Incident reports for all emergency calls to which Lawrence Road firefighters responded in 1966 have been lost, but according to the 1966 List of Active Firemen filed with the state the company responded to 57 alarms and conducted 25 drills during the year.
January 11, 1966
On Tuesday, January 11, 1966, Lawrence Road firefighters helped battle a blaze in an old farmhouse. The following account was published by the Trenton Evening Times on Wednesday, January 12, 1966: “When an unidentified neighborhood boy opened the rear door at the Garrett Bush farmhouse off Princeton Pike yesterday, flames and smoke leaped out to meet him. The boy ran across the field to the Union Bag Research Center, where a switchboard operator called firemen. The old three-story frame house, vacant at this time, was gutted by the blaze at 3:36 p.m. The building was declared a total loss by Lawrenceville Fire Chief William Eggert. The Bushes and their six children were not home when the fire was discovered but firemen from Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road and Slackwood didn’t know that when they arrived. Several firemen ought their way into the burning building and searched it for occupants before learning the family was away. The only source of heat in the rambling old farmhouse, which was condemned by the Lawrence Township Board of Health last November as a health hazard, is a fireplace in the living room. According to Chief Eggert, the oldest Bush girl, about 17, returned earlier and placed a railroad tie in the fireplace to heat the house for the return of the younger Bush children. She then left the house with her boyfriend. The chief said the mantle over the fireplace was ignited by the heat from the railroad tie and fell onto the floor behind a sofa. The fire then spread across the floor to the walls and up through the entire house to the attic. ‘It was a bad fire,’ Eggert said. ‘It was burning inside the walls and we had a devil of a time getting it out.’ To fight the blaze, firemen had to run hoses along Princeton Pike from water outlets at the Princeton University Press plant. At 5:18 p.m., while firemen were still fighting the fire, two cars collided in front of Princeton University Press. Firemen worked at the scene until nearly 7 p.m. At 9:30 p.m. they were called back when the fire flared up again. This time they had to pull the porch off the house to kill the new fire...”
February 23, 1966
On Wednesday, February 23, 1966, Lawrence Road firefighters assisted the Lawrenceville Fire Co. at a barn fire. The Trenton Evening Times published this report on Thursday, February 24, 1966: “A fire apparently started by children playing with matches destroyed a barn behind the home of Stanley Wilk on Titus Avenue in Lawrenceville yesterday. According to police, Wilk’s 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter were feeding pigs and placing new straw bedding in the barn when the straw caught fire shortly after 5 p.m. The children tried to beat out the flames with their coats before reporting it, police said. Firemen from the Lawrenceville and Lawrence Road fire companies responded to the alarm at 5:20 p.m. and were at the scene until 7:15 p.m. The roof, walls and straw stored in the barn were destroyed but the pigs escaped. Wilk estimated damage at between $500 and $1,000.”
Incident reports for all emergency calls to which Lawrence Road firefighters responded in 1967 have been lost, but according to the 1967 List of Active Firemen filed with the state the company responded to 88 alarms and conducted 23 drills during the year.
February 24, 1967
The following letter, dated Friday, February 24, 1967, was received from Township Clerk Marie Loveless:
“The Lawrence Township Committee at their regular meeting held on February 15, 1967, authorized by resolution the installation of emergency reporting telephone systems at each of the firehouses in Lawrence Township. These installations are to be made outside the buildings in a convenient place for the use of the public. Invoicing for these installations and monthly billings should be made to the township.”
April 17, 1967
The following letter, dated Monday, April 17, 1967, was received from the Budny tire center at 1920 Brunswick Avenue: “Dear Chief – We wish to express our gratitude to you and your company for the efficient handling of the fire at our premises this morning. Your quick response averted a major fire which could have caused us a loss as well as the entire neighborhood. It is very comforting to know there are so many dedicated men in Lawrence Township who will willingly sacrifice for the protection of the community. We commend you, not only for your efficiency, but in the careful handling of property. No mere words can adequately express our pride in your organization and your selflessness. Sincerely yours, Vincent S. Budny.”
June 16, 1967
On Friday, June 16, 1967, a fire erupted on a state-owned farm on Bear Tavern Road in Ewing Township, heavily damaging the farm’s main milking barn and four other buildings. According to a report published in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on June 18, 1967, eight firemen suffered burns or were overcome by heat and smoke. “Police believe the fire began when the sun’s rays, magnified by a window, set fire to a bale of hay,” according to the Times. Company minutes indicate Lawrence Road firefighters were mobilized for the blaze. According to a report filed with the fire company’s insurance company, Lawrence Road firefighter William Carroll Jr. was “overcome by heat and smoke” on Friday, June 16, 1967.
June 18, 1967
On the afternoon of Sunday, June 18, 1967, a fierce thunderstorm swept into the region, accompanied by lightning that started a house fire in Lawrence Township. Lawrence Road firefighters assisted Lawrenceville crews in battling the blaze. The Trenton Evening Times printed the following details about the fire on Monday, June 19, 1967: “A Lawrenceville Fire Co. volunteer suffered a heart attack while fighting a fire that caused heavy damage to the home of Michael Balinski on the Princeton-Lewisville Road. Lightning hit the Balinski home shortly after 7 p.m. The roof was engulfed in flames. Fireman Roy Devlin, 51, of Franklin Road, was taken to Helene Fuld Hospital after he was stricken. Devlin is reported in satisfactory condition at the hospital today...”
September 19, 1967
The following letter, dated Tuesday, September 19, 1967, was sent to Lawrence Township Mayor Herman Hannsler by the New Jersey Department of Transportation: “This is in further reference to your letter of March 6, 1967, in which you request that we investigate the need of traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. Route 206 and Eldridge Avenue. We have completed our investigation and it is our finding that traffic signals are not warranted at this location. Traffic using Eldridge Avenue is very light and field observations did not reveal any degree of difficulty for traffic entering U.S. Route 206. With regard to the firehouse, sight distance for motorists approaching this location on U.S. Route 206 is good, and any emergency vehicle can readily be seen. It is our feeling the rotating red lights on the emergency vehicles are sufficient to cause motorists to yield the right of way. As you are aware, we are planning to install traffic signals on U.S. Route 206 a short distance north of Eldridge Avenue at Eggerts Crossing Road. This signal will create gaps in U.S. Route 206 southbound traffic and be of benefit to motorists on the several side streets in the vicinity.”
October 6, 1967
The following letter, dated Friday, October 6, 1967, was sent to the Mercer County Fire Chief’s Association by Lawrence Road 2nd Assistant Chief Robert Hazen: “At a regular meeting of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. held on September 25, 1967, the membership condemned the order prohibiting Trenton firemen from being active volunteer firemen. It was agreed that the order was foolish, discriminatory, and detrimental to volunteer fire companies. Although the membership was strongly against the order, they voted in favor of volunteer fire companies continuing assistance to the City of Trenton. Having expressed their opinion, they also agreed to support and abide by any decision made by the Mercer County Fire Chief’s Association on this subject. It should be noted that this opinion was not made lightly or in haste. It was pointed out that most of us have relatives or friends living or working in Trenton. What one of us could excuse himself if any of these people, or others, suffered fire damage and loss of their dwelling or place of business because no fire apparatus was on hand to control the fire? What one of us could live peacefully with his conscience if relatives, friends, or others suffered serious injury or death because no firemen were available to rescue them from the horrors of fire? We know, and the Trenton Fire Department knows, that Trenton does not have sufficient equipment or manpower to protect the city in time of a major fire or disaster. Trenton needs volunteer firemen. We believe that the Mercer County Fire Chief’s Association would attain a greater degree of respect and support if they condemn the action taken by Trenton against the volunteer firemen but continued to assist Trenton in time of need. To repeat an old adage, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right.’ ”
November 9, 1967
Lawrence Road firefighters responded mutual aid to West Windsor Township on the morning of Thursday, November 9, 1967, when a general alarm inferno broke out in a combined ice skating rink and bowling alley. The Trenton Evening Times documented the conflagration with this story in that night’s newspaper:
“Thirty women and children bowlers ran to safety today when a roaring fire raced through the sprawling Princeton Bowl and Indoor Ice Skating Rink on Route 1. The bowling alley, ice rink and cocktail lounge were destroyed in the blaze. Fire companies from throughout Mercer County battled the stubborn fire for nearly three hours before bringing it under control. Flames and smoke rising from the burning building could be seen miles away. Nearby small shops and the Prince Theater were not touched by the flames but suffered smoke damage. No injuries were reported. The fire broke out at approximately 11 a.m. and was under control by 1:30 p.m. The manager of the complex said he was in his office when he heard a cracking sound outside about 10:45 a.m. He ran out to the rink and found the room beginning to fill with smoke.
“West Windsor Fire Chief Vernon Roszel said when his company arrived about 11 a.m., the roof of the ice skating rink was engulfed in flames. He said the firemen had to ventilate the building almost immediately because of ‘the tremendous pressure’ of smoke and gases building up inside the complex. Roszel said as soon as firemen hacked holes in the roof and walls to let the smoke out, the fire spread through the bowling alley and cocktail lounge. The skating rink and bowling alley were reportedly engulfed in flames within 15 minutes after the first alarm. By 11:30 a.m. the Prince Cocktail Lounge and 19th Hole was burned out. At its height, the fire was so hot that firemen playing even long streams of water on the flames were forced to wear face masks. Ultimately, there were at least 15 fire companies battling the blaze with up to 40 trucks pressed into service. All of the adjacent shops were saved. Firemen said the blaze apparently started in the skating rink.”
The Trenton Evening Times published this followup story on Friday, November 10, 1967: “Less than a month ago five volunteer firemen died in a bowling alley fire in New Jersey. They had gone to the Cliffside Park fire from their homes in Ridgefield, Bergen County. They died when a cinder block wall collapsed on them. That fire on October 15 was on the minds of many members of the 17 volunteer fire companies fighting yesterday's blaze near Princeton. The Princeton Bowl and Indoor Ice Skating Rink was made of cinder block too. Charred timbers and blackened drainpipes fell across the walls, but most of them stood. Bowling alleys are bad business for firemen, but none of the more than 100 men working on the blaze was hurt... There was so much firefighting equipment on the scene that supplying all the hoses with water became a problem. At least three 1,500-gallon tankers filled with water were pumping their contents into other fire companies' hoses. Other trucks used their pumps to haul water from the Delaware and Raritan Canal, half a mile away.”
December 13, 1967
A natural gas explosion and fire destroyed the home of David C. Morgan on Glenn Avenue on Wednesday, December 13, 1967. All three township fire companies reportedly battled the blaze. The Trenton Evening Times published the following details on Thursday, December 14, 1967: “...Two men with a backhoe were installing a sewer catch valve in the Morgan front yard yesterday when they apparently jarred the gas main loose from the meter inside the house. Morgan evacuated his family. Moments later, a blast tore through the house sending glass and debris shattering into the street. Then came a wall of flames which in a matter of minutes devoured the home.”
Incident reports for all emergency calls to which Lawrence Road firefighters responded in 1968 have been lost, but according to a report given by Chief Linton Reed Jr. at the meeting held Monday, January 13, 1969, the company responded to 103 emergency calls during 1968. During the year, Lawrence Road firefighters were in service for 68 hours and 9 minutes and used 6,600 feet of booster hose, 2,200 feet of 1.5-inch hose and 3,450 feet of 2.5-inch hose, according to the chief’s report.
January 8, 1968
During the meeting held on Monday, January 8, 1968, “Robert Hazen brought up the subject of the members thinking of amending the constitution in order to take on junior firemen. Don Baker said if we ever take in junior firemen, a man should be assigned by the chief to take care of and aid the juniors. This will be discussed at future meetings. Don Baker brought up the subject of expansion. He suggested that we expand the present engine room or build a new one and postpone the purchase of the new truck. The trustees and the Board of Governors will discuss this and bring back their recommendation at a future meeting.”
February 12, 1968
During the meeting held on Monday, February 12, 1968, Wilson Southard’s resignation as vice president and trustee was read and George Welde was elected to fill both positions.
March 11, 1968
During the meeting held on Monday, March 11, 1968, the New Truck committee reported they had settled on two choices – a Bruco and a Maxim. A closed vote was taken during the meeting and the membership decided to purchase the Maxim pumper.
In March 1968 a one-page typed newsletter titled “Smoke Signals” was mailed to all members of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. Among the items of interest in the newsletter are: “In keeping with the policy of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. to provide the residents of Fire District 2 with up-to-date and efficient fire protection, our members recently voted to purchase a new Maxim ‘S’ model pumper. Many thanks to the Truck committee who worked diligently to make this possible… A committee has been appointed to develop a workable program of junior firemen for our company. Several boys in the 16-18 age group have expressed an interest in such a program. A similar program has been instituted with success at the Slackwood Fire Co. and a representative of that company spoke to our members at our last meeting.
April 8, 1968
During the meeting on Monday, April 8, 1968, “Motion made by Bob Hazen we try junior firemen. Motion carried 11 to 3.”
April 22, 1968
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, April 22, 1968, include: “The amendment concerning junior firemen was read for the second time. The floor voted unanimously to put the amendment into the constitution.”
In May 1968, a second edition of Lawrence Road’s newsletter “Smoke Signals” was distributed to the members of the fire company. The two-page newsletter included the following items of historical interest: “Our company has voted to accept boys in the 16-17 age group as junior firemen, and our constitution and by-laws have been amended to include these members. Copies of the revised constitution and by-laws should be available in a few weeks. Slackwood is doing very well with their juniors… During the recent civil disturbances in Trenton, our company was placed on standby alert, and several of our members stayed at the firehouse until the emergency was declared over. Cots and blankets were provided by the Lawrence Township Civil Defense & Disaster Control Commission. Thanks men for a job well done. Let’s hope that’s the end of the disturbances.”
June 10, 1968
During the meeting held on Monday, June 10, 1968, Chief Linton Reed reported progress on the new fire alarm system in the firehouse. He stated that the alarm “will be hooked into the siren and a bell will ring.”
August 30, 1968
On Friday, August 30, 1968, Lawrence Road firefighters helped Lawrenceville Fire Co. at the scene of a structure fire on Titus Avenue. The following account was printed in that night’s Trenton Evening Times: “Fire today destroyed a 2.5-story farmhouse on Titus Avenue. The owner of the house, Stanley Wilk, and his family are vacationing at the Jersey shore. Theodore Wilk, nephew of the owner, reported the fire after hearing the crackling of flames at his home at 96 Titus Avenue, about 75 yards from the house. About 30 firemen, 12 fire engines, including apparatus from Ewing Township and Pennington, battled the spectacular blaze, but were unable to prevent total destruction of the farmhouse. A number of pigs in a pen near the farmhouse were released by the first firemen who responded to the alarm, according to Gordon Buxton, assistant chief of Lawrenceville Fire Co. He said the pigs scurried into the fields when released. Lawrenceville Fire Chief William Eggert said the front porch of the building was already engulfed in flames when firemen arrived. Flames leaped high into the sky, burned the leaves and limbs of nearby trees, and smoke filled the sky over the long rambling wooden farmhouse on the 250-acre farm just off the end of Titus Avenue.”
September 23, 1968
On Monday, September 23, 1968, crews from all three Lawrence Township fire companies responded to a structure fire on Hughes Avenue. A photograph of firefighters battling the blaze was published on the front page of the Trenton Evening Times on Tuesday, September 24, 1968, with this story: “Children playing with matches apparently started the fire late yesterday which severely damaged a Lawrence Township home. The kitchen and breezeway area of the 128 Hughes Avenue home was gutted and the garage was razed in the 5:40 p.m. fire at the home of Russell Andrese Sr., 37. Two of the Andrese children, ages 10 and 7, told police they had been lighting matches in a charcoal grill in the garage of the one-story home. The fire got out o control when they doused gasoline on the grill to make the blaze a little bigger. The pair alerted their parents in the home when the flames ignited the interior of the garage. Volunteers from the Lawrence Road, Slackwood and Lawrenceville fire companies had the blaze under control in less than an hour. No one was injured in the fire.”
October 28, 1968
Princeton University was struck by fire on the afternoon of Sunday, October 27, 1968, and Lawrence Road firefighters were among those that responded on a mutual aid request to help battle the flames. The Trenton Evening Times published the following account on Monday, October 28, 1968: “Forty students were without permanent living quarters today after the worst Princeton University fire in 24 years destroyed much of their campus dormitory yesterday afternoon. Damage to 70-year-old Little Hall is estimated at $50,000. The cause of the blaze has not been determined. Firemen from five communities, soaked by water and covered with ashes from billowing smoke, fought the blaze for more than three hours. At one point, a record player in a nearby dormitory blared the pop song, ‘C’mon Baby Light My Fire.’ Hundreds of enthusiastic student spectators also cheered the blaze, played catch with beer cans and hopped over fire hoses criss-crossed around the Ivy-covered stone dormitory. University officials said the blaze damaged eight rooms so badly that repair will be impossible this year. A student spotted smoke pouring from one of the rooms in Little Hall and pulled the dormitory manual fire alarm at 2:23 p.m. yesterday. The dormitory is not included in the university's automatic fire alarm system. Four students tried to fight the blaze with fire extinguishers but were forced to quit when smoke became too thick. The blaze quickly spread through the second floor of Little Hall and to the building's attic. The flames finally broke through the roof and two 20-foot sections the structure's roof collapsed.”
October 29, 1968
The following letter, dated Tuesday, October 29, 1968, was received from Princeton Borough Mayor Henry S. Patterson II and Fire Commissioner Robert M. Hendry: “Speaking for the other members of the governing body and the citizens of the Borough of Princeton, we wish to thank you for your invaluable assistance in coming to the aid of the Princeton Fire Department on Sunday, October 27, 1968, at the Little Hall, Princeton University, fire. Your willingness to answer the call was most heartening. Your assistance enabled the combined firefighting forces to quickly bring under control what could have been a most disastrous blaze. Again we say many thanks. Be assured the Princeton Fire Department always stands ready to assist you should the occasion arise.”
December 3, 1968
The Upper House dormitory at Lawrenceville School was heavily damaged by a general alarm fire on Tuesday, December 3, 1968. Lawrence Road Chief Linton Reed Jr. was injured while fighting the stubborn blaze, according to documents filed with the fire company’s insurance company. The nature of the injury, however, is unclear. The following account was published in the Trenton Evening Times on Wednesday, December 4, 1968:
“Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire which severely damaged the Upper House at the Lawrenceville School yesterday but they believe it may have started from a student's hotplate. The general alarm fire burned out the third floor and part of the roof of the Upper House, a large dormitory on the school campus. About 30 of the 90 prep school seniors in the three-story dormitory were evacuated after the blaze broke out in a student's room shortly before 4 p.m. About 60 students were not in the building. All 90 spent last night in temporary facilities set up in other buildings on the campus. No student injuries were reported but three firemen were treated for minor injuries at Helene Fuld Hospital and released. Several firemen were also treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
“Fire officials said the blaze apparently started in a third-floor room occupied by Mark Freedman, 17, of Great Neck, N.Y. A charred hotplate was found in the room late last night. Some authorities believed this caused the fire but none would say so flatly. ‘Let’s say the origin is still undetermined,’ said Mercer County Fire Marshal John Dempster. Dempster was scheduled to return early today to conduct a full-scale investigation. Yesterday’s fire was the second in 12 years to heavily damaged the brick and concrete building. In December of 1956, a general alarm fire also burned out much of the third floor area but a school official said it was less serious than yesterday's blaze. (Editor’s note: The date of this prior fire is apparently incorrect, as far as can be told from Lawrence Road records. The only mention found of an earlier fire in the Upper House was in May 1955). The school's gymnasium also burned to the ground in a major fire in December of 1959.
“Lawrenceville Fire Chief William Eggert, under whose command about 150 volunteers worked yesterday to bring the fire under control in about three hours, said the third floor and roof of the 78-year-old structure were substantially destroyed. But he said the second and first floors of the building suffered only water and smoke damage. Lawrenceville Assistant Fire Chief Gordon Buxton, who had charge of the fire until Eggert arrived, said the blaze started in the east side of the building and slowly worked its way to the western end. ‘The third floor was really going when we arrived,’ said Buxton. Lawrence Township police received the first alarm at 3:58 p.m. from Peter J. Kiernan, who is chairman of the school’s math department. Kiernan said last night he was walking on the campus when he saw flames shooting from a third floor window. He ran to a nearby building and phoned police.
“The three Lawrence volunteer fire companies – Slackwood, Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville – were dispatched immediately but companies from Hamilton and Ewing townships and Princeton Borough were called as the fire burned out of control. Pennington Road, Hamilton Square, Prospect Heights, Nottingham, and DeCou Hose were among the companies called in. Members of the Lawrence Township First Aid and Rescue Squad also stood by with two ambulances and a rescue truck and conveyed the injured to the hospital. Freedman told police he awoke from a nap in his room when he smelled smoke and discovered that his curtains were on fire. The youth said he tried to douse the blaze with a fire extinguisher, failed and ran from the building. His clothing was singed in the process...”
December 5, 1968
The following letter, dated Thursday, December 5, 1968, was received from Chief William C. Eggert of the Lawrenceville Fire Co.: “Speaking on behalf of all the members of the Lawrenceville Fire Co., I wish to extend to you our sincere thanks for a job well done when coming to our aid on Tuesday, December 3, 1968 at the fire in the Upper House at the Lawrenceville Prep School. Thanks to your immediate response, and the response of all the other companies involved, we had a firefighting force second to none. This then enabled us to readily bring this spectacular blaze under control. Fortunately, only the third floor suffered the ravages of fire but, in the process, the first and second floors fell victim to smoke and water damage. Again, we extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks for a job well done.” The head master of the Lawrenceville School sent the following letter of thanks on Sunday, December 15, 1968: “I write to express the appreciation of the trustees of the Lawrenceville School and of the whole school community for your prompt response to the major fire at the Upper House on Tuesday, December 3, and for the long and dangerous hours which members of your company spent helping us. Enclosed is a check made out to your company as recognition of the superlative work which save a building which might have otherwise been entirely destroyed.”
Incident reports for 1969 have been lost, but according to a report given during the company meeting held Monday, January 26, 1970, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded to a total of 104 emergency calls during 1969, including 11 runs to Ewing and two to Princeton. Of the 91 alarms answered in Lawrence Township, 32 involved dwellings, 20 brush, 11 schools, 10 autos, six businesses, three garages, and nine miscellaneous. Lawrence Road firefighters used 3,350 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 1,550 feet of 1.5-inch hose.
February 3, 1969
The invoice for Lawrence Road’s 1969 Maxim pumper is dated Monday, February 3, 1969. According to the invoice, the engine was a Model S-2627-C triple-combination pumper costing $28,766. A handwritten note on the invoice suggests Lawrence Road Fire Co. accepted delivery of the engine on Wednesday, February 5, 1969.
April 15, 1969
Lawrence Road firefighters were mobilized when flames broke out and destroyed several buildings at Mercer County Airport on the morning of Tuesday, April 15, 1969. The Trenton Evening Times published these details, with several dramatic, photographs in that night’s newspaper:
“A spectacular $3 million fire leveled Mercer Airport’s west hangar early today as flames fed by exploding gas tanks in an estimated 70 aircraft shot into the predawn sky. More than 200 firemen from Ewing Township and from surrounding communities on both sides of the Delaware River rushed in to fight the blaze as sirens wailed throughout the area. No injuries were reported and the $3 million damage estimate could be conservative. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Leveled by the fire was the huge wooden hangar built as a Navy testing station in 1943, plus the Allegheny Airlines waiting room, office and restaurant. Also destroyed were the fleets of Trenton Aviation Inc. and Ronson Helicopters Inc., in addition to light planes and helicopters used for aerial observation by New Jersey’s 50th Armored Division and numerous private aircraft.
“The fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. The towering flames inside the arched-roof hangar built of wood because of World War II structural steel shortages touched off the sprinkler system but the water didn't hold back the blaze. A gong signaled the water system was operating. Airport Fire Chief John L. Lee said the fire apparently started in an unsprinklered part of the building ‘and it spread so fast to the other areas the sprinklers couldn't handle it.’ Firemen from the airport, Prospect Heights, and Yardley-Makefield fire companies pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into the inferno. Other firemen from Ewing, Lawrence, Hamilton, and Titusville’s Union Fire Co. were kept busy pouring foam over a tank truck loaded with aviation fuel and parked next to the burning hangar. Four other gas-laden trucks were driven from the hangar.
“The roof fell in at 4 a.m., and firemen moved unsuccessfully to save the Allegheny offices. Flames and smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air as firemen fought for almost two hours to bring the blaze under control. Wreckage was still smoldering five hours after the blaze broke out. ‘This was an outstanding job of firefighting,’ said the smoke-smudged Lee. ‘The mutual aid plan in Mercer County really worked. Nothing more than 25 feet away from the hangar burned.’” An update in the Trenton Evening Times on Wednesday, April 16, 1969, reported that a total of 62 aircraft were destroyed by the fire.
June 9, 1969
A woman was killed in a fire that occurred when the woman’s car was struck by a tractor-trailer on Route 1 on Monday, June 9, 1969. Lawrence Road firefighters helped extinguish the blaze. The Trenton Evening Times printed this story on Tuesday, June 10, 1969: “Charges have been lodged by police against the driver of a truck that reportedly rammed the back of a woman's car and killed her on the Brunswick Pike in Lawrence Township. Mrs. Alice E. Cottrell, 62, of Cranbury was pronounced dead on arrival in Helene Fuld Hospital at 1:15 p.m. yesterday. The spectacular accident took place at the traffic light in the southbound lane opposite the state motor vehicle inspection station. Gasoline that evidently leaked from Mrs. Cottrell’s car set ablaze the eight tires on the rear of the tractor-trailer. The flames burned through its metal sides before volunteer firemen put out the blaze. The body of Cottrell was shielded from the flames. Witnesses told police Cottrell had stopped for a red light when her car was hit by the truck and propelled nearly 100 feet down the road. The car slammed into a floodlight pole in front of the gasoline station as the truck ripped past it and tore open the sedan. The tractor-trailer ran down into a gully. The driver suffered a minor leg injury. Patrolman Thomas Buxton charged him with causing Cottrell's death.”
September 22, 1969
During the meeting held on Monday, September 22, 1969, “Vince Terranova read a proposed amendment to our constitution limiting the length of the chief’s and assistant chiefs’ office to six consecutive years.”
October 15, 1969
On Wednesday, October 15, 1969, Lawrence Road firefighters responded into Ewing Township and were called into the scene of a fire on the campus of Trenton State College. The Trenton Evening Times published the following account on Thursday, October 16, 1969:
“Fire officials are seeking a cause today of the fire that last night destroyed The Hub, student union building at Trenton State College. Mercer County Fire marshal John Dempster and college officials today will sift through the debris of the one-story wood and masonry Hillwood Union Building that contained a snack bar, student lounge, game room and student activities offices. The first alarm was turned in at 10:24 p.m. and seven fire companies battled the blaze for an hour before bringing it under control. The fire was declared out at 2 a.m. Dense smoke poured from the doomed building as firemen poured water on the leaping flames from aerial ladders. Broken gas pipes in the snack bar added duel to the fire. The fire also destroyed three garages adjacent to the building.
“Because of the atmospheric conditions, the heavy smoke from the fire rolled out over sections of Ewing Township as far as two miles away. Hundreds of students watched as 150 firemen fought and kept flames from nearby buildings. The crews from Prospect Heights, Pennington Road and West Trenton fire companies of Ewing were joined by companies from Lawrence and Hamilton townships and from Titusville. The Lawrence Township First Aid Squad also stood by. The fire apparently started in the game room at the west end of the building. Fire whipped through the 150-by-50-foot building between the false ceiling and the roof, where firemen couldn’t get at it...”
November 10, 1969
During the meeting held on Monday, November 10, 1969, “Joseph Lydon spoke about the junior firemen and listed a few ideas. He said he would take the responsibility for the kids but would run the organization his way. He expressed the desire to start with about 12 kids. They would have their own officers and by-laws, raise their own money, buy their own gear and uniforms, go to no fires, discipline their own members. Robert Hazen expressed his ideas and said he disagreed with Joe on a few points. He said they should belong to our organization and not have their own. They shouldn’t have to buy their own uniforms and, since they do not have to fight fires, they won’t need fire gear. Both men said the fire company should have the final say as far as discipline goes. Donald Baker also expressed his ideas in favor of not letting the juniors have their own organization. Joe said the company should give him a year to see how things turn out. There was a discussion as to whether the juniors should have their own drills. Donald Cermele was in favor of the juniors having their own officers and organization with overall control by the fire company. A motion was passed whereas Joseph Lydon be empowered to set up the junior firemen organization and to operate same according to our constitution. Joe said a report of progress will be given at every meeting…”
November 13, 1969
On Thursday, November 13, 1969, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. sent manpower and apparatus to cover the Princeton Fire Department. At the time, Princeton firefighters were busy in Montgomery Township battling a major fire that started after a single-engine plane ran out of gas while trying to land at Princeton Airport and crashed into a nearby two-story office building. Millions of dollars worth of damage were caused, but the pilot and all the workers in the building escaped lived. The crash occurred at 2:15 p.m.
November 19, 1969
A 5-year-old girl died in a fire that swept through a building in the Pine Tree Cottages complex on Wednesday, November 19, 1969. The Trenton Evening Times published this report on Thursday, November 20, 1969:
“Wax being melted to make Christmas candles caught fire yesterday, igniting a motel-cottage inferno that killed Tracey Reed, 5, and seriously burned her brother, William, 7. Fred Reed, 36, no relation, was burned rescuing the boy. They were in satisfactory condition today at Helene Fuld Hospital. Reed, maintenance man at Pine Tree Cottages on Route 1 in Lawrence Township, said he was melting paraffin bars for the children’s candles in Cottage 53. He left the wax on the burner untended and the children inside when a neighbor called for help in changing a flat tire, according to Mercer County Fire Marshal John Dempster. ‘The wax overheated and set the place on fire,’ Dempster said. Samuel Hatcher, of Cottage 50, said when he and Reed noticed smoke, the two-story wood-frame cottage was aflame.
“Mrs. Hatcher called in an alarm at 2:28 p.m. The complex of rent-by-the-week cottages fronts on Route 1, across the highway just north of Bakers Basin Inspection Station. Reed was burned when he dragged William from the ground floor to safety. Hatcher, who stood on Reed’s shoulders, could not reach Tracey at the second-story front window. Capt. Alex Abbott, a New Jersey State Prison guard who had seen the flames while driving by on Route 1, and the pair tried a ladder without success. Tracey’s body was found by Edward Domanoski of Kendall Park, another passerby who had donned a borrowed coat to go in for her. He and Lawrenceville Fire Capt. Edward Doan were treated for smoke inhalation. The ceiling had caved in, Domanoski said, throwing her near the doorway, directly below the one front window. ‘She could have jumped,’ Domanoski said. ‘She was close enough to that window.’ Mrs. Janet Reed, 27, was shopping when the fire started. She and her husband, William, are separated. Only yesterday morning, she had gotten out of a cast for a broken leg.
“About 40 firemen battled in 20 mph winds for almost an hour to subdue the blaze. Firefighting started, then stopped shortly after the first four trucks from the Lawrenceville Fire Co. spewed their entire 2,600 gallons in three minutes. ‘We went for broke,’ said Lawrenceville Fire Chief William Eggert. In the next dry moments, other firemen raced along Route 1, laying 4,000 feet of hose to the nearest source – the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Pumping then resumed. Other men were from the Lawrence Road, Slackwood, Princeton Junction and West Windsor fire companies. Trenton-bound traffic piled up for three-hours, single filing past the 12 fire trucks and the hose in the second lane. The fire destroyed the caretaker's unit and charred the nearest section of the heating room next door...”
December 8, 1969
During the meeting held on Monday, December 8, 1969, “Matthew Terranova was voted into membership as the first junior member.”
December 27, 1969
A spectacular fire broke out in the Park Lane furniture store in Ewing Township on the night of Saturday, December 27, 1969, and Lawrence Road firefighters were called in to help battle the inferno. The Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser published this account on December 28, 1969:
“The Park Lane furniture store on Olden Avenue near Prospect Street in Ewing Township was destroyed by fire last night. A nearby warehouse owned by the same firm was badly damaged, but firemen saved the Doolittle-Allen furniture store on one side of the destroyed building and the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on the other side. Some 150 firemen from 10 volunteer fire companies and three city units battled the flames in 20-degree temperatures and 25 mph winds for more than an hour and a half. The fire, reported at 7:35 p.m., apparently started in the showroom of the mammoth store. At 8 p.m., the smoldering blaze suddenly erupted out into roaring flames and broke through the roof. The fire spread along a false ceiling to a two-story section of the building and was soon out of control. The wooden facade on the front of the building collapsed.
“Attempts by firemen to climb the front walls of the building or to enter through the front entrance were beaten back by intense smoke and heat. The flames could be seen for miles away. Sparks from the fire shot 100 feet into the air. The entire area was ice-covered and firemen slipped and fell frequently as they dragged hose along the slippery surface. The firemen had difficulty in getting adequate water pressure at times. While firemen were able to save the Doolittle-Allen building, they could do little for the two-story cinder block warehouse attached to the Park Lane store. The windowless building was filled with furniture packed in cardboard crates and the fire spread quickly through the building's contents.
“The Dunkin’ Donuts shop was damaged by heat but the extent of the damage appeared to be minor. As the fire threat increased, the manager of the shop quickly packed up the day's receipts and fled the building. By 9:40 p.m., the fire was under control. The Park Lane store was reduced to a skeleton. The heat of the fire was so intense that some of the building’s metal framework actually melted. Two firemen, Dan Bartram of Hamilton Fire Co. and Fred Klawitter of Pennington Road Fire Co., were treated for minor injuries at Mercer Hospital and released. Chief Joseph Lenarski of the Prospect Heights Fire Co. was unable to determine immediately what caused the fire but he said it started in the showroom area.”
The following letter, dated Wednesday, December 31, 1969, was received from Joseph S. Lenarski, chief of the Prospect Heights Fire Co.: “Fellow Firemen – At this time I would like to take the opportunity to thank your organization for assistance given to Prospect Heights Fire Co. on Saturday, December 27, 1969, at the Park Lane furniture store fire. Your fast response and professional way everyone worked together only shows that the mutual aid system of Mercer County is the finest in the country. Once again, wonderful cooperation and true dedication under very trying conditions showed what an outstanding job all hands performed at the fire. I wish you and your families a very happy New Year. Thanks for a job well done.”
Incident reports for 1970 have been lost, but a typed sheet included with the company minutes indicated that Lawrence Road firefighters responded to 106 emergency calls during 1970, including five runs to Ewing Township. Of the 101 emergencies answered in Lawrence Township, 26 involved dwellings, 23 brush, 17 schools, 15 businesses, 11 vehicles, and nine miscellaneous. Of the 101, a total of 26 were false alarms. During the year, Lawrence Road crews used 1,550 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 2,200 feet of 1.5-inch hose.
March 10, 1970
On Tuesday, March 10, 1970, Lawrence Road firefighters helped Lawrenceville firefighters extinguish a small structure fire. The Trenton Evening Times published this brief report in that night’s newspaper: “A blaze started by an unpredictable smudge pot destroyed a utility shack and contents at a landscape nursery on Cold Soil Road in Lawrence Township today. Lawnmowers, tillers and other equipment valued at between $3,000 and $4,000 were lost in the shack on the 4.5-acrea Doerler Landscapes property.”
March 23, 1970
On Monday, March 23, 1970, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was sent to assist Slackwood firefighters in battling a fire on Princeton Avenue. According to a report filed with the township by the fire company, Firefighter Leo Lydon was injured at the blaze. The nature of the injury, however, is not recorded on the existing documents. The Trenton Evening Times published this report on Tuesday, March 24, 1970: “The cause of a fire that did heavy damage to the shop of the Trenton Stove and Repair Co. Inc. and two offices above it at 1737 Princeton Avenue last night has not been determined. Losses have been unofficially estimated in thousands of dollars. Chief Rudolph Fuessel and other Slackwood and Lawrence Road volunteers were dispatched at 10 o'clock to fight the blaze in the L-shaped, two-story cinder block building owned by Samuel Strano. Water and smoke also damaged the second floor officers of Martin Moss Realty and Glen Delvay Personnel Services Inc. John Dempster, Mercer County fire marshal, and Chief Fuessel are continuing the investigation.”
May 11, 1970
During the early hours of Monday, May 11, 1970, Lawrence Road firefighters were mobilized after a blaze broke out in a six-room prefab building on the campus of Trenton State College. The fire was reported at 4:20 a.m. and, according to a story published in that night’s edition of the Trenton Evening Times, firefighters from Lawrence Township and Titusville were called in to the scene by Pennington Road Chief Roger Bloom. “The fire burned through the roof of the one-story building amidst a dense cloud of smoke. Although the blaze was under control within a half-hour, firemen were on the scene for several hours,” the newspaper reported.
October 12, 1970
During the meeting held on Monday, October 12, 1970, it was reported that “the old Engine 221 (1951 Maxim) has finally been sold after almost two years. It was sold to the Martinsville Fire Co. near Somerville. The chief said we should trade in our old trucks in the future.”