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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

87-89 PARK AVE. - 1981

Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

On Oct. 15, 1981, eight people died in a tenement fire at at 87 - 89 Park Ave. in Paterson. A number of occupants were injured jumping from the building. Four alarms were transmitted for Box 11. Police accused a man spurned by a woman with setting the blaze, according to an Associated Press dispatch. Fire Chief Harold Kane said witnesses reported seeing a man pour gasoline in a hallway and set it alight. The fire was the third major blaze in the city over a period of four hours.


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

On Dec. 10, 1968, an arson fire swept the Midtown Hotel and killed six people. The hotel rooms were located on the second story of a row of shops at 2 Park Avenue in downtown Paterson. The fire at Box 141 went to a general alarm. About 20 people lived in the hotel, many of them elderly transients, according to an Associated Press dispatch. Police Sergeant Stanley Nessen said he convinced about 10 people not to jump from the ledge and they were rescued by firefighters. Deputy Police Chief Solomon Reines said there had been a "neighborhood vendetta" against occupants of the hotel, scene of an earlier fire.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

Squad Company 1, a 1976 Ford crew cab F350, at old Fire Headquarters on Van Houten Street. This "flying squad" carried a crew of Paterson firefighters equipped with breathing appartus.


Photos: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook
1953 Seagrave pumpers assigned to Engine 2 and Engine 8. Engine 2 is equipped with a makeshift roof for the open cab to protect crews during the race riots of the 1960s. This was a common practice in many cities.


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

On March 1, 1973, Capt. Frank Mancinelli, of Truck 3, was fatally injured at a three-alarm fire on Paterson Street. Mancinelli, 49, died at St. Joseph's Hospital after falling down a 40-foot airshaft, according to The New York Times. Two years later, firefighters mourned another of their brothers. Capt. Fred Armona died in a fire and collapse at the Fourth Christian Reformed Church in April 1975.


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Facebook

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

JAIL FIRE - 1963

On May 18, 1963, a fire in a padded cell at the Paterson City Jail killed three inmates, according to an Associated Press dispatch in the Virgin Islands Daily News. Fumes from foam rubber padding also injured 14 inmates and two firemen. Police said an inmate set the fire, according to the AP.


On Jan. 23, 1903, a Paterson firefighter, Felix McCann of Truck 2, was injured by a falling chimney at a fire at River Lawn Sanitarium, a psychiatric hospital.

"Both arms are broken and his skull is fractured," The New York Times reported. Three other firefighters were also hurt.

The sanitarium's 30 patients were evacuated from the three-story brick brick and frame structure, and "some of the more recently admitted had to be carried out," according to the newspaper.

An oil stove used for heating "burst or was upset," the Times said.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Photo: WCBS

On July 1, 2010, flames engulfed a house at 465 East 31st Street in Paterson, killing four people - including a woman who jumped from the second floor, according to media reports.

Three other people were injured.

Public Safety Director Glenn Brown called the early morning fire one of the deadliest since an arsonist killed 14 people at the Alexander Hamilton Hotel in 1984, according to The dwelling had been cited by the city for electrical code violations earlier in the year.

According to the Paterson Fire Department web site:

"First arriving units encountered a 2 1/2 story wood frame house fully involved with fire, with extension into 463 and 467 E 31st St. Due to reports of numerous occupants trapped in the fire buildings, a 2nd and 3rd alarms were transmitted, bringing all of Paterson’s manpower and equipment to the scene.

"Rescue 2 along with Ladder 1 entered the rear of 465 E 31 St. to initiate a primary search but were driven back by the intense heat and heavy smoke conditions. Interior attacks were deployed in both 463 E 31 St. and 467 E 31 St. by additional units. It took over 3 hours for this fire to be brought under control."

Paterson received mutual aid from other fire departments.

Friday, May 28, 2010

YMHA LEAK - 1949

On Feb. 17, 1949, chlorine gas sickened 17 people - including several firefighters - at the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association building in Paterson.

"Police said a pipe connection came loose while workmen were removing the chlorination system, used to purify water in the swimming pool," The New York Times reported.

An injured firefighter, Milton Katz of Engine Co. 5, was placed in an oxygen tent at St. Joseph's Hospital, the newspaper said.



Business District of Paterson, N. J., Is Swept.

PATERSON, N. J., June 28 -Fire early today swept a block on Main street, from Ward to Market streets, in this city, causing a loss estimated at $500,000. Five firemen were injured by falling walls and others had narrow escapes. Help from outside had to be asked by the local firemen.

The burned buildings include the Van Dyke Furniture company's store, where the fire started; the Linckwood Brother's furniture store building, the Donahue building. Dailey's moving picture house and a number of smaller structures. The burned area is only a block away from the path of Paterson's big fire of 1908.

(Editor's Note: Writer probably meant "big fire of 1902.")

Nebraska State Journal, June 29, 1910 via

Friday, December 11, 2009


Trapped by arson fire at Alexander Hamilton Hotel in Paterson in October 1984. The general alarm claimed 15 lives. Click here for link to article


"On April 8, 1998, an explosion and fire occurred during the production of Automate Yellow 96 Dye at the Morton International Inc. plant in Paterson, New Jersey. The explosion and fire were the consequence of a runaway reaction, which overpressurized a 2000-gallon chemical vessel and released flammable material that ignited. Nine employees were injured." - Chemical Safety Board