Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers responded to four alarms in less than 90 minutes’ time while a line of severe thunderstorms hammered Lawrence Township and other parts of Mercer County with lightning and heavy rain during the evening of Thursday, June 1, 2006.
The storm, which moved westward from Pennsylvania, struck the area about 8 p.m.
At 8:16 p.m., all three Lawrence Township fire companies – Slackwood (Station 21), Lawrence Road (Station 22) and Lawrenceville (Station 23) – were dispatched for a reported smoke condition inside Quaker Bridge Mall at 3320 Brunswick Pike.
Snorkel 21, Engine 21, Engine 22, Rescue 22, Telesquirt 23, and Ladder Tower 23 were among the apparatus that responded.
Engine 22 was commanded by Assistant Chief Shaun Dlabik and driven by Ff. Charles Commini Sr., with a crew that included Ff. Steven Hodgdon, Ff. Jarred Pierson, Ff. Sean Ryan, Ff. Evan Kutzin, and Ff. R.J. Laird.
Rescue 22 was commanded by Ff. Matt Farletta, driven by Ff. Andy Fosina, and crewed by Ff. Adam Rivera, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Theresa Androvett, and Ff. Charles Commini Jr.
Chief Wayne Hannon also responded in Car 22.
Firefighters investigated and soon determined that the smoke odor in the mall was being caused by a storm-related power problem with an escalator. There was no fire found.
By 8:30 p.m. all units were recalled except for Engine 21, Engine 22 and Telesquirt 23.
Power was turned off to the escalator and the scene was turned over to mall maintenance personnel. All fire apparatus cleared the scene by 8:43 p.m.
At 8:45 p.m. Slackwood and Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to Slackwood Elementary School at 2060 Princeton Pike for a reported fire alarm system activation.
Engine 21, Telesquirt 22 and Engine 22 all responded. Hannon also responded in Car 22.
Telesquirt 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd, driven by Fosina, and crewed by Charles Commini Jr., Androvett, Farletta and Joseph Dlabik Jr.
Firefighters investigating the alarm system smelled a faint odor of burning in the school’s modular classrooms. Telesquirt 22’s crew used their thermal imaging camera to check for fire.
No fire was found. Ultimately it was determined the odor was from an air conditioning unit on the exterior of the building, and that the storm had activated the fire alarm system.
Engine 22 was recalled at 9:16 p.m. and returned to quarters.
Telesquirt 22 was preparing to leave the scene when Station 22 was toned out for another assignment – arcing electrical wires on Eggerts Crossing Road – at 9:23 p.m.
Telesquirt 22 immediately responded.
Telesquirt 22’s crew and Hannon (in Car 22) found wires actively arcing. A request was made for PES&G to respond with a rush. The road was also closed to traffic in both directions.
Ewing police were contacted for assistance because the location of the arcing wires, on Eggerts Crossing Road near Euchner Lane, was in Ewing Township.
Hannon and Telesquirt 22 remained on scene until 10:03 p.m. when they were relieved by Ewing police officers, who planned to await the arrival of a PSE&G repair crew.
While Telesquirt 22’s crew was committed on Eggerts Crossing Road, other Lawrence Road firefighters responded to a possible structure fire on Spruce Street.
It was 9:26 p.m. when all three Lawrence Township fire companies were dispatched to 988 Spruce Street. Also dispatched were Squirt 31 from Prospect Heights Fire Co. of Ewing and Ladder 14 from Hamilton Fire Co. of Hamilton Township.
Engine 22, which had been in the process of responding to the arcing wires call on Eggerts Crossing Road, immediately diverted to Spruce Street.
Engine 22 was commanded by Shaun Dlabik, driven by Charles Commini Sr., and crewed by Hodgdon, Pierson, and Laird.
Rescue 22 also responded to Spruce Street with Ff. Chris Dlabik in command, Ff. Ed Budzinski driving, and a crew of Ff. Ryan Dlabik, Rivera, Ryan and Ff. Steven Adzima.
Other responding apparatus included Engine 21, Engine 21-1, Snorkel 21, Ladder 14, Squirt 31, Telesquirt 23 and Ladder Tower 23
Firefighters investigated and quickly determined that there was no fire. Firefighters concluded that an odor of smoke in the area was coming from an outside sign.
All units were recalled by 9:34 p.m. and Engine 22 and Rescue 22 returned to Station 22.