Firemen Brave Shots to Rescue Excited Tenant
When a seven-story brick tenement at No. 444 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City, N. J., caught fire at 7:15 A. M. on January 21, one of the tenants became hysterical and opened fire promiscuously from a front window. Fireman John Gibson of Engine Co. 3; William Malicke and Captain William Connellon of Truck Co. No. 6, braving the barage from the automatic went up by means of an aerial and of scaling ladders, to rescue the man, his wife and child on the fifth floor. Fireman Gibson swung a scaling ladder to the sixth floor and climbed in the window. The man who fired the shots was nowhere to be seen, but his wife and two months’ old babe were found nearly overcome from smoke. Gibson carried them down the scaling ladder and handed them over to the other two men on the aerial, who took them to the street.
In the meantime, Captain Connellon and Fireman Malicke ran around to the rear of the apartment and started to climb to the sixth floor from there. They found the man in the kitchen still clutching the gun and hysterical. After a fight, the weapon was taken from him and he was rescued. It was later found that in firing from the front window he had wounded two citizens in the street.
The fire started from an overheated furnace in the cellar, and was communicated to the upper floors through the dumbwaiter shaft. Much time was lost by sending in a still alarm, according to Chief Roger Boyle of the Jersey City fire department, and when Engine Company No. 3 arrived the cellar was all flames and the fire had climbed the shaft to the roof. The captain of Engine Company No. 3 promptly sent in an alarm from Station No. 169, which was 100 feet from the burning building, and two minutes after this was followed by a second and third alarms. When the first companies arrived the men at once went through the building arousing and rescuing the occupants, which numbered 61 men, women and children. The weather at the time of the fire was down to zero, and the height of the building made the fight for the Jersey City department a hard one. There were 178 men at the fire and the apparatus consisted of four first size steamers, five first size triple combination pumpers and four aerial trucks, all of American-LaFrance make. There were 14 four-inch single and double hydrants available, spaced from 200 to 300 feet apart, with a pressure of 40 pounds at the hydrant. Eleven engine streams were thrown with nozzles of 11/4″, the main at Jersey Avenue being 12″ and that on Bright Street, 36. Some 6,300 feet of 2′,’ hose were laid, of which 11 lengths burst during the fire. The loss on the building, which was valued at $45,000 was $20,000, and that on the contents, valued at approximately $15,000 was $11,000.
In referring to the brave work done by the three men of the department. Chief Boyle writes: “Several good rescues were made by the use of scaling ladders by John Gibson, hoseman of Engine Company No.3; William, Malicke, hoseman of Engine Company No. 3, and Captain William Connellon of Truck Company No. 6. These men made the rescues at the peril of their own lives, for which I have recommended to the director of public safety, William B. Quinn, that they be granted Honorable Mention for this meritorious work.”