The SUPREME SACRIFICE
Line of Duty Death (LODD)
Paterson erected a Firemen's Memorial to the honor of Paterson Firemen who lost their lives in the performance of their duty. The monument was placed at Post Office Plaza on March 12, 1941, then third anniversary of then death of five heroic firemen who met death in the collapse of the Quackenbush warehouse. Immediately after the tragic occurrence, which saddened not only members of the fire department, but the entire populace of the city, the Morning Call sponsored a campaign for funds to honor the memory of these men and those who bravely met similar deaths before them.
Through the generosity of the business men and citizens generally. the fund was brought to a successful conclusion and the movement launched by the Morning Call was accomplished. The names of all the members of the Paterson Fire department who gave their lives upholding their oath to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Paterson will be suitably inscribed upon this memorial and will forever be an honor to the brave men who died in the performance of a sacred duty, as well as in inspiration to their bereaved comrades who must and will carry on.
The St. Florian (patron Saint of Firefighters) pin was issued in 2015 to commemorate the first annual Red Mass at St. Gerard's Church in Paterson. The mass honors those in the Paterson Diocese (Passaic, Morris and Sussex Counties) who have made the Supreme Sacrifice.
May 30, 1941: Memorial Service at the Monument
Brief prayers, a simple memorian service and the placing of a wreath of calla lilies at the base of the Firemen's monument marked yesterday, the Paterson's department tribute to their deceased comrades, whose names appear on the bronze plate as men of the department who gave their lives in the line of duty. During the week the Park's department, under the direction of Superintendent Robert McCrowe. had planted the plot with flowers. The firemen placed flags to surround the plot. Standing left tp right: Chief's driver John B. Murphy, Firemen Frank Earley and James Coyle, Capt James Chaplain, Capt. Frank Semento, Fireman George Lees and Chriss Glasser, then Rev. John T Merrick, fire chaplain; Chief Thomas L Coyle, The Rev. O.M. Demicott, fire chaplain; Fireman Thomas Scholfield, Battalon Chief James Troy, Firemen Harold Kane, Joseph Semas, Joe Craig, John Heffran and John Collins. Kneeling Fireman Robert Magee and Charles McGee.
June 1, 1942:
May 31, 1943: Amazing Memorial ceremony during height of WW II. Full detail on the news clip below. Interestingly the flagpole at Post Office Plaza was donated by the two sons of LODD firefighter John P. O'Neill.
May 28, 1951: Memorial Day service at Monument (then at Post Office Plaza))
1953 Memorial Day service at Monument (Federal Plaza by Post Office)
May 31, 1961 service at Monument (Federal Plaza by Post Office)
May 25, 1965: Memorial Day service
May 30, 1967: Federal Plaza
The monument was moved to the Hillcrest Firehouse at the corner of Union and Berkshire Avenue in 1982.
1995 Ball Book listing of Supreme Sacrifice - for first time the name of William W. Pikethley (LODD February 20, 1950) appears
The monument was refurbished and moved to the McBride Avenue Fire Headquarters and rededicated on June 5, 2016. At this time the name of the 5 members of Paterson's Volunteer Department as well as Auxilliary Firemen killed in action were added
The fire department has added a additional way of honoring those who have made the supreme sacrifice: A bell (formerly of Engine 1) on a wooden base with a memorial plaque: the bell will be re-chromed and the names of each of the 27 will be added. The base was finished and bell mounted by Captain Michael Tromellen's Father and the engraving was done by Captain Scott Parkin.
June 5, 2017: The 28th name was added to the monument for FF Scott Rogow who died of injuries sustained in a fire on July 6. 2009.
Volunteer Department (pre-1890)
Firefighter Patrick Brophy of Washington Engine Company 3 lost his life while battling a fire in 1865 at the Allen Reynolds & Company Tobacco Company on Van Houten Street.
May 3, 1870: News-clip 5 years after Brophy death
Firefighter James Johnson died in the line of duty July 8, 1866. Overcome by heat at the Danforth shop on Market Street fire, he died the next day July 9, 1866.
Firefighter Robert Gedney of Catarct Hose Company 2 died on March 9,1884. Box 21 at Bridge and River Streets sounded on a cold and stormy night for a fire in 2 story house. Fireman Gedney responded from his home - running to the scene. He collapsed on the Arch Street Bridge and died shortly thereafter presumably of a heart attack.
FF Robert Gedney is not listed on the Memorial Monument
Partially Paid Department (1890-1895)
Firefighter James H Moser Engine Company 1 (call man) was killed by an exploding soda water tank July 9, 1891. He was the son of Paterson's longest serving volunteer fireman and former Chief of the department, Andrew Moser.
Firefighter Richard Duffy of Truck Company 1 (a call man and long term member of the company) on December 5, 1891was thrown from a horse-car while responding station 153 to join his company at a fire at 308 Getty Avenue suffering severe injuries causing his death the next day after amputation surgery on December 6 1891.
Firefighter Christopher Murphy of Truck Company 3 (call man), was fatally injured falling off the apparatus on May 5, 1893. Company was responding to Station 354 for a fire on Vreeland Avenue. Murphy slipped while attempting to climb on a rapidly hook and ladder truck and was run over. He died at St. Joseph's Hospital.
Firefighter John Lair
November 24, 1900: Firefighter John C Lair who had been a member of the Paterson Volunteer Fire Department, serving at Protection Engine Company 5, was one of the original members of the paid PFD, appointed March 1890. On November 22, 1900 as the driver of Engine Company 2, then operating out of the Highland Street firehouse he fell from the horse drawn hose wagon apparatus while responding to a General Alarm fire at the Ivanhoe Mill and was injured. He never returned to active duty. Eight months later on August 5, 1901, he as reported in the news clip below died of complications from that injury.
Fore more details on the November 1900 Ivanhoe Mill Fire CLICK HERE
Firefighter Lair is not listed n the Memorial Monument
Firefighter Harry Kelley
Fireman Kelley of Engine Company 7 died when he fell off a ladder (from Truck Company 3) at the Hinchliffe Brewery General Alarm fire on January 15, 1904.
The newspaper report below was at first optimistic on Fireman Kelley's injury.
Acting Assistant Chief William Cook
Three days after fire
August 14, 1908: Death reported
August 15, 1908: Morning Call tribute
August 18, 1908: Funeral
September 5, 1908: Fire and Police report correspondence with Cook family
January 15, 1909: Dedication of memorial plaque at City Hall foyer
August 16, 1909: One year commemorative ceremony
Linn Store Fire with 2 FF Deaths
April 27th, 1928 - 3 Alarm Fire
Edward Tribe of Engine 1 and Marinus Baker of Engine 4
Edward Tribe of Engine 1 and Marinus Baker of Engine 4
Two firemen are dead, two are in serious condition and others and two policemen were treated at hospitals and a dozen other firemen and police officers sustained minor injuries in a three alarm fire that laid in ruins a three-story brick building at 135 Main Street owned by H.B. Stay and occupied by Bernard Liss at the Economy Dry Goods Store. The damage will exceed $100,000.
The city was steeped in grief with the -- of the early morning sun by the news of the tragic fire which glorified Fire Chief Thomas Coyle and his brave firemen. Two men Edward Tribe of 11 Nineteenth Avenue and Marinus Baker of 275 Paterson Avenue were killed when the second floor of the building caved in on them.
Fireman John Heinzelman of Engine Co. 4 is confined at St. Joseph's Hospital in a critical condition suffering from injuries he sustained in the same manner as his two buddies. The conditions of Captain Eugene Murphy of Engine Company No. 4 was also critical.
Others injured taken to St. Joseph's and the General Hospitals are Captain John Holly, Fireman Robert Summers, Chris Garrity, James Carr, John Toomey, John Roche, Joseph Shearer, Raymond Thompson, and William Smith. Police Sergeant William H. Elvin sustained a laceration of the right hand and Officer George Burton a rookie member of the force was overcome by the gas fumes. Two public service linemen are reported to have been injured. Patrolman Newman Stone whose beat covers the fire escaped although he did yeoman service.
County physician William A. Norval announced that Marinus Baker died of a fractured back and suffocation. His back was broken by a beam which rested on his shoulders and back.
Dr. Norval ascribed Tribe's death to suffocation although examination disclosed he had sustained a broken arm and there was a deep ridge across his forehead, nose and face where a fallen beam had struck him.
Fireman John Heinzelman (Engine 4) is believed by Dr Norval to be the most severely injured and will be X-rayed tomorrow. It is believed he has several fractured ribs.
The county physician stated "he was of the opinion that none of the injured firefighter would die."
Mayor Raymond J. Newman ordered the flag at City hall at half mast in honor of Marinus Baker and Edward Tribe who gave their lives in the early morning blaze which burned three stores on Main Street.
In addition to that the executive announced that because of the unfortunate incident he has postponed the annual inspection of the Police and Fire Departments scheduled to be held for a week. He thanked the members of the fire department for the heroic manner in which they worked at the blaze. After remaining at the scene for several hours he did a tour of the hospitals to see the injured men.
Accompanying the mayor to the hospital were his secretary Robert Fitzpatrick and Chaplain Reverend Oscar Washenbangh. The mayor spoke to each man thanking them for their great work they had done and expressing the hope they would recover quickly. He left orders with the hospital authorities that the men should be given the best of care
Firefighter Edward Tribe
Firefighter Marinus Baker
Firefighter David F. Johnstone
April 1, 1931 Evening News
Driver of car charged with reckless driving and atrocious assault
Driver of car charged with reckless driving and atrocious assault
April 2, 1931 - Morning Call
April 2, 1931 Evening News
Driver re-arrested and charged with manslaughter
Pall of sorrow over the department and Engine 8 quarters draped in mourning
April 3, 1931 Evening News
St. Bonaventure's Fire with 2 Deaths
May 7th, 1934 - 3 Alarm Fire
John P. O'Neill of Engine 9 and Allen Saal of Truck 3
John P. O'Neill of Engine 9 and Allen Saal of Truck 3
Two firemen are dying, eight others are suffering in hospitals and a score more are back on duty today carrying burns and bruises from one of the one of the most disastrous fires the city has experienced in years
It was a three-alarm fire in the St. Bonaventure's Lyceum and parish hall that brought disaster and possible immediate tragedy in its wake. Collapsing walls of the two and a half story brick structure caused all of the injuries. When they fell they swept firemen from their ladders burying them and their companies on the ground under debris.
The conflagration which late last night demolished the old school building in the Stoney Road section was the second of its kind in four days (on Thursday morning a three-alarm fire called all apparatus to St. Joseph's Church where 24 firemen were overcome by smoke in a basement blaze.
3 Seriously Injured
Three ambulances, taxicabs and private automobiles carried the injured firemen to hospitals. The seriously injured include:
John P. O'Neill, Engine Company 9, dying at St. Joseph's Hospital from internal injuries and fractured skull
Allen Saal, Truck Company 3 dying in the General Hospital from internal injuries.
John Murphy, Chief's driver in critical condition in St. Joseph's hospital from possible internal injuries.
Also in St. Joseph's hospital is Patrolman John Colligan who suffered a recurrence of a head injury while siding at the fire. Internal injuries and broken bones were suffered by the victims of the falling walls.
Fireman Saal has been unconscious since being admitted to the hospital and Fireman O'Neill although able to talk has been given up by his physicians. It was reported that Murphy, the chief's driver had a fractured rib penetrating his lung. Condition of the others is such that some will be released from hospitals before the week is over.
Firefighter John P. O'Neill
Letter from Police and Fire Commission Board to Mrs. O'Neill
Firefighter Allen Saal
March 12, 1938 - A Day That Lives in PFD Infamy
The Quackenbush Warehouse Fire
5 Firefighters Lost
Deputy Chief James Sweeney
Captain John Davenport
FF William Lynch
FF Matthew O'Neill
FF Louis Rodesky
The following men were all killed in a wall collapse at the Quackenbush Warehouse 4th Alarm Fire at 55-57 Prospect Street
Deputy Chief James Sweeney running out of Headquarters at 115 Van Houten Street
Captain John Davenport of Engine Company 5
Firefighter William J. Lynch of Engine Company 5
Firefighter Matthew R. O'Neill of Engine Company 5
Firefighter Louis Rodesky of Engine Company 5
The Quackenbush fire was the third incident in a decade to claim the life of more than one Paterson firefighter.
Deputy Chief James Sweeney
Captain John Devenport
October 2018: Following medals were found within a tin box buried in wall of the Hillcrest Firehouse - that was exposed after an automobile crashed into the firehouse, thereby exposing the box. They had to be implanted as house was built in1970-71.
Firefighter Matthew O'Neill
Firefighter William Lynch
Firefighter Louis Rodesky
The Paterson Fire department also had 10K gold engraved medals made
Appreciation Cards from widows sent to Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. (from the Dayspring Collection)
Unveiling of the Firemen's Memorial Monument at Post Office Plaza on March 12, 1941
Unveiling of the Monument Program
May 30, 1962: Firemen visit the grave of Louis Rodesky and other departed firefighters
Firefighter Edward J. Moore
July 11, 1938: Firefighter Moore, age 57, of Engine Company 7, appointed April 1, 1908, collapsed while extending hose and attaching to a hydrant at a multiple alarm fire (Station 556, at Lewis Street and Beckwith Avenue, pulled twice, plus a second alarm) at the Wright aeronautical Plant on Beckwith Avenue. The hydrant was located at Lewis Street and Beckwith Avenue.
His name, albeit belatedly, was added to the Memorial Monument on June 3, 2018
The clip below from the Paterson Evening News states: Fireman Edward J Moore, 57, a veteran member of the fire department sustained a fatal heart attack ------ last night as he was engaged in fighting a fire which endangered the plant of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation. Four plant employees sustained first and second degree burns in fighting the fire
Report of Incident by the Acting Captain Of Engine Company 7
Auxiliary Firefighter William Conklin
Auxiliary Fireman William Conklin of Engine Company 4 was thrown from the apparatus during an auto accident at Grand and Mill Streets on April 19, 1942 and died from a skull fracture the same day. He received a full departmental funeral. Fatally injured in the same accident was fireman August Schneider (see below).
Firefighter August Schneider
Firefighter Walter W. Pitkethly
Firefighter Walter W. "Kip" Pitkethly, appointed March 1, 1923, served 27 years at Engine Company 10. He became a Chief's Aide on January 1, 1950 and on February 20, 1950 he drove Battalion Chief Walter Titus of "A" shift) when Station 523 (Main and Grand Streets) sounded at 8:23 PM. There was a kitchen fire at 428 Main Street. Pitkethly was performing duties in and out of the building when he suddenly collapsed and could not be resuscitated by ambulance crew and a physician. called to the scene.
For a variety of complexities his name was not added to the monument until > 45 years after his death (~1995). On the monument his name is listed as William W. Pitkethly, but in PFD Ball Book rosters and in a court document on the incident he is always listed as Walter Pitkethly. As his middle initial is listed as "W" tt is possible he went by his middle name, presumably "Walter."
February 20, 1950: Journal entry of Engine Company 11 (out of Grand Street firehouse) related to the fire and to the official announcement (at 9:35 PM) of Chief's Aide Pitkethly's death (note misspelling of name in journal). Note that Engine 11 was one of the companies responded to Station 523 for the 8:23 PM fire at which Pitkethly died.
February 21, 1951 entry (3:50 PM) into Journal of Engine Company 11 re order of Battalion Chief Chaplain for members of the "B" shift to assemble at Engine Company 10 quarters on February 22 at 7:30 PM and then proceed to pay last respects at the Feeney Funeral Home. Note Pithethly's name again misspelled)
Chief's Aide Joseph Dow
Chief's Aide Joseph Dow on July 26, 1951, was killed in a collision at Broadway (opposite 485) and Madison Avenue while driving Acting Chief Kennedy to a 3rd alarm fire at 551-61 1st Avenue. [ Station 636 (East 23rd Street and Second Avenue). He was hospitalized and died at 1:30 AM on July 29, 1951. His funeral was at the quarters of Engine Company 10 (17th Avenue) on August 1, 1951.
July 26, 1951: Journal of Engine Company 1 - was not at the 3 alarm fire and was dispatched by a still alarm to respond to accident site and perform wash-down of gas leaking from the "Cadillac Gig.". Ferdinand Pelleschi was the acting Captain on the "B" shift
July 29, 1951: Journal of Engine Company one notes that at 2:03 AM the fire alarm office (FAO) notified the department of the passing of Chief's Aide Joseph Dow
July 29, 1951; Journal of Engine 1 at 6:00 PM notes order of Deputy Chief Strathearn regarding paying respects to the late fireman Joseph Dow. All to meet at quarters of Engine 10 on 17th Avenue on July 30 and then proceed to funeral. At 2:48 PM on July 30 an additional order (not shown) was issued by Acting Chief Kennedy to wear black socks to the funeral.
Captain Lester Reiche
Captain Lester Reiche of Engine Company 3 collapsed from a heart attack and died at a 306 Ellison Street fire on March 4, 1961. Shown here with Engine Co 3 Ahrens Fox apparatus
Captain Frank Mancinelli
Captain Fred Armona
The fire alarm attendant working that day (Jack Baker) reported: "We had a second alarm fire on River St & 4th Ave, Engine 11 (located at Grand Street Firehouse) relocated to the Riverside firehouse as Engine 3X. They were dispatched to a still alarm on East 16th st near 4th Avenue for a rubbish fire, caused by embers from the River Street fire. At that
location a civilian reported to Captain Armona that the church on the corner of East 19th and 4th Avenue was on fire. Engine 11 (3x) picked up from the East 16th Street rubbish fire and notified fire alarm that they were responding on a verbal alarm to a reported church fire. Upon their arrival Captain Armona reported a 10-5 (working Fire ) at the church and Station 638 was sounded. The fire went to a 4th alarm and Captain Amona made the ultimate sacrifice: six firemen were in the building as the roof and walls of this 1911 church collapsed." All but Captain Armona escaped.
April 5, 1976: Memorial plaque placed at 97 Grand Street Firehouse of Engine Company 11
Firefighter Thomas Calamita
Fireman Thomas Calamita of Engine Company 2 died at an 84 Lyons Street fire (Station 288 sounded at ~5:24 AM) on May 8th 1978. It was a vacant two and 1/2 story frame dwelling.
Firefighter John Anthony Nicosia
Fireman John Nicosia of Engine Co. 4 was killed on January 19th 1991 during firefighting operations at the Meyer Brothers Department store multiple alarm fire, that also involved other structures in downtown Paterson. He was 27 years old, had entered the clothing store with several others, but failed to return when they were driven out by the heat and smoke.
Engine 4 is the apparatus on which John Nicosia responded. This photo hangs at PFD Headquarters
The following memorial tree and plaque are at Northside Firehouse on Temple Street
Firefighter Nicosia's name is inscribed on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Plaque in Emmitsburg, MD
Firefighter Walter Bitner
Fireman Walter Bitner of Engine Company 5, on July 11, 1991 after falling from the apparatus as it was leaving Lafayette Street quarters (Riverside Firehouse) and turning left onto East 16th Street while responding to an alarm at 12:21 PM to Station 124 for a fire at 310 Hamilton Avenue. He suffered a brain injury and died 9 years later.
November 10, 1998: Resolution from the City of Paterson
Firefighter Bitner's name is inscribed on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Plaque in Emmitsburg, MD
Firefighter Scott Rogow
Scott Rogow of Rescue 2, badge # 420, sustained injuries while operating at a 1 alarm structure fire on July 6, 2009: Incident #093049 at 73 Carlisle Avenue.
His death on August 28, 2012 was attributed to injuries sustained at the fire.
His name was added to the Memorial Monument on June 4, 2017. Additional photographs
2017: Scott Rogow memorialized at National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmittsburg, MD
October 6-8, 2017: Fallen Firefighter's Foundation ceremony Emmitsburg, MD. The badge presented to family
2017 Memorial T-Shirt