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JANUARY 8, 2006


1301 New York Avenue,
City of Trenton

During the evening of Sunday, January 8, 2005, two crews of volunteers from Lawrence Road Fire Co. manning Engine 22 and Telesquirt 22 responded into the City of Trenton to help battle a general alarm fire that totally destroyed a two-story, block-long furniture warehouse.

Meanwhile, at the same time, another crew of Station 22 members were with Rescue 22 helping to extricate the bodies of two men killed in a car accident on Route 1 in Lawrence.

It was 7:52 p.m. when Trenton Engine 6 was dispatched to investigate a reported alarm system activation at 1301 New York Avenue, a 91,000-square-foot L-shaped vacant warehouse that was once operated as the Lambert Furniture Company.

Engine 6, which had been out at a small garbage fire in an alley off Ohio Avenue that was of suspicious origin, reported heavy smoke and fire showing even before they arrived.

Engine 6’s crew secured a hydrant in front of the fire building and led off with their deck gun as a full first alarm was sounded. The second and third alarms soon followed, bringing every single Trenton front-line apparatus (seven engines, three ladders and Rescue 1) to the scene.

As flames engulfed the structure, mutual aid was quickly called to go both to the scene and to cover Trenton’s empty firehouses. Meanwhile, off-duty city firefighters were recalled to man reserve apparatus.

As this was going on, Rescue 22 was on Route 1 South, north of Whitehead Road, where a Honda Accord had veered off the road and slammed head-on into a tree about 6:21 p.m.

Crews from Rescue 21, Rescue 22 and Rescue 23 were all waiting for Lawrence police and Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office detectives to complete their investigation so the bodies of two men killed in the crash could be extricated from the wreckage.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Shaun Dlabik, driven by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe and crewed by Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Ryan Dlabik, Ff. Charles Commini Jr., and Ff. Martin Burch.

At 8:13 p.m., Slackwood’s Snorkel 21 was sent to the firegound, followed at 8:18 by Lawrence Road’s Engine 22. Engine 22 was commanded by Assistant Chief Chris Pangaldi, driven by Ff. Andrew Fosina, and crewed by Ff. R.J. Laird and Ff. Steven Hodgdon.

At 8:50 p.m., following a request from Trenton for six additional engine companies, Mercer County Central asked Rescue 22 and Rescue 23 if they were available to respond from the accident scene on Route 1.

At that time, efforts to extricate the two victims from the wreckage were just beginning, so Rescue 22 was committed at the accident and was unable to leave. Rescue 23, however, left the accident scene and responded to the fire.

At 9:03 p.m., Lawrence Road’s Telesquirt 22 was special-called the fireground by Trenton Battalion Chief Greg Gore.

Telesquirt 22 responded with Ff. Brian Laue in command, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr. driving, and a crew that included Ff. Chris Dlabik, Ff. Michael Trimble, and Ff. Steven Adzima.

Chief Wayne Hannon responded to the fireground in Car 22, while Ff. Charles Commini, who arrived at the fire scene to take photographs prior to mutual aid being called in, helped operate Telesquirt 22’s aerial.

Other Lawrence Township apparatus that responded to the scene included Engine 21 and Ladder Tower 23.

Meanwhile, firefighters from Hamilton Township, Ewing Township, West Windsor Township, East Windsor Township, Hopewell Township, Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, and Falls Township (Pa.) all responded to the fireground before the blaze was declared under control at 12:52 a.m.

After arriving on scene, Engine 22 was ordered to lay a 5-inch supply line to feed water to Engine 3’s squirt. The hydrant that Engine 22 first tried to connect to was dry because it was on the same water main supplying other hydrants already being used.

Thus, Engine 21 and Engine 43 had to help complete the lay to a more distant hydrant connected to a different water main.

Telesquirt 22, which set up on Strawberry Street, flowed water from its elevated master stream for several hours and also had several hoselines off that were used to battle the blaze.

Engine 22 remained on the fireground until about 2:35 a.m., while Telesquirt 22 operated on the scene until about 3:19 a.m.

Meanwhile, after clearing the extrication scene on Route 1 at 9:22 p.m., Rescue 22 was directed by Mercer County Central to proceed back to Station 22 to cover Lawrence Township and part of Ewing Township. Rescue 22 was back in quarters at 9:27 p.m.

Some members of Rescue 22’s crew and other Station 22 members – including Capt. Shaun Dlabik, Ff. Martin Burch, Ff. Charles Commini Jr., Ff. Ryan Dlabik and Ff. Jarred Pierson – reported to the fireground later in the evening to relieve members of Engine 22 and Telesquirt 22’s crews.

Meanwhile, other volunteers remained at Station 22 to man Rescue 22 until about 2 a.m.

Also standing by at the Lawrence Road firehouse during this time was Rescue 45 and a crew of seven firefighters from the Newtown Fire Association of Newtown Borough, Bucks County, Pa.

Newtown’s rescue-pumper was sent to Station 22 after Capt. Dlabik directed Mercer County Central to send a mutual aid engine to help cover Lawrence Township.

Also during the fire, Ladder 31 from Fairless Hills Fire Co., Falls Township, Pa., relocated to cover Slackwood’s firehouse, while Ladder Tower 80 from Yardley-Makefield Fire Co. of Lower Makefield Township, Pa., stood by at Lawrenceville’s firehouse.


Engine 1
Engine 3
Engine 6
Engine 7
Engine 8
Engine 9
Engine 10
Ladder 1
Ladder 2
Ladder 4
Rescue 1
Special Services 1

Also Signal 22 volunteer canteen unit

Trenton Emergency Medical Service with four ambulances and support units.


(All times from Mercer County Central incident logs; due to heavy radio traffic, some times may not be correct.)

Slackwood Fire Co., Lawrence Township
Snorkel 21 (dispatched 8:13 p.m., recalled 12:39 a.m.)
Engine 21 (dispatched 8:45 p.m., recalled 1:59 a.m.)

Lawrence Road Fire Co., Lawrence Township
Engine 22 (dispatched 8:18 p.m., recalled 2:35 a.m.)
Telesquirt 22 (dispatched 9:03 p.m., recalled 3:19 a.m.)

Lawrenceville Fire Co., Lawrence Township
Rescue 23 (dispatched 8:50 p.m., recalled 1:55 a.m.)
Ladder Tower 23 (dispatched 10:54 p.m., recalled 2:05 p.m.)

Mercerville Fire Co., Hamilton Township
Engine 12 (dispatched 8:18 p.m., recalled 1:47 a.m.)

DeCou Hose Co., Hamilton Township
Engine 15-2 (dispatched 8:44 p.m., recalled 3:09 a.m.)

Colonial Fire Co., Hamilton Township
Engine 18-1 (dispatched 8:18 p.m., recalled 1:25 a.m.)

Groveville Fire Co., Hamilton Township
Engine 19-1 (dispatched 10:12 p.m., recalled 1:15 a.m.)

Pennington Road Fire Co., Ewing Township
Engine 32 (dispatched 10:21 p.m., recalled 1:23 a.m.)

West Trenton Fire Co., Ewing Township
Ladder Tower 33 (recalled 3:15 a.m.)

East Windsor Fire Co. #1, East Windsor Township
Squirt 42 (dispatched 9:15 p.m., recalled 3:04 a.m.)

West Windsor Fire Co., West Windsor Township
Engine 43 (8:45 p.m., recalled 2:18 a.m.)

Princeton Junction Fire Co., West Windsor Township
Telesquirt 44 (dispatched 8:45 p.m., recalled 1:30 a.m.)

Union Fire Co., Hopewell Township
Engine 53 (dispatched 8:51 p.m., recalled 2:12 a.m.)

Princeton Hook & Ladder Co., Princeton Borough
Engine 62 (dispatched 10:23 p.m., recalled 1:15 a.m.)

Mercer Engine Co. #3, Princeton Township
Squirt 63 (dispatched 8:52 p.m., recalled 2:11 a.m.)

Falls Fire Co., Falls Township, Bucks County, Pa.
Engine 30 (dispatched 9:29 p.m., recalled 1:36 a.m.)

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Charles Commini Jr. and Michael Ratcliffe

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