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OCTOBER 8, 2004


Homasote Co., 900 Lower Ferry Road,
Ewing Township

During the pre-dawn hours of Friday, October 8, 2004, members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded into Ewing Township for a two-alarm fire at the Homasote Co.

It was 3:53 a.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center received the report of a structure fire at the 900 Lower Ferry Road plant of Homasote, which manufactures structural fiberboard products from recycled newsprint and paper.

Box 33-10 was transmitted and all three Ewing Township fire companies were dispatched.

Captain 33 responded at 3:56 a.m. and arrived on location at 3:58 a.m. to find flames shooting 20 feet high from the roof at center of the building. All three Ewing fire companies were retoned at that time for a working structure fire.

West Trenton Chief Dave Schino and Engine 32 both signed on radio at 4:01 a.m. followed at 4:02 a.m. by Engine 33-2. Schino arrived on the scene at 4:03 a.m., followed by Engine 32 and Engine 33-2 both at 4:05 a.m.

At 4:06 a.m., following a request by Schino, Mercer County Central transmitted Box 33-10’s second alarm. Dispatched at that time were: Rescue 22 and Engine 22 from Lawrence Road, Engine 21 from Slackwood, Pennington Borough’s Ladder Tower 51, Union-Titusville’s Telesquirt 53, and Engine 30 from Falls Township, Pa.

Rescue 32 responded at 4:06 a.m. and reached the scene at 4:09 a.m.

Engine 33-1 signed on radio next at 4:10 a.m. and arrived two minutes later.

Rescue 22 responded at 4:11 a.m., with Capt. Chris Pangaldi in command and Ff. Charles Commini driving. Aboard as crew were Ff. Evan Kutzin, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Ryan Dlabik.

Responding at 4:12 a.m. were Deputy Chief Wayne Hannon in Car 22-1, Engine 21, and Engine 22.

Engine 22 was commanded by Assistant Chief Gary Wasko, driven by Lt. Michael Ratcliffe and crewed by Lt. Michael Byrd, Ff. Ryan Quill and Ff. Ed Budzinski.

Ladder Tower 31 and Telesquirt 53 both responded at 4:14 a.m., while Engine 30 and Ladder Tower 51 both signed on radio at 4:16 a.m.

Rescue 22 arrived on scene at 4:17 a.m., followed by both Engine 21 and Ladder Tower 31 at 4:19 a.m., Engine 22 at 4:21 a.m. and then Telesquirt 53 and Ladder Tower 51 both at 4:24 a.m.

Light Plant 32 (which responded at 4:26 a.m.) arrived at 4:29 a.m. followed by Engine 30 at 4:36 a.m.

After reaching the scene, Rescue 22 staged next to Engine 33-2 along the front of the building and Commini raised the light tower. (Also in position on Side A of the structure were Ladder Tower 31, Engine 32 and Engine 33-1.) Engine 22, meanwhile, staged with all second alarm apparatus at the far end of the Homasote parking lot and sent its manpower up to the scene.

Both crews of Lawrence Road firefighters stood by near the command post as the FAST Team until they were directed by Schino to climb up Ladder Tower 31 to the roof and relieve Ewing firefighters operating there.

While on the roof Station 22 personnel used hooks to pull charred paper shards from the ductwork of the plant’s large, industrial ovens and a hoseline to hose down remaining hot spots. After the area was completely overhauled, they exited to the ground via internal stairs.

The blaze was declared under control by Schino at 4:38 a.m.

Shortly before 5 a.m., Ewing Township police were alerted to an activated fire alarm system at the VFW Post 7298 on Green Lane.

Trenton Engine 8, which had been relocated to cover Station 32, was dispatched along with other cover companies and arrived within minutes to find heavy smoke issuing from the building.

Telesquirt 53, Ladder Tower 51 and Engine 21 were all directed to respond from Homasote to the apparent working fire at the VFW.

However, Engine 8’s crew discovered that the building was not on fire but that the smoke was caused by careless cooking. An oven was found left turned on.

As a result, Engine 8 and Ladder Tower 51 were held for ventilation, while the rest of the apparatus responding to the VFW was recalled.

Meanwhile, back at Homasote Engine 22 and Rescue 22 were released at 5:06 a.m. Engine 22 was back in quarters at 5:17 p.m. and Rescue 22 by 5:24 p.m.

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