January 11, 1978
At 12:16 a.m. on Wednesday, January 11, 1978, Lawrence Road’s Ford utility truck was dispatched on a cascade assignment during a fire at the Renaissance Restaurant on Carter Road in Hopewell Township. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the job for 3 hours. The following account was published in that night’s Trenton Times: “A fire whipped by strong winds destroyed the Renaissance Restaurant in Hopewell Township last night, leaving smoky, charred ruins in place of the popular eating spot. Fire officials said the fire started just after 11 p.m., an hour after the dining room had closed. Patrons at a bar in the Princeton Avenue building reported a loud explosion in the basement just before the fire broke out. Hopewell Fire Department volunteers arrived within minutes, When the first got there, smoke was seeping out of the north end of the building, a block from the border with Hopewell Borough, said Fire Chief Joe Williamson. But just as the volunteers were piling out of their fire trucks and dragging out their hoses, the entire building, constructed of wood shingles and paneling, burst into flames. ‘It was all on fire within minutes,’ Williamson said. ‘We couldn’t stop it.’ Stiff winds stoked the fire, shooting flames 50 feet into the air. But the 60 volunteers from the Hopewell, Montgomery and Pennington fire departments managed to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.”
January 20-21, 1978
From 7 a.m. on Friday, January 20, until 7 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, 1978, Lawrence Road firefighters stood by in their firehouse during a major snow storm. During the standby and afterward firefighters canvassed District 2 to clear snow away from fire hydrants.
January 23, 1978
Ted Clemen Sr. tendered his resignation as president of the fire company during the meeting on Monday, January 23, 1978. During the meeting on Monday, February 27, 1978, Fred Goldsborough was elected president and Francis Przechacki was nominated to fill the now vacant vice president position.
February 6, 1978
From 10 a.m. on Monday, February 6, 1978, until about 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 8, 1978, Lawrence Road firefighters stood by in the firehouse during another major snow storm. During the standby, firefighters responded to six emergency calls, including three assists to the Lawrence First Aid Squad.
During June 1978, Lawrence Road Fire Co. accepted delivery of their new Bruco pumper. The apparatus was named Engine 22-2. The 1964 Maxim pumper (formerly known as Engine 22-2) was renamed Engine 22-3, while the Ford utility truck was renamed as Truck 22-4. The 1969 Maxim pumper remained Engine 22-1.
June 14, 1978
On Wednesday, June 14, 1978, the Lawrence Ledger published a photograph of Lawrence Road firefighters with their new Bruco pumper, accompanied by this caption: “Capt. Tim Kasony (Sr.) aims the hose as members of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. put their new pumper through tests this week. The fire company will be holding a flea market at its building on Lawrenceville Road on July 1 from 9 to 4. For more information and reservations, call 883-5740.” Another photo of the new apparatus was published in the Trentonian on Sunday, July 9, 1978, with this caption: “New Fire Engine – Lawrence Road Fire Co. Capt. Richard Laird with Engine 22-2. Manufactured by Brumbaugh Body Co. Inc. of Altoona, Pa., it has a diesel engine with automatic transmission and a 1500 gpm Hale pump. Fully equipped at a cost of $121,100, it carries 1,000 feet of 4-inch hose, 2,800 feet of 3-inch hose, 200 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 400 feet of 1.75-inch hose, and has a booster tank with 800 gallons of water.”
July 19, 1978
The following story was published in Lawrence Ledger on Wednesday, July 19, 1978: “A smoke detector project carried out in the spring and fall of last year earned the Lawrence Road Fire Co. an international award. The company was one of twelve recipients chosen from Canada and the U.S. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced recently that the local fire company received the second-highest award of $300 in the international quarterly fire prevention competition. James Yates, assistant chief of the Lawrence Road Fire Co., explained that the department entered a report on its project in the Eggerts Crossing Village, which was carried out in cooperation with the housing development’s residents and officials. The NFPA based its judgement on this submission. The fire company found the Village’s officials receptive to the idea of installing smoke detectors in the housing units, and decided to provide instructional information as part of the project, he said. A representative from each unit had to turn out to one of the informative sessions put on by the fire company in order to receive a detector, purchased by the housing project. The idea was to explain to the people how to react when the detector sounded the alert, said Yates. The operation of the detectors was explained and was accompanied by a practical demonstration. A ‘home fire escape plan’ was also developed and presented so that the residents would know where to go in the event of a fire, explained the assistant chief. The fire company drew up a plan for each dwelling unit and distributed it to the tenants. The program, which went over very well, according to Yates, also included an information session with the children living in the Village and provided them with the same instruction.”
September 2, 1978
On Saturday, September 2, 1978, Lawrence Road firefighters James Yates, Richard Laird, John LemMon, John Kovacs, Steve Hewitt, and Joe Colavita responded mutual aid to Plumsted Township, Ocean County, to help pump out flooded cellars following a storm that dumped an estimated 8 inches of rain on the New Egypt section of town. The storm, which began late on Thursday, August 31, and continued into Friday, September 1, 1978, was a product of Hurricane Ella. Dozens of families had to be evacuated from their homes because of the flood.
November 23, 1978
Lawrence Road Firefighter John LemMon suffered burns to his neck and wrist and Firefighter Richard Laird suffered burns to his ears, neck and wrist while battling a blaze in a vacant house at 2344 Princeton Pike on Thursday, November 23, 1978. Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 11:13 p.m. and spent two hours on scene. The two-story house was destroyed.
December 7, 1978
At 12:10 p.m. on Thursday, December 7, 1978, Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 2881 Princeton Pike. An electrical fault started the fire in the kitchen of the two-story dwelling. Lawrence Road firefighters were assisted by the Slackwood and Lawrenceville fire companies. During the blaze, Pennington Road firefighters stood by at the Lawrence Road firehouse. The Trenton Times published the following account on Friday, December 8, 1978: “Fire originating in the kitchen did extensive damage to a Lawrence Township house yesterday while its occupants were at work. The house, located on Princeton Pike near the Ben Franklin School, is the property of Carl E. Larson Jr. A man working in the yard of a Pin Oak Drive home behind the Larson place saw smoke shortly after noon and ran to the home of Joan Semenuk on Princeton Pike. She telephoned the alarm that brought township volunteers. Firemen rescued the Larsons’ dog ‘Penny’ and revived the pet with oxygen. Mrs. Semenuk had told the firemen to search for the dog in the smoke-filled house. Mrs. Larson said the fire charred the kitchen and extended through the siding to cause damage to a bedroom and bath. The fire was believed to have started in an electrical appliance, either an iron or toaster-oven on a counter or a toy train transformer that had been left on the kitchen floor, Fire Marshal John Lee reported.”
January 20, 1979
At 4:01 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, 1979, Lawrence Road was sent to standby at Pennington Road. Engine 22-2 and Truck 22-4 then responded to the scene of the fire at the Versailles apartments. Princeton Engine 3 stood by at Lawrence Road. The following account was printed in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on January 21, 1979:
“A four-alarm fire swept through a crowded building in the Versailles Apartments at 222 Sullivan Way yesterday, gutting five apartments and injuring five firemen and the building superintendent. No tenants were injured and only one of the firemen was hospitalized. But smoke and a power failure forced the occupants of all 32 units in the buildings to spent the night with friends or in the care of the Red Cross. Red Cross spokesman Joe Ancker said about 15 elderly people from 12 of the apartments were taken to the neighboring Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf following the fire, which was reported at 3:55 p.m. and brought under control at 5:45 p.m.
“Admitted to Mercer Medical Center was Walter Fort, 21, of the Pennington Road Fire Co. He was listed in satisfactory condition after being treated for smoke inhalation. That hospital also treated and released building superintendent Edward Perfola, firemen Joe Morris and Jeff Wilson of the West Trenton Fire Co. and fireman Frank Hibbs of the Prospect Heights Fire Co. Meanwhile, Helene Fuld Medical Center treated fireman Dennis Nelinski for smoke inhalation. He was released an hour later.
“More than 75 volunteers from nine fire companies eventually responded to a call that first went to West Trenton Fire Co. Ewing Police Lt. Thomas Balint explained that the extra fire companies were called because officials were concerned for the many elderly residents and feared that the fire might spread to two neighboring buildings. As it turned out, several elderly tenants were trapped because of smoky stairwells and had to be helped down ladders by firemen. Balint said the first two units at the scene were under orders from West Trenton Fire Chief Fred Collender ‘to work on rescue and not to concern themselves with fighting the fire.’ The fire was reported by two tenants who said smoke was filling their building...”
January 24, 1979
At 5:39 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24, 1979, Lawrence Road’s Engines 22-2 and 22-3 and Truck 22-4 responded to the scene of a working fire at the Parkway School in Ewing. The following account was printed in that night’s Trenton Times: “Ewing school officials today were trying to find temporary quarters for the 300 pupils of Parkside Elementary School in the aftermath of a late-afternoon fire yesterday which badly damaged the 56-year-old building. Classes for the children, from kindergarten through grade five, were canceled today and tomorrow. The blaze, which firemen fought in wind and heavy rain for about an hour, apparently was accidental, according to Mercer County Fire Marshal John Lee. Lee said the fire could have started in an electrical outlet or from a carelessly discarded cigarette. He said the fire broke out beside a wooden desk in the janitor's small office adjacent to the basement boiler room. Ewing police were alerted at about 5:30 p.m. by a heat-sensitive device in the school. They dispatched firefighters from Ewing's three fire companies. When firemen arrived at the building they found flames and heavy smoke in the southwest corner of the building at the basement level. The flames traveled up through the walls to the first floor and there was reportedly heavy smoke damage to a few classrooms and the administration offices. Lee said cleaning fluids and paper products may have fed the basement fire, which appears to have started at floor level alongside the janitor's desk. At least 15 pieces of fire apparatus were on the scene....”
March 1-2, 1979
The “second biggest” blaze in the history of Trenton, a general alarm fire at the Koenig & Sons industrial site, occurred on Thursday, March 1, 1979. At 8:50 p.m. Lawrence Road was mobilized to help fight the inferno. Engines 22-2 and 22-3 responded into the city, while Engine 22-1 responded to stand by at the Hamilton Fire Co. firehouse. The last Lawrence Road firefighters did not return to Station 22 until 7:08 a.m. on Friday, March 2, 1979. Princeton Engine 3 stood by for Lawrence Road during the fire. The blaze, which ultimately destroyed 10 buildings, injured 20 firefighters and forced the evacuation of some 2,000 people. The fire continued to burn for more than two days. Because city apparatus were committed at the scene for such an extended period of time, Lawrence Road’s Engine 22-3 stood by for Engine 1 at the Calhoun Street firehouse from 11:50 a.m. until 3:06 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, 1979. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, March 2, 1979:
“The second biggest fire in Trenton's history continued to rage today through an old industrial complex in South Trenton. It began just yards from the site of the city’s worst fire – the 1915 blaze which destroyed the Roebling Buckthorn complex – and by this morning had destroyed several businesses in two massive buildings and forced the evacuation of residents from their homes and the cancellation of classes at six public and parochial schools. By dawn about 1,000 persons had been evacuated from within a four-block area of the fire scene on Labor Street due to heavy smoke and toxic fumes. More than 450 firefighters from as far away as the Philadelphia suburbs and Pennington fought the blaze, which apparently started in the Koenig & Sons building, a plastics recycling warehouse once part of the Roebling complex, at 8:09 p.m. yesterday. It raged out of control until 12:58 a.m.
“Nearly 200 firemen were still fighting the blaze this morning. ‘It just won’t go out,’ said one haggard firefighter. ‘It’s burning underneath all those bricks (from collapsed walls) and it’ll keep burning for another two days.’ The buildings, an 800-foot long, narrow structure and a smaller square building, run along the Bordentown branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Lalor and Cass streets. Trenton Battalion Chief Dennis Keenan said this morning the fire ‘ranks just second to Buckthorn’ in size. State health department officials said they were sure hydrochloric acid fumes were given off by burning plastics stored in the Koenig building. However, tests for fumes of phosgene – an extremely poisonous gas used in World War I as a nerve gas – had proven negative. ‘I would say that this certainly ranks as one of the worst fires we have ever had here in terms of land area,’ said Trenton Fire Chief Daniel George. ‘I’ve got units spread out over more than half a mile.’ ”
April 22, 1979
Lawrence Road Firefighter Tim Marsh suffered a second-degree burn to his wrist during a drill held with Slackwood Fire Co. on Brunswick Pike on the morning of Sunday, April 22, 1979. He was treated at Helene Fuld Medical Center.
April 25, 1979
At 8:44 a.m. on Wednesday, April 25, 1979, Truck 22-4 was dispatched to the Rider College campus for cascade duties after a chemical spill occurred in the science building. The following story was printed in that day’s Trenton Times: “A chemical explosion in a stockroom in Rider College’s Science Building this morning spewed highly flammable, toxic chemicals in the second-floor room. There were no injuries in the 7:40 a.m. explosion but classes were called off in the building this morning because of what one chemistry professor described as the ‘chemical mess’ of liquid compounds mixed together on the stockroom floor. The fumes that were given off are toxic, according to police. The explosion in the empty storeroom was caused by a bottle of a chemical called methyl acrylate that had heated up, police said. The overheating was caused by small amounts of the methyl acrylate leaking out of the spout of the bottle, hardening when meeting the air, and then causing the entire bottle to heat up. The small explosion caused a large shelf of chemicals to buckle and up to 30 other glass bottles of chemicals crashed on the floor. The mixture caused an overpowering odor on the second floor....”
May 23, 1979
At 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 1979, Lawrence Road’s Engine 22-2 was dispatched to stand by at Station 32 and Truck 22-4 was sent for cascade duties to the scene of a fire at the Ewing Television repair shop. The following details were published in the Trenton Times on Thursday, May 24, 1979: “…Fire officials said the blaze apparently started in the Ewing Television repair shop at 1743 North Olden Avenue at 6:28 p.m., ravaging the building, before spreading through an empty store an inflicting heavy damage to Postal Instant Press, a small printing concern located in an adjoining storefront. Firefighters showered the building containing the three stores with water for almost an hour before it was declared under control at 7:14 p.m. Chief Joseph Lenarski of the Prospect Heights Fire Co. said electrical failure was the apparent cause of the fire. He said although an investigation will be made into the cause of the fire, it appears something short-circuited above a work bench. Also fighting the blaze were members of the Pennington Road, West Trenton, Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies.”
May 31, 1979
Lawrence Road Firefighter Charlie Commini, while out on a test drive with Engine 22-2, discovered a motor vehicle accident on Princeton Pike about 10:40 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 1979. Lawrence Road firefighters remained on scene until 12:30 a.m. and assisted in the removal of the victim. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, June 1, 1979:
“An executive for the International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) Corp. was killed on his way home last night when his car veered out of control on Princeton Pike and plunged into a tributary of the Shabakunk Creek in Lawrence. Stephen Ream, 45, of Pine Knoll Drive was declared dead on arrival at Helene Fuld Medical Center shortly after he was pulled from the wreckage of his 1972 Volvo at 10:45 p.m. An autopsy to be performed today at the medical center will determine whether the man drowned or was killed from injuries sustained in the crash, said Patrolman Ron Krzos. Police said Ream was headed home after working late. The accident occurred during the 10-minute drive from the Princeton Junction railroad station to his home. He was headed south on Princeton Pike when the car tore through a steel guard rail, collided with a small bridge over the creek and rolled sideways into the gully, police said.
“The car was found lying bottom up in a three-foot deep gully leading to the creek near Franklin Corner Road at 10:38 p.m. by members of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. who were riding past during a training exercise. Fireman Charles Commini, who spotted the car while driving a pumper back to fire headquarters, said the rear axle of the car was still warm when he arrived at the scene. Ream had apparently plunged into the gully only a short while earlier, he said. ‘We couldn’t even see if anyone was in there first,’ Commini said. The fireman and his partner, 21-year-old Michael Barry, spotted the body when they climbed into the gully and peered into one of the windows. Barry said water covered all but the bottom six inches of the window. Ream, he added, was sitting behind the steering wheel of the overturned vehicle. Initial attempts to rescue the man failed, Barry and Commini said, because the vehicle was tightly wedged between the banks of the gully. ‘We couldn't get the doors or the windows open. It was such a perfect fit down there,’ Commini said. The accident forced police to block a stretch of Princeton Pike. As rescue workers removed the body and pulled the car from the gully, police attempted to hold back a crowd of curious onlookers.”
June 5, 1979
Lightning ignited a garage fire at 115 Villanova Drive on Tuesday, June 5, 1979. Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 6:12 p.m. and sent Engine 22-2 to the scene at assist in fire suppression and Engine 223 to stand by at Slackwood’s firehouse. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Wednesday, June 6, 1979: “Lightning yesterday stabbed down from the blackened sky during a rainstorm and set ablaze the home of Madeline Dorsey, 55, of Villanova Drive in Lawrence. Mrs. Dorsey ran from her bedroom in her housecoat and fled the house as smoke and fire from the direct hit billowed from her garage and breezeway. Volunteers from the Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies answered the alarm telephoned by a neighbor, Irene Gaskill. Her husband, Phillip R. Gaskill, 38, said, ‘I could feel it when it hit. I was on a screened porch. I got a flash of lightning. By the time I jumped up, smoke was billowing from the house. I told my wife to call the firemen. It scared the hell out of all of us.’ Mrs. Dorsey’s car was charred along with her mower and other equipment stored in the attached garage. The windshield and window glass and plastic light covers on the car were melted by the intense heat...”
June 16, 1979
From 5:35 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, 1979, Lawrence Road covered Pennington Road during an arson fire at the Stanley Rubber Co. During the standby, another arson fire broke out at the C&R Waste Materials property and Lawrence Road firefighters were called into the scene of that fire at 7 p.m. They remained at the fire scene for 15.5 hours. According to the incident report, “Engine 22-2 laid 900 feet of 4-inch line on Beakes Street to the front of the fire building. Engine 22-3 pumped in relay to Engine 14 from West Paul Avenue to the rear of the fire building. The following companies stood by at Lawrence Road Mercer Engine 3, Hopewell, East Windsor, and Princeton Junction.”
The following account was printed in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on June 17, 1979: “Fires erupted at two factory-warehouses off Beakes and Calhoun streets within minutes of each other early last evening, causing fire officials to suspect arson in both cases. The C&R Waste Materials Co. on Beakes Street was a ‘total loss,’ according to fire officials fighting the five-alarm blaze. The company collects, bales, and stores scrap paper. Firemen had responded to an alarm there at 6:29, slightly less than an hour after they controlled a blaze at an abutting empty warehouse owned by Stanley Steel Products, which was brought under control in 28 minutes. One fireman was injured while battling the huge, smoky blaze at C&R. Thomas Ginetti, 27, of Norway Avenue in Hamilton, was being treated at Helene Fuld Medical Center for possible broken ribs suffered when he fell in a ditch on the premises.
“Heavy fire was already spewing out of the center of the C&R building when Chief Joe Lenarski of the Prospect Heights Fire Co. got to the scene, he said. Eleven fire companies converged on the warehouse. Lenarski's company was still mopping up the Stanley blaze with tow other companies when the second alarm sounded. Fire lines snaked to the rear of the properties, which face Calhoun Street. Workers wielded heavy equipment to knock baled scrap newspaper and rags out of the reach of the flames. Several minor brush fires spawned by flaming newspapers were quickly brought under control. Lenarski declared the major blaze under control at 8:10 p.m.”
July 16, 1979
A severe rainstorm struck Mercer County on Monday, July 16, 1979, and caused widespread flooding in Ewing Township. From 8:47 p.m. until 11:11 p.m. Engine 22-2 stood by at Station 32 while Ewing firefighters were busy evacuating residents from flooded areas. At 9:10 p.m., Truck 22-4 was dispatched to Teresa Street in Ewing for a lighting assignment. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Tuesday, July 17, 1979: “A violent thunderstorm accompanied by high winds ripped through the area last night, tearing down power lines, flooding out area streets and stalling cars. Nearly three inches of rain fell in the Trenton area in less than two hours at the height of the storm. Ewing police said dozens of cars were stalled throughout the township. Several motorists were caught in water six feet deep on Lower Ferry Road and Parkway Avenue after a creek overflowed and washed out a bridge near... Rescue workers evacuated about 50 residents of the Brookfield Apartments on Western Avenue in Ewing last night as water started seeping into first-floor apartments. Water from a small creek behind the complex rose to five feet at 9 p.m. when volunteers from nearby rescue squads began evacuating residents in boats...”
January 9, 1980
At 8:21 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9, 1980, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched mutual aid to Princeton Borough to help battle a blaze on Nassau Street. Engine 22-2 responded to the fireground and used 700 feet of 4-inch hose to supply Slackwood’s snorkel, while Engine 22-3 stood by at the headquarters of Mercer Engine 3. During the incident, Pennington Road Engine 32-4 stood by at Lawrence Road’s firehouse. Lawrence Road firefighters did not return from Princeton until 1:21 a.m. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Thursday, January 10, 1980:
“A spectacular general alarm fire destroyed one business and caused smoke and water damage to four others on Princeton's Nassau Street last night. The blaze, which started shortly before 8 p.m., sent some 80 diners in the popular Hudibras Restaurant scurrying from their tables to safety. More than 140 firefighters from nine suburban fire companies and Trenton fought the blaze. The fire started in the Value Fair convenience store at 136 Nassau Street, Princeton Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Hulit Jr. said. An alarm was turned in by Richard Borowsky, owner of Hudibras, at 7:49 p.m. ‘I had everybody out of there in about 90 seconds,’ he said.
“Mercer County Fire Marshal John Lee and two arson investigators from Princeton Borough were at the scene today to try to determine the cause. The blaze came just a week before borough officials were to have reinspected the Value Fair store to determine whether fire violations the store had been warned about months ago had been cleared up. Firefighters at first thought the blaze was in the neighboring restaurant and only after they had determined that there was little more than smoke in Hudibras did they attempt to enter the front door of Value Fair. ‘The fire was stubborn,’ said Princeton Fire Chief William Shields, ‘because it was concentrated in pockets throughout the store.’
“Smoke and water damage was reported in Allen's Children’s Center, a clothing store two doors away, Hulit’s shoe store, and the Nassau Hobby and Craft Shop. The fire was controlled around 11 p.m. Around midnight, Value Fair’s roof collapsed but no one was hurt. Two injuries were reported. Princeton rescue squad worker Michael Carnevale, 22, son of the borough's police chief, suffered a dislocated shoulder. Princeton Firefighter Michael Perna was treated for a cut over his right eye.
“The restaurant, opened 3.5 years ago, suffered $100,000 in smoke and water damages. More than 1,000 persons crowded the snow-covered knoll in front of Princeton's Firestone Library. They watched firemen fight to knock down the wall of flames which rose from the top of the two-story brick building housing the restaurant and Value Fair store. Snorkel units from Princeton Junctions, Lawrence Township and Princeton towered over the burning buildings and showered them with icy water. On the street below, firefighters slipped and slid on the ice which formed in the 26-degree temperatures....”
January 14, 1980
At 9:15 a.m. on Monday, January 14, 1980, Engine 22-2 was dispatched to stand by at the firehouse of the Hamilton Fire Co. while Hamilton Township firefighters were busy battling a blaze involving six apartments in the Warner Village apartment complex. Engine 22-2 covered for four hours and 25 minutes.
January 16, 1980
A general alarm fire destroyed a large building on the campus of Pennington Prep School on Wednesday, January 16, 1980. At 9:25 p.m., Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to the fire. According to the incident report, “Engines 22-2 and 22-3 called to the scene. Engine 22-2 supplied Lawrenceville’s aerial through Pennington Road’s 4-inch line. Hamilton’s ladder and a Colonial pumper were relocated to Station 22 for cover up.” During the blaze, Lawrence Road Firefighter Richard Laird received a slight burn to his chin. Engine 22-3 was on scene for 5 hours and 222 remained on location for 8.5 hours. While returning from the blaze, Engine 22-3 discovered a motor vehicle accident on Lawrenceville-Pennington Road at 1:55 a.m. on Thursday, January 17, 1980.
The following story about the blaze was printed in the March 1980 issue of The National Firefighters Journal: “Wednesday, January 16, 1980 – Firefighters from more than 20 fire companies battled a general alarm fire that destroyed historic O’Hanlon Hall at the Pennington Prep School. The fire broke out before 9 p.m. and roared through the 140-year-old building for three hours before being declared under control. Volunteer fire companies at the scene were Pennington, Hopewell, Union of Titusville, West Trenton, Pennington Road, Prospect Heights, Slackwood, Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road, East Amwell, Lambertville, Princeton’s Mercer Engine 3, DeCou Hose, Montgomery No. 2 (Blawenburg), and Yardley-Makefield from Bucks County, Pa. The four-story brick building contained 85 percent of the classrooms, the chapel, several apartments, and the administrative officers of the school. Damage was established at over $1 million and was investigated by Mercer County Fire Marshal John Lee and the New Jersey State Police. (It was reported the fire started in the cellar of the structure). Mercer County Airport firefighters were on stand-by for Pennington Road and then dispatched to Pennington’s fire station. The City of Trenton’s Engine 9 and Ladder 4 were relocated to Pennington Road. Union of Morrisville and DeCou Hose Co. were moved into Prospect Heights, while Colonial provided a pumper and Hamilton moved a ladder to Lawrence Road. Blawenburg had a pumper at Hopewell and Montgomery No. 1 moved into their station. Princeton Hook & Ladder covered for Lawrenceville. Signal 22 provided refreshments for the firefighters at the scene. Pennington Fire Chief Michael Pinelli reported that over 940 manhours were spent at the fire scene and 1,175,000 gallons of water was pumped on the structure. The last fire apparatus left the site 20 hours after the alarm was sounded.”
January 19, 1980
On Saturday, January 19, 1980, Lawrence Road Fire Co. held its first “Old Timers’ Dinner Dance” party. As part of the celebration the following resolution was presented by Clifford W. Snedeker, a past Lawrence Road member and then assemblyman of New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District: “Whereas, Lawrence Road Volunteer Fire Co. of Lawrence Township, Mercer County, was organized in 1914 to protect the lives and preserve the property of the citizens of Lawrence and the surrounding communities; and whereas, on January 19, 1980, the Lawrence Road Volunteer Fire Co. will recognize the dedication of some of the longest-serving officers and members of this outstanding firefighting unit and its distinguished Ladies Auxiliary; and whereas, included among the honorees on January 19 will be the following past fire chiefs: Carl Sommer, Donald Baker, Linton Reed Jr., Robert Hazen and Ted Clemen Jr.; the following past presidents: J. Russell Smith, Leo Balaam, Lester R. Smith, H. Lee McConahy Jr., James C. Dorety, Walter Schoeller, Joseph M. Toomey, Clifford Stout, Harold Holden, John Jable, Joseph Karatka, Vincent Terranova, Robert Hazen, George Welde, Donald A. Cermele, Joseph M. Cermele, and Ted Clemen Sr.; and whereas, the following members with 40 years or more service to be honored are: George Welde, William Walter Jr., Steve Stanzione, Arthur Putnam, Edward McGrath, LeRoy Cranstoun, H. Lee McConahy Sr., Mark A. Cermele, William Musson, Joseph Olessi, Donald Baker, Octavio DiMarco, Andrew A. Cermele, J. Russell Smith, Walter Schoeller, Anthony J. Pasquito, Leo Balaam, and William Baker; and whereas, the following served as presidents of the Ladies Auxiliary: Margaret Daisley, Harriet Baker, Virginia Welde and Joyce Reed; and whereas, the following members of the Ladies Auxiliary with 40 years or more service are: Margaret Daisley, Myrtle Baker, Jula Ragolia, Edith Smith, and Ruth Crane; now therefore, be it resolved, that we, the representatives of the 8th Legislative District, do hereby commend and congratulate the above for their outstanding service to the citizens of Lawrence Township.”
February 26, 1980
At about 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26, 1980, a car crashed into the front of the Lawrence Road firehouse, putting a crack in the concrete between the first two bays. A photograph of the smashed car was published in the Trentonian on Wednesday, February 27, 1980, with this caption: “Stopping in for Bingo? Actually, this car driven by 80-year-old George Wyrough of Lakehurst had no choice when it slammed into the front corner of the Lawrence Road firehouse yesterday afternoon. Police said a tractor-trailer hit Wyrough’s car and pushed it into the building. Wyrough was treated at St. Francis Medical Center for cuts to his face.”
April 5, 1980
At 5:43 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, 1980, Lawrence Road’s Engine 22-2 was dispatched to cover Station 14 during a general alarm fire at the Koenig & Sons plastics factory on Hewitt Avenue in Hamilton Township. During the standby, Lawrence Road firefighters responded to a field fire on Whitehead Road at 7:10 p.m.
April 5, 1980
At 11:07 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, 1980, Lawrence Road’s Engine 22-3 was dispatched to a fire at Trenton State College. Because Lawrence Road still had an engine in Hamilton at the time, Princeton Engine 3 was dispatched to cover Station 22. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Sunday, April 6, 1980: “Four fire companies responded last night to a fire which destroyed part of a kitchen in a Trenton State College dormitory. A spokesman for the college security department said the fire broke out at about 11 p.m. in the kitchen area of the Decker Hall cafeteria. One college police officer was injured and taken to a hospital. The college is on spring break and no students were in the dormitory at the time of the fire...”
May 30, 1980
Four Lawrence Road firefighters were injured in a gasoline explosion while they fought a vehicle fire at 175 Johnson Avenue on Friday, May 30, 1980. The blaze was reported at 10:15 p.m. 2nd Assistant Chief Tim Kasony Sr. and Firefighter Joe Colavita were treated at Helene Fuld Medical Center and Firefighters Sam Pangaldi and Matt Terranova were treated at the scene.
July 23, 1980
At 3:55 a.m. on Wednesday, July 23, 1980, Engine 22-2 was dispatched to the Saturn Chemical plant on New York Avenue to assist Slackwood Fire Co. with a chemical leak and Engine 22-3 was relocated to Slackwood’s firehouse. During the incident, which lasted more than four hours, and engine Pennington Road and Prospect Height’s ladder stood by at Station 22. The following story was published in that night’s Trenton Times: “Chemical fumes leaking from a storage tank that was apparently struck by lightning last night forced the closing of a section of Route 1 early today, and officials warned residents near an industrial plant to remain indoors to avoid any danger. Authorities said lightning apparently struck at 10,000 gallon tank of styrene at the Saturn Chemical Co. at 1600 new York Avenue. The leaking fumes, which were first noticed shortly after 11 p.m., were declared under control by 7:30 a.m. The lightning apparently made the chemical boil and release vapors into the air. Fire companies from Lawrence and Ewing were called out to hose down the tanks to keep them cool…”
August 6, 1980
On Wednesday, August 6, 1980, Station 22 personnel were dispatched at 7 p.m. to assist Slackwood Fire Co. at another hazardous materials incident on New York Avenue. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Thursday, August 7, 1980: “Flammable hydrogen gas leaking from a storage tank at Hydrocarbon Research Inc. in Lawrence prompted police to close a section of the Route 1 Freeway last night. Firefighters from six area fire companies quickly put out the flames spouting from a small tube on top of one of six tanks sitting on a trailer behind the building on New York Avenue. Police said the leaking gas was highly flammable and had the potential to spark a major fire. Slackwood Fire Co. Chief Rudy Fuessel said the leak started after 6 p.m. when a relief valve exploded off the tank. The malfunction could have been caused by the heat. Fuessel said the fire did not pose a threat to employees or to the building. Firefighters from Slackwood, Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville, Ewing and Hamilton fire companies responded…”
August 8, 1980
The Crossing Inn was destroyed by flames on the morning of Friday, August 8, 1980. The fire in the vacant restaurant and bar on Cheverly Road was reported at 3:09 a.m. According to the incident report, Lawrence Road Fire Company responded with all three of its engines and used 1,500 feet of 4-inch hose, 300 feet of 3-inch hose, 150 feet of 2.5-inch hose, and 450 feet of 1.5-inch hose. Helping fight the fire were crews and apparatus from Slackwood, Lawrenceville, Pennington Road, Prospect Heights and West Trenton. Four hydrants were tapped to supply water. Lawrence Road firefighters did not leave the scene until 9:30 a.m. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, August 8, 1980: “A spectacular fire early this morning destroyed a vacant Lawrence tavern, which once bounced with lively nightclub acts when it was known as the Crossing Inn. Six fire companies took nearly 2.5 hours to put out the blaze which engulfed the building on Cheverly Road when the first units arrived shortly after 3:09 a.m. ‘The building’s a total loss,’ said Lawrence Road Fire Chief Patrick Quill, after returning from the site off Eggerts Crossing Road. Although the cause is still under investigation, the Mercer County Fire Marshal and Quill believe an electric appliance in the kitchen started the fire. The electricity was on when the fire started but no one was in the building. A neighbor reported the fire after hearing an explosion, which Quill said was probably caused by pressure from smoke and fire. Quill said two Lawrence Road firefighters were slightly injured in the fire – Capt. Charles Commini hurt his knee and Rick Tramontana had a nail in his leg. Both were taken to Helene Fuld Medical Center. The companies which fought the fire were Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville, Slackwood, Prospect Heights, West Trenton, and Pennington Road.”
August 26, 1980
On Tuesday, August 26, 1980, at 3:20 a.m., the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched to assist Station 23 in fighting a blaze on Featherbed Court. Engines 22-1, 22-2, and 22-3 all responded to the fireground. Engine 22-3 was later relocated to Station 23. During the incident, an engine from Slackwood covered Station 22. The following story was printed in that night’s Trenton Times: “A fire of unknown origin ripped through two vacant townhouses in the Sturwood Hamlet development early today, causing extensive damage. One of the two homes – which are valued at $80,000 each – on Featherbed Court, off Denow Road, had already been painted and people were expected to move in next week. Lawrence Township police said they received a call at about 3 a.m. that a field was on fire in the development. When fire companies arrived, they noticed the vacant buildings burning. The fire apparently started in the kitchen of one of the homes and spread through the ceiling to the second floor.”
September 23, 1980
From 12:33 p.m. until 9:07 p.m. on Tuesday, September 23, 1980, all three of Lawrence Road’s three engines were at the scene of a general alarm fire at the Acme-Hamilton plant on East State Street in Hamilton. Engines 22-2 was hooked up to a hydrant on Greenwood Avenue and pumped to Engine 22-3 as part of a water relay. During the incident, crews from all three Princeton fire companies stood by at Station 22. The following story was printed in the Trenton Times on Wednesday, September 24, 1980:
“Hamilton Township began returning to normal today following a spectacular fire in a vacant rubber products plant that spewed toxic gases into the air and forced 1,500 people to evacuate their homes. Officials said not a single serious injury resulted from yesterday’s lightning-quick blaze at the former Acme-Hamilton Manufacturing Corp. on East State Street near the Trenton boundary. At about 11 p.m., after state health officials determined that fumes from the fire posed no immediate danger, officials who had ordered evacuations of nearby houses permitted all residents to return to their homes. Ten firemen were treated for smoke inhalation in the blaze, which fire officials believe may have been ignited by a welder's torch. The welder was working with a demolition crew tearing down part of a building in the old complex...
“The blaze struck so quickly that by the time the first fire companies arrived around 12:30 p.m. flames were leaping from every section of the old complex. The 3-acre site on East State Street between Johnson and Logan avenues looked like a war zone. While hundreds of people from nearby homes and businesses looked on, more than 30 Mercer and Burlington fire companies, and several Pennsylvania fire companies, battled intense heat and choking fumes to get the blaze under control. As they worked, state environmental officials circled in a helicopter monitoring the level of toxic fumes. After firemen had been fighting the blaze for more than an hour, state Department of Environmental Protection officials on the scene issued a warning that toxic fumes had been released and advised the evacuation. They also implored the firemen to don protective masks. Tests found traces of potentially lethal hydrogen cyanide in the air, as well as phosgene and styrene, both known carcinogens. The blaze was declared under control by Hamilton District 4 Chief William Kiernan at 3:15 p.m. Firemen were still at the scene after 1 a.m. hosing down hot spots that continued to smolder....”
December 24, 1980
A general alarm fire destroyed the Remnant King carpet shop and the MAB paint store on Wednesday, December 24, 1980. Lawrence Road Engine 22-2 was dispatched at 9:55 a.m. and participated in a large diameter hose relay. At 10:55 a.m. a ladder from Falls Fire Co. (Bucks County, Pa.) arrived to stand by at Station 22. At 3:48 a.m., Engine 22-2 was relocated from the fire scene to stand by at the Mercerville firehouse. The engine returned to Station 22 at 4:36 p.m. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Thursday, December 25, 1980:
“A spectacular general alarm fire swept through two stores on Route 33 in Hamilton Township yesterday, spewing toxic smoke and fumes into the surrounding area and forcing the evacuation of the Mercerville Shopping Center across the street. Hundreds of firefighters from 32 companies in Mercer, Bucks and Burlington counties spent the day before Christmas battling the smoky blaze which burned out of control for over two hours and gutted the adjoining Remnant King carpet and MAB paint stores. Two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation at Hamilton Hospital and released and no serious injuries were reported.
“Police said the fire began at about 9:30 a.m. in the carpet store, and it quickly spread through the roof to the paint store. Both stores were destroyed, with total estimated damages exceeding $1 million. State hazardous materials experts detected small amounts of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen cyanide in the midst of the fire and ordered firemen to wear oxygen tanks and face masks. Moderately low levels of the gases were detected at the shopping center, located about 200 feet from the inferno...
“Mercerville Fire Co. Chief John Lenhardt said only smoke was visible coming from the roof of the one-story structure when firefighters arrived at the scene. ‘We had to force entry in the front door and then all of the windows started blowing out like dominoes,’ Lenhardt said. Lenhardt said the entire store was loaded with carpeting stacked about 30 feet high. He said there were no sprinkler systems and only one firewall separating the main showroom from an adjoining warehouse. The warehouse did not catch on fire but sustained smoke and water damage. Firefighters were forced to use every hydrant within a quarter-mile radius of the blaze. ‘We really taxed the water system. We used water from both the Trenton and Garden State water companies,’ Lenhardt said. Minor explosions were triggered by paints and flammable materials in both stores. Fire unexploded barrels of propane gas were removed from the paint store...”