by Jack Keegan


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 Down Neck.


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