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, September 20, 2016


UPDATED JAN. 16, 2018


: Collection of Bruno Wendt, Paterson Fire History
Top photo: Paterson Engine Co. 1's crew pumps foam. Deputy Chief William Comer, later Chief of Department, om foreground. Center:  Truck Co. 2 with aerial up, Squad Co. 1. Bottom: Early stage of fire.

On Feb. 8, 1980, a general alarm fire gutted Paterson police headquarters at 111 Washington St.

Box 171 was transmitted at 4:25 p.m. and crews resorted to pumping foam into the basement to smother the flames as the building housed ammunition and tear gas.

The next day's New York Times told the story concisely:

PATERSON, N.J., Feb. 9 - The Paterson Police Department, burned out of its ornate, turn-of-the-century headquarters in a four-hour, general-alarm fire last night, began salvaging smoke-damaged equipment today and setting up makeshift headquarters in a vacant junior high school about a half-mile away.

Temporary quarters were established at the old Central High School building, pending construction of a public safety building.

111 Washington Street was abandoned and remained vacant into the 21st Century.

In a macabre twist, in September 2016, a body was discovered locked in a cell in the building, with officials estimating the person had been dead about a decade.