According to a report compiled on Tuesday, December 31, 1963, by Chief Linton Reed Jr., the men of Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded to 82 emergency calls during 1963. Sixty-one of the calls were in District 2, 15 of the calls were elsewhere in Lawrence Township, four calls were mutual aid to neighboring townships and two were false alarms. Of the 61 calls in District 2, 17 involved structures, 36 involved fields, seven involved automobiles and one was categorized as miscellaneous. A total of 9,100 feet of booster hose was used, along with 2,000 feet of 1.5-inch hose and 2,200 feet of 2.5-inch hose, according to the chief’s report. The company was in service for a total of 69 hours and 15 minutes.
January 21, 1963
The following letter dated January 21, 1963, was sent by Gordon Buxton of Lawrenceville Fire Co. to the Lawrence Township Committee: “I am happy to announce to you that the Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road, and Slackwood fire companies and the Lawrence Township First Aid Squad have chosen a group alerting system which we feel will fulfill the needs of all involved. The basic system is under the trade name of ‘Plectron,’ which is a radio alerting system. Very briefly describing the system – it includes a 16-tone generator which activates a radio receiver in the volunteer’s home. It is followed by the announcement of the emergency over the existing fire radio setup. To initially set up this system we are planning 20 receivers each to the Slackwood, Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies and the First Aid Squad, with a tone generator to be added to the central communications setup at the police emergency desk. We estimate the cost of the entire system to be roughly between $12,000 and $15,000…”
February 11, 1963
During the meeting held on Monday, February 11, 1963, “President Robert Hazen set up a committee to study the feasibility of procuring a new pumper in 1964.”
February 12, 1963
On the afternoon of Tuesday, February 12, 1963, Lawrence Road firefighters were called to stand by at the Pennington Road firehouse, then they were apparently called into the scene of a blaze on the Trenton State College campus. The Trenton Evening Times published the following details of the fire on the front page of the paper on Wednesday, February 13, 1963: “Police and fire authorities are today investigating the possibility of arson after Trenton State College’s third fire in a month sent firemen rushing to the college yesterday. The latest fire occurred at 3:30 p.m. in the basement of a girls’ dormitory, Norsworthy Hall, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 50 girls from their rooms and five patients from the college infirmary located in the same building. One fireman, Emanuel Seville of West Trenton, suffered first-degree burns. The fire was discovered by a student who lives in the basement of the three-story, brick building. She walked out, saw smoke at the other end of the hall near a storage room, and turned in the alarm. Smoke poured so heavily from the doors and windows of the building that firemen had to don gas masks to find the fire’s source. The blaze was quickly contained. Damage was almost entirely limited to that caused by smoke and water. Four fire companies responded – Pennington Road, West Trenton, Prospect Heights, and Lawrence Road. Neighboring communities’ fire companies were on standby alert in case of any other fires in the township. Deputy Chief Walter Fort of Pennington Road was in charge of the firefighting operation...”
February 13, 1963
When heavy smoke was discovered issuing from Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton Borough at 6:18 a.m. on Wednesday, February 13, 1963, all three Princeton fire companies were alerted. While Princeton firefighters were busy battling the blaze, which gutted the interior of the church, Lawrence Road firefighters responded into Princeton to provide coverage. The following letter, dated Thursday, February 14, 1963, was received from Princeton Borough Administrator Robert Mooney: “On behalf of Chief Samuel G. Davison, the members of the Princeton Fire Department, and the people of Princeton, I wish to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for the assistance that your department so willingly gave on February 13, 1963, while the disastrous Trinity Church fire was in progress here in Princeton. Your men not only covered one of our firehouses, but they also answered an alarm and extinguished a car fire which could have enveloped a garage. This spirit of cooperation has left an impression upon us all and we sincerely hope that when you are in need you will call on us.”
March 25, 1963
During a field fire on Drift Avenue on Monday, March 25, 1963, Lawrence Road Firefighter William Carroll Jr. was injured and 200 feet of booster hose was burned.
April 20, 1963
On the afternoon of Saturday, April 20, 1963, Lawrence Road firefighters were first relocated to cover the Pennington Road firehouse in Ewing, then called in to help battle a number of field fires along the Reading railroad line. The following account was published in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on April 21, 1963: “Sparks from a Reading Railroad diesel switch engine touched off a series of explosive field fires in Ewing and Hopewell townships yesterday. Eight fire companies brought the blazes under control after fighting flames for four hours. The engine, on its way from West Trenton to Pennington, was halted by a state trooper near the North Main Street overpass in Pennington. The engineer and conductor told the trooper carbon blowing from the stack must have started the blazes. The worst of the fires, which broke out in fields tinder dry because of a lack of rain, endangered several homes along Upper Ferry and Reed Roads. Many of the homes were doused by firemen as a precautionary measure. Firemen of the Union Fire Co. of Titusville, Pennington Road, Pennington, West Trenton, Prospect Heights, Lawrence Road, Hopewell, and the Amwell Fire Co. of Ringoes battled the blaze from 11:30 a.m. until after 2:30 p.m. One firefighter, James McLaughlin, 42, of Pennington Road, suffered first degree burns of the face and was treated at Mercer Hospital. Two others of the same fire company, Walter Steckel and Royal Moore, were taken to Mercer Hospital after getting bits of debris blown into their eyes by the strong wind. Firemen no sooner brought one area under control than another area would explode into flames as the high wind spread sparks through the dry grass. Fire apparatus was spread out in a crazy-quilt pattern over and along Route 69 (now Route 31) as firemen fought to contain the scores of fires. The blaze jumped Reed Road and backed firemen up toward Route 69 and Pennington Circle. A field cleared along Route 69 halted the fire in that area. Firemen were able to control the blaze near the circle before it got to the old diner and the Hopewell Township branch of the First National Bank of Trenton. Engine Co. 9 from Trenton moved to the Pennington Road station in support of the Ewing area and also answered several field fire calls along the Reading’s main line from Philadelphia to New York.”
June 14, 1963
On Friday, June 14, 1963, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was sent out to an incident in which a child was critically burned. The following ran in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on June 16, 1963: “Ten-year-old Joseph Leonard Jr. of 258 Eldridge Avenue is in critical condition at Helene Fuld Hospital as the result of third-degree burns on 50 percent of his body. The boy was burned in a freak accident Friday afternoon as his father, Joseph Sr., was lighting a rear burner of the kitchen stove. According to police, the hair on the 31-year-old man’s arm caught fire. When he pulled away from the stove, he brushed against his son’s sweater, which ignited and burned completely. The father tried to beat the flames out with his hands, but the injuries to the youngster were still severe.”
July 4, 1963
Lawrence Road firefighters spent Thursday, the 4th of July, 1963, assisting the Lawrenceville Fire Co. at a structure fire. The following account ran in Trenton Evening Times on Friday, July 5, 1963: “Fire caused extensive damage to the home of Robert A. Gilbert at 2525 Main Street, Lawrenceville, yesterday afternoon. The blaze, which firemen said started in the attic, gutted the second floor and attic and also damaged the roof. Smoke and water damage was caused to the first floor of the two-story wooden-frame dwelling. The cost of the damage was not estimated. The Slackwood, Lawrence Road and Hamilton fire companies fought the three-alarm blaze from 1:30 until 5 p.m., although the fire was considered under control after about half an hour. Traffic had to be detoured on both sides of the street.” (Editor’s Note: Clearly, the paper accidentally omitted mention of Lawrenceville Fire Co.)
July 28, 1963
Late in the afternoon of Sunday, July 28, 1963, a violent thunderstorm swept into the area. An Allentown farmer was killed when he was struck by lightning. Also during the storm, lightning ignited a barn fire in Hopewell Township. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. was called to help battle the blaze. A dramatic photograph of the blazing barn and the following account were published in the Trenton Evening Times on Monday, July 29, 1963: “...The stormy path of electricity on the Jersey side of the river yesterday reached from Hopewell Township, where flames reduced a large barn to ashes on the Russell Reed farm along Carter Road, to the L&I Farm in Allentown, where Hubert Ivins Sr. died as he drove his tractor across his field. Volunteer firemen from Pennington, Hopewell, Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road and Blawenburg had to run hoses for a half-mile from Stony Brook at the start of their five-hour battle with the flames that enveloped the Reed barn. Farm equipment and hay were lost in the blaze that sent heavy smoke over the area and attracted hundreds of viewers. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. stopped en route to the blaze to extinguish flames set off by lightning that hit a shed at the rear of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church on Main Street. About the same time, lightning ripped a foot-wide path down the side of the Methodist Church steeple in Pennington. There was no fire there...”
August 12, 1963
During the meeting held Monday, August 12, 1963, Chief Linton Reed reported “the plectron radios are in. The salesman has them. The chief requested meeting of the New Truck committee. Bill Baker questioned who will be responsible for the radio receivers. The chief said a couple of the radios will be the property of Civil Defense and most of the sets will be owned by the township.”
August 28, 1963
On Wednesday, August 28, 1963, Lawrence Road Fire Co. received an alarm via the new plectrons. The assignment on Altamawr Avenue was recalled, according to minutes of the meeting on Monday, September 9, 1963. It is unclear, but this may have been the first alarm for Lawrence Road transmitted over the new alerting system.
October 14, 1963
During the meeting held on Monday, October 14, 1963, “Donald Cermele brought up the subject of the traffic light out front. President Robert Hazen said the township has been writing letters to the state highway commission to try to get something done. The curb has been painted yellow between Marlboro Road and the ramp.”
Highlights from the minutes of the meeting on Monday, November 11, 1963, include: “Chief Linton Reed told the men some of the reasons that we need a new truck. The major reasons were the age and continued mechanical difficulties of Truck 222. The floor passed a motion to buy a new pumper. The floor passed a motion to buy a 750-gallon pumper from Maxim. The chief had reported that the truck committee had liked the Maxim truck over the one from Ward LaFrance. The comparative prices were Maxim $23,000 and Ward LaFrance $22,350. Among the features of the new truck will be a 500-gallon water tank, preconnected 1.5-inch lines, and an electric booster.”
November 28, 1963
On Thursday, November 28, 1963, Lawrence Road firefighters battled a house fire on Lawrence Road. Two photographs taken at the scene were published on the front page of the Trenton Evening Times on Friday, November 29, 1963, with this caption: “Fire which broke out in a basement closet caused extensive damage to the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Carroll at 32 Lawrence Road in Lawrence Township yesterday. Richie Morris, a volunteer fireman with the Lawrence Road Fire Co., is shown being helped from the house after being overcome by smoke. At right, Morris receives oxygen from members of Lawrence First Aid Squad. The blaze, the cause of which was not immediately determined, spread from the basement to the living room. The Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies responded to the alarm at 2 p.m. and remained on the scene for an hour and a half.”
December 22, 1963
A woman was killed in an early morning fire on Emden Avenue on Sunday, December 22, 1963. The following account was published in the Trenton Evening Times on Monday, December 23, 1963: “Lawrence Township police are awaiting the arrival of a relative from Illinois who may be able to identify a woman who was burned to death in a house fire. The victim is believed to be Miss Alma Bynum of 21 Emden Avenue. She was about 70 years old and lived alone. The body was found on the floor of the living room of the small house that was razed Sunday. Firemen from Lawrence Road, Slackwood, and Lawrenceville put out the flames. The house was discovered ablaze at 2:50 a.m. by Miss Norma Muskewitz of 28 Craigie Avenue.” (Editor’s Note: According to other newspaper accounts collected in the firehouse scrap books, Alma Bynum was the wife of famous black actor Charles S. Gilpin who created the title role in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones.”)
Incident reports for all emergency calls to which Lawrence Road firefighters responded in 1964 have been lost, but according to the minutes of the meeting held on January 10, 1965, the company answered 56 emergency calls in 1964.
January 6, 1964
The worst fire, at least in terms of lives lost, in the history of the Lawrence Township fire service occurred late in the night of Monday, January 6, 1964. Six lives, including those of four young children, were lost in the tragic blaze at 26 Pine Knoll Drive. The following account was published on the front page of the Trenton Evening Times on Tuesday, January 7, 1964:
“Six members of a Lawrence Township family perished during the night as a mystery fire roared through their $30,000 home. Only the mother of the family survived the blaze. The dead are Edward J. McMahon, 43, an engineer at American Cyanamid’s Agricultural Research Center; his children, Kevin, 10, Brian, 9, Eileen, 8, and Kathleen, 6; and his wife’s aunt, Miss Margaret Smyth, 78. Neighbors rescued McMahon’s wife, Cecelia, 43, who dropped from a second-floor window to a garage roof. Suffering smoke inhalation and burns over 50 percent of the body, she is in critical condition at Helene Fuld Hospital. County and township officials are investigating the cause of the blaze that burned out the first floor of the eight-room, two-story home in Pine Knoll Estates off Princeton Pike.
“Lawrence Township firemen summoned at 11:50 last night were met by dense smoke and flames shooting from the front and back doors and windows of the colonial-style home. Deadly fumes and heat suffocated the children as they lay in bed. McMahon’s body was found on the floor of a storage room. Miss Smyth’s body was found on the floor of her bedroom. It appeared she and McMahon had tried to escape but were cut down by the deadly fumes and smoke. Mrs. McMahon was saved by Jonas Cohen, 34, of 23 Pine Knoll Drive, and John Whitley, 41, of 21 Pine Knoll Drive. They used Whitley’s extension ladder to take Mrs. McMahon down from the roof of the garage. Cohen and his wife, Sandra, 30, smelled a trace of smoke and checked their own house first. They then heard Mrs. McMahon’s cries.
“As Cohen ran to the McMahon house, his wife telephoned an alarm that brought the Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville and Slackwood fire companies to the scene. Chief Linton Reed directed the volunteers in putting out the blaze. Burned furniture, a television set, clothing and other household goods were shoveled into a charred, muddy heap behind the house. County Fire Marshal John T. Dempster said he checked the basement for a fire cause but found none. He heard the emergency calls relating to the fire on his monitor radio at his Hamilton Township home and sped to the scene. The fire might have started as early as 9:30 last night, Dempster said. He said he found an electric clock and a man’s pocket watch stopped at that hour. But another clock did not stop until midnight, Dempster added. Dempster said later the fire probably started in or near an upholstered settee in the family room at the rear of the first floor.
“Investigators sought to locate and question a visitor reportedly at the house last night who might have smoked during his stay. Neither McMahon, his wife, nor her aunt were smokers, Dempster said it was learned. ‘Heat did most of the damage upstairs. The children were on the beds. There was no indication they moved at all. The aunt was on the floor and it looks like she tried to make it outside,’ Dempster said. He added McMahon might have guided his wife to the window from which she was dropped, then perished when he turned about to get the aunt and four children. The bodies of the four victims were taken to Helene Fuld Hospital, where Dr. Ralph Wayman pronounced McMahon, the children and aunt dead. Last rites of the Catholic Church were given to the deceased by the Rev. Donald M. Endebrock, assistant pastor of St. Ann’s, the family’s church. The Rev. Hugh McGovern was called from St. Joseph’s Church to administer to Mrs. McMahon. Suffering from shock, Mrs. McMahon was able to murmur to Lt. Nicholas Loveless only that ‘the room was full of steam.’ She was treated and put under sedation. McMahon was a veteran of army combat as a communications platoon sergeant in the South Pacific, having served in the Army from October 1942 to February 1946. The four children attended the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School on Princeton Pike...”
The following update was published by the Trenton Evening Times on Wednesday, January 8, 1964:
“...Dempster said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire marshal said his investigation so far indicates that rumors the McMahon’s had a visitor on the evening of the fire are not true. Dempster said the McMahon family apparently went on a shopping tour in Ewing Township during the evening and returned home about 10 p.m. The fire was discovered at 11:50 p.m. Neighbors report that no one in the McMahon family smoked cigarettes. If the fire was not started by a discarded cigarette, Dempster theorized, it is possible it was started by an electrical failure. Dempster said the failure would not necessarily be caused by faulty wiring in the new home. He said there might have been a faulty extension cord or lamp wiring. The fire marshal said the tragic fire has created a great deal of concern about fire safety, especially in the neighborhood of the Pine Knoll Estates. Dempster said he talked to a group of about 15 residents of the Pine Knoll area yesterday and will set up a special fire prevention meeting in the area soon. ‘I have assured the residents that the fire was not caused by the furnace or hot water system,’ Dempster said. ‘Both were in the basement and were not damaged.’ Dempster cautioned the public to beware of salesmen who attempt to exploit fears in the aftermath of the fire to sell home fire alarm systems...”
April 27, 1964
During the meeting held Monday, April 27, 1964, John Radlinsky resigned as recording secretary “because of circumstances which do not allow me to attend meetings,” and Jesse Furtick was nominated for to fill the vacated position.
August 6, 1964
On Thursday, August 6, 1964, Lawrence Road firefighters responded to a barbecue grill mishap. The Trenton Evening Times published the follow account on Friday, August 7, 1964: “Panic, a gallon jug of gasoline and a charcoal grill combined to set fire to an Eldridge Park home last night but damage was slight. The fire started when William B. Holmes of 47 Altamawr Avenue used a jug of gasoline to start his outdoor grill. The fumes ignited and Holmes tossed the jug away, police said. The jug smashed against the side of the house and set fire to the wall. Firemen from the Lawrence Road Fire Co. doused the flames before the house was too ‘well done.’ ”
September 15, 1964
Responding mutual aid to a structure fire in Ewing Township was how Lawrence Road firefighters spent part of their day on Tuesday, September 15, 1964. The Trenton Evening Times documented the blaze in that night’s editions with this report: “Fire today burned out the dining room and service facilities in the rear of Murphy’s Chuck Wagon, a bar and restaurant at Prospect Street and Olden Avenue. Eight customers and about six employees were in the restaurant when the fire was discovered at 9:15 a.m. The blaze broke out on a grill in the serving area next to the kitchen. As the alarm was telephoned, employees emptied two extinguishers in an effort to check the fire. By the time Ewing and Lawrence firefighters arrived, however, the interior of the restaurant was engulfed in flames, smoke and fumes. The customers and employees all escaped without injury. Hundreds of persons gathered to watch the fire. Smoke rose more than 100 feet above the roof. Fire Chief Jack Elder directed the efforts of volunteers from the Pennington Road, West Trenton, Prospect Heights, Lawrenceville Road and Slackwood fire companies. The fire was brought under control within an hour, but not before the roof over the serving area collapsed. Chief Elder said employees reported that flames spread from a grease flareup on the grill into the ventilator ducts leading to the roof…”
October 1, 1964
An invoice, dated Thursday, October 1, 1964, indicates that Maxim Model S2627C triple combination 750-gallon-per-minute pumper bearing the serial number 2441 was delivered to the Lawrence Road Fire Co. The price is listed as $22,947. The apparatus replaced the company’s 1949 Maxim engine.
October 12, 1964
During the meeting held Monday, October 12, 1964, “Chief Linton Reed reported our new truck is now in service. It passed the Underwriter’s test with flying colors. Under good and welfare, Bill Baker suggested we keep the old truck. Chief Reed pointed out that the truck is in very god shape but let’s not hold on to it until it starts to cost us money such as depreciation, repairs, etc.”
October 17, 1964
On Saturday, October 17, 1964, Lawrence Road Fire Co. celebrated the arrival of its new Maxim pumper and its 50th Anniversary with an open house celebration. Attending the ceremony were charter members Harvey Butterfoss, William Sharp, and Samuel Slover. Honored by the fire company during the ceremony was Charles H. Smith, the first fire chief, who died only a few weeks earlier. The chairman of the ceremony was Donald Cermele. Thomas Hawthorne and Harold Edwards were the coordinators. William Carroll was in charge of the historical collection. Publicity was handled by John Jable, Donald Baker, Leo Lydon, and Robert Ross. The program booklet was written by Mrs. Joseph Toomey, Vincent Terranova, and John Radlinsky. Walter Schoeller was the host.
October 19, 1964
A dog was hailed a hero after a fire erupted on Drift Avenue on the night of Monday, October 19, 1964. The Trenton Evening Times reported the following on Tuesday, October 20, 1964: “The persistent barking of his dog awakened William Strano, 41, of 171 Drift Avenue shortly before midnight last night. Strano followed the dog into the living room, where he discovered an overstuffed sofa ablaze. Lawrence Township Patrolmen Thomas Buxton and James Smith doused the fire with a dry chemical extinguisher as the Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies arrived. Strano was overcome by smoke while fighting the fire and was taken to Helene Fuld Hospital by Lawrence First Aid Squad. He is being held for observation.”
October 25, 1964
Lawrence Road firefighters once again responded mutual aid to assist Ewing firefighters on Sunday, October 25, 1964. The following report was published in the Trenton Evening Times on Monday, October 26, 1964: “At least 40 valuable horses were saved as flames razed three stable barns on the ‘End of the Hunt’ farm of George Jones on Ewingville Road last night. Firemen from Ewing and Lawrence townships and Titusville pumper water on the blaze most of the night. Some firemen remained on scene this morning. Scores of spectators watched the spectacular firefighting show as the two-story barns were consumed by the roaring flames. The blaze destroyed an estimated 10,000 bales of hay and 5,000 bales of straw, and 5,000 bushels of oats and corn. Jones discovered the fire at 8:50 p.m. He and others led the prized jumpers and other horses to safety in nearby paddocks. Jones has operated the 20-acre farm near Ewing Presbyterian Church for about 25 years. The Signal 22 canteen dispensed coffee to the dozens of firemen at the scene…”
Incident reports for all emergency calls to which Lawrence Road firefighters responded in 1965 have been lost, but according to the 1965 List of Active Firemen filed with the state the company responded to 50 alarms and conducted 23 drills during the year.
January 7, 1965
An explosion rocked part of a store on Merline Avenue on Thursday, January 7, 1965. The following news brief appeared in the Trenton Evening Times on Friday, January 8, 1965: “An explosion damaged the front wall of a candy store at 147 Merline Avenue in Lawrence Township at 9:30 last night, but no one was injured. Damage to the store and home of Peter Rossi was slight, according to police. Several weather boards on the wall adjacent to the sidewalk were knocked off but damage inside was reportedly minor. A leaking gas pipe was blamed for the blast, although police were uncertain as to what touched off the explosion. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. and a Public Service repair crew were called to the scene along with police.”
February 21, 1965
Flames damaged part of the Lawrenceville Fire Co. firehouse in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 21, 1965. The following account was published in the Trenton Evening Times on Monday, February 22, 1965: “Lawrenceville firemen celebrated the fire company’s 50th anniversary by fighting a blaze in their own firehouse. The fire, discovered by police at 5:08 a.m., charred walls and ceilings and damaged the interior of the firehouse at Gordon and Phillips avenues. About 2,100 of the 7,000 books in the Lawrenceville Library, located in the main meeting room of the firehouse, were destroyed. Other books suffered extensive water and smoke damage. Newly-elected Chief William Eggert estimated damage to the firehouse at less than $10,000. No major firefighting equipment was damaged. Police discovered the fire when a telephone wire leading from the firehouse to police headquarters short-circuited from the flames, causing the police switchboard to light up. When police Sgt. William Hullfish saw a red light come on the switchboard, he sent a patrol car to investigate, thinking a prowler might have entered the building and knocked the phone off the hook. On arriving at the building, Patrolman Michael Simonelli saw smoke pouring from the roof and called in the alarm. Because of the fire, police were unable to turn on the fire siren in Lawrenceville until nearly 6 a.m. but the township’s home radio fire network brought firemen to the scene. ‘If the fire hadn’t been discovered then, the whole building might have gone,’ said Eggert. Firemen were able to remove the company’s four engines and canteen truck from the burning building and use them in fighting the fire. Additional firemen and equipment from the Lawrence Road, Slackwood, and Nottingham fire companies answered the general alarm and helped bring the fire under control by 6:20 a.m. Five firemen were overcome by smoke, but none was seriously injured. Lawrenceville Fireman Charles Hullfish Jr., 30, was taken to Helene Fuld Hospital but released after treatment. The Lawrence Rescue Squad cared for the other firemen at the scene. The cause of the fire is still undetermined. It apparently started in the ceiling above the library. County Fire Marshal John T. Dempster said it might have been caused by faulty wiring, but he said a more detailed investigation would be performed this week. Firemen and members of the library staff spent most of yesterday cleaning up and lugging wet books to other rooms to dry. The engine room was not damaged by the fire, and the company is still very much in business, Eggert said...”
February 22, 1965
During the meeting held on Monday February 22, 1965, “Chief Linton Reed made a motion we look into getting an alarm system for the firehouse. This motion was seconded and passed. George Welde brought up the subject of lowering the ceiling in the game room. This in turn would lower our heating bill. This business was tabled until a further meeting.”
March 22, 1965
Rider College was the site of an arson fire on the night of Monday, March 22, 1965. The Trenton Evening Times documented the blaze with the following story on Tuesday, March 23, 1965: “More than 225 Rider College students fled a fire in a dormitory room last night which caused damage estimated at $10,000. Firemen said the blaze was discovered at 8:15 p.m. in the third-floor Olson Dormitory room of Anthony F. Cannizzo, an 18-year-old freshman business major from Millburn. Cannizzo was not in the room when the blaze was discovered. Smoke swirled through the corridor and out windows of the big building located off Route 206 in the upper section of the campus. Hundreds of students watched as Lawrence Township firemen, directed by Chief William Eggert, put out the fire. Cannizzo lost books valued at $75 to $100 and all of his clothing in the blaze.” Another story, published in the Evening Times on Wednesday, March 24, 1965, reported that a college sophomore, Richard C. Griffin, 19, of West Hartford, Conn., had been arrested and charged with setting the fire. “Griffin reportedly used a packet of book match heads tampered into an inch-thick and three-inch-long cylinder of paper as the igniter. It was rolled under the locked door of Cannizzo’s room, which has an inch-and-a-quarter clearance. The blazing match heads ignited a plastic bag filled with laundry and charred a hole in the floor tile as it burst into flames. The blaze spread to a closet, charring Cannizzo’s books, clothing and other possessions. ‘It was supposed to be a big joke,’ said Capt. William Seabridge. The captain added that Cannizzo had been the target of hazing and victim of pranks by other students,” according to the newspaper. A second college student was arrested a few days later for allegedly assisting the first student, according to other reports.
March 30, 1965
A general alarm fire broke out in Trenton on the night of Tuesday, March 30, 1965, and Lawrence Road firefighters were sent to help cover the city. The blaze in the block-long four-story warehouse on North Willow Street was reported about 7:40 p.m. and quickly escalated to a general alarm. Several volunteer companies were moved up to the scene to assist city firefighters. The building, which housed the Hy-Grade Pretzel and Food Co., as well as state Department of Labor records, was totally destroyed.
June 19, 1965
On Saturday, June 19, 1965, Lawrence and Trenton firefighters responded to a structure fire located near the border between the two municipalities. The Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser published the following report on June 20, 1965: “A vacant warehouse on New York Avenue at Pearl Street was badly damaged yesterday by a fire apparently set by children. The three-story frame building was entirely encased in flames when firemen from Lawrence Township’s three volunteer companies and Trenton firemen arrived at 12:02 p.m. yesterday. Acting Battalion Chief John R. Ungaro said more than half the building was destroyed in the fire, which took firemen 30 minutes to bring under control. Ungaro said he thought children had started the fire. He said he found small fires burning in each room of a vacant three-room office building located in front of the warehouse at 1401 New York Avenue. Ungaro said a watchman in the neighborhood said children regularly played in the warehouse and had started other small fires. A Slackwood fireman, Martin Przemiemecki, was overcome by smoke and treated at Helene Fuld Hospital. The Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies also assisted Trenton firemen…”
August 9, 1965
During the meeting held on Monday, August 9, 1965, President George Welde reported that Lawrence Road’s 1949 Maxim pumper had been sold for $4,500. The minutes do not mention to whom the apparatus was sold.
August 29, 1965
In the early morning of Sunday, August 29, 1965, a general alarm fire broke out at the Stangl Pottery plant in Trenton. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. was sent to Bruenig Avenue in the city after brands from the pottery blaze ignited a house there. The Trenton Evening Times documented the fire with the following story published on Monday, August 30, 1965:
“The families of 150 Stangl Pottery employees were hoping today that production will some day be resumed at the New York Avenue plant all but wiped out by a spectacular fire. An estimated 200 firemen battled the wind-blown lames that quickly roared out of control through three big two-story loft buildings before dawn yesterday. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Police, however, want to look at a two-ton safe that fell through the floor of a second-floor office where the fire started. Detective Capt. Lawrence Bloking said there is a possibility a safe burglar could have touched off the blaze. The fire burned both production facilities and a warehouse loaded with tens of thousands of finished pieces. A huge inventory of finished earthenware crashed down through burned-out floors while the flames were at their height. Pumpers lined the Trenton Freeway to draft water from the Delaware and Raritan Canal flume and other hooked up to numerous hydrants near the plant.
“Engine Co. 9 under Capt. Anthony Marfino had been dispatched at 3:05 a.m. to check an alarm sounded by an automatic fire detection system. Firemen who climbed a fire escape found the brick walls and windows hot to the touch. A second alarm was immediately sounded. Additional alarms from 3:19 a.m. to 4 a.m. brought Trenton’s 14 companies to the scene. Mutual aid volunteer companies from suburban area rolled to the scene of the fire and also filled empty firehouses. Lawrence Road firemen put out a blaze caused by flying embers that landed on the roof of the home of Benjamin Scott on Bruenig Avenue. Police shunted traffic away from the Trenton Freeway to allow firemen full access to the roadway. Acting ire Chief Chris Reilly directed the firefighters as they poured water into the buildings. Flames shot high into the air as roofs fell in. Reilly said only the direction of the wind kept the flames from destroying the entire Stangl layout. The blaze was Trenton's first seven-alarmer since the North Willow Street fire on March 30 that burned out a big brick building occupied by the Hygrade Pretzel Co. and a storage facility used by the state. Volunteers other than Lawrence Road Fire Co. who responded to the call for help were the Rusling, Slackwood, Hamilton, Prospect Heights, Capitol View (Morrisville), Colonial and Nottingham fire companies. The Signal 22 canteen truck dispensed coffee and refreshment to the firemen...”
September 29, 1965
Murder was found to be the cause of death of a man whose body was found inside his burning home on Wednesday, September 29, 1965. Lawrence Road firefighters helped battle the blaze on Bakers Basin Road that was set to hide the murder of Leon Mazur. The following account was published in that night’s edition of the Trenton Evening Times:
“Landscaper Leon V. Mazur Sr., 55, burned to death today in his home off Route 1on Baker’s Basin Road. Mazur apparently was asleep on a daybed when the blaze broke out. The bed and his body fell to the basement of the Cape Code home when flames ate away the floor beneath him. A widower, he lived alone. Mazur had been held up in his house Sunday night. He lost $300 to a man who bound him with wire and adhesive tape and fled in an accomplice’s car. Lawrence Township police and fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze. Discovered at 6:40 a.m., it left the house a charred ruin. Melvin Rutledge a 34-year-old sales manager for an auto agency who lives near Mazur, tried vainly to get into the back door of the burning house but was driven back by the blaze.
“Volunteers of the Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road, and Slackwood fire companies under Chief William Eggert put out the smoky fire.” A followup story published on Thursday, September 30, 1965, revealed more details: “Leon V. Mazur Sr., whose charred body was found in his burned home yesterday, was murdered before his house was set on fire. The slaying was disclosed today by Lawrence police. Three stab wounds o the chest killed Mazur. Part of a knife blade was recovered from the dead man's chest, said Police Chief William Seabridge. Mazur was thought to have died in an accidental fire yesterday. The body of the widower was recovered in the basement where it had fallen with a burned daybed when the floor gave way.” Two men, Terrence Wright, 25, and Kenneth Lee Roberts, 26, were later identified as suspects in the murder.
October 25, 1965
During the meeting held on Monday, October 25, 1965, “Chief Linton Reed reported that the company now has four walkie-talkies for use by the fire police. They are to be kept on the Ford utility truck.”