Thursday, February 26, 2015


The City of Elizabeth was the scene of three deadly commercial airline accidents from December 1951 to February 1952.

A total of 119 people died; most aboard aircraft, some on the ground.

The third accident led to a four-month closure of Newark Airport, where the flights originated.

This photo shows firemen at site of Dec. 16, 1951 crash of Miami Airlines flight that killed all 56 people aboard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

12TH AVE. - 2014

On Nov. 5, 2014, Paterson firefighters battled a 4-alarm blaze  in a residential building at 12th Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard.

Friday, October 24, 2014


On Aug. 27, 2014, a four-alarm fire destroyed the Central Baptist Church at 6 East 20th St.  in Paterson. Flames erupted during a bible study class. Adjacent structures were damaged. A firefighter was injured. The church was made of wood.


Photo: The Ledger - Google News Archives
Woman trapped by fire on 8th floor of Alexander Hamilton Hotel


Oct. 18, 2014 marked the 30th anniversary of the 1984 fire at the Alexander Hamilton Hotel that claimed 15 lives. The hotel was once the pride of Paterson but fell into disrepair. Box 181 rang in at 12:14 a.m.


Lower photos: Paterson Retired Firefighters

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Image: Paterson Retired Firefighters

MOTOR FLEET: Fire Headquarters, Van Houten Street, Paterson, New Jersey. Lyceum Theatre to right. Headquarters moved to Madison Avenue in 1982.


Friday, May 2, 2014


Riot street scene

Capt. Moran

During the  Newark riots of 1967, Captain Michael F. Moran of the Newark Fire Department was shot and killed by sniper as he climbed an aerial ladder. He was the father of six children. Moran and his crew from Truck Co. 11 were investigating an alarm 
on Central Avenue near Presbyterian Hospital on July 15 when shots rang out from the roof of a bank. The six days of rioting in Newark left 26 dead and hundreds injured.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Paterson Engine Co. 1, a re-built American LaFrance pumper with Tele-squirt added (from Dayspring photo collection via Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook page.) The original rig was damaged at the Fulton Street Fire.


Fire at popular eatry in Verona, New Jersey, on  Sept. 8, 1976

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Oct. 15, 1967
Memorial at Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Dept.



Cliffside Park, N. J. (AP) -- The deaths of five firemen trapped by a collapsing wall leaves 14 children under the age of 21 fatherless. The Ridgefield volunteer firemen also are survived by five widows.

A fire department spokesman said $8,000 had been pledged to a fund for the survivors sponsored by the Hudson Dispatch, a Union City newspaper.

Bergen County authorities say they are investigating the possibility of arson in the fire Sunday at Cardinal Lanes bowling alley in this town just across the Hudson River from New York City. The Ridgefield Fire Department scheduled memorial services for Wednesday.

One civilian and 10 other firemen also were injured when the cinder-block wall collapsed as about 130 firemen from eight communities tried to control the fire in the one-story building.

The civilian and one fireman remained in a hospital today, but their conditions were not serious.

JOSEPH LICATA, a volunteer fireman from Palisades Park, said, "The trapped firemen were just about to enter the building. Then, all of a sudden, the whole place just went 'whoosh' and the flames traveled right down the building from front to back, blowing out the roof and a side wall."

The sole survivor of the hose crew, HENRY DENGLER, JR., 22, said he was at the end of the hose and farthest from the wall.

"We were pumping water through the door to spray the roof from inside," he said. "All of a sudden I saw a big gush of smoke backfire and come out of the building." DENGLER said he heard a "huffing noise" and yelled to the others to cut the hose and "get out of there." The next thing he knew, it seemed as if the whole building had collapsed and he was hurled 25 feet.

He helped dig the bodies out of the rubble.

The dead firemen, all from Ridgefield, were GUSTAVE GENSCHOW, 43, a tavern owner and 27-year veteran of the department; DOMINICK ACQUAFREDDA, 31, an employe of Lever Bros. in Edgewater; HARRY A. BROWN, 26, an employe of the New York Daily News; JAMES EDWARDS, 35, manager of a trading stamp store, and JAMES LAURIA, Ridgefield's building inspector.




Nine Terribly Torn and Scalded in and Around Edison Electric Plant.


Cars Stop, Mill and Stores Had to Close--Street Lights Out--Elevators Stuck 'Twixt Floors

Special to The New York Times.

PATERSON, N. J., Jan. 21.-- The explosion of four of the six big boilers in the Edison Electric Light Works on the Passaic River here at 4:30 o'clock this afternoon left this city and Passaic without electric light or power for three hours. The sudden cutting off of the light caused panics in several theatres, and women were hurt in the rush that was made for the doors.

One man was hurt mortally and eight others were badly injured at the scene of the explosion. The man who will die is Emil Van Houden of 52 North Main Street. He was scalded by escaping steam.

The others injured are:
CLAXTON, ISAAC, 19 John Street, skull fractured; General Hospital.
GALIGIO, TONY, 342 River Road, right leg torn off and head lacerated; St. Joseph's hospital.
HILZMAN, GUSTAV, 29 Cross Street, burned, head and body lacerated; General Hospital.
MALONE, TONY, 31 Cross Street, head and body lacerated; St. Joseph's Hospital.
McGOWAN, GEORGE, 83 Vine Street, arm broken, face and head cut; General Hospital.
PALLER, GUSTAV, 208 Fifth Avenue, head lacerated; General Hospital.
PARKE, FRANCIS, 331 Grand Street, ribs fractured, head and body severely bruised; General Hospital.
TROEVER, GEORGE, 30 Dewey Avenue, arms and legs broken and head badly lacerated; General Hospital.

Claxton, Malone, Parke and Treover were employed in the Edison Company's works. Van Houden, worst injured of all, worked in the Geering Silk Dyeing Company, across the river from the scene of the explosion. He was stunned by flying débris and for half an hour lay senseless on the river bank receiving the full blast of escaping steam, which was shot across the river and almost parboiled him.

The other injured men worked in the dyehouse of Formanns, Stumpf & Sharpe, which adjoins the Edison works. They were at work in the yard and were buried under a mass of bricks and débris, which overwhelmed them when the heavy roof and part of the brick wall of the dyehouse were smashed in by the heavy pieces of iron--parts of the Edison boilers-- which were hurled through the air as though they had been so much light cardboard.

The Edison employes{sic} were at work in the boiler house and were knocked unconscious by the explosion. They lay under a heap of débris, amid clouds of escaping steam, when rescuers reached them. In the dyehouse adjoining the victims of the explosion also lay unconscious amid the steam, which shot from the broken pipes in the boiler house through the aperture in the wall and roof made by the flying bits of metal.

The explosion shook surrounding buildings with a force which caused many to believe for an instant that there had been an earthquake. The Edison plant is situated in the heart of the mill district, and operatives in various silk mills were almost put in a panic by the noise, especially as it was followed instantly by the putting out of all lights, which had been turned on in most places because of the darkness caused by the rain-filled air and the heavy clouds which obscured the sky. Confusion and panic followed the sudden darkness in many places, and operatives were pushed about and trampled upon before cooler heads could restore order.

In the business section of the city the cutting off of all power caused discomfort to many. Elevators which depended upon electricity for power stopped in the office buildings, in many instances coming to a halt between floors. Hundreds of men and women throughout the city were trapped thus, and many of them had to remain in their cramped quarters until the power was turned on again about 7:30 o'clock.

In the Lyceum Theatre the going out of the lights was followed by a series of sharp reports like explosions, caused by the sudden stoppage of the electric current. In an audience composed mostly of women, there was an instant panic.

Screaming women ran frantically for the exits and in the excitement and hurry many of them fainted. Other women trampled over them in their terror, thinking only of reaching the doors. Quick work by the ushers quelled the panic before it had become widespread, however, and the audience finally left the theatre in a fairly orderly manner. No one was hurt. In three other theatres the audiences were alarmed, but serious stampedes were prevented.

The shutting off of light in the big department stores and factories caused them to close an hour of more before their usual time. Street lights, too, could not be turned on, and the city was left in complete darkness for several hours.

The trolley service was brought to a standstill, cars coming to a halt wherever they happened to be and remaining there while the employes{sic} of the Edison Company were working to repair the damage and get auxiliary boilers working. The result was that thousands of commuters returned from Manhattan to find their city in darkness and themselves compelled to walk home through the rain.

The area affected by the explosion included not only this city and Passaic, but all of the suburbs which depended for light and power on the big plant here. Nowhere did the cars run or was there light.

At the scene of the explosion a field hospital was established in the grounds of the Edison works.

Man after man was carried out of the Edison plant or the dyeworks next door by the rescuers and laid on the ground to be worked over by the surgeons from the General and the St. Joseph's Hospitals until the overworked ambulances could get then to these institutions. All of the victims were brought out unconscious, and many of the rescuers, who included other Edison employes{sic} and men from the dyehouse, were scorched and scalded by the live steam which played over everything and threatened some of the men who were trapped under piles of brick and iron.

At the General Hospital it was said that Van Houden could scarcely live through the night. All of the other injured were burned and scaled{sic}, and some were seriously injured, but it was said that these would recover in time.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Riverside Fire Station, Lafayette Street, Truck 3 and Engine 3

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Photo: Haldeon Mayor Domenick Stampone

The Borough of Haledon tragically rang in the New Year with a huge fire that swept homes on Morrissee Avenue on Dec. 31, 2013.

Paterson and other communities dispatched mutual aid.

No serious injuries were reported.

According to North

"The fire started in a vacant home under renovation at 438 Morrisee Ave. and spread to two homes next door.

"Extreme heat also melted the vinyl siding and cracked the front windows of two homes across the street."

The original fire building burned to the ground.

Many homes in Haledon were built of wood in the early 20th Century.

Haledon Mayor Domenick Stampone told CBS 2 a temporary shelter was established at borough hall .

Friday, June 14, 2013


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook Page

In 1958, a backdraft at two-alarm fire at 144 East Main St., Paterson, injured Deputy Chief Daniel J. Carroll, Firefighter Daniel Elkovich and Firefighter Nicholas Ricciardi.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Photo: Channel 4
On Feb. 28, 2013, a three-alarm fire gutted a commercial building at 119 Godwin Avenue in Paterson, New Jersey.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

BOX 123

General alarm at Cliffside Dye. Box 123 was transmitted at 9:35 a.m. on April 8, 1980.  Paterson was known as the "Silk City" for its textile industry. From Vince Marchese collection, via Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook



Engine 9's deck gun in action at fire in the Riverside section of Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 1980s. Photo from Vince Marchese collection, via Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Can't a guy get a good nap around here?

Your editor was born Feb. 13, 1958 at the Paterson General Hospital and spent the first 6 1/2 years of his life residing at his grandmother's home at 179 Lee Avenue, Haledon.

Within the my first 24 hours of crossing the threshold of that old house, the fire service was emblazoned upon my being:

Everyday at a noon the municipal fire horns would blare the signal 3-3-3.

Test. Test. Test.

Tell me that wouldn't startle a brand-spanking new Patersonian and soil a few diapers!

So much for my noon nap.

Almost 55 years later I suspect that may have been the start of my awareness and interest in fire engines, firefighters and fire alarm systems.

Over the years, I have accumulated a variety of fire service memorabilia -- including a list of Haledon's fire alarm signals.

The signals are reprinted herewith:

1 - Wire Trouble
2 - Fire Out
3 - Test
4 - Company 1 respond to firehouse
5 - Company 2 respond to firehouse
6 - General Alarm
7 - Fireman's Funeral Call
8 - Mutual Aid Cal
2-2-2 NO SCHOOL [Editor's note: My favorite!]
12 - Avenue B and Jasper Street
13 - Barbour Street and Lee Avenue [Editor's note: My Grandma Strobino's house!!]
14 - Belmont Avenue and Cook Street
15 - Belmont Avenue and Henry Street
16 - Lee Avenue and Legion Place
17 - Fire Co. No. 2
18 - Cliff and Oxford streets
21 - Clinton Street by the brook
23 - Belmont Avenue and Zabriske Street
24 - Barbour Street and Van Dyke Avenue
25 - Van Dyke Avenue and King Street
26 - Hobart Avenue and Tilt Street
27 - Norwood Street and Southside Avenue
28 - Central Avenue below Tilt Street
31 - Church Street, North of Brook
32 - Haledon Avenue and N. 16th Street
34 - Bernard and N. 12th Street
35 - Haledon Avenue and Kossuth Street
36 - Belmont Avenue and Kossuth Street
37 - North 15th and Post streets
38 - Cona Court
42 - Belmont and Buschmann avenues
43 - Former Columbia Silk Mills
45 - John Ryle Avenue and Willie Street
46 - Belmont Avenue and Beam Street
51 - Belmont Avenue and Church Street (Fire Co. No. 1)
52 - Kossuth Street School
53 - Allied Chemical Co. (Harmon Division)
61 - Pompton Road and West Haldeon Avenue
62 - Central and Stansfield avenues
63 - Sam Braen's Sons Quarry
64 - Central Avenue and Valley Road
65 - Valley View Sanatorium
67 - Pompton Road near Ailsa Avenue
112 - Preakness Avenue and Elm Street
113 - Aberdeen Court
115 - Manchester Regional High School
234 - ADT Alarm


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters
Was "an angel" sending the alarm?

On Oct. 18, 1984, a general alarm fire killed 15 people at the Alexander Hamilton Hotel at 55 Church Street, Paterson, N.J. and injured many others.

However, firefighters were also credited with saving many lives at great risk to themselves.

Box 181 was transmitted at 12:14 a.m.

Louis Ponstingel, who was working the midnight to 8 a.m. shift as a Paterson fire dispatcher, shared the following recollection on the 28th anniversary of the blaze:
"The usual procedure is to look up the box number and address of the incident, the cross streets and the companies to respond," Ponstingel said.

"I for some reason pulled the whole card file and proceeded immediately to send the box."
Ponstingel's father, also named Louis, was the captain in charge of Engine 10 that night and "he and his men were credited with saving many lives," Ponstingel said.
"If anything there was an angel sending the box out expeditiously and, who knows, may have helped save someone," Ponstingel said by e-mail on Oct. 18, 2012.

When it opened in the 1920s, the Alexander Hamilton was the pride of Paterson - a fashionable hotel with affluent patrons and big-money investors.

The riots of the 1960s contributed to the decline of the city, including the hotel.


Friday, October 12, 2012



Lieutenant James J. Delaney
April 15, 1911
Killed when the three-ton hose and chemical truck he was riding overturned on Passaic Street en route to a tenement fire. He died at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Deputy Chief John Doremus and firefighter Edmund Hutchinson
Dec. 20, 1955
Killed when the chief’s car they rode in collided with Truck Company 1 at Passaic and Main avenues. The accident prompted the department to upgrade its radio system and sirens.

Firefighter William Jackson
Feb. 17, 1960
Killed while fighting a blaze inside a building when a wall collapsed, pinning him against a fire truck.

Battalion Chief Joseph Griffin and firefighter Samuel Latona
March 12, 1970
Killed when a wall collapsed at 181 Third St. during one of the city’s most intense blazes. Several injured firefighters were pulled from the rubble.

Firefighter Alberto Tirado
May 9, 2001
Killed trying to rescue children he believed were trapped in an apartment building. He died of smoke inhalation.

Sources: Passaic Fire Department; Herald News archives.


U.S. Fire Administration

On July 1, 1988, a fire at the Ford Auto Dealership in Hackensack, New Jersey, took the lives of five firefighters when a bowstring truss roof collapsed.

Just a minute prior to the collapse the incident commander had instructed the firefighters working on the interior to “back your lines out.”

This message was not heard due to defective fireground communications equipment.

Debris from the subsequent roof collapse pinned three firefighters while two others escaped to an adjacent room.

These two firefighters radioed for assistance but neither the incident commander nor the fire alarm dispatcher picked up the calls for help.

By the time word was relayed to the incident commander from civilians picking up the calls for help on their scanners it was too late to effect a rescue.


Associated Press

HACKENSACK, N. J. - Five firemen killed when a burning roof collapsed onto them were like "family" in this city, which never had a firefighter die in the line of duty.

"There are only 100 of us in this department and this is just a small place," Fire Chief ANTHONY AIELLOS said Friday. "In a town like this these are your friends."

"It's a sad day in Hackensack," added Mayor FRED CERBO. "We've never had anything like this in our city before. To have five firemen die is just incredible."

The fire, which destroyed the building and contents of a car dealership, started shortly after 3 p.m. Friday in the rear service section of the building, AIELLOS said.

The ceiling collapsed as the firefighters, who were inside the building, were cutting a hole in it to get a hose on flames in a space between the ceiling and the roof, AIELLOS said.

"All of a sudden the entire 60-foot square inside ceiling fell on them," he said, adding that four other firefighters inside at the time escaped injury.

All of Hackensack's 100 firefighters as well as units from surrounding towns responded to the blaze, which was under control by 6:30 p.m.

Hundreds of bystanders watched along the busy intersection in this New York suburb of 40,000 people while the firefighters' bodies were placed in ambulances.

Many clutched friends when stretchers bearing the bodies came briefly into view.
The victims were Capt. RICHARD WILLIAMS, 54, Lt. RICHARD REINHOGEN, 48, and firefighters WILLIAM KREJSA, 52, LEONARD RADUMSKI, 38, and STEPHEN ENNIS, 30.

All five were from Hackensack.


Four other Hackensack firemen died in the line of duty over the years, all in roadway accidents responding to fire alarms:

·        Fireman Frederick Maas, Truck Co. 1, killed Feb. 6, 1919
·        Fireman Robert Paget, Truck Co. 1, died June 6, 1935 of injuries sustained in 1932
·        Captain Frederick Mathews and Fireman Andrew Lange, both of Engine Co. 5, killed March 23, 1953

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From the Editor

The Fire Journal Group sponsors a fire buff club -- via Facebook -- to promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service worldwide.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BOX 638

Photos: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook page

On April 6, 1975, Paterson Fire Capt. Fred Armona was killed in the collapse of the Fourth Christian Reformed Church at Fourth Avenue and East 19th Street.

Box 638 was transmitted at 1:43 p.m. and escalated to a general alarm.

Armona, 56, and several other men were on a hose line when the walls of the wooden church fell outward, sending the roof plunging into the sanctuary.

The church was built in 1911 and the congregation relocated to a site in Wyckoff .

Fire departments from the neighboring communities of Haledon, Prospect Park and Hawthrone provided mutual aid.

Armona was assigned to Engine Company 11, which was located at 97 Grand Street.

On the same day, Paterson firefighters contended with a blaze at an abandoned dye house on River Street, according to a newspaper account.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Photo: Collection of Bruno Wendt
March 11, 1972 - General Alarm at Box 451 - Sylvette's Store, Main Street & Broadway

The Paterson Fire Department placed its first Snorkel in service in 1964. The Snorkel (upper left) consisted of a hydraulic boom, pipeline, crew compartment and nozzle. The boom was moved via controls in the "basket" or at the base. The Chicago Fire Department pioneered the Snorkel.

Friday, August 24, 2012

RIOT DUTY - 1960s

Open cab modified for civil unrest; Paterson, N.J. Truck 1 was a 1962 Pirsch aerial ladder.

Race riots plagued the country in the 1960s. In August 1964, trouble erupted in Paterson "when a pack of carousing teen-agers in the slum Fourth Ward began pelting passing police cars with bottles and rocks," according to Time magazine. Soon hundreds were in the streets, "smashing windows and hurling debris at police," according to Time. The civil unrest continued through the 1960s.


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook
On Sept. 3, 1953, fire crews contended with a three-alarm blaze at 80 Pennington Street, Paterson, N.J. Box 156 was transmitted at 8:05 p.m. Photograph from Vince Marchese collection.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


  Image: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook
Paterson News acccount of general alarm fire at Dillistin Lumber Co, 178 18th Ave., Paterson, N.J., on June 18, 1961, from collection of Vince Marchese. Box 427 was transmitted at 6:30 p.m. 

Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook
Box 427 - June 18, 1961: General alarm at Dilliston Lumber Co., 178 18th Ave., Paterson, N.J. Firemen Ken West, Tony Gaita, Fred Armona (killed in 1975 church fire), Walt Mc Mahon, George Stanton, Jim Farrell and Ted Guerall in photo from Debra Burns collection.

Friday, August 10, 2012


On Oct. 21, 1963, an explosion leveled Franklin Finishing, a textile dye house at 178 Keen St. in Paterson, N.J. Box 656 was transmitted at 12:33 p.m. Ladder 3 was destroyed by the blaze. Newspaper image from Vince Marchese collection via Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook Page. (Your editor was a kindergarten student in Haledon at the time and recalls learning about the explosion from his parents.) The inferno made the cover of Fire Engineering magazine.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


A reader of the Paterson Fire Journal is seeking information on a fire that killed four members of a family residing on Park Avenue, Paterson, in 1969. Please contact editor.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

Saved! Capt. Mario Colatarci and child in photo from Debra Burns collection.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Hurricane Irene flooded Paterson and neighboring communities in late August 2011. President Obama toured the city on Sept. 4, 2011 and met with flood victims. In official FEMA photo, Obama consoles woman. In official White House photo, Obama visits neighborhood in Wayne.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Do you have a photo, newspaper clip or story to share? Please contact the Fire Journal at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center provides support for the Paterson Fire Department after torrential rain caused flooding in March 2011.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WYCKOFF - 1935

Photo: Wyckoff Fire Department
Wyckoff chemical engine

On Nov. 24, 1935, the Paterson Fire Department sent mutual aid to the town of Wyckoff for a fire at the Christian Sanitorium.

Two patients died in the blaze that destroyed one of the sanitorium's five buildings.

Hawthorne, Midland Park and Franklin Lakes also sent refinforcements.

Nurses saved many patients from the flames.

The victims were identified as Barbara Sinke, 47, of Prospect Park, and Mary Duke, 77, of Bayonne, according to an Associated Press story printed in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Mayor John Hinchcliffe famously said Paterson would "care for her own."

"Scenes from Paterson N.J., illustrating the several catastrophes which she has survived." Click for full page


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook
Paterson firefighters Vito Mangani of Ladder 3, Kenny Merenco of Squad 1 (flying squad) and Joe Pellicotti of Engine 12


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook
June 28, 1975 - Seagrave 100-foot aerial

Friday, October 7, 2011


On March 12, 1938, five Paterson firemen died at a four-alarm fire at the Quackenbush Co. department store warehouse.

Deputy Chief James Sweeney and the crew of Engine Co. 5 were buried in the rubble of a collapsed wall at Box 474 - 51-55 Prospect St.

``Only two or three fire crews were at the scene when tonight's tragedy occured, their job being not only to wet down the ruins but also to remove debris that might endanger public safety,'' The New York Times reported.

``At the time the wall collapsed, the firemen were devising a means to to pull it down because they knew it was in danger of falling.''

The fallen:

•Deputy Chief James Sweeny, 58
•Capt. John Davenport, 44, of Engine 5
•Fireman Louis Rodesky, 49, of Engine 5
•Fireman Matthew O'Neill, 45, of Engine 5
•Fireman William Lynch, 37, of Engine 5