Ernest A. Tartaglia

ERNEST A. TARTAGLIA was born in Camden NJ on April 2, 1914 to Ernest and Mamie Morse Tartaglia. The Tartaglia's were living at 695 Central Avenue, the Morse family home, when the Census was taken in 1910. By the time Ernest A. Tartaglia was five years old, his family had bought a home at 666 Central Avenue. The Tartaglia family was living there in September of 1918, the elder Tartaglia then working as a blacksmith's helper at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard.  When the Census was taken in April of 1930, the family still resided at 666 Central Avenue. The elder Tartaglia was working as a laborer on the railroad. Young Ernest was working as and oiler at a woolen mill, most likely the Howland Croft mill on Broadway at Winslow Street. His older sister, also named Mamie, was working as a spinner at a wool mill as well. Other children at home included another older sister, Laura, and younger siblings John and Caroline. Oldest daughter Madeline had moved on by then.  

As a young man Ernest Tartaglia was well known in Camden as an amateur boxer. He made it to the semi-finals in the April 1936 Cedar A.C. Boxing Tournament, held at Convention Hall. By the time the 1947 Camden City Directory was being compiled, he was living at 1909 South 4th Street in Camden's Eighth Ward with his wife Philomena Tartaglia. 

After working at the mill and operating a pool hall on South 4th Street, Ernest A. Tartaglia became a member of the Camden Fire Department on May 16, 1944. He first reported for duty on May 17. In the late 1940s and until June 16, 1951 he served with Engine Company 6 at 337 North Front Street in North Camden, under the command of Captains William H. Dietz and Harold Megee. Other firemen stationed at Engine 6 during this period included John "Shorty" Prucella, Mario Fattore, Philip Farrow, Robert Dukes, Harrison Pike, Edwin Callahan, Thomas McParland, Thomas Winstanley, James Stewart, William H. Reed, and Howell S. Needham. He was, on June 16, 1951, assigned to Engine Company 3. On November 2, 1953 Ernest Tartaglia was assigned as a Chief's Aide. He worked in this position until November 19, 1964, when he was reassigned to Rescue Company 1

During his time in with the Camden Fire Department, Ernest Tartaglia was instrumental, along with Spencer Smith Jr., in putting together a union to represent Camden's fire fighters, the Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association of Camden.

On January 31, 1961 Ernest Tartaglia received a public citation from Commissioner Edward Garrity for saving lives during a chlorine gas disaster, during which time he exposed himself to deadly fumes, and for which he was hospitalized.

Fire Fighter Tartaglia was fatally injured in the line of duty on December 9, 1967 when his rescue truck was struck by another vehicle at North 2nd and Cooper Street. A book marking the Camden Fire Department's 125th anniversary gives the following account:

Shortly before 6 P.M. and the night tour roll call of December 9, 1967, headquarters units turned out for the Box at Second and Burns Streets. North Camden. The responding convoy of units was led by Battalion 1 followed by Engine 2. Ladder 1 and finally the Rescue Company. The apparatus turned left on Market Street at Third and then right on Second Street toward Cooper. Through the looming darkness the Chief followed by the Engine and Ladder crossed Cooper Street at Second. As Rescue Company I entered the intersection. a speeding automobile intersected the path of the apparatus. Fireman Ernest Tartaglia cut the wheel hard left to avoid the collision but glanced off the car and mounted the sidewalk, hitting a steel lamp post. The force of the impact sprung open the driver's door. ejecting Tartaglia from his seat. The chauffeur landed on the pavement as the apparatus slowly rolled over on it's side, crushing him under the enormous weight. Fireman Ernest Tartaglia became the twenty-first member of the Department 10 make the Supreme Sacrifice.

Fireman Ernest Tartaglia was pronounced dead on arrival at Cooper Hospital.


Ernest Tartaglia
Engine Company 6
circa 1948

Engine 6 Wagon and Pumper at Front & Linden Streets
circa 1948

Left column, from left: Captain William Deitz, Firemen Robert Dukes
Harrison Pike, Mario Fattore, Edwin Callahan
Right column, from left: Firemen Thomas McParland, Philip Farrow
Thomas Winstanley, James Stewart, Ernest Tartaglia, John "Shorty" Prucella

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Engine 6 Wagon and Pumper at Front & Linden Streets
circa 1949

On apparatus John Prucella and Harrison Pike- Motor Pump Operators, l to r: Philip Farrow, Edwin Callahan, Thomas McParland, Robert Dukes, Captain William Deitz, Thomas Winstanley, James Stewart, Mario Fattore, and Ernest Tartaglia

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Camden Courier-Post - June 1950

Camden Courier-Post - June 1950

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Engine Company 3 and the 3rd Battalion in quarters, Broadway & Ferry Avenue, South Camden. 1956.

Left to right, standing: Chief Joseph Guarino, Fireman John Chudzinski, Captain Edward Tyszko, Fireman Ernest Tartaglia, Fireman Santo DiMaggio; Kneeling: Fireman Adlebert Kirk, Fireman Angelo Borghero.

Rescue Company 1

1954 Diamond Reo

This vehicle entered service in 1956 and remained in use until December 9. 1967, when it was involved in an accident, where the driver, Fireman Ernest Tartaglia,  was killed.


1954 Diamond Reo

This vehicle entered service in 1956 and remained in use until December 9, 1967, when it was involved in an accident, where the driver, Fireman Ernest Tartaglia,  was killed.


1954 Diamond Reo

Click Here for Supersized View


1954 Diamond Reo

July 1960

1954 Diamond Reo

Click Here for Supersized View

Mid 1960s

1954 Diamond Reo

Camden Courier-Post
March 3, 1958

Whitman Avenue
Thomas J. Carr Sr.
John K. Voll
Harrison Pike
Joseph Gfrorer
Arthur C. Batten
Winfield D. Leviseur
Joseph Ballinghoff
John E. Moore
Howard Brickner
Joseph Dmochowski
Leon Puszczykowski
Ernest Tartagalia
Spencer Smith Jr.
George Bowen
Bruce A. Wallace

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

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

Camden Courier-Post
January 16, 1963

H.B. Wilson School
Leon Puszczykowski
Ernest Tartagalia
Joseph Guarino
South 9th Street
Florence Street







Rescue Company 1 Special
Called to South Camden with the ring cutter invented by Camden fire fighter Artie Batten,
moments of anxiousness are turned to joy following quick work and kind reassurance by Fireman Ernest Tartaglia. Circa 1965

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Members of Rescue Company 1 administering oxygen and first aid following the  rescue of several juveniles trapped up to their waist on the Cooper River mudflats at North 10th Street and State Street

Standing: Joseph Arensberg - Spencer Smith III - Thomas Stammerjohann
Kneeling: unknown policeman - Robert Olesiewicz - Ernest Tartaglia (wearing jacket) - Anthony Orme

Camden Courier-Post - December 11, 1967

Traffic, Hunting Mishaps Kill 5 During Weekend

Five New Jersey residents died in traffic and hunting accidents over the weekend. Two others remained in critical condition following major auto mishaps.

Ernest A. Tartaglia, 53, a member of the Camden fire department for the past 24 years, was fatally injured Saturday afternoon when his rescue truck collided with an automobile and overturned on him.

Tartaglia was responding to a grass fire at Point and Elm Streets when the accident occurred about 5 p.m. at 2nd and Cooper Streets. The drive of the automobile, identified as Norwood Allen, 24, of Vine Street near 6th, was slightly injured.

Fireman Louis Martelli, 54, of 322 Boyd Street was in the rescue vehicle when the accident occurred. Although shaken up by the crash, Martelli was able to use the truck radio to call for assistance.

A wrecking truck was brought to the scene and crewmen worked for 20 minutes to free the victim, who was pinned beneath the rescue vehicle. Tartaglia was pronounced dead at Cooper Hospital.

Allen was treated at the hospital for facial and scalp cuts and released. Martelli also was taken to the hospital but was later released after treatment for cuts.        

Fire officials said three vehicles responded to the Point and Elm Streets grass fire and that two of them had safely passed the 2nd and Cooper Streets intersection when the accident occurred. Officials said Tartaglia's truck was sounding a siren at the time of the crash

Tartaglia, who lived at 1909 South 4th Street, is survived by his wife Mamie, two sons and two daughters.

Camden Courier-Post - December 11, 1967

Wrecked automobile
Rescue Company 1
after it had been righted

December 9, 1967

Click on Image to Enlarge


Camden Courier-Post - December 12, 1967

Tartaglia Services Tomorrow

Requiem high mass for Ernest A. Tartaglia, Camden fireman for 24 years who died Saturday when the rescue vehicle in which he was riding overturned in an accident will be tomorrow at 9:30 a.m, in Sacred Heart Church, Broadway and Ferry Avenue.

Friends will meet at 8 a.m. in the Bocco Funeral home, 4th and Walnut Streets where they may call tonight. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.

Mr. Tartaglia, 53, of 1909 South 4th Street, was a member of the Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association Camden.

Police and Fire Association, Union E Forzza, and the League of the Sacred Heart of Catholic Police; Firemen and Peace Officers.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Philomena Tartaglia; two sons, Ernest of Stratford and Anthony of Camden; two daughters, Mrs. Dolores Zauck and Miss Suzanne of Camden; a brother, three sisters and four grandchildren.

December 9, 2007

Never Be Forgotten
Story and Photos by  Bob Bartosz

Going back in time to December 9, 1967, just a few weeks before Christmas. Camden City Fire Fighter Ernie Tartaglia had just took his Christmas Lights from storage and was straightening them out because they were all tied up in knots. It took him almost two hours to complete the task.  He was also planning his upcoming retirement which was to take place the next year. He was living in a two story row home with his wife, two sons and two daughters. 

Ernie Tartaglia, who had served for many years and had seen many tragic fires and rescues, was now assigned to Rescue Company 1. He was just finishing up with the Christmas light chore when his wife called to him, " Ernie you better get ready to go to work". 

Ernie was working the 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. tour out of Fire Headquarters in the center of downtown Camden.  This was back in the times when the firemen were working a 72 hour week and making about $9,000.00 a year. He quickly dressed into his Class A uniform and was preparing to walk out the front door when he noticed all the Christmas lights were back where they started from being all tangled up. He said to his daughter Susan, " Did anybody mess with the Christmas lights ?"  

She said "No, Daddy, I was upstairs with Mother and just came down to kiss you good-bye." 

As he kissed her good-bye his last words to her were "That was real strange. I think something bad is going to happen tonight." 

At 6 p.m. Ernie was in line for Roll Call and was about to check the equipment when the familiar sound of the Alarm Box started to ring, striking out Box 1417 at Second Street and Burns Street in North Camden. 

The Companies rolled out with Battalion 1 leading the way followed by Engine Company 2, Ladder Company 1 and Rescue Company 1.  The apparatus turned left into Market Street and then right onto Second Street towards Cooper Street.  Through the looming darkness the Chief, followed by the Engine and Ladder  crossed Cooper Street at Second.  As Rescue Company 1 entered the intersection a speeding automobile, whose driver was later found to be drunk, smashed into the side of Rescue Company 1.  Fire fighter Tartaglia cut the wheel hard to the left to avoid the collision but mounted the sidewalk and hitting a steel lamp post, the force of the impact sprung open the driver's door ejecting Tartaglia from his seat.

He landed on the pavement as the apparatus slowly rolled over on its side crushing him under the enormous weight.  Fireman Tartaglia was killed instantly.  Ernest Tartaglia became the twenty-first member of the Department to make the Supreme Sacrifice while protecting the life and property of the City of Camden.

As the many years went by and hundreds of new firemen entered the Department names and events were soon forgotten.  In 1995 a book telling the history of the department in detail was written in honor of its 125th Anniversary. The Camden City Fire Department, organized in 1869, is one of the oldest fully paid department in the United States. 

Between the information brought back to public attention and the memories of a few old timers still around, the stories of Ernie Tartaglia were still being told. He was the only member of Rescue Co. 1 who paid the Supreme Sacrifice. The Department Photographer, Bob Bartosz, was able to obtain the original Fire Box and had photos of Fireman Tartaglia which he presented it to members of Rescue Company 1.  The members had a large wall plaque made that was placed on the wall at the fire station. 

On December 9, 2007 the Tartaglia family was invited to the Liberty Street Station, the home of Battalion Chief 1, Engine Company 8 and Rescue Company 1 to pay tribute to their loved one. 

Rescue Captain Ed Glassman told the Tartaglia family that every day his men mention in some way about Ernie.  Sometimes they have a close call with speeding cars nearly striking them while responding to an alarm or something that may go wrong on the fire grounds and Glassman will tell his men "Well Ernie was with us today." Captain J. J. Johnston of Engine Company 8 says that there isn't a day that goes by when he goes by the wall plaque that he stops to touch it and says "Hi Ernie".  He even had a light placed on the plaque so he could be seen 24 hours a day.  Engine Company 8 fire fighter Arnaldo Guzman gave a touching prayer in which he said that although he never knew fire fighter Tartaglia he has heard many stories about him and hopes that he can follow in his footsteps and be a fine fire fighter like him.  The short ceremony ended with the Tartaglia posing with the fire fighters for a group picture, after which they had a home cooked breakfast prepared by the fire fighters.

Ernie's wife died some years ago but their daughter Susan remembered the day that her father kissed her good-bye and said that he thought that something bad was going to happen that night. She remembers a few hours later when there was a knock at the door and her mother opened it  and saw their long-time family friend, Chief of the Department Edward Michalak standing there with tears in his eyes and she knew Ernie wasn't coming home that night.

Click on Images to Enlarge

Box 1417  Honoring fire fighter Ernest Tartaglia of Rescue Company 1 on the hallway wall at Liberty Street Station Fire House.

Rescue Co. 1 Captain Edward Glassman telling the Tartaglia Family about his feeling about Ernie Tartaglia and how he thinks of him each day.

Engine Company 8 fire fighter Arnaldo Guzman offering a prayer in remembrance of fight fighter Ernie Tartaglia.

Engine Co. 8 Captain J. J. Johnston presenting family members with a plaque with a Special Prayer about fire fighter Ernie Tartaglia

Fire fighter Tartaglia's children Dolores, Susan, and Ernie Jr. looking at wall plaque honoring their father.

From Left: Captain Johnston with Fire fighter Tartaglia's daughter Susan, son Ernie Jr., and daughter Dolores talking with Battalion Chief Paul Matyjasik. Youngest son Anthony Tartaglia  was unable to attend the event due to work.

Group photo of fire fighters of Liberty Street Station and the Tartaglia family and their grandchildren.

Family members along with Camden History buff Phil Cohen having breakfast that was prepared by fire fighters at Liberty Street Station.

Photos by Bob Bartosz

More Photos from December 9, 2007

Click on Images to Enlarge

Dolores Tartaglia, Battalion Chief Matyjasik, Firefighter Tull,
Captain Glassman, Firefighter Frontado, Firefighter Tally, Firefighter Guzman,
Captain Johnson
Right: Bob Bartosz
Firefighter Lyons, Firefighter Tally, Firefighter Guzman,
& Firefighter Frontado
Firefighter Guzman, Firefighter Frontado & Firefighter Broadwater
Firefighter Tull, Firefighter Lyons, Firefighter Tally
Firefighter Guzman & Firefighter Frontado
Battalion Chief Matyjasik & Dolores Tartaglia
Firefighter Frontado & Firefighter Broadwater
Suzanne Tartaglia, Battalion Chief Matyjasik, Firefighter Tull, Captain Glassman
Photos by Phil Cohen

Camden Courier-Post - April 22, 1936
50 Boxers to See Action in Cedar Boxing Tourney

Camden Courier-Post - April 23, 1936


Camden Courier-Post - April 24, 1936
Cedar Boxing Tournament Comes to A Close

Camden Courier-Post - April 25, 1936

Camden Courier-Post - February 15, 1938

The Emerald Athletic Association will be host at a dance Friday night in Community Hall, Newport and Everett streets.
Dancing will begin at 8.30 p. m. Joseph Natale, chairman, is assisted by Caldo P. Bucci, John Sisini, Dominic Corrado, Harry Powers, Ernest Tartaglia, Neil Sparano, Thomas Scarduzio, Christopher Messaro, Michael Messaro and Richard Scarduzio.

Camden Courier-Post - February 17, 1938

The Emerald Athletic Association of the Eighth Ward will hold a dance tomorrow night at Community Hall, Newport and Everett streets. Music will be by Ray Ross and his Royalists. Prizes will be awarded winners of dance contests.

Joseph Natale is chairman of the committee in charge, other members being Cadaldo P. Bucci, Dominic Carrado, Christopher Messaro, Thomas Scarduzio, Richard Scarduzio, Neil Sparano, Ernest Tartaglia, Harry Powers, John Sisini, and Michael Messaro.

Calvary Cemetery * Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Camden Fire Fighters Fallen in the Line of Duty