January 21, 1946
The Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to a house fire on Monday, January 21, 1946. According to the incident report, the blaze in the two-story home on Johnson Avenue was reported about 6:30 p.m. Thirty Lawrence Road firefighters answered the alarm and remained on the scene for two hours.
February 11, 1946
During the meeting held on Monday, February 11, 1946, Chief Anthony Pilla reported on the Johnson Avenue fire, noting the company “saved the building.” Also during the meeting, “the chief reported fire school starting soon. Pat Pilla suggested two meetings be held each month. A discussion followed. The following amendment was presented for its first reading: `Be it hereby resolved that Article I Section I of the bylaws be voided and the following substituted - the regular meetings of this association shall be held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the firehouse beginning at 8:30 p.m.’ Letter was received from Mr. Klockner. He has no pigs but offered us two turkeys in their place. Discussion held and it was suggested that we hold our banquet in March. Mr. Martin of Security Fire Equipment demonstrated a new breathing apparatus.”
March 11, 1946
Highlights from the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, March 11, 1946, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one grave fire this month. He reported a new 15-pound carbon dioxide extinguisher has been purchased. The Sick committee reported Mercer County Fire Marshal Dave Newell died (on March 7). A bouquet was sent to Mrs. Newell. The amendment to the bylaws submitted at the February 11 meeting was unanimously passed. It was discussed that V.F.W. Post 3022 had suggested changing their meeting night so as not to conflict with ours thereby giving our veterans an opportunity to attend both organizations.”
March 21, 1946
On Thursday, March 21, 1946, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to assist Lawrenceville Fire Co. at a structure fire on Titus Avenue. Lawrence Road firefighters participated in a 2.5-inch hose relay and remained on the scene for three-and-a-half hours, according to the incident report.
March 25, 1946
During the next meeting, held on Monday, March 25, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported we had several grass fires. The chief reported we were called by Lawrenceville to a barn fire and saved the house and sheds. More hose has been ordered. The Kitchen committee reported work will start after the pig roast. Joseph Pilla requested everyone pitch in and help get the work done. The Banquet committee reported everything was in readiness for Saturday night.”
May 13, 1946
During the meeting on Monday, May 13, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported two field fires. He purchased some fog nozzles and brooms. Chief has new car emblems for 75 cents. Combustibles were burned at the dumps. It was reported people are complaining that the Honor Roll is not up to date. It was suggested the committee get anyone to put the names on the Honor Roll. Anthony Pilla requested the use of the hall for a course on first aid in conjunction with the township Lion’s Club drive for an ambulance. Motion passed giving permission for the first aid ambulance course to use the firehouse. The secretary was directed to write to the township committee to get an opinion on who has authority to examine and condemn fire hazards.”
June 10, 1946
Details of an oil burner fire on June 9, 1946, at the residence of Linton Reed on Irwin Place was reported by Chief Anthony Pilla during the meeting held on Monday, June 10, 1946. Also during the meeting, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported he attended the state chiefs’ meeting with Thomas Ettinger and Harold Edwards. A letter of resignation from Financial Secretary William Musson Jr. was read. Resignation was accepted. Walter Schoeller and Richard Lauderback were nominated to fill the unexpired term.”
June 24, 1946
During the next meeting held on Monday, June 24, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. He is getting prices on tires for the Sanford. The First Aid course will meet Wednesday night. Walter Schoeller was elected as financial secretary. Albert Schoeller was elected delegate to the state convention and Steve Stanzione was elected alternate. Delegates and alternates to the Mercer County Firemen’s Association were elected.”
June 28, 1946
At about 5 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 1946, members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded mutual aid to Princeton for a structure fire caused by lightning. Two days later, on Sunday, June 30, 1946, at about 5:50 a.m. Lawrence Road firefighters helped battle a fire that destroyed a house on Eggerts Crossing Road in Ewing. Unfortunately, few other details are recorded on the incident reports of the two fires. Although some brief details were given during the next company meeting, no newspaper reports on either fire have so far been located.
July 8, 1946
During the meeting held on Monday, July 8, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported two fires, both out of district: lightning hit a house in Princeton and a fire of undetermined origin burned down a house just over the township line in Eggerts Crossing. The chief also reported that the first aid course would start on Tuesday night with Mr. Crans of Public Service as instructor. The secretary was directed to write a letter to the township committee requesting information as to the status of the younger members enrolled during World War II.”
August 12, 1946
Details of a fire involving a truck carrying a load of asbestos on Lawrence Road on Tuesday, August 6, 1946, were recorded in the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, August 12, 1946: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one truck fire with damage limited to one rear wheel. He also reported receipt of 300 feet of 2.5-inch hose and that the county chief’s meeting would be held at our firehouse on Wednesday, August 14. It was decided that refreshments for the chief’s meeting be purchased from the House account. A question was raised on the initiation fee for the younger members who were admitted during the war. It was pointed out that these members would not be required to pay the initiation fee. Harold Edwards reported on the Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting. The proposed county fire map has been turned over to the chief’s association. The only parade in Mercer County will be the one at the fairgrounds during fair week. Walter Schoeller was appointed to the county’s legislative committee.”
August 26, 1946
During the meeting held on Monday, August 26, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one car fire on Darrah Lane (on August 20, 1946). It was reported that Atlantic Refining is putting on a gas fire show on Duck Island on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.”
September 2, 1946
Livestock and farm equipment were lost in a blaze that destroyed a barn on the Harry B. Holcombe peach farm at Bakers Basin on Monday, September 2, 1946. A photograph of the fire appeared on the front page of the Trenton Evening Times
on Tuesday, September 3, 1946. The caption of the photo reads: “Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies battled for nearly two hours to prevent the flames from spreading to the farmhouse 100 feet away. Holiday traffic on the Brunswick Pike was slowed to a crawl and partially diverted as firemen pumped water from the canal on the opposite side of the highway. Cause of the blaze and extent of the damage have not yet been determined.”
September 9, 1946
Details of the Bakers Basin blaze, as well as a chair fire at 1088 Lawrence Road at 6 a.m. on August 31, 1946, were given by Chief Anthony Pilla during the company meeting held on Monday, September 9, 1946. Other items of interest recorded in the minutes of the meeting include: “A communication was received from the township committee advising that the fire marshal has authority to condemn buildings as fire hazards. We were also advised to keep the members under 18 from active duty as they are not covered by workman’s compensation. A discussion was held on the proposed township membership ordinance in regard to age. The secretary was directed to investigate compensation regulations in regard to age.”
September 23, 1946
During the meeting held on Monday, September 23, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla asked for men to report on Friday to clean the truck for the fair. He reported a drill was held with three other companies, and another dam will be built on Eggerts Crossing. It was reported the township ordinance changed the age limit to 18 to 60. The state labor law prohibits anyone under 18 from serving as a fireman. The chief was instructed to keep his juniors off the trucks. Delegates to the Mercer County Firemen’s Association were instructed to bring this up at the county meeting so other companies may be warned of this law. Discussion was held on returning our meetings to once a month.”
October 14, 1946
Highlights of the minutes of the company meeting held Monday, October 14, 1946, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. He reported on our attendance at the state fair and 4.5-inch hose is on order. A discussion was held on reverting to one meeting each month. No action taken. Chief Anthony Pilla and Harold Edwards pleaded for more cooperation on the part of members, pointing out that there is a lot of work necessary about the building and with the overhead doors. It was recommended that we talk up the firehouse and its meetings. A letter of thanks for our work at his fire was received from Harry Holcombe. The age limit ruling was discussed at the Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting held at Slackwood. Letter from Signal 22 was referred to the chief for consideration and payment of $15. Mr. Trout of Signal 22 invited the members to look at their truck. Permission was granted to the Lion’s Club to hold first aid classes on the first and third Mondays of the month. The secretary was directed to notify members that the nomination of officers will be on our first meeting in November and election of officers will be on our first meeting in December. It was requested that anyone borrowing chairs obtain permission from the Ladies Auxiliary. It was requested that an attempt be made to recover some of the silverware that is missing.”
October 30, 1946
On Wednesday, October 30, 1946, a motor vehicle accident occurred on Brunswick Pike about 12:45 p.m. and members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association were called out, according to the incident report, because of oil on the roadway. There was no fire. The Trenton Evening Times published this brief on the crash in that night’s papers: “Raymond Bucker, 48, a Philadelphia truck driver, was treated at McKinley Hospital this afternoon after his 10-ton truck and trailer turned over on the Brunswick Pike near Bakers Basin. A squad from the state Highway Department was sent to clear the roadway and a state trooper was detailed to direct traffic at the scene. Lawrence Township police are investigating the accident. Bucker was treated for a cut of the forehead and multiple bruises and abrasions and a possible fracture of the wrist.”
November 11, 1946
During the meeting held on Monday, November 11, 1946, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one truck overturned on Brunswick Pike, one grass fire and one woods fire. Steve Stanzione discussed the advisability of our purchasing a utility truck. Matter was referred to Chief Pilla for study. Several suggestions were advanced to try to stimulate interest in attendance. Walter Schoeller proposed the purchase of uniforms for parade purposes. Committee was appointed to investigate. It was concluded that one effective means of securing better attendance was for each member to take it upon himself to seek to have one tardy member attend. Chairman Harold Edwards of the Building committee reported needed maintenance on the building included replacement of glass on windows, as well as painting of trim and, of particular necessity, painting of doors. After discussion, it was concluded that it would be better to defer painting until possibly the spring, since by that time possibly better paint could be secured. It was decided that painting of doors should be done at this time using the services of volunteer members. Nominations of officers were held.”
November 13, 1946
The Merry-Go-Round Bar was heavily damaged by a blaze on Wednesday, November 13, 1946. A photograph of several Lawrence Road firefighters gathered around the Signal 22 canteen truck was published on the front page of that night’s edition of the Trenton Evening Times. The following story ran alongside the photo:
“A $20,000 fire early today wrecked the interior and liquor stock of the Merry-Go-Round Bar at 1861 Princeton Avenue, near Dunn Field. Cause of the blaze was not immediately determined. The owner, John Bodnar, 38, his wife, Olga, and their children, John, 10, and Joan, 12, were routed from their apartment in the rear of the stone-fronted building at 6:30 a.m. The fire was discovered by the driver of a passing ice truck, Edward Falewell of Eggerts Crossing. A telephoned alarm brought apparatus from the Slackwood, Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies, and also Engine Co. 9 from Trenton.
“Firemen laid 1,300 feet of hose from Lanning Avenue and other lines from Betts Avenue. Six streams were played on the roaring fire before it was brought under control in a 20-minute battle. Hurriedly dressed, Bodnar stood by watching the firemen at work. He estimated the damage at $20,000 and said the loss was partially covered by insurance. A gaping hole was left in the flooring adjacent to the circular bar. Several feet of water filled the basement under the front part of the building. The beer-cooling apparatus and bottles of wine and liquor were a total loss.
“The Signal 22 emergency canteen dispensed coffee and doughnuts to the 50 firemen at the scene. The canteen was commanded by Roy Fisher of the city electric bureau. Hundreds of motorists en route to work stopped to witness the fire. Traffic was handled by fire police in charge of Walter A. Schoeller of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. The Slackwood apparatus was in charge of Chief James R. Snook, while the Lawrence Road engines were under the command of Chief Anthony Pilla. Engine Co. 9 was commanded by Capt. Chris Reilly. Bodnar has operated the bar for the past six years.”
November 16, 1946
On Saturday, November 16, 1946, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to a fire in the Cameron house on Lawrence Road. According to the incident report, the blaze started in the chimney of the 1.5-story structure and extended into the walls. The alarm was sounded at 8 a.m. and 1.5-inch hose and booster lines were used to battle the flames. Lawrence Road firefighters remained on the scene for two hours.
November 25, 1946
“We received quite a bit of praise for our work at the Cameron fire,” Chief Anthony Pilla reported during the meeting held on Monday, November 25, 1946. During the meeting the chief also reported on the fire at the Merry-Go-Round bar. “Chief reported one rescue of a child locked in a bathroom. A car was reported on fire but no alarm was sounded. The House committee reported the paint has been obtained for the first coat on the doors. The screens have been painted one coat. Help is needed for job completion. The House committee was asked to take care of the broken windows.”
December 9, 1946
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, December 9, 1946, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported on one field fire for a total of 31 fires and 13 drills for the year so far. A thank you letter and a $20 donation were received from Cameron. It was reported the doors and screens are completely painted. Albert Schoeller demanded that the Building fund be straightened out. Election of officers held. It was moved we cancel our second meeting of the month due to Christmas. Moved we have open house on New Year’s Day.”
January 13, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, January 13, 1947, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported three fires - a trailer at Eggerts Crossing, Walt’s Holiday Inn and the dumps. Chief Anthony Pilla asked for permission to use the firehouse for a home nursing course to be held in the afternoons. Permission was granted. Walter Schoeller brought up about whether veterans should pay their back dues. On suggestion from President James Dorety, matter was left up to the Board of Trustees to decide.”
January 27, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, January 27, 1947, Chief Anthony Pilla reported one two fires, one at the Panelyte plant on January 17, 1947, and another at Eldridge Park School involving a hot cinder igniting waste paper in the basement on January 24, 1947. Also during the meeting, “Chief reported the purchase of new red lights, hose and a new white coat for Walter Schoeller. President James Dorety reported on the Board of Governors meeting. Some members were suspended and letters were sent out to those who are back in dues. Three members were voted Honorary Life Members - Joseph Hollies, Henry Dettman and Howard Klockner. Pat Pilla is to see about a pig for a pig roast. Joseph Crans is to see the telephone company about listing our fire company in the phone book.”
February 6, 1947
The following item appeared in the Trenton Evening Times on Thursday, February 6, 1947: “Chief Tony Pilla of Lawrence Road Fire Co. and Chief James Smith of Slackwood Fire Co. asked Lawrence Township committee to improve the fire alarm system. Pilla said a recent alarm at Eldridge Park School was mistakenly given to Slackwood instead of Lawrence Road and that in the case of a serious fire the extra minutes wasted would have proved serious. The committee requested the firemen to bring the situation to the attention of the school board. The committee said it could look into the situation and would be glad to receive suggestions for a better method of giving the alarms.”
February 10, 1947
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting on Monday, February 10, 1947, include: “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire (on February 5, 1947) at Clarence Smires’ home on the Princeton Road. The fire was in the chimney. Chief Pilla reported that he went before the township committee to straighten out a better means of calling the fire company when an alarm is sent in. He will go before the school board to get their ideas on the matter.”
March 2, 1947
At 3:15 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, March 2, 1947, the members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to assist the Lawrenceville Fire Co. at a structure fire. According to the incident report, the building was completely destroyed and Lawrence Road firefighters were on scene for four hours.
The Trenton Evening Times published the following account on Monday, March 3, 1947:
“An early morning fire yesterday routed a man and his wife from their home on the Lawrenceville-Pennington Road in Lawrence Township. Although volunteers from three suburban companies fought the blaze, William W. Rich, 40, and his wife Bertha were left homeless. The fire was discovered at 3 a.m. by Mrs. Rich when she arose for a glass of water. She aroused her husband. At that time, the flames were sweeping an attached garage. Dressing quickly, Rich ran to a neighboring home. Firemen were called from Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road and Slackwood. Volunteers laid more than 1,000 feet of hoseline and exhausted the water tanks on their trucks. The house was left little more than a shell of charred wreckage. Cause of the fire was not immediately determined...”
March 10, 1947
Details of the fire on Lawrenceville-Pennington Road were given during the meeting held on Monday, March 10, 1947. Also during the meeting, “Our annual pig roast was postponed this year. A moment of silence was held for Sonny Fell. During the Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting at Pennington Road, talks were held on financing dams and standpipes. Herb Jaeger suggested we get our piano tuned. No action was taken.”
March 24, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, March 24, 1947, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported two grass fires. Booster pump repaired. A drill was held at Eldridge Park School. The pupils were unable to hear the whistle. The secretary was directed to write a letter to the school board about installing a better system. Walter Schoeller made the motion that the previous motion made on the pig roast be rescinded and that at our next regular monthly meeting a new motion be in order to uphold our old tradition of holding an annual pig roast.”
March 31, 1947
At 11 p.m. on Monday, March 31, 1947, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to a fire involving a chicken coop at Eggerts Crossing and Bunker Hill roads. According to the incident report, the chicken coop contained 300 4-week-old chicks. Lawrence Road firefighters remained on scene for one hour and the coop was completely destroyed. But the incident report makes no mention of how many chicks were lost.”
May 12, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, May 12, 1947, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire at Vince Terranova’s house on Eldridge Avenue (on May 8, 1947). House was saved with a little damage done. A donation of $5 was received from Vince Terranova for responding to the fire at his house. An invitation was received for a parade to be held in Hamilton Square. Chief Pilla reported that he had eight members sign up for the fire school in Newark. The 33rd Anniversary of our fire company was celebrated by showing movies of New Jersey. James Balaam, Charles H. Smith, and William Sharp were honored as charter members of this association. Minutes of the first meeting ever held in this firehouse were read by President James Dorety. A bottle of Calvert was chanced off and won by Alfred Bossio. Mr. Sharp turned over a check for $1,666.66 from the township for our Engine account. The Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting was held at our firehouse on May 7. Memorial services held. The names of deceased county members were read. Donald Lang sang songs accompanied by Steward O’Donnell. Major Snook gave an interesting talk on foreign police.”
May 26, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, May 26, 1947, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported one fire on Lawn Park Avenue where a refrigerator motor burned out. We pumped out a cellar at Drift and Eldridge avenues. Seven members went to fire school in Newark. Chief Pilla suggested that we stir up some social event to liven up our fire company. William Baker suggested we take a bus trip to a ballgame in Philadelphia. Motion was made the Social committee take care of arrangements. Chief Pilla reported that the flag pole can be painted and a new rope and pulley gotten for $25.”
June 19, 1947
Under the headline “Lawrence Township Seeks Simplified Fire Alarm Setup,” the following article was published in the Trenton Evening Times on Thursday, June 19, 1947: “If you want to report a fire in Lawrence Township, you could save time if you knew the number of the fire company in your zone. There are three fire companies and three numbers at the present time. Many people forget the numbers in an emergency. Fire chiefs and assistants from Slackwood, Lawrence Road, and Lawrenceville fire companies met with the township committee to work out a simpler alarm method. They endorsed a proposal by Robert W. Drach, commercial representative of the New Jersey Bell Phone Company, which would make the same Lawrence and Trenton numbers work for both police and fire alarms. Under the proposal all fire and police calls would go to police headquarters at the municipal building. The police attendant would then press one of three buttons to sound the siren of the company nearest the fire. At the present time such calls are routed through the Trenton electrical bureau. Firemen claimed this has sometimes resulted in confusion since persons unfamiliar with the territory have not always called the nearest company...”
August 22, 1947
At 2 p.m. on Friday, August 22, 1947, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association was called to help battle a fire in a chicken barn on Federal City Road in Ewing Township. According to the incident report, Lawrence Road firefighters used 1,400 feet of 2.5-inch hose and were on the job for four hours. Details of the fire were reported in the next company meeting.
August 24, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, August 24, 1947, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported Ewing Township called for our help in a relay at a barn fire on Federal City Road. There was also a fire on Merline Avenue at Pat Pasquito’s home (on August 21, 1947). Very little damage done. Under new business, it was reported the color will be changed on our membership cards. It was voted we buy 500 cards for $7.50 for the next two years. It was reported H. Lee McConahy Jr. and William Marsh have completed seven years of active duty. The First Aid Squad requests the use of the kitchen on Wednesday night of this week. Request granted.”
November 10, 1947
A bill for $690 for 500 feet of new hose was ordered paid to the James B. Hunt Manufacturing Co. during the meeting held on Monday, November 10, 1947. Also during the meeting, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. Chief Pilla asked permission to use the siren for the First Aid Squad in case of an accident. Permission granted. Joseph Crans reported that he has obtained additional insurance on the firehouse to the amount of $12,000, which will cost $272.20 for five years or $62.40 for one year, to go into effect February 27, 1948. He also said it will cost $10 to have the extra $5,000 worth of insurance from November 1947 to February 1948. This was ordered done. The Ladies Auxiliary donated $200 to the fire company from the supper they held. Lee McConahy reported that ex-Chief James Hindley was sick. William Baker made a motion that we send fruit or money to ex-Chief Hindley.”
November 24, 1947
During the meeting held on Monday, November 24, 1947, “Chief Anthony Pilla reported no fires. Chief Pilla reported the new hose was on the fire trucks and the telephone was installed. Chief Pilla gave a talk on the proper use of the telephone when the fire siren is blown from town hall. Russell Brown made a motion that a sign be printed with instructions on the use of the telephone and be posted above the telephone downstairs. Vice President Walter Schoeller appointed Chief Pilla to have the sign printed and placed on the wall above the telephone. William Marsh made a motion we appoint a committee for New Year’s Day. Ex-Chief James Hindley thanked the members for their donation while he was ill. He said it was put to good use. Albert Schoeller thanked the members for the use of the firehouse for the Lions Club party.”
November 28, 1947
Under the headline “Here’s How to Report a Fire Under New Lawrence System,” the Trenton Evening Times published this report on Friday, November 28, 1947:
“Firemen from each of the three fire companies in Lawrence Township have completed the job of furnishing each township resident with a set of new telephone numbers to be used in emergencies. The new fire alarm system went into effect Nov. 15, 1947. All fire, police and ambulance calls are now directed to the municipal building, where a member of the police force or the night watchman maintain a 24-hour service. Here’s the way to report a fire. Trenton subscribers - Dial 0 and ask for the Lawrence Township Fire Department; Lawrenceville subscribers - Ask for the Lawrence Township Fire Dept.; and Princeton subscribers - Call the Lawrenceville operator and ask for the Lawrence Township Fire Department.
“For police and ambulance calls, Trenton subscribers dial 3-7049; Lawrenceville subscribers phone Lawrenceville 1; and Princeton subscribers ask for Lawrenceville 1. And incidentally, don’t forget to give your name and location on all calls. Direct lines to the sirens at each fire company have been installed in the municipal building, which is also connected to the companies by telephone. Location of fires will also be broadcast to the police cruiser car which will proceed to the scene. In case the fire requires two engines, police will radio back to the municipal building. The operator there will then blow the siren of one or both of the remaining companies. A large map of the township has been installed in police headquarters to enable the attendant to summon the fire company nearest the fire.”
November 29, 1947
At 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, November 29, 1947, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association were alerted to a structure fire on Eggerts Crossing Road. According to the incident report, 900 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 300 feet of 1.5-inch hose was used and Lawrence Road firefighters were on scene for more than two hours. The Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser ran this account of the blaze on November 30, 1947:
“A fire reportedly caused by an overheated stove damaged a two-story dwelling at 1098 Eggerts Crossing Road in Lawrence Township early yesterday afternoon. The interior of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Corbin was swept by the flames, while the adjoining home of Mrs. Fannie Farwell was damaged by water and smoke. The Corbins were at work at the time and their three children, three girls and a boy, were alone in the house. They ran to safety as soon as they discovered the house afire. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. answered an alarm. Chief Anthony Pilla, seeing that the flames were spreading rapidly toward the roof, called the Slackwood and Lawrenceville companies. The three companies put out the flames and managed to save practically all of the furniture from the two homes. Damage was estimated at $1,500. About an hour later, the Lawrenceville and Slackwood companies were called from the scene to a chimney fire at the home of Michael Squirek on Bakers Basin Road at Lawrence Station. The fire was under control when companies arrived.”
December 22, 1947
At 1:15 a.m. on Monday, December 22, 1947, Lawrence Road firefighters were called to assist Lawrenceville and Slackwood firefighters at a structure fire. The Trenton Evening Times published the following dramatic account of the blaze on the front page of that night’s edition:
“Fire, followed by an explosion, badly damaged the $100,000 plant of the Monmouth Cold Storage Co. Inc. on the Brunswick Pike at Bakers Basin early today. There was no immediate estimate of the loss on frozen food items by individual owners nor on damage to the building itself. Total value of food stored in the plant is estimated at $100,000. The refrigeration system of the quick-freeze section was badly damaged and the roof was burned off the main section of the one-story concrete and brick building.
“Volunteers from Lawrenceville, Slackwood, and Lawrence Road responded to an alarm telephoned by Harry B. Holcombe of the Bakers Basin Road. Holcombe and his wife, who live several hundred yards from the plant, were awakened by an explosion shortly after 1 a.m. In a moment, one side of the building was enveloped in flames, they noted in looking out their windows. The Slackwood company was first on the scene with Chief James Smith in charge. The other companies followed within a few minutes. Hoselines were laid more than 1,500 feet to the Delaware and Raritan Canal down the Bakers Basin Road. The firemen worked desperately in the below-freezing temperature to save the building. The roof finally collapsed as fire ate away the supporting timbers and water poured into the front portion of the building.
“More than 5,000 Christmas turkeys stored in the main freezer section of the building were saved, including 3,500 packed for the holiday dinners of employees of a Newark brewery. More than 1,100 persons have privately owned food lockers in the place and there was some damage to their stocks, according to Sanford C. Flint of Interlaken, president of the firm. The balance of the undamaged meats and other products will be transferred from the private lockers into the main freezer storage room, Flint said. Investigation is under way today to determine the cause of the blast. Trenton’s Signal 22 Canteen was dispatched to the scene in charge of Chief Engineer Frank Robbins and the firemen were given hot coffee and sandwiches.”
December 24, 1947
Members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association left their families behind on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24, 1947, to battle two house fires. The first blaze occurred on Eggerts Crossing Road and was reported at 9:15 p.m. According to the incident report, Lawrence Road Firefighter William Marsh “injured his hand on a nail and received medical attention.” Booster lines were used to extinguish the fire and the company was on scene for one hour. The second blaze occurred on Northbrook Avenue and was reported at 10:15 p.m. According to the incident report, Lawrence Road firefighters were on the job for two hours and used 300 feet of 2.5-inch hose, 200 feet of 1.5-inch hose and three ladders.
The Trenton Evening Times ran the following account of the two blazes on Friday, December 26, 1947: “Speedy work by Lawrence Township firemen prevented a serious blaze at the home of Joseph Boscia on Northbrook Avenue on Christmas Eve. When the Lawrence Road Fire Co. arrived on the old Eldridge Farm, they found flames darting through a chimney on the outside of the building. Chief Anthony Pilla and his men went to work at once, but asked aid from the Slackwood volunteers because the blaze looked serious. The fire centered under the weather boards near the chimney, then cut across the building between floors and spread to the third floor. It was necessary to rip off some of the weather boards and to chop away some flooring in the third floor to fight the blaze. However, the blaze was well under control when the Slackwood firefighters arrived. Chief Pilla estimated the damage at $1,000. He attributed the blaze to the defective chimney. That same evening, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was called to battle a blaze in a one-story structure on Eggerts Crossing Road. An exploding oil stove had caused the fire. The loss was estimated at $400.”
December 30, 1947
Anthony Pilla responded to his final alarm as Chief of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 30, 1947, when a car fire was reported on Lawrence Road.
March 12, 1948
The following news brief appeared in the Trenton Evening Times on Friday, March 12, 1948: “Fire fed by kerosene damaged valuable test instruments today in the plant of the Hydrocarbon Research Corporation on New York Avenue in Lawrence Township. A spokesman for the firm estimated damage at several thousand dollars. Volunteers from the Slackwood and Lawrence Road companies, directed by (Slackwood) Chief James R. Smith, were called out at 1:15 a.m. A worker in the building discovered the blaze in a laboratory. The firm is conducting round-the-clock experiments in synthetic fuels. Radio Patrolmen Joseph Olessi and Wesley Gronikowski of the Lawrence police investigated at the scene. Cause of the fire was not immediately determined.”
March 21, 1948
A pair of fires kept Lawrence Township firefighters busy on Sunday, March 21, 1948. The Trenton Evening Times published the following account on Monday, March 22, 1948: “Fires that occurred less than 20 minutes apart badly damaged two properties in Lawrence Township early yesterday. Walt’s Holiday Inn at 28 Lawn Park Avenue is observing a forced holiday after flames destroyed the bar. Prompt action by firemen of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. saved the building, said Police Chief Joseph Stonicker. The place is owned by Walter Harris. A barn and an automobile were destroyed on the property of William G. Sloan. Firemen of the Slackwood, Lawrenceville and Princeton fire companies fought the blaze. Sloan is a former state Highway Department engineer. The Holiday Inn fire started at 3:30 a.m. While the firemen were at that blaze, the alarm was sounded at the Sloan home at 3:50 a.m. Capt. George Wood and Patrolman Hullfish investigatedboth fires.”
December 5, 1948
A photograph of Lawrence Road’s newly-constructed electronic map of District 2 was published in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on December 5, 1948. The photo was accompanied by the following caption:
“Chief Carl Sommers and Russell Brown are testing Lawrence Road Fire Company’s new fire-signal switchboard. More than 100 outlets and 2,800 feet of wiring enable the board to show firemen at a glance the location of a fire and the nearest water source in Lawrence Township’s second fire district. `The fire map is unique in our section of Jersey,’ says Brown. `It even has advantages over the city fire alarm box system,’ he explains.
“The board is expected to be especially useful to volunteers arriving after the fire trucks have left. A quick look will show them the best route to the fire. The company’s maintenance committee, known as Department 13, completed the board. Committee members donated their skills and services and the materials. Chief Sommers and Brown designed the board. Sommers and Thomas Hawthorne erected the board while Brown handled the electrical layout and installation. The 8-by-8 foot map was laid out by Joseph Vitelli. Joseph Csercsevits applied the trim.
“Other members of the maintenance committee are George Welde, Steve Stanzione, Harold Edwards, 1st Assistant Chief William Smith, Robert Edwards, Anthony Pilla, Herb Jaeger, Joseph Toomey, Donald Baker, James Blaine, Charles Wolfe and William Walter Jr. Department 13 was set up a year ago by the firemen to renovate the firehouse. They have made necessary repairs to the kitchen, boiler room, and engine room. Their work includes inlaying new floors and table tops, re-upholstering the furniture and painting the first floor. At the present time, the firemen are conducting their annual campaign for funds in the township.”