. Engine 22-2 was assigned to extinguish a field fire off East State Street. From there, Engine 22-2 was ordered to lay its 4-inch hose as part of a water relay. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Monday, October 11, 1982: “Hamilton Township firefighters had planned to spend yesterday morning fighting make-believe fires at the old New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Instead, they got to battle the real thing last Saturday night at the East State Street site. ‘We were all set to go there Sunday morning,’ said a spokesman for Hamilton's Fire District 4, ‘and apparently somebody beat us to it.’ Fire officials suspect that someone set the 11:30 p.m. blaze in the vacant 200-by-300 foot building, flames from which could be seen for miles around. ‘It wasn’t spontaneous combustion and it wasn’t electrical and the only things that's left is arson,’ said the spokesman. Firefighters had left five bales of hay and some oil in barrels in the building to serve as ‘smoke enhancers’ during the controlled fire drill. The spokesman said that the scheduled drills were to train firefighters in how to enter smoke-filled room. Instead, about 100 firefighters from 16 fire companies battled a live blaze Saturday night. They had the fire under control by 1:30 a.m. but remained at the scene until nearly 5:30 a.m. hosing down the area. Firemen had a tough time battling the wind-whipped fire. One of the main problems were that the hydrants were located far from the burning building. Until this year, the New Jersey State Fair was held at the site. The fairgrounds were sold last year to a local real estate developer. The state fair was held this year at Great Adventure.”

October 14, 1982
At 2:32 p.m. on Thursday, October 14, 1982, Engine 22-2 was sent to the scene of a fire on the campus of the Lawrenceville School, while Engine 22-1 was dispatched to stand by at Station 23. While operating on scene, Lawrence Road Firefighter Ron Krzos was treated for debris in his eye. During the incident a crew from Pennington Road Fire Co. covered Station 22. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, October 15, 1982: “A workman accidentally ignited a blaze yesterday that destroyed the roof and attic of an old frame house at the Lawrenceville School. Lawrenceville Fire Co. Chief Richard Hocking said a roofer's soldering torch sparked the fire on the outside of the roof. The workman was repairing tin roof flashing when the blaze started at the about 2:30 p.m. Hocking said approximately 25 firefighters from all three township fire companies responded to the blaze in the frame house where a retired school employee lived. Fire units were on the scene for nearly three hours. Hocking said the roof, attic area and second-story ceiling were destroyed in the fire. The entire house received a lot of water damage, he said. Ernest Winter, school security chief, said a work crew has been sprucing up the building, working on the roof and scraping wood surfaces to prepare for painting.”

November 1, 1982
At 5:16 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 1982, Station 22 personnel were dispatched to a working fire in the sports equipment storage building next to the football field press box at Lawrence High School. Lawrence Road personnel forced entry to all three sections of the building, which measured about 40-by-18 feet. Heavy fire was found in the middle section. Five large foam mats were destroyed by the fire and the roof area was burned. Smoke and heat damaged was sustained to the rest of the structure. Careless smoking was identified as a possible cause of the blaze. Slackwood firefighters assisted by stretched a 4-inch supply line to a hydrant at Princeton Pike and Lannigan Drive. Lawrence Road personnel, who responded with all three engines, were on scene until 8:16 p.m.


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