Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Paterson Riverside Station - Photo by Dr. Thomas Dayspring

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