JOHN WESLEY YATES JR. was born on April 20, 1900 to John W. and Louisa Yates, the sixth of at least nine children. The  Yates family was living in Stockton Township (present day East Camden) as early as 1850, coming to the area from the Kensington section of Philadelphia. John Wesley Yates Sr.' father, George W. Yates, was born there in the late 1840s and had come back to Stockton from South Camden in the early 1880s, settleng in near the intersection of Federal Street and Marlton Avenue. In 1899 Stockton united with the City of Camden.

When the Census was taken, just weeks after John W. Yates Jr.'s birth, the Yates family was living at 107 Marlton Avenue, a short walk from the Pavonia switching yards, where the elder Yates worked as a laborer. He later worked as stationary engineer. When John W. Yates Jr. was born the family included older siblings Josephine, Charles, and Viola, two other children not having survived. The Yates family remained at the Marlton Avenue address through at least 1910. 

By 1917 and through the 1920 Census the Yates family lived at 25 North 23rd Street in East Camden. The Census shows John Yates Jr. living with his parents and sisters Esther, Sylvia, and Alberta at that address. John Yates Jr. was then a soldier with the United States Army.

By 1924 John W. Yates Jr. had married Mary Jones and taken up the

boilermaker's profession. They were then living at 928 Woodland Avenue and stayed their into the 1930s. When the Census was taken in April of 1930 the Yates family included two daughters, Florence and Ruth. One son would follow, John W. Yates III. By 1947 the Yates family had moved to 2400 South 8th Street.

On February 1, 1930 John W. Yates Jr. joined the Camden Fire Department. After serving with distinction for 35 years, he retired on April 1, 1965. Last a resident of  Absecon, New Jersey, John W. Yates Jr. passed away on August 7, 1974. 

In an interview in the Camden Courier-Post in 1980, veteran firefighter John P. Gryckiewicz credited John Yates for showing him the way as a young fireman.

David Yates, the grandson of John W. Yates, was named Chief of the Camden Fire Department on June 1, 2010, and served in that capacity until his retirement on December 31, 2010.

Home on the left is 107 Marlton Avenue, where John W. Yates Jr. lived from his birth through at least 1910.

Photo taken April 27, 2008

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Above: 1930s "Jack Airedale" with members of Engine 2 and Ladder 1

Below, November 1934, at grave site outside Fire Headquarters at North 5th and Arch Streets immediately following ceremony for "Jack", from left: Fireman John Yates, Captain William Van Pfefferle, Fireman William Hopkins, Fireman Lester Anderson, Acting Captain Edgar Ellender, Deputy Chief William Harring.

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The American Fire Service has always held domesticated animals as esteemed mascots and the Camden Fire Department was certainly no exception. Through the years there have been many types of mascots in the Department including monkeys, cats, goats, and of course the most popular mascot, the dog. Dating back to the days of horse drawn fire apparatus and even earlier when carriage dogs formed an integral bond with horses, canines distinguished themselves as animals especially attuned to firehouse life.

Jack was the company mascot of Engine 2 and Ladder 1 at old Fire Headquarters for over five years and he was described as an intelligent Airedale of good humored nature. Jack never missed an opportunity to climb aboard the apparatus and answer alarms with his beloved masters. The sight of Engine Company 2 roaring out Federal Street with Jack perched high atop the apparatus, wind blowing in his face amid the shrill pitch of the buckeye whistle and clanging bells was a unforgettable scene. Occasionally and as with all active canines, Jack would be out of quarters and around the corner or down the street when an alarm was transmitted. At such times he would dash down Fifth Street until he caught up with the rolling apparatus and would skillfully leap upward to his accustomed place on the rig. It was under these circumstances that Jack lost his life.

The Department phone jingled and the Housewatchman turned out both companies for an alarm at 119 N. 9th Street. Jack got a late start on the hike and chased the apparatus out Federal Street where he tangled with an automobile at Broadway. While trying to avoid the car Jack darted into the path of the apparatus and was fatally injured. The men of the Engine and Truck were heart broken. Jack was buried the next day in the rear yard of Fire Headquarters in the place that had been his home since puppyhood. Flowers were planted to adorn the fresh grave while some of the toughest Firemen in the house were visibly grief stricken. One year later on the anniversary of Jack's death a memorial service was held after Roll Call in the rear yard of Fire Headquarters. The members erected a tombstone and in a quiet service, Fireman John Yates blew taps over Jack's grave. There were no words spoken. All that needed to be said was inscribed upon the little headstone; "Our Faithful Pal Jack" died in service, November 5, 1934.

Camden Courier-Post * November 7, 1934

Albert S. Woodruff - Harold W. Bennett - Florence Hughes - John H. Lennox - William Harring Sr.
Raymond Stark - John H. Taylor - Everett Joslin - William P. Spencer - John Strauss
John McKay - Lester Anderson - Chester Andrus - William Van Pfefferle - Russell Anderson
Harry Haines Jr. - Charles Edwards - Nelson Andrews - Christopher Moll - Arthur Batten
George L. Boone - Rocco F. Abbott  

Camden Courier-Post
November 10, 1939

Lester Anderson 
John Yates - Arthur Batten
William A. Hopkins - Leo Tomkins Sr.
Ralph Bingemann - Henry Baumgartel

Engine Company 2
Constitution Road

Marie Anderson
Lester Anderson Jr. Marie Anderson
John S. Anderson - William Anderson
Charles Anderson - Madeline Anderson
Kathryn Anderson Venella
Mrs. Louis Letzgus

Camden Courier-Post * August 12, 1954

NO HOPE is expressed in the face of this fireman as he and other firemen vainly try to revive Riley Drummond,12, and his sister, Terry, 7, two of the three Drummond children who drowned Wednesday afternoon at Cooper River Park. The body of the third victim, Mary, 8, was taken from the river five hours later. Shown working (left to right) are Fireman Wesley Faust, Captain Arthur Batten, Firemen John Yates, of Rescue Squad 1, Mario Fattore, of Engine 3, and Henry Keubler, of Engine 3.



Edward Brendlinger - Harry Wagner - Chestnut Street - Dr. William A. West
Terry Drummond - Josephine Drummond - Karl Drummond - Riley Drummond - Mary Drummond
Joseph Drummond - Viola Drummond Ringo - Albert J. Davis

Camden Courier-Post * August 19, 1957

Firemen Here Get Advanced First Aid Course

More than 40 members of the Camden Fire Department have completed the Red Cross course in advanced first aid according to announcement today by Howard F. Keller, Collingswood, chairman of the Camden County Chapter's first aid committee. 

Instruction sessions were under the direction of Fire Chief William V. Pfefferle, Drillmaster Anthony Dzinski, a member of the local chapter first aid group, assisted by Nicholas E. George, were instructors. Dzinski is a member of the Red Cross faculty at the National Aquatic School held in this area each year for instruction in advance safety techniques. Dick Harris, director of Red Cross safety services, supervised.

All members of the graduating class are personnel of several units housed at fire department headquarters here. These include the Headquarters Company, Engine Company 2, Rescue Squad 1 and Truck Company 1. These groups include: 

Rescue Squad: Captains Arthur Batten, Philip A. Stinger and Albert Weller; Edward Brendlinger, Harrison MacNeir, Robert Olesiewicz and James W. Smith.

Headquarters Company: Raymond Banford, John K. Voll and John W. Yates.

Truck Company 1: Captains Daniel Jiannetto, Robert E. Dukes and Otto V. Kaiser; William Watkin, Chester Gedrich, George Baxter, John Mogck, George C. Hennessy, Charles Devlin, Ambrose W. Faust, Joseph McTaggart, Howard R. Taggart, William G. Winstanley and Elmer Johnson Jr.

Engine Company 2: Captains James R. Asher, Thomas Winstanley; Carl Wirtz, James McGrory, Edwin V. Decker, James Stewart, Francis X. McTaggart, Anthony T. Orme, Mario D. Fattore, James O. Jones, Francis P. Stibi, William Hopkins, Robert E. Briggs, John Giuliano, Casper Martelli, Harold H. Pike, John J. Vane, William Stibi, John DiMaggio and Harry Kleinfelder.

In the staff office at Fire Headquarters (kneeling from left) Fireman Ernest Tartaglia, Fireman Howard Lewis, Fireman Harrison MacNeir; (standing from left) Captain Allen Hess, Fireman Dominic Dalanni, Fireman Henry Keubler, Chief Harry Wagner, Fireman James Troutman, Chief Edward Michalak, Fireman James Smith, Chief Edward MacDowell, Fireman John Yates, and Fireman George Wade. - 1961

Director of Public Safety Edward Garrity presents
Chief of Department
Edward MacDowell with a municipal proclamation
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Witnessing, from left: Fireman George Wade, Fireman Harrison MacNeir,
Fireman John Gaffney Sr., Fireman James Troutman, Fireman Ernest Tartaglia, Captain Allen Hess, Fireman John Yates, District Chief Harry Wagner (obscured), District Chief
Edward Michalak, Fireman Dominick Dalanni, Fireman
Howard Lewis, Fireman Henry Keubler

January 14, 1964
Camden Fire Department 1869-1994 125th Year Anniversary Book

On the bitter cold night of January 14th, 1964, as members were standing roll call throughout the firehouses of the City, Box 328 tapped in for Broadway and Chestnut Street at 6:02 P.M. Engine Company 1, Engine Company 8, Ladder Company 2 and Chief Theodore Primas of the 3rd Battalion responded. Arriving units found heavy smoke pushing from the first floor of Walmart Tailors, a three-story building with apartments above. Police had already led nine occupants to safety before the arrival of the fire fighters. Engine 8 stretched the first line while Ladder 2 was ordered to force the door. Moments later, the plate glass windows failed and the store front lit up in a ball of fire. Chief Primas transmitted a second alarm and ordered the deployment of master streams. The fire extended to all floors of the building and broke through the roof as bitter cold winds whipped the flames out into the street. Extreme icing upon ladders, apparatus and streets surfaces made for treacherous operations.

Deputy Chief Austin Marks who responded to the second alarm, special called an additional engine company and further ordered the recall of 35 off duty members , directly to the fire for relief purposes. As conditions deteriorated, a third alarm was transmitted to reinforce relief operations. Shortly after the third alarm, Captain Leonard Iannelli of Ladder Company 2 - the first due truck, collapsed on the sidewalk from a heart attack. Brother firemen rushed to his aid and Battalion Chief Primas personally attended to the unconscious officer. In the ambulance while enroute to the hospital, Chief Primas performed mouth to mouth resuscitation all the way. In spite of these efforts, Captain Iannelli was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

By this time, the fire had destroyed most of the building as the roof collapsed on to the top floor causing some wall sections to fall into Chestnut Street. Fire fighters concentrated their efforts on saving the adjoining Camden Roofing Supply Company. At one point a half-dozen master streams were directed into a narrow alley that separated the roofing supply from the fire building. Units were successful in protecting this exposure and firemen were also credited with saving the huge John's Bargain Store just a few doors down from the fire. Following a six hour battle, the blaze was controlled shortly before midnight although companies would remain at the scene for over 24 hours. On the following morning, the scene resembled an ice palace as firemen used axes and halligan bars to pry frozen hose embedded in thick street ice. 

Like his father, Leonard Iannelli died in the line of duty as a Camden fire fighter.  Tragically, Captain Iannelli's brother, Carmen Iannelli would also give his life while protecting the City of Camden, in 1975. 

Broadway & Chestnut Street - January 14, 1964
Engine Company 1 - Engine Company 8 - Ladder Company 2

Engine Company 8 with deckpipe from hose wagon, operates master stream into top floor of commercial building during Third Alarm at Walmart Clothing, Broadway & Chestnut Streets, South Camden on 1-14-1964.

Units press an all out attack as Chief Officers confer during Third Alarm at Broadway &  Chestnut Streets in South Camden on 1-14-1964.

Fighting two enemies at the same time amid fire and ice is a frequent scourge of fire fighters. Members are seen directing exterior streams at Walmart fire, Broadway &  Chestnut Streets on  1-14-1964 under punishing conditions.

At Broadway & Chestnut Streets in South Camden. Member seen at center of photo is Ladder Company 2 Captain Leonard Iannelli just moments before his death. At left is Deputy Chief Austin Marks during Third Alarm, 1-14-1964.

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 15, 1964

Fire Captain Dies, 2 Men Hurt Battling 2-Alarmer in Camden
Fire Rages for 2 Hours In 3 Stores

A Camden City fire captain collapsed and died while fighting a stubborn two-alarm blaze that roared out of control for almost five hours Tuesday night.

Capt. Leonard Iannelli was directing members of Fire Truck (Ladder Company) 2 when he apparently suffered a heart attack. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Cooper Hospital.

Two other firemen were sent to hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation. They were District Chief Frank Deal, 35, of 412 North 37th Street and fireman John Yates, 63, of 2400 South 8th Street Deal was treated at Cooper Hospital and Yates at West Jersey Hospital.

Despite the collapse of a brick wall, which showered stones onto the pavement, there were no other injuries. 


The blaze was discovered at 5:45 P. M. in a shop occupied by the Walmart Tailors Co. in a three-story brick building at Broadway and Chestnut Street. At 10:15 P. M., Fire Chief Edward MacDowell declared the fire under control.

Although only two alarms were turned in, extra pieces of apparatus took their positions at .the scene as flames damaged the second and third-story levels of adjoining stores at 1105 and 1107 Broadway.

The main floor of the Schrack Paint Co., 1107 Broadway, was untouched by the blaze as fire­men concentrated streams of water to head off a possible ex­plosion.

At 9:10 and 9:20 P. M. por­tions of the wall at the third floor level of the tailor shop collapsed inward. Bricks hurtled onto the sidewalk, but firemen had already taken positions across the street with their equipment.


As the fire gained in intensity after the second alarm went in at 6:18, firemen mounted two aerial ladders to pour water into the rear of the burning buildings.

Originally the fire was declared under control at 7:45, but] 15 minutes later flames leaped from the tailor shop to the other || buildings.

Fire officials said the building housing the tailor shop at 1103 Broadway was a total loss, along with 14 apartments on the second and third floors at 1105 second and third floors at 1107 and 1107 were badly damaged, also.

John's Bargain Store, 1109-1111 Broadway, separated from the other three buildings by a fire wall, received smoke damage and water seepage. 


Tenants from the apartments above the tailor shop fled to the street, wearing only the clothes on their backs. They were escorted to: safety by Police Sgt. John Ferry and Patrolman Alfred Haines, who were first on the scene after the alarm.

The blaze was first noticed by Harold Walter, of 1708 Country Club Lane, Haddonfield, who had just locked up his tailor shop for the day.

Two other firemen suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to hospitals. They were District Chief Frank Deal, 35, of 412 North 37th Street and John Yates, 63, of 2400 South 8th Street. Deal was treated at Cooper Hospital and Yates at West Jersey Hospital. I Finally, at 10:15 P. M., Fire Chief Edward MacDowell declared the fire under control.

Camden Courier-Post - January 16, 1964

Blaze Destroys 3 Buildings; Fireman Dies, Two Are Injured

9 Left Without Homes

By Fredrick Smigelski and Charles Q. Finley

A fast moving fire fanned by a bitterly cold wind destroyed three buildings in South Camden last night, left one fireman dead, two others injured, and nine persons homeless.

As dense smoke, chunks of flaming debris and showers of sparks spewed high into the night, the roaring blaze wrecked Walmart Tailors, Inc. at 1101 Broadway and two floors above the store used as an apartment house, the Style Nook Dress Shop at 1103 Broadway, and Jean's Hosiery Shop at 1105 Broadway.

With only seconds to spare, Police Sergeant John Ferry and Patrolman Alfred Hayes entered the 1101 building and led the occupants, many of them elderly, to safety as flames mushroomed from the basement toward the roof.

Eleven pieces of equipment were still at the scene this morning.

Captain Dies

Fire Captain Leonard Iannelli, 41, of 3055 Stevens Street and attached to Truck Company 2, collapsed at the scene. He was dead on arrival at Cooper Hospital of an apparent heart attack.

Fire District Chief Frank Deal, 39, of 412 North 37th Street, was treated at Cooper Hospital for smoke inhalation. John Yates, 63, of 2400 South 8th Street with Engine Company 2, was treated at West Jersey Hospital for smoke inhalation and a back injury.

Among those made homeless by the fire were Claude W. Darnell and Mrs. Carey Morgan, both 80; William Schaffer, 77; and Charles Hill, 67 and his wife who is 62; Mrs. Frances Matthews, 53; Helen Saltzman and James Early.

Iannelli was standing on Broadway next to Lieutenant Colonel William A. Gwynne of the Volunteers of America, a chaplain, who was serving coffee and food. District Chief Theodore Primas gave mouth to mouth resuscitation on the way to the hospital. Coroner Schaffhauser was notified. He said Iannelli died either from a heart attack or smoke inhalation. The possibility of an autopsy was being discussed this morning.

Police Aid Elderly

Iannelli's brother, Carmen, is with Engine Company 9 and was on duty on the time but not at the fire. He went to the hospital when told of the tragedy.

Ferry and Hayes were first on the scene after the alarm was sounded at 6:03 by a nearby merchant. They entered through a back door and ran upstairs to the second floor where they kicked in doors, rounded up the confused occupants and got them out safely. They then went to the third floor and found Early and Darnell.

The fire spread rapidly and soon huge balls of flame were pouring from the windows as burning frames fell to the pavement. Chairs, a shower fixture, a mirror on a wall, could be seen briefly through the windows in the mass of flame inside, then they fell into the inferno.

The roof collapsed, then sections of the third floor wall on the Chestnut Street side began falling into the fire.

Firewall Credited

Smoke filled Schrack's Paint Store at 1107 Broadway and a firewall was credited with helping to save John's Bargain Store at 1109-1111 Broadway.

Firemen carried a hose to the roof of the Camden Roofing Supply Company on Chestnut Street to the rear of the fire. At one point a half dozen streams of water were being poured into the flames as they burned furiously on one side of a small alley which separated the roofing company from the fire.

Harold Walter, owner of Walmart Tailors, Inc. was trying to get his car out of a snow bank nearby when the fire started, He gave firemen keys to open the gate he had just closed across the front of his store.

Fire Chief Edward MacDowell said the blaze had apparently started in the basement of 1101 Broadway but no cause had been determined immediately.

Fireplugs Froze

Engine Companies 8 and 1 and Truck 2 responded to the first alarm with District Chief Theodore Primas. The second alarm was sounded at 6:10, bringing Engine Companies 3 and 7, and Truck Company 1, Rescue Squad 1, District Chief Deal and Deputy Fire Chief Austin Marks.

At 8:02 Engine Company 2  was summoned and at 8:45 35 off duty firemen were called to relieve firemen exhausted by the cold. The spray from hoselines covered streets and equipment with sheets of ice.

When firemen arrived they found fireplugs frozen and had to use heaters to get the water flowing.

Police held back large crowds which gathered despite the cold and wind. The fire burned out of control for six hours and was not declared under control until midnight. The area was closed to traffic during the fire.

Traffic this morning was detoured off Broadway between Mt. Vernon Street and Kaighn Avenue.

Wind Shifted

Primas said there was a west wind when the fire broke out but that it shifted to the north, during the flames into the buildings to the south.

Iannelli is survived by his wife Olga, two sons, Leonard Jr. and Dennis, and a daughter, Mary, at home; his mother, Mrs. Rose Iannelli, of Camden; and two brothers, Carmen and Frank of Camden.

Iannelli's late father, Frank, was a firemen 21 years and died of a heart attack after fighting a fire in April of 1942.

Iannelli joined the fire department in March, 1948 and was made captain four years later. He was a veteran of World War II.

Because of the large amount of stock involved, the extent of the damages were not immediately known. 

LEFT HOMELESS by fire which destroyed their home, victims of the blaze in the 1100 block of Broadway look on from a nearby house. Seated (left to right) are Mrs. Carey Morgan, 80, and her daughter, Mrs. Charles Hill, 62. Standing is Charles Hill, 67.

ROARING FLAMES obscure a section of 1101 Broadway as flames destroy the building in a fire that also burned out two adjoining structures. The water lines glaze the street with ice, making footing hazardous for firemen. Equipment had to be moved quickly when it was feared the wall might fall outward. The blaze raged nearly five hours.

HUGE ICICLES cover wreckage of three buildings destroyed in fire on Broadway at Chestnut Street.

Camden Fire Department
First Annual Retirement Dinner
May 3, 1966

 William T. Cahill - Alfred R. Pierce - Edward V. Michalak
Keith Kauffman - Rev. W.A. Gwynne -
Edward R. MacDowell
Howard W. Ways
- George L. Boone - Isaac Muns - John C. Voll  
John T. Clemmens
- Harrison B. Pike - Albert A. Weller
Austin E. Marks - Edward Y. Scott - John W. Yates