Building Construction Awareness Project: The Hackensack Ford Fire

Fire Engineering/YouTube

By Joe Pronesti

July 1, 1988 is a day that changed the fire service and one we all must remember, learn about and most importantly, maintain as a vital part of our culture.

It was a Friday, and Hackensack (NJ) firefighters Richard Williams, Steven Ennis, Richard Reinhagen, William Kresja, and Leonard Radumski all went to work that morning just like you and I do. By sunset that day their names would become synonymous with tragedy and an event forever marked in fire service history. 

They were victims in a wooden bowstring collapse at a car dealership. In this edition of Fire Engineering’s Building Construction Group, we discuss this event, its lessons, and the impact it had on the need to study and understand building construction. 

The group is joined by two members of the Hackensack Fire Department, John Davis and Mike Christensen, who discuss the day of the incident and how the department moved forward in the days and years after. 

Panel: Jack Murphy, Paul Dansbach, Glenn Corbett, Joe Pronesti

Correction: Initial post had James Davis rather than John Davis.

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