Heavy Streams Save Exposure As Fire Levels Old Warehouse
N.J.—Photos by Joe Licala.
Fire fighters from eight New Jersey municipalities battled a blaze that destroyed a century-old, abandoned, wood building in Edgewater previously used as a warehouse. Heavy streams protected a two-story United Stages Postal Service building 100 feet away and confined the fire to the old building.
The first report of the fire came from a man who ran into Edgewater Fire Department Headquarters and shouted breathlessly, “There’s a fire at the Old Sugar House on River Road.”
Captain Anthony Griffin, since promoted to deputy chief, responded with Aerial Truck 2 and Engine 1, a 1250-gpm pumper, at 1:40 a.m. November 28, 1972. Griffin could see the sugar house engulfed in flame as he left fire headquarters, only half a block from the fire.
He immediately called for a second alarm, which brought in Engines 4 and 5, as well as all off-duty fire fighters and 30 volunteers.
Ladder pipe set up
As Griffin and his men reached the scene, they saw flames shooting through the roof on the south end of the building. He ordered the aerial truck company to set up a ladder pipe near the loading dock on the south side of the building. However, the aerial had to be moved back when paint was burned off the side of the truck facing the fire.
Engine 1 stretched two 2 1/2-inch lines from the aerial truck 300 feet to a hydrant on River Road. Then Griffin had Engine 5, a 1000-gpm pumper, lay two 2 1/2-inch lines from a deck gun positioned 200 feet west of the aerial truck to Engine 1. Engine 4 laid two more 2 1/2-inch lines from the deck gun to another hydrant on River Road and hooked up at that hydrant.
At 1:45 a.m., Griffin requested a mutual aid call for one aerial ladder and three pumpers. The Edgewater Fire Department contacted by tie-line the Cliffside Park Fire Department, which is mutual aid headquarters for the East Bergen Firemen’s Mutual Aid Association, consisting of eight member towns: Fairview, Giffside Park, Edgewater, Englewood Gifts, Leonia, Palisade Park, Ridgefield and Fort Lee. The Teaneck Fire Department Box 54 Canteen Unit is an honorary member of the association.
Edgewater Chief Oscar Waldow arrived at 1:47 a.m. and took over command of the fire and called for New York City and Coast Guard fireboats along with the Box 54 canteen.
Mutual aid response
In response to a call from mutual aid headquarters, Fort Lee sent Engine 4, a new 1500-gpm pumper, and Hose Wagon 6, which carried 2000 feet of 3-inch hose and a deluge set. Chief Daniel Cook was in charge of the Fort Lee units.
At the same time, Cliffside Park sent its aerial ladder truck, which was positioned about 100 feet from the west side of the blazing building. Fort Lee Engine 4 stretched two 2 1/2-inch lines from the aerial to a hydrant 800 feet away on River Road and supplied a ladder pipe on the aerial.
Fort Lee Hose Wagon 6 laid two 800-foot, 3-inch lines from Fort Lee Engine 4 to the west side of the fire, where its mounted deluge set was put into operation.
The Fairview Fire Department sent a 1000-gpm pumper that hooked up to a hydrant in front of the United States Postal Service mail bag headquarters building somewhat northwest of the burning sugar house. Then Ridgefield Engine 3, under the direction of Chief Edward Hannigan, led out with two 2½-inch lines from Fairview’s pumper and operated a deck gun between the fire and the Postal Service building to protect the latter.
Line taken to roof
Then the Ridgefield fire fighters hand-stretched a 2½⅛⅛ line from a wall hydrant on the ground floor to the second-story roof of the Postal Service building. This line was manned by Edgewater fire fighters to douse flying embers landing on the roof.
At this time, the Box 54 canteen arrived with coffee.
Other arriving mutual aid units included Palisade Park Fire Company 1, Englewood Giffs Fire Company 1 and Leonia Fire Company 1. Palisade Park Engine 1, a 1250-gpm pumper, lined in with a 2 1/2-inch line from Fort Lee Engine 4 to the west side of the fire, about 200 feet from Giffside Park Aerial 2, and operated its deck gun. Palisade Park fire fighters also handstretched another 2 1/2-inch line back to Edgewater Engine 4.
Edgewater volunteers stretched a 2 1/2-inch line by hand from Palisade Park’s pumper to the southwest corner of the sugar house and put a deluge set in operation. Then they stretched another 2 1/2-inch line back to Edgewater Engine 4.
The aluminum walls of the newer part of the old building collapsed and fire fighters moved in to wet down the burning debris.
Waldow declared the fire under control at 7 a.m. and most of the volunteer units were released. The last volunteer unit to return to quarters was Fort Lee Engine 4, which returned at 8:33 a.m.
About this time, the Edgewater chief called for a crane to help with the overhauling. Edgewater returned to quarters at 9:30 a.m. The only man injured during the blaze was a Cliffside Park fireman, who broke a leg.
Due to quick action of the first-in officer and calling for help from the surrounding towns, the fire was kept from spreading to the Postal Service building.
Some 10,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose and 4000 feet of 3-inch hose were used by 300 paid and volunteer fire fighters from eight towns with 20 pieces of equipment.