Mischief Night 1991
October 30 & 31, 1991
The Official Report

Another sad event in the City of Camden, the result of the delusion that perceived grievances and a sense of victimization are more important to the common good of a society than maintaining and when necessary enforcing standards of behavior and a sense of gratitude for the opportunity which this country gives and an obligation to serve one's community in time of peace or war, without thought of "what's in it for me".

Perhaps the only bright spot of note in this event was the exemplary conduct of the City of Camden's Fire Department and its police officers on the street. To quote now-retired Dennis Dowhy, a Captain with the Camden Fire Department back in October of 1981: "There is a sense of pride that comes with this job, and no one can can rip it apart. A lot of us were born here in Camden. We think protecting the people is worthwhile." 

Open letter to all personnel involved with the CFD on Mischief Night 1991

In preparation for Mischief Night '91 incidents, my staff and I developed an operational plan in meetings with the Police Administration. In doing so, we Jcarnedthatthe Police Department entitled their operational plan "Operation Pride" for the period or October 30th, 1991.

In terms of fire service planning, some of our staff at Fire Administration commented on the Police's optimism and more candidly termed last year's activities as "Operation Urban Storm." In reflecting on what we in the Fire Department were preparing, based upon our 1990 experience, I indeed felt that operation pride was less than appropriate. However, after witnessing firsthand the extraordinary performance of tile Camden Fire Department, Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, and Philadelphia Fire Departments during the Mischief Night and Halloween, I feel what all Fire Fighters achieved was indeed operation pride of the highest order.

In over 25 years of service to this Department, I have never been more gratified or so proud. Based on last year's operations in 1990, what we prepared for was a relatively similar experience. What occurred during Mischief Night '91 was the single busiest tour of duty in the 122 year history of the Camden Fire Department. Only the urban riots of the 1970's saw more overall fire activity over a period of several days but not in the short span of time that we incurred on the evening or October 30, 1991. Some 150+ alarms were serviced within a very brief period. What our Fire Control Force accomplished during that short time may never be surpassed.

Our entire organization functioned like a fine-tuned machine from the top to the bottom, and may I say that it did not go unnoticed by the majority or other City Officials. From the administrative planning and preparation for the incident, to the magnificent execution by our units on the street, the Department performed nearly flawless.

Since the nights of the extraordinary activity, my staff and I have met in an attempt to assess what worked well and in what areas improvement may be needed. There are several areas that we will administratively target in preparation for future operations. After meeting with the Chiefs, Company Officers and Fire Fighters who worked both nights I directed that a comprehensive report be developed.

Your effort on the nights of 30/31 October, 1991 are well noted by this Fire Administration and they underscore what can be accomplished in a marriage of organization, planning, and cooperation. Once again my personal congratulations go out to each and every one of you for the dedication and remarkable performance that you have shown. The professionalism of your efforts has once again distinguished the Camden Fire Department as New Jersey's foremost fire service.


October 30, 1991
1800-0800 Hours



 By the direction of the
Fire Chief Kenneth L. Penn,
this report was prepared for the
Camden Fire Department 

Captain Dennis M. Dowhy

All inquiries can be made through
Fire Headquarters
3rd & Federal
Camden, NJ 08102
(609) 757-7520

Honorable Aaron A. Thompson, Mayor

James R. Mathes, Jr. President
Jesus Torres, Vice- President
Gwendolyn A. Faison
Santiago IIarraza

Alfred W. Palumbo
Edwin R. Raiczyk

William Murray, Risk Manager
Calvin Lester, Risk Manager
Cyrus P. Saxon, Emergency Management Coordinator
Fred Martin, Municipal Utilities Director
Robert Gibson, Water Department Supervisor
Patrick J. Keating, Business Administrator

Chief of Fire Department
Chief Kenneth L. Penn - Commander

Deputy Chief B. James Nash - Logistics Officer
Deputy Chief Francis K. Stinger Jr. - Operations Officer
Chief Training Officer Thomas Quinn - Safety Officer
Chief Apparatus Officer George Kifferly - Maint. Officer

Fire Investigation Team  
Chief Fire Marshall Herbert Leary - Staging Officer
Assistant Chief Fire Marshall John Mills - Police Liaison
Fire Prevention Specialist Harry Vogel- Logistic Aide 
Fire Prevention Specialist Antonio Gonzales
Fire Prevention Specialist Michael Smarritto  

Administration Staff Services  
Captain Dennis Dowhy - Water Supply Officer/Logistics Aide 
Captain Joseph Marini - Communication Liaison Officer 
Captain Paul Price - Public Information Officer/Logistic Aide 
Fire Fighter Robert Deford - Logistic Aide
Fire Fighter Ron Marcianna
Fire Fighter William Neal
Fire Fighter Thomas Prosinski  



Chief of Police 
Chief George D. Pugh 

Field Services 
Commander J. Phoenix 
Captain A. Handy  

Watch Commander 
Lieut. D. Klinshaw 

Lieut. J. Richardson 
Lieut. Henry
Lieut. E. Figueroa 
Lieut. Schlichtig 
Lieut. R. Lee  
Lieut. Foltz
Lieut. R. Franzen

Emergency Management
Sergeant William Olson

Fire Department Liaision 
Detective Gary Miller

H-1 US Army  
H-2 NJ State Police


Field Battalion Chiefs
Chief George Kurtyan,
Chief Robert Zieniuk,
Chief Phillip Maycott,
Chief Joseph Rotchford,
Captain Stephen Bird,
Captain James Alexander,
Captain Anthony Moffa,
Captain William Kamman,
Captain Thomas Broccoli
Battalion 1 
Battalion 2 
Battalion 3 
Battalion 101
Battalion 102 
Battalion 103 
Battalion 104 
Battalion 105 
Battalion 106 
Field Company Commanders

Engine 1 
Engine 3 
Engine 6 
Engine 7 
Engine 8 
Engine 9 
Engine 10 
Engine 11 
Engine 21 
Engine 27 
Engine 29 
Ladder 1 
Ladder 2 
Ladder 3 
Ladder 21 
Rescue 1 
Squad 1

Captain William Smith 
Captain William Hillman
Captain William Schumacher Jr. 
Captain Joseph A. Lesniewski 
Captain Paul Capizola
Captain Stanley Trezbuniak "
Captain Kevin Hailey
Captain Raynaldo Santiago 
Captain Stephen Sklar
Captain Thomas Stammerjohann 
Captain Marvin Bendy
Captain Philip C. Stinger
Captain Roger Buck
Captain Robert Welch
Captain Charles Mayo
Acting Captain Dennis Penn 
Captain Patrick O'Keefe  

Philadelphia Fire Department 
Task Force #1
Engine 3
Engine 8
Engine 45
Ladder 9
Battalion Chief 4
Task Force #2
Engine 14 
Engine 28 
Engine 72 




Director C. Lezenby 
Deputy Director A. West 
Chief F. Lonsdale 
Deputy Chief W. Shelton 
Captain G.
Lieutenant R. Brisbin 
Lieutenant R. Moran 
Lieutenant R. Obarski 
Lieutenant A. Hendry 
Admin. Assistant D. Patricelli 
Coordinator C. Carter

J. Waters  
A. Sirolli
S. Kibler
P. Beckley
F. Ellis

C. Tomas 
M. Mullin 
R. Paul

D. Van Camp  
T. Bishop 


Assistant Director  
John Grembowiew
Operations Coordinator
Fran Pagurek 
Field Supervisors
John Connelly, Chief
Gary Olive, Chief 
Judy Wallace, Chief 
Martin Wilt, Chief 

Chief Mutal Aid Coordinator
James Jombe

Deputy Coordinator
Charles Carter  


100 Series Units
Engine 101 Oaklyn

Engine 103 Mt. Ephraim #1 
Engine 106 Westmont 
Engine 107 Brooklawn 
Engine 108 Collingswood 
Engine 109 Pennsauken #2 
Engine 110 Woodlynn 
Engine 111 Pennsauken #3  
Ladder 101 Audubon #2

Ladder 102 Haddonfield 
Ladder 103 Merchantville 
Rescue 101 Bellmawr  

200 Series Units

Engine 201 Audubon #1 
Engine 203 Somerdale 
Engine 206 Pennsaulen #4 
Engine 207 Lawnside 
Engine 208 Cherry Hill #2 
Engine 209 Cherry Hill #1 
Engine 210 Bellmawr Park 
Ladder 201 Cherry Hill #5 
Ladder 202 Haddon Heights 
Rescue 201 Mt. Ephraim #2  

300 Series Units

Engine 301 Audubon Park 
Engine 303 Magnolia 
Engine 306 Barrington 
Engine 307 Pennsauken #5 
Engine 308 Pine Hill 
Engine 309 Erial

Engine 310 Berlin Township 
Engine 311 Pennsauken #3 
Ladder 301 Blackwood 
Ladder 302 Voorhees #2 
Ladder 303 Westville Grove  

400 Series Units

Engine 401 Chews Landing 
Engine 403 Westville Grove 
Engine 406 Haddonfield 
Engine 407 Albion

Engine 408 Westville 
Engine 410 Woodbury 
Engine 411 Grenloch 
Ladder 401 Maple Shade 
Ladder 402 Blenhiem 
Ladder 403 Palmyra #1  

500 Series Units

Engine 501 Cinnaminson #2 
Engine 503 Gloucester #2 
Engine 506 Gloucester #4 
Engine 508 Delran #2 
Ladder 501 Woodbury 
Ladder 502 Grenloch 
Ladder 503 Delran #1  

Heavy Hose Task Force

Pine Hill

Berlin #1  





Tanker Water Supply Task Force
# 1 Atco  
# 2 .Waterford
# 3 Elm
# 4 Indian Mills



OCTOBER 30, 1991


This report is divided into four sections. This section is an overview and includes the planning and implementation of Incident Command Operations. The second section graphically displays past trends of the Camden Fire Department (CFD) focusing upon mischief night. Included is a detailed analysis of each region (ZONE) of the City and the fire alarms that occurred on mischief night in that section. A look at Halloween is also evaluated and displayed. This section includes known drug distribution corners in which reported shooting incidents occurred. This section is critical for anticipating and planning for "Fire Storm 92".

The third section is a report of the problems encountered during operations and the needs of the Department to properly prepare for "Fire Storm 92".

The last section is a reference section of the alarms that occurred during this time period.

Differences in the number of alarms is based on the time frame being analyzed. Mischief Night, for most of this report, is considered between 1800 hours October 30, to 0800 hours on Halloween morning, October 31. Halloween is analyzed from 0800 hours, October 31 to midnight 2400 hours. Some sections and charts include a 24 hour daily clock 0001-2400 for comparing past trends and anticipating 1992s mischief night problems. -;

Numerous departmental reports were prepared and analyzed to develop this report. This report is the results of many fire fighters' and fire officers' dedicated work. To those who assisted in preparing this report and those who participated in controlling the incident, the Camden Fire Department is very grateful.

Mischief Night, October 30, 1991, the City of Camden made international news on CNN. Top news was the burning of the city. The Fire Department anticipated a night similar to the year before with a slight increase in alarms. What occurred was a 96% increase in alarms over 1990.


A typical response pattern to a structure fire consists on two engine companies, one ladder company, one rescue company and a battalion chief. Each addition alarm receives the same complement except for the rescue. A target hazard assignment receives an additional engine, ladder, and battalion chief. During reported structural fires at night, an additional engine is assigned.  

On Mischief Night this response remained the same except the extra night time engine company would not be assigned. The rescue would respond if special-called by the chief, if "people trapped" were reported, or if the alarm was a target hazard.

The CFD has 8 Engines Companies, 3 Ladder Companies, 3 Battalion Chiefs and 1 Rescue Company. This complement of equipment can handle three i-Alarm dwelling fires and two minor fires at one time. The CFD has five reserve apparatus that could be placed in service by augmenting overtime personnel. Any additional manpower and equipment is supplied by mutual-aid companies within the County. ,

In anticipating similar levels of activity to that which occurred during Mischief Night 1990, the CFD placed 3 reserve engine companies, 1 reserve ladder company, 1 manpower squad company, and a battalion chief in service staffed with overtime personnel.

Mutual aid companies were placed on alert. The complete 100 series mutual aid roster was activated. For each CFD company there is an assigned mutual-aid company to cover when that CFD unit is committed to service. Two staging areas were assigned; one was near the Collingswood Fire Station, and the other at Delaware Gardens Fire Station. In these staging areas there were a total of 8 engine companies, 3 ladder companies and a rescue company, comprising the 100 Series Mutual-Aid Units.

A major problem facing the CFD, was the fact that there were between 12 and 15 structure­fires occurring at the same time in different locations within the City. Around midnight, there were 12 separate fires occurring with reports still coming in of additional structure fires. By midnight, the previous fifth and second alarm fires were still not under control. Water pressure was low so the Water Tanker Task Force was activated.

On Mischief Night 1991, the 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 Series. Units were activated. In addition, four CFD Battalion Chiefs, a Water Tanker Task Force (4-tankers), a Heavy Hose Task Force (6-companies), and two Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) Task Forces (6­Engines, 2-Ladders, and 2-Battalion Chiefs) were activated and responded. Mutual Aid services from the County of Camden, Burlington, Gloucester and Philadelphia extensively augmented the CFD fire control force in extinguishing the numerous fires that occurred, and provided coverage for maintaining continuity in fire protection.

To handle the 133 alarms, the Camden County Communications Center assigned 204 Engine Companies, 65 Ladder Companies, 62 Battalion Chiefs, 7 Rescue Companies, and 6 Squad Companies.

Each CFD Engine and Truck Company averaged about 7 laborious hours of intensive fire fighting throughout the night.



1131-1133 LIBERTY
28TH & 29TH & MICKLE
24-25-26 & HIGH


















Fire fighters continue to be harassed by drug dealers. These potential danger areas should be made available to all fire officers so they may proceed with caution when called upon to respond to the above locations. Shootings have occurred at these locations. Operational policies allow company officers to leave an area when threatened, or when bricks, stone, or bottles are thrown. In the past, fire fighters have had sticks, arrows, bottles, and bricks thrown from roof tops. Most of these incidents have occurred in North Camden around 5 & York. Caution remains the operative approach when responding to the North Camden area.



Need for a utility truck with 125 gallon fuel tank to supply apparatus in the field and also serve as a mobile repair unit.

Continue to keep equipment in top shape. Minimize potential apparatus breakdowns ..


Develop an aggressive program to board, brick, block, or remove vacant properties targeting known problem areas.

Develop an aggressive program to remove abandon vehicles targeting known problem areas.

Request city to issue ordinance, laws, etc. for a 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM curfew on both Mischief Night and Halloween.


Utilize the Fire Administration Building as the Command Post during future operations where other agencies including Police would attend.

Location of Command Post

Determination of Staff for Command Post


Meet with the Police Department to discuss better communication techniques with Command Post, police and helicopter units.

Potential of Citizen Band Radio Communication in coordination with Fire Prevention efforts for Fire Storm 92

Meet with Camden County Communications and Camden County Mutual Aid Coordinator in June 1992. Issues to resolve:

Task Force Concepts Water Tanker Task Force Communication Techniques

Liaison Personnel Between City and County Direct Line to Call Takers

Minimizing Duplicate Calls between Agencies and County Communication

Additional portable radios needed for Fire Storm 92.

Installation of multiple telephone line receptacles in conference room for future Command Post Operations.

Installation of direct phone line between Fire Communications Call Takers and the Fire Administration building conference room for Command Post Operations.


Audio reel-to-reel recorders.

Tear Gas masks for fire personnel.

Covers over cab area for fire fighter safety.

Prepare adaptor and hydrant kits for use by other companies and the water supply officer during future operations. Kits for Philadelphia fire companies.

Acquire 10 additional SCBA for future operations for immediate use.

Digital clocks on military time.

Electrical power strips, and extension cords.

Utilization of rental vehicles for Fire Marshals. Use marked vehicles for extra battalion chiefs. Guidelines for care and use of these vehicles.

Equip each reserve apparatus with equivalent first-line equipment.


Involve more members of the community for sighting problem areas, and intelligence. Block Captains with water can extinguishers and radio contact. (Police Critique)

Develop and institute a fire prevention program in target areas.

Program in high schools to address the seriousness of fires and damage to occupied· buildings, fire equipment, and potential of fire spread. Program to commence in September.


Secure extra funds in the form of aid: State of Emergency Fund?

Estimated 1991 costs to be approximately $86,000. Prepare 1992 costs will increase because of needed additional manpower. Plan for added manpower.


Full staffing of Rescue Company and the inclusion of a fifth fire fighter on all apparatus that can accommodate them.

Nine Battalion Chiefs for future operations. (3 per district)

Develop Task force concept. Discuss advantages and limitations. Keep task force together.

If Philadelphia is to be used, notify early. Plan out details.

Operational Post & Staging request more manpower for Fire Storm 92.

Assign pool of mutual aid pilots at out-of-city staging areas for Fire Storm 92.

Utilize all platoons during future operations. The Day platoon would be held over to supply additional personnel; the primary overtime platoon would be used for regular overtime staffing; and the 2nd special call platoon would be utilized to place extra units in service.


Assign an area for the press.

Assign an officer to the position of Public Informational Officer for the course of both nights.

Restrict the entry of press into the Command Post.


Use of Transportation of New Jersey Parking lot for additional fire personnel called back to duty.


TNJ could be called upon to provide transportation as needed (Pilots)


Assign a Safety Officer.

Continue to strive for a no injury night like in 1991.


Police report the Woodrow Wilson High School area as a poor idea because of the disruption in school affairs. No phone communications, and football practice is in session.

Consider alternatives for staging area with phone communications.

Use the apparatus shop as a staging area. This area has a direct route to numerous target areas: 10 & Cedar, Cramer Hill, RT. 676 & 30. Use area behind shop on Newton Avenue as the Staging area.

Have sufficient mutual-aid pilots in staging area. At least one per task force.

Early staging of fuel, air cascade system, and water tankers services.

Use of Collingswood Fire Station as an out-of-city staging depot.

Mischief Night, October 30, 1992


The purpose of utilizing the Tanker Task Force (TTF) is to prevent Water Supply problems mainly to the Cramer Hill and East Camden areas. Utilizing the TTF early represents a concentrated effort directed toward providing a continuous sufficient water supply. Water problems in Cramer Hill can be potentially devastating to the Incident Commander, therefore, it is important that the Tanker Task Force be activated early.


The objective is two-fold. One, increase and maintain the water flow to the existing water distribution system. Two, provide the Incident Commander with a 1,000 GPM minimum supply of water.

Background Information:

There are two water distribution systems in Camden. One belongs to Camden Water and the other belongs to New Jersey Water Co.

These water distribution systems operates on the grid piping system. This system consists of primary feeders of 16-, 20-, or 30-inch pipe. Connected to the primary feeders are a network of secondary feeders of 1 0-, or 12-inch pipe. Connected to the secondary feeders are smaller internal 4-, 6-, or 8-inch pipe called distributors. Most hydrants are connected to these distributors. With the exception of the Cramer Hill area, most distributors within the City are 6- or 8-inches. Cramer Hill has mostly 4-inch pipe on streets other than River Road, State Street and parts of 27th Street.

Under ideal conditions, approximately 250 GPM can flow from 4-inch mains, 750 GPM can flow from 6­inch mains, 1600 GPM can flow from an 8-inch main, 2,500 GPM can flow from a 1 O-inch main and over 4,600 GPM can flow from a 12-inch main.

Many of the distributors are over 100 years old and have tubercular corrosion or rust incrustation reducing the diameter sufficiently to have noticeable reduced water flows.

The reduced water flows were apparent on the 5-alarm fire, 10/22/91, at 17th & Admiral Wilson Blvd and during Mischief Night, 10/30/91 in the Cramer Hill area.


18th & River Road 12" Main Fine Threads
18th Near River Road 30" Main Fine Threads Hydra-Shield Magnetic Cap
River Road Near State St. 12" Main Fine Threads
River Road at State St.  30" Main Coarse Threads
State St. Below River Rd. 30" Main Fine Threads
990 North 19th St. 30" Main Fine Threads Hydra-Shield Magnetic Cap


Water Department:

The Water Department agreed to have storage tanks full and increase the water pressure within the system to meet the high demand periods which may occur during the night. In addition, the Water Department has a staff of personnel available to assist the fire department in maintaining an adequate water supply.

Fire Department:

The first objective, increase and maintain the water flow to the existing water distribution system, should be adequate for most of the city by the above Water Department actions. However, an in-line booster pumping system should be in place when a "Working Fire" has been established in the Cramer Hill area.

A pumping link between the 30 inch main on 18th Street and the 12 inch main located at River Road should supplement the grid system with both increase pressure and addition water flow in the direction of water flow usage. This link was established last year (1991) creating a 25 psig increase in water pressure and a noticeable increase in water flow on the fire grounds (approximately 1/2 mile away).

At any "Working Fire" in Cramer Hill, or in East Camden, the Water Supply Officer and an 1,500 GPM Engine Company should be dispatched to 18th & River Road. Such proactive action will "booster" the pressure in the system, provide an increase in water flow, maintain existing pressure in the surrounding areas, and provide a tanker shuttle filling location when the TTF is activated.

The second objective, provide the Incident Commander with a 1,000 GPM minimum supply of water, can be accomplished by activating the TTF early when water problems arise. The TTF should be automatically activated on a second alarm or greater in the Cramer Hill area. The TTF should be activated early because of "lead-time" required in set-up.


Car 10 Water Supply Officer Captain D. Dowhy
Car 10 Aide Fire Fighter R. Tate
Tanker Task Force Commander M. Passarella
Nurse Tanker 233 Louden 8,000 Gallon Tractor
Tanker  Shuttle with 2,000+ Gallons
Tanker Shuttle with 2,000+ Gallons
Tanker Shuttle with 2,000+ Gallons
Engine  1500 GPM flow for Hydrant to Tanker Supply    
Engine 1500 GPM for 18th & River Road (Supplemental Water Supply)

Mischief Night 1991
October 30 & 31, 1991
Newspaper Reports