One afternoon while walking home from High
School on Ferry Street, I heard a loud explosion, just after I had
passed the National Biscuit Company's plant. Unable to determine
the source of that loud report I continued down the street. As I
approached Brill Street and turned down towards home, Engine # 16
swept around the corner. It's siren wailing bell clanging headed
down the street, as it passed the driver "Harp" Fagan
shouted out "It's Your Old Man's Place". Now Fire Engine
bells and sirens seem to be sounding all over the area. Increasing
my pace I headed towards the foundry.
Arriving at the intersection of Brill and Christie Streets I was
greeted by an unbelievable array of emergency vehicles, Three or
Four Engine Companies, Two Truck Companies,A Battalion Chief , Newark
Salvage Corp,the Newark Police Emergency Squad Truck, several Police
Cars plus an Ambulance.
What circumstance had caused this great response? Compressed air
was used to operate chipping hammers used in the finishing of iron
castings. An air compressor tank had burst, it seems that the seam
of the steel tank had been brazed rather than welded. When the pressure
built up in the vessel, the joint ruptured causing the tank to break
apart with a loud report.
In the foundry's office, Marie the secretary was on the phone with
a customer when the blast ensued. The person on the phone refused
to hang up, wanting to know what was happening hampering her attempt
to call the Fire Department. Dropping the phone she dashed across
Christie Street to Bowkers grocery store. She asked for a nickel
to use the pay phone, Mr Bowker was more interested in what had
caused the loud report. Finally Mrs. Bowker said, "Tom, for
Gods sake please be quiet and give her a nickel so she can make
that call". Making that call prompted that great response.
Final results no personnel injuries - but the tank and many windows
in the foundry must be replaced.From then on all made sure that
subsequent compressor tank seams were welded. An interesting afternoon