Wednesday, December 3, 2008
McGuire, who was 66, thrived under pressure and dangerous conditions, according to colleagues.
During his 34-year career, McGuire received commendations for lifesaving, including a 1993 blaze in which he directed firefighters to evacuate a house before it was swept by flames.
"Elliot was a fireman's fireman," said Captain Mike Barr, quoted by NorthJersey.com. "He had the knowledge. He had experience and he inspired guys by just going to fires with him.''
McGuire was promoted to captain in 1992, and worked at Engine Co. 2 in the Riverside and Ladder Co. 1 at fire headquarters, according to the web site.
In 1989, McGuire rescued a child from a fire on Godwin Avenue and revived the 7-year-old victim with CPR. In 1991, he helped rescue five people from a Park Avenue fire.
The save most remembered, though, was the 1993 house fire on East 23rd Street. Captain Mike D'Arco, one of the firefighters to escape, said: ``I used to call him my savior."
Monday, October 27, 2008
On Oct. 19, 2008, flames swept five apartment buildings on Mill Street and Jersey Street in Paterson, leaving a number of families without shelter.
According to NorthJersey.com:
``The city’s full complement of firefighters, along with crews from about 15 surrounding municipalities, fought the flames.''
Monday, October 20, 2008
A Life: Sal Madama, 1911-2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Sal Madama retired from firefighting in 1976. Or did he?
Well into his 90s, Mr. Madama showed fellow residents of St. Joseph's Home for the Elderly in Totowa how to use the extinguisher.
He spent Thursday evenings at local firehouses — "chewing the rag," as his wife, Mary Ann, put it, but also sharing his vast knowledge with far younger colleagues.
Once a fireman, always a fireman. And Mr. Madama, who died Tuesday at 97, had as legendary a career as any.
He joined his hometown Paterson Fire Department in 1939. He was 27, and adrift.
"I had no desire for nothing," Mr. Madama once recalled. "I took the fire test because my friend took it, and I came out 22nd."
Over the next 36 years, he held every position of consequence in the department, all the way up to chief. On his own, Mr. Madama — who had college degrees in public safety and public administration — conducted classes for small-town volunteer firefighters throughout North Jersey.
His mantras were "discipline" and "training."
"Discipline and training go hand in hand," he told volunteers in Denville, according to a 1967 story in the Paterson Morning Call. "Without discipline, line officers cannot carry out orders of the chief. It must be second nature to respond to orders."
As his career was winding down, Mr. Madama became the fire chief in Laconia, N.H. He retired after a year and returned to New Jersey, continuing to teach fire science at the community college level.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Article from Edison Monthly
A COMPLETELY motorized fire department — the largest in the state and one of the first in the country — is the source of a great deal of pride on the part of the citizens of Paterson, New Jersey.
Additional interest is due to the fact that the motorization was accomplished through the conversion of horse-drawn trucks to automobiles, and further, that the apparatus is electrically driven.
As a result of the changes Paterson now has speedy and dependable fire equipment, economy of operation is assured, because electrics can be operated at a lower cost than any other type; and because it was possible to convert horse vehicle into motors, the city avoided the waste of scrapping apparatus which though old, was still good for many years of service.
The importance of adequate fire protection for a city of the industrial importance of this silk manufacturing centre, with its great mill districts, its large foreign population, its many hilly streets, and a residential district where the houses are, as a rule, of frame construction, need hardly be commented upon.
The Paterson Fire Department consists of fifteen companies and the electric apparatus includes nine engines, ten combination wagons, and three ladder trucks.
Central Fire Station
These are stationed at strategic points throughout the city and the headquarters building is on Van Houten Street.
The garage and repair shop of the department are on the ground floor of this building. Executive offices. dormitories, a social hall, and handball courts are on the upper floors.
The headquarters building was erected after the installation of automobiles was decided upon and consequently was designed especially to provide garage facilities.
The other buildings, however, were remodeled, the changes from stables to garages being made when the vehicles themselves were being rebuilt.
Use of Electricity
The work consisted principally of installing equipment for charging the storage batteries and such machine shop facilities as were needed for making the routine adjustments to the fire apparatus.
The charging outlets were suspended from the ceiling in such a way that two batteries could be charged from the same plug.
The electrification of the Department began in 1917 after an unsatisfactory experience with gasoline drive.
Five pieces of electrical apparatus were purchased from the Commercial Truck Company.
These were Engine Number One and its Combination Wagon and Engine and Wagon Number Five and Truck Number Two.
Standard fire fighting equipment was mounted on specially designed electric chassis and so satisfactory did they prove that complete electrification was decided upon.
While the first pieces were built as electrics, the balance were converted by removing the gasoline drive then in use, and installing electric drive.
Thus, much of the equipment, has undergone three revolutionary changes: as built originally it was drawn by horses; later gasoline tractors replaced the horses, and finally the electric motors and storage batteries were installed.
The method of changing the apparatus was in itself interesting.
In the case of the familiar engine, all the running gear forward of the gooseneck was removed, and channel beams, long enough and heavy enough to carry the storage batteries, the chauffeur's seat, and the driving and steering apparatus, were riveted on.
The rear wheels, the boiler, and the pumping apparatus were not touched.
In changing the ladder trucks the frame was extended to provide place for the driving mechanism, the battery box was suspended under the frame and just forward of the rear wheels, and an entirely new set of wheels was mounted , each wheel having its individual motor.
A similar lengthening and strengthening of the frame and the installation of motors for each of the rear wheels accomplished the same result for the combination wagons.
Visitors to the New York Electrical Show of 1919 will recall the combination wagon which was exhibited.
This was one of the Paterson vehicles and was on its way from Philadelphia, where the Commercial Truck Company had made the changes, when the Paterson officials consented to its stopping over in New York.
By 1919, sixteen of the twenty-five pieces of apparatus had been changed to electric, and by the end of 1920 only three gasoline vehicles remained.
Speed of Vehicles
The speed of electric apparatus in reaching fires is strikingly shown in the annual report of 1919, the last year for which complete figures are available.
During 1919, the department responded to 511 alarms and reached the fires so promptly that in only four cases did the blaze extend beyond the original building.
The damage in the most disastrous fire of the year amounted to only $209,000.
The average loss in the next four fires was less than $50,000 while the average loss in all fires, including the big ones was less than $900.
Trials designed to show the fitness of electric trucks for fire department work were conducted recently by Thomas Coyle, Chief of the Paterson Fire Department.
One of the combination chemical trucks, weighing seven tons, was employed for the purpose, and heads of the fire departments of neighboring cities, including New York, as well as many of those interested in the electric vehkle industry, were present.
Three hills were negotiated.
The first, on Temple Street, had a grade of fourteen per cent and was long but the truck climbed the distance in one minute and fifteen seconds.
The second grade was the Cliff Street incline of seventeen per cent which was achieved in the running time of sixty-two seconds.
Not only did the electric climb from a standing start, but it stopped in the middle of the hill and started again without any kind of assistance.
The third attempt was made over the Haledon Avenue course of nine blocks with an eight per cent grade and the climb was completed in the astonishingly short time of two minutes and two seconds.
A speed of thirty-four miles per hour was maintained on the level and at no time was any difficulty or hindrance experienced.
In reply to a question regarding the ability of the electric trucks to proceed under adverse weather conditions Chief Coyle made the statement that
"If electric trucks could not get through the winter snows nothing could" and that he and his associates believed that "the electric trucks are the most reliable, least expensive and best type of vehicle for fire department usage."
Added to this testimony is that of Captain William H Ward who is in charge of the extensive workshop of the Central Fire Headquarters.
Captain Ward said that the labors of his department had "decreased nearly seventy per cent since the introduction of electric trucks three years ago," and that "except when they smashed into trees, not one of the electrics has ever been out of service for as long as twenty-four hours."
In fact there are now so few repairs called for, that Captain Ward has reduced his force of mechanics to one.
Under this arrangement the Captain does practically all of the repair work on apparatus while his "force" has kept busy during the fall and winter repairing the roofs of the engine houses.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Truck Co. 1
The Paterson Fire Department, which protects the third largest city in New Jersey, operates seven engine companies, three ladder companies and the city's ambulances.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The shovelers ``were caught in the rush, but it came gradually at first, and no one was injured by it,'' according to The New York Times. ``No one could get out, and a dozen men were pinned in the coal, but they were quickly gotten out by the firemen who were summoned.''
``Engine 9 was the first to reach the burning building and Campbell rushed up the stairs to the Walker apartment,'' according to The New York Times. ``He found the place filled with smoke and flames. Groping his way about, he found the children on the floor, overcome by smoke. Wrapping them in his coat he made his way to the street.''
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Paterson was once a thriving a textile town called the ``Silk City'' and the fire department protected a population of Old World immigrants - Italians, Jews and others - drawn to the looms.
Following a tenement fire on Main Street: ``The fire department reported without qualification that twenty-one families and one band of gypsies had been left homeless,'' according to the 1974 book ``About Paterson'' by Christopher Norwood.
Mayor Frank X. Graves - an old-school politician who served as chief executive from 1961-1966 and 1982 until his death in 1990 - patroled Paterson's streets in a black sedan equipped with police and fire radios.
``When he spotted a problem - a littered street, perhaps, or graffiti on a monument - he would use one of his two-way radios to demand immediate action from the appropriate municipal agency,'' The New York Times said in his obituary. ``He kept a child's doll and a softball in the car, which he gave to children at fire and accident scenes to calm them.''
YEARS OF DECAY
Paterson has languished since the textile mills started shutting down in the 1960s. Many buildings became abandoned - and some burned.
In the Herald & News in March 2000, Paterson Deputy Fire Chief James Tice said: ``What we run into, time and again, are buildings where the owner files for bankruptcy, the heat gets turned off, the sprinkler pipes freeze and burst, and the system has to be shut down … We can take the owners to court and try to force them to fix it, but you can't get blood out of a stone.''
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Williams - who practiced at the Passaic General Hospital - penned many other poems, including these lines about an encounter with a fire engine in New York in the 1920s:
The Great Figure
Among the rain
to gong clangs
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
After twenty-two hours of digging in the ruins of yesterday's explosion at Paterson, N.J., work ceased this afternoon, and it is now believed all the bodies have been recovered. There are now seventeen.
- The Washington Post
On June 21, 1901, fireworks exploded in a shop in a four-story tenement at 440 Main St., killing 17 people and trapping others.
Three firefighters were injured.
Rescuers used ladders and life nets to save people ``hanging from the windows ready to drop'' when the engines arrived, according to The New York Times.
The Times described the saving of John McGlone and his wife, who lived on the top floor:
``McGlone climbed out of the front window and hung on with one hand while he held his wife to his breast with the other. The ladders were all busy, and one of the life nets from Truck 1 was called into use. Twenty men held it, and McGlone was told to drop.
``With a superb show of strength he swung so as to carry his wife away from the building and then let go of her. She dropped into the net through the flame. As soon as she could be rolled out Of the net, it was placed for her husband, and he, too, landed safely in it.''
Still, the husband and wife were ``badly burned by their flight through the flames bursting from the windows below,'' according to the newspaper.
The following was published in the Sandusky Daily Star of Ohio:
Paterson, N. J., June 22. - So far as known there were 12 people killed and a number of others were injured in a fire following an explosion among a quantity of fireworks in the store of ABRAHAM M. RITTENBERG. The store was on the ground floor of a 4-story frame tenement building. The cause of the explosion is not known. The property loss is $35,000.
The following were killed:
MRS. LUCINDA ADAMSON.
MRS. CHARLES WILLIAMSON, burned while trying to rescue her husband.
CHARLES WILLIAMSON, helpless cripple, unable to leave bed.
HAROLD RITTENBERG, 10-months-old child of the keeper of the fireworks store.
WILLIE ELSASSER, six weeks old.
MRS. BERT BAMBER, whose husband is in the hospital.
JOHN BAMBER, 6-months-old child.
MRS. ANDREW ELVIN, head only found, trunk missing.
MRS. ANNA BURNS.
CLARENCE BURNS, six years old, found clasped in his mother's arms.
MRS. ANNIE LANNIGAN.
MRS. MARY DUFFY.
Total number of bodies recovered, 12.
JOSEPH ELVIN, two weeks old, mother's head found.
MRS. ANNE FENTEMAN.
Two Nephews of MRS. LANNIGAN, whose body has been found.
MRS. MARY ELSASSER, kept baker shop, child's body found.
The Injured Are:
J. JESSUP, bruised about the head and body and burned about the head.
MRS. J. JESSUP, bruised and burned about the body.
I. BAMBURGER, head and face bruised.
NICHOLAS HILLMAN, cut on head.
GEORGE SODER, cut on face.
Fireman EDWARD LINGLAND, injured by falling wall.
MR. and MRS. JOHN McGLONE, burned about face and body.
The building in which the explosion occurred was a frame tenement four stories high, with stores on the ground floor. The middle store was occupied by RITTENBERG. Ten families occupied flats in the building. So great was the force of the explosion that a boy playing in the street half a block away was lifted to his feet and hurled against an iron fence, one of his legs being broken. A trolley car was directly in front of the building when the explosion occurred. The burst of flame blown out into the street scorched the sides of the car and singed the hair of the passengers.
A number of those who were on the upper floors of the building when the explosion took place were either stunned or burned to death or found escape cut off and were suffocated. After the first explosion there was a succession of smaller ones, and then came a second big explosion, which was muffled and deadened, and probably occurred in the cellar.
Every window seemed to be spouting flames within a minute after the first explosion. A woman, her clothing on fire, leaped out of one of the windows and fell to the yard below. Her body was dragged out of reach of the flames, but the flesh was roasted and dropped from the bones. She later proved to be a MRS. WILLIAMS.
MRS. WILLIAMS' husband was a cripple. His wife is supposed to have remained longer than she could with safety in an effort to save him. He was found burned to a crisp on his bed.
Some of the occupants of the rooms dropped from the windows and were bruised. Others hung from the windows until the firemen came, and twenty persons were taken down in this way through the fire and smoke by the firemen, while others dropped into life nets.
RITTENBERG will probably be arrested pending an investigation. In the debris was found the head of a man or woman.
Horses joined the Paterson Fire Department on May 1, 1884, along with the city's first paid fireman - William Whittaker, a driver for Engine Co. 1.
That's according to the 1985 book ``Taking the Heat'' by the Honor Legion Firefighters of Northern New Jersey. Before the horses, the early volunteers used brute force to move their apparatus, hence the phrase ``Making a run.''
Paterson placed its first motorized fire engine in service in 1910 and continued using horses for another decade. The final run of Paterson's fire horses was made on July 4, 1920 to Box 634 - East 18th Street and Third Avenue - for a fire at 755 River Street.
It has often been said that fire horses received better treatment than firemen. The following news dispatch from Paterson - published in The Washington Post via The New York Telegram on Sept. 24, 1910 - supports that argument:
``An operation performed today by Dr. Matthew A. Pierce, city veterinarian, on a horse in Fire Engine Company No. 4, to ascertain the cause of a lump which had been raised on the animal's shoulder, resulted in finding a 10-cent piece. It was imbedded in the flesh nearly an inch."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
680 Main St.
``Firemen were summoned from all parts of the city to the stricken sections to aid in searching for the dead and caring for the injured,'' The New York Times said.
The tornado was the third disaster to strike Paterson in little over a year. In 1902, the Great Fire swept much of the city. A flood followed a few weeks later.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Box 52 at Main and Smith streets was struck at 1 a.m.
Flames were ``discovered burning briskly back of the stage,'' according to The New York Times.
``All available firefighting apparatus of Paterson was called out to fight the flames, which for a time threatened to wipe out an entire business block ... There was a panic among the Italians living in the neighboring tenements, and many were rescued scantily clad.''
The Opera House was considered a ``vanity house,'' according to the web site of the Passaic County Historical Society.
`` It was owned, supported, managed and patronized by the rising business and managerial classes of Paterson ... The theatre reviewer of the Daily Press concerned himself more with a description of the audience than with the presentation on stage.''
In 1916, a movie house - the United States Theatre - opened on the site.
Woman trapped by fire on 8th floor of Alexander Hamilton Hotel in Paterson in October 1984 clasps towel to breath. The blaze, set by an arsonist, claimed 15 lives.
On Oct. 18, 1984, an arson fire swept the shabby Alexander Hamilton Hotel in downtown Paterson - a once elegant building that fell into disrepair - killing 15 people and injuring about 60 others.
"People were screaming, trying to tie sheets and blankets together to get out the windows," said hotel resident Lusylvia Rivera, 33, quoted by the Associated Press. She fled with her three children from a room on the first floor of the residential hotel. "The ones who were more scared just went ahead and jumped," Rivera said.
Box 181 - Market and Church streets - was transmitted at 12:14 a.m. and the incident ``quickly escalated to three alarms and all of the city's fire units responded, as did firefighters from five nearby towns,'' The New York Times said. ''We have people trapped, we have people jumping,'' Paterson Fire Capt. Domenick Cotroneo told The Times.
Fire Chief William Comer, quoted by the AP, said "the fire spread so fast and the flames were so intense" that the blaze jumped from the third floor through air ducts and engulfed four or five floors of the eight-story hotel.
Battalion Chief Frank Crampton said Paterson firefighters encountered "very poor visibility, panicky people, unconscious people lying on floors," according to the AP.
Harry Moore, who escaped from the second floor with his wife and two babies, said "It happened all of the sudden," according to the AP. "A girl knocked on the door and screamed, 'Get out of the place,'" Moore said. "When we got out, the place was in flames. We grabbed what we could, the babies first of course."
Some victims succumbed to their injuries days later, including Christino Ramirez, 53, who died Oct. 24 at Hackensack Medical Center's burn unit. ''When he arrived here he had third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body,'' said Lisa Hoffman, a hospital spokeswoman quoted by United Press International.
Russell W. Conklin, 44, a TV repairman and resident of the hotel, was convicted of manslaughter and arson and sentenced to prison on Nov. 6, 1985. The Washington Post described Conklin as "an embittered handyman who may have been drunk."
Paterson Mayor Frank X. Graves, quoted by the AP, said Conklin "had a fight with the night manager. He's the one that supposedly started the fire. The manager locked the guy in the room. He lit the sheets on fire and climbed out the back window. The suspect is saying this."
Conklin served more than a decade behind bars and was released from a state prison on April 23, 1997, according to the web site of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
Investigators determined paint and other materials stored in the hotel fueled the flames.
Passaic, Clifton and Hawthorne were among the communities to send mutual aid.
The Hamilton tragedy recalled an arson fire that killed six people at the Midtown Hotel on Dec. 10, 1968. Box 141 was transmitted at 10:58 p.m. for 2 Park Ave. and escalated to a general alarm.
Another arson fire on Oct. 15, 1981 killed eight people at an apartment building at 89 Park Ave.
An even deadlier fire on Nov. 4, 1917 claimed 19 lives at the Salvation Army Rescue Mission. That fire was apparently an accident.
The Alexander Hamilton Hotel was named for the first U.S. Treasury secretary. In 1791, Hamilton led a group of investors in creating the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, which led to the creation of the city. The society was organized to harness the power of the Great Falls on the Passaic River.
In June 1995, The Times published a story about plans to renovate hotel:
``When people talked about fancy hotels in those days, they talked about the Alexander Hamilton. Built in 1930, the 170-room hotel was a natural magnet for the rich and powerful, a handsome eight-story brick building just two blocks from City Hall and surrounded by cigar and fedora stores and the famed Fabian Theater. ... But as the city declined in the 1960's, so did the hotel. Factories closed because of labor unrest and high costs, the well-to-do fled to the suburbs, crime and unemployment rose and the hotel fell into disrepair.''
When the arsonist struck, ``The ballrooms were stacked to the ceiling with mattresses. Garbage was everywhere and there was a stench of sewage. People passed out in the stairwells. Only the cockroaches thrived,'' the newspaper said.
In 1894, a man named William Nelson published an account of firefighting in Paterson, New Jersey, in the years before the Civil War entitled "Records of the Paterson Fire Association 1821-1854.''
The subtitles of Nelson's book were ``With the Laws Relating to the Association'' as well as ``Accounts of Fires and other Matters of Interest, From Contemporary Newspapers.''
In the introduction, Nelson said: ``No record is known of the first organization in Paterson to combat fire. It is believed, however, that Engine Co. No. 1 was formed about 1815.'' In doing his research, Nelson said ``a careful search through the records of Paterson from 1815 to 1819 has brought to light'' only a two brief items related to fires.
The first was an account of a blaze at the residence on the inventor Samuel Colt, who lived at 120 Market Street, on Dec. 31, 1815. The second was about a fire in late June or early July 1819 at the home of John Amens. The Colt residence was saved. The Amens residence was not.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
- Capt. Hobart Strathern
- Driver Stephen Walls
- Fireman William McCorry
- Fireman Daniel Stevens
- Fireman David Quakenbush
- Fireman Joseph Carr
The Fulton Street Fire - a general alarm at Box 151 - started on April 29, 1978 and devoured mills and adjacent buildings as well as three fire department vehicles - Engine 2, Engine 5 and Battalion 2. Hundreds of firefighters from across North Jersey provided mutual aid.
General alarm fires also destroyed the Ashley-Bailey Mill in 1904, the Lamond Robertson Carpet Mill in 1930, the Ramsey & Gore Mill in 1939, the Appel Mill in 1944 and St. Anthony's Guild in 1973. Mill fires requiring second- and a third-alarm assignments were commonplace.
An account of the Little Beaver Mill fire, published in the Paterson Intelligencer of May 2, 1832, said: ``In a very few minutes the whole premises were involved in a sheet of flame. The firemen soon arrived with their engines, but the progress of the fire was already such, that little else could be done that to preserve the buildings adjacent."
In a story headlined ``The Paterson Hemp and Rope Manufactory Almost Wholly Destroyed,'' The Washington Post reported on a July 21, 1890 fire at the ``extensive machine works of S. J. C. Todd, one of the oldest manufacturing establishments in this city.''
Later that year, The New York Times reported: ``Fire was discovered in the engine room which adjoins the main building of the extensive silk mill of Bamford Brothers on Rip Van Winkle Avenue'' on Nov. 22, 1890 and ``an hour later the entire establishment was completely destroyed.''
On Dec. 10, 1926, ``The old Van Kirk mills, a series of two and three story brick buildings occupied by forty silk manufacturers, were destroyed by fire,'' The Times said. ``Because of a number of explosions during the blaze Fire Chief Thomas Coyle started an investigation to learn if the fire was of incendiary origin.''
As for Samuel Colt's gun works, the four-story brownstone at the Great Falls opened in 1836 and over five years produced 5,000 rifles and revolvers. Various manufacturers occupied after Colt's company failed in 1842. By the 1980s, the mill had fallen into disrepair and arsonists finished it off.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
On May 8, 1916, a police squadron rescued five firefighters who were overcome by smoke in a fire at the Barbour Flax Spinning Company storehouse. The seven-story brick structure was located at Dale Avenue and Slater Street.
``Police Lieutenant Joseph Mosley and fourteen officers formed a rescue squad and carried out the unconscious firemen,'' according to The New York Times. ``This burning flax caused a dense black smoke to arise, accounting for so many men being overcome.''
Firefighting is a dangerous business and over the years a number of Paterson firefighters have died or been injured in the line of duty - including five men at the Quackenbush Co. department store warehouse on March 12, 1938.
``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.''
- 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
Several years earlier - on May 8, 1934 - nine Paterson firemen were injured when a wall collapsed at a fire at St. Bonaventure's Lyceum on Ramsey Street.
The Quackenbush fire was the third incident in a decade to claim the life of more than one Paterson firefighter.
On May 7, 1934, two firemen - John O'Neill of Engine 9 and Allen Saal of Truck 3 - were fatally injured at Box 413, the St. Bonaventure Lyceum at Carlisle Avenue and Ramsey Street.
On April 27, 1928, two firemen - Edward Tribe of Engine 1 and Marinus Baker of Engine 4 - died at Box 451, the Linn's Economy Drug Goods store at 135 Main St., according to The Times.
Tragedy struck again during the War Years.
Two members - Fireman August Schneider and Auxiliary Fireman William Conklin, both of Engine 4 - were
fatally injured in a vehicle accident at Grand and Mill streets on Aug. 19, 1942.
Other firefighters have made the Supreme Sacrifice, according the 1985 history book ``Taking The Heat,'' the National Firefighters Memorial and newspaper accounts:
- On July 9, 1891, Callman James Moser, of Engine 1, was killed by the bursting of a soda water tank.
- On May 5, 1893, Callman Christopher Murphy, of Truck 3, fell from the appartus.
- On Jan. 15, 1904, Fireman Harry Kelley, of Engine 7, and two others fell from a ladder at the Hinchliffe Brewery fire. Kelley died and Capt. James O'Neill and Fireman Thomas McGill were injured. The brewery was located at Governor and Ann Streets.
- On Aug. 11, 1909, Acting Assistant Chief William Cook suffered burns at the Zabriske Stables fire.
- On March 31, 1931, Fireman David Johnstone, of Engine 8, struck by a car at the Manhattan Hotel fire on Market Street.
- On July 26, 1951, Chief's Aide Joseph Dow killed in a wreck at Broadway and Madison Avenue.
- On March 4, 1961, Capt. Lester Reiche, of Engine 7, collapsed at a fire on Ellison Street.
- On March 1, 1973, Capt. Frank Mancinelli, of Truck 3, fell from a roof at a three-alarm fire on Paterson Street.
- On April 5, 1975, Capt. Fred Armona, of Engine 11, died in a roof collapse at the Christian Reformed Church fire at Fourth Avenue and East 19th Street.
- On May 8, 1978, Firefighter Thomas Calamita, of Engine 2, collapsed at a fire on Lyons Street.
- On Jan. 17, 1991, Firefighter John A. Nicosia, 28, of Engine 4, went missing in a fire that started at the old Meyer Brothers Department Store at 161 Main Street and spread to other buildings. His body was located two days later.
- On Oct. 24, 1998, Firefighter Walter Bitner, 38, of Engine 5, died of injuries sustained in an apparatus accident a decade earlier. Bitner had been paralyzed.
- FOR PROJECT GUTENBERG E-BOOK ON FLOOD, CLICK ON: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19878/19878-h/19878-h.htm
|St. Joseph's Church where the flames were stopped|
|Cooling off a safe at the First National Bank|
|Soldier standing guard at car barn where fire started|
|Park Avenue Baptist Church|
|Paterson Public Library|
|Public School No. 15|
|View of downtown from City Hall|
|Path of flames|
In the early hours of Feb. 9, 1902, Box 451 at Main Street and Broadway was transmitted for the flames that started the Great Fire of Paterson.
Written for 100th anniversary
'A Whirlwind of Flames'
By MARGO NASH
The New York Times - Feb. 3, 2002
JUST after midnight on Feb. 9, 1902, an overheated stove in a trolley shed in Paterson caught fire. Fanned by 60-mile-an-hour winds, the blaze tore through downtown Paterson and leapfrogged into Sandy Hill, a residential neighborhood to the east. Although there were only two deaths connected with the fire, it destroyed 459 buildings, more than a quarter of the city's structures, and 26 city blocks. Homes, stores, churches and banks were burned to the ground. The library, the city hall and the posh Hamilton Club were in ruins. The blaze finally burned itself out outside a cemetery at 1 p.m.
Edward A. Smyk, the historian of Passaic County, said one witness called the city ''a whirlwind of flames'' that day. It was the worst fire in New Jersey's history.
Beginning this weekend, Paterson will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the fire in a series of exhibitions and programs at the Passaic County Historical Society, the Paterson Museum, the Paterson Free Public Library, and the Hamilton Club Building of Passaic County Community College.
And at the American Labor Museum Botto House National Landmark in Haledon, there will be a lecture about connections between the fire and the strike of silk workers in Paterson later in 1902.
The driving force behind these events is Glenn Corbett, who teaches fire science -- the study of firefighting, fire-protection systems and the behavior of fires -- at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. Mr. Corbett is also a captain in the fire department in Waldwick, where he lives. He is writing a book about the fire and wil give a lecture at the historical society on Friday at 7 p.m.
Mr. Corbett's father grew up in Paterson and was chief of the Waldwick Fire Department. Mr. Corbett said he has long been fascinated by firefighting and Paterson.
''The fire was too important an event to let go by without recognition of its importance to Paterson,'' Mr. Corbett said.
Many departments from the surrounding area helped fight the 1902 fire. But the Paterson Fire Department, which played the major role, was ill equipped with old fire engines that threw weak streams of water, Mr. Corbett said.
He added: ''One of the biggest mistakes is that they did not send fire companies downwind to the residential neighborhood to take care of the embers and firebrands dropping down on the wood frame homes and shingled roofs. In my opinion, the second leg of that fire in Sandy Hill didn't have to happen.''
The show at the historical society, ''By Flames Are We Tested: The Great Fire of Paterson 1902,'' features photographs of the city before and after the fire.
''Some reveal a city that looks like London after the Blitz,'' said Andrew Shick, the society's director. ''It's very haunting.''
Objects salvaged from the fire will also be on display, among them the collection box from St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church at Market and Carroll Streets. The church was reduced to ashes after the blaze, and the coins in the collection box melted together. But the metal box survived. The church was rebuilt and reopened by 1903.
The show at the museum, ''Firefighters and the Great Paterson Fire,'' concentrates on firefighting artifacts. It also includes photographs with panoramic views of the city before and after the fire and other prints developed for the first time from glass-plate negatives made after the blaze. These pictures reveal a dazed world of ladies in black, men in bowler hats, doughboys and carriages against a burned-out wintry landscape.
The city's reconstruction is chronicled at the library in ''The New Paterson: A Phoenix Arises from the Ashes.'' The library was the first public one in the state, with 37,000 volumes. Its building was the former home of the Danforth family, which built its fortune in Paterson manufacturing locomotives and machinery for the textile industry.
After the fire, when the library was destroyed, Mary Ryle Danforth donated money to help build the new library, which was designed by Henry Bacon, who would go on to design the Lincoln Memorial. Photographs of the old library along with Bacon's designs for the new one are among the items on display.
The Hamilton Club, a businessman's club on Church and Ellison Streets, where three American presidents enjoyed the hospitality, was also destroyed. But just over a year later, a new clubhouse restored in minute detail reopened. ''The Great Paterson Fire: The Hamilton Club Rebuilt,'' an exhibition at the club, now part of Passaic County Community College, tells the story of its reconstruction.
The fire caused $6 million in damages. Reconstruction was financed by local banks, insurance money and private donations, and the wealthy paid for relief to local families, said Giacomo De Stefano, director of the Paterson Museum. Mayor John Hinchcliffe refused outside capital, even offers of help from other parts of the state, he added.
''The mayor wanted to show Paterson's strength, that the fire was nothing but a minor setback, that Paterson could really take care of itself,'' Mr. De Stefano said.
He added: ''In those days we were a prosperous city, an industrial force. Paterson was one of the major manufacturing centers in the United States, with its silks and textiles, locomotives and machine shops.''
Although that era is long gone, Mr. De Stefano evoked its spirit.
''A city like Paterson had no problem taking care of itself and putting it back just the way it was,'' he said. ''We were a strong city. We didn't need help.''
Excerpts from newspapers of February 1902:
The New York Times
PATERSON, N.J., SWEPT BY FLAMES
Business Portion of the the City Destroyed by Fierce Fire.
Churches and Other structures wiped Out -
Aid Summoned from Passaic and Newark.
PATERSON, N.J. Feb 9. - One of the largest fires that ever visited this city started shortly after midnight in the Paterson car sheds. A high wind was prevailing and it carried the flames and sparks to adjourning buildings. The First Baptist Church was burned to the ground.
Soon after the church was destroyed the flames seemed to start from a dozen places in the vicinity at the same time. The wind carried the burning embers high into the air. Anywhere they dropped flames I seemed to shoot up.
The firemen were hard at work at 2 A. M. but the wind only adds to the fury of the flames.
The police say no reports of fatalities have been received. The names appear to be beyond control of the force at hand.
The old City Hall is in ruins at 3:30 this morning. Helvetia Hall is burned to the ground. Four of the blocks are not burning.
Paterson's business centre is rapidly being wiped out. The Paterson High School and the Daily Guardian newspaper structure rebuilt but a short time ago are again t burning. The Morning Call, one of the leading papers is threatened.
Engines from Passaic have just arrived. Newark has been asked for assistance. The citizens are demoralized. The street lights are out and the city, save for the flames, is in darkness.
The State Journal of Lincoln, Nebraska
``It commenced in the car shed and was burning fiercely when one of the employees detected it. It was leaping through the roof and the gale was lifting it in forks and swirls when the fire department came clanging into Broadway, Main and Van Houten streets.
``The firemen tried to hem it in but it speedily crossed Van Houten street in one direction, Main street in another and gaining vigor as it went burned unchecked down into the business district. Every piece of fire mechanism in the city was called out but fire and gale were masters.''
The Washington Post
``In its desolate wake are the embers and ashes of property valued in a preliminary estimate at $10,000,000. It burned its way through the business section of the city and claimed as its own a majority of the finer structures devoted to commercial, civic, educational, and religious use, as well as scores of houses.''
The Piqua Daily Call, Piqua, Ohio
Paterson, N. J., Feb. 10. -- Property valued at from $7,500,000 to $10,000,000 was devoured by a conflagration that raged from midnight Saturday until late Sunday afternoon. It burned its way through the business section of the city and claimed as its own a majority of the finer structures devoted to commercial, civic, educational and religious use, as well as scores of houses. A number of persons were injured, hundreds are homeless and thousands are left without employment. A relief movement for the care of those unsheltered and unprovided for has already been organized, and MR. GANS and Mayor HENCHCLIFFE said that Paterson would be able to care for her own without appealing to the charity of other communities and states. The great manufacturing plants of the place are safe, and the community, temporarily dazed by the calamity, has already commenced the work of reorganization and restoration.
The fire began its work of far reaching destruction at the power house of the Jersey City, Hoboken and Paterson Traction company, which fronted on Broadway and extended a block to the rear on Van Houten street. It commenced in the carshed and was burning fiercely when one of the employes detected it. It was leaping through the roof and the gale was lifting it in forks and swirls when the fire apparatus came clanging into Broadway, Main and Van Houten. The firemen tried to hem it in, but it speedily crossed Van Houten street in one direction, Main street in another, and, gaining vigor as it went, burned unchecked into the business district. Every piece of fire mechanism in the city was called out, but fire and gale were masters. A great torch of flame rose high in the air, lighting up the country for many miles and carrying a threat and warning to the people and property in its path. There were efforts to rescue furniture and stock, but the speed with which the fire moved gave the rescuers little time. Property was often moved to a place of presumed safety only to be eventually reached and destroyed. The warning to many was brief, and they were forced to flee, scantily clad, into streets glazed over with ice and swept by the keen wind.
Main street was soon arched over with a canopy of fire for a block, and then for two blocks, as the flames hurled themselves upon building after building. The firemen fought with every resource of their craft, but the flames found new avenues in Ellison and Market streets and got beyond all control. Calls for relief went out to every city in this portion of the state, and the jaded firemen labored on through the hopeless hours of the morning. The city hall, a magnificent structure, surmounted by a great clock tower, situated on Washington, Ellison and Market streets, finally caught and with it went all of the splendid business structures that surrounded it. They made a great furnace of fire that burned with a fierce roar.
There was a series of explosions and scores of walls fell when the fire left them strengthless. Flying firebrands carried the conflagration over some buildings and around others, and it therefore burned in an irregular course. These brands finally cleared the tracks of the Erie railroad and Ramapo avenue, and, alighting on Straight street, started another great area of fire, in which the destruction and desolation wrought was nearly as great as in the other.
This second great fire started at the angle of Park avenue and Washington street and swept almost unchecked until on these two thoroughfares there was no more fuel. On the right hand side of Market street it encountered Sandy Hill cemetery as a barrier to check it, but on the left hand side, at Carroll street, it claimed St. Joseph's church, a great classic stone building. It was on this second great fire that the volunteer firemen from the outside cities did their most heroic and effective work.
The final and one of the most desperate fights of the day occurred in mid-afternoon back in the first fire area, at the Hamilton club, situated at the corner of Church and Ellison streets. The handsome clubhouse caught and the exhausted firemen were rallied around it. They were anxious to save the structure, and, besides, failure meant that the fire might take new headway among the properties adjoining the clubhouse. The building was doomed, however, but a torrent of water kept the fire to the premises. The four walls of the clubhouse stood, but the roof collapsed and the inner part was completely burned out.
Scores of persons were hurt and burned, but the loss of life is not thought to be great. There are many persons supposed to be missing, but in the excitement and flight most of these are supposed to be separated from their families and friends. Until order is brought out of the chaos nothing definite can be known. What started the fire is not certain, but it is thought that one of the feed wires running into the car barns was responsible. Paterson has a population of 106,000.
The area of destruction foots up roughly 25 city blocks. The estimate of $10,000,000 damage covers the losses broadly, and this estimate may be scaled down to $8,000,000.
City hall, public library, old city hall, police station, No. 1 engine house, patrol stables, high school, school No. 10.
Churches: First Baptist, Second Presbyterian, Park Avenue Baptist, St. Mark's Episcopal, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic.
Banks: First National, Second National (partially), Paterson National, Silk City Trust, Paterson Trust.
Club houses: Young Men's Christian association, Knights of Columbus, Progress club, St. Joseph's hall, Hamilton club.
Office buildings: ROMALINE building, KATZ building, MARSHALL & BALL, COHN building, old Town Clock, old KINNE building, STEVENSON building.
Telegraph companies: Western Union, Postal Telegraph.
Theater: The Garden.
Newspapers: The Evening News, Sunday Chronicle.
QUACKENBUSH & Company, dry goods.
Boston Store, dry goods.
Globe, dry goods.
National Clothing company.
KENT'S drug store.
KINSELLA'S drug store.
MUZZY'S hardware and general merchandise.
MARSHALL & BALL clothiers.
JOHN NORWOOD, paints.
P. H. & W. G. SHIELDS' grocery.
The Patterson, dry goods.
JONES, piano store.
SAUTER & Company, pianos.
FEDER & McNAIR, shoes.
TAPPAN'S tea store.
BROHAL & MUELLER, shoes.
C. E. BEACH, automobiles.
MOREHEAD & Son, clothiers.
Paterson Gas and Electric company.
SKYES drug store.
MACKINTOSH drug store.