In Memorium
George M. Jackson



GEORGE MALCOLM JACKSON was born on February 21, 1939 in Magnolia, New Jersey to Mr. and Mrs. John Jackson. He joined the Camden Fire Department on July 15, 1968 and served with great distinction for 23 years, until overtaken by the danger that is inherent in the job, danger that the civilian population all too often takes for granted. 

On Sunday, October 21, 1990 Fire Fighter Jackson, serving with Ladder Company 2, was trapped inside a burning house at 2429 Arnold Street along with Fire Fighter Daniel Galasso. Both men were badly injured and left permanently disabled. Fire Fighter Jackson would be bedridden the rest of his days. 

Last a resident of Moorestown NJ, Fire Fighter Jackson was left an invalid, and died of complications relating to his injuries on March 7, 2006. He was survived by his wife, the former Priscilla Cooper, four children, twelve grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends. 

George M. Jackson is also remembered as one of the founding members of the Brotherhood of United Fire Fighters, who are also well known in Camden as the operators of the BUFF Hall on Princess Avenue, which has been the scene of innumerable weddings, parties, and dances over the years.


Camden-Courier-Post * March 13, 2006

Also in marked contrast to the spectacular blazes of Greater Alarm proportion, it is the routine single alarm working fire, that most often poses the greatest degree of personal risk to fire fighters. At these incidents, the labor intensive demands of interior structural firefighting bring fire fighters face to face with a living, breathing beast, that so frequently exacts its terrible toll in injuries and suffering, and death. One such incident occurred on the afternoon of Sunday, October 21, 1990.

The dispatcher assigned Engine Company 10 to a "defective appliance" on Arnold Street near McArthur Drive, in the Fairview Manor section of South Camden. Just two blocks from the firehouse, Engine 10 made the run in under two minutes. Upon arrival, Engine 10 found a two-story brick middle of the row dwelling, with medium smoke showing on the ground floor. Captain "Dick" Prosser ordered the Box transmitted for a structural fire.

Located in a first floor kitchen at the rear of the dwelling, was an old gas range in serious disrepair. Control knobs designed to regulate the flow of gas to the burners, were long since broken off and missing. The occupants used a pair of pliers to rotate the metal stems and turn the gas flow on and off. In their post incident investigation, the Fire Marshals determined that the recurring use of pliers caused acute metal fatigue to the control valve stems. At the time of the fire, the occupant was in the process of using the pliers when the venturi tube fractured. The top of the range became engulfed in flames, fed by escaping gas. The fire rapidly communicated upward to involve the wooden cabinets above the stove. The hysterical occupant, without a tele phone, ran some two blocks to a relative's home to call the Fire Department. By the time Engine 10 arrived, the fire had roared up the wall and across the ceiling to heavily involve the kitchen.

The fire at 2429 Arnold Street was by every measure, a routine incident.

A one room blaze in an occupied building, of brick construction with adequate fire walls separating adjoining properties. Camden Fire Fighters had extinguished thousands of fires in such buildings over the years without extraordinary efforts, or remarkable consequences. The circumstances surrounding this particular incident however, would result in a very different outcome, ending the careers of two veteran fire fighters, and forever changing the lives of those involved.

Ladder Company 2 and the 3rd Battalion who shared quarters with the engine at the time of the fire, were at the scene within moments of Engine 10' s arrival. A textbook operation from the start, the strategy for extinguishing the blaze was a simple one. The engine would stretch a line through the front door to the rear of the dwelling and attack the fire in the kitchen; while the ladder company would vent, enter, and perform a primary search on the floor above. In that neighbors did not see the occupant flee the building when the fire started, they assumed the elderly man was still inside and conveyed this information to arriving fire fighters.

The distance from the front door of the dwelling to the doorway of the kitchen was less than 25 feet. The floor plan of this small dwelling resembled a large studio apartment with just a living room, a small dining area and kitchen on the first floor; and three bedrooms with a bath upstairs. An "L" shaped stairway on the right side of the living room led to the second floor. The doorway connecting the living room and the kitchen was located directly under the open stairs to the floor above.

Engine Company 10 stretched their line to the kitchen doorway and gave the order to start water. As the hose stiffened and the nozzle came to life, Fire Fighter Winston Ward aimed the powerful stream at the kitchen ceiling and began to work the tip. An experienced Nozzleman, Ward immediately sensed that the fire was not responding in the normal manner to the affects of the hose stream. At the time, no one of course knew that the blaze was being sustained by a force fed gas fire, burning under pressure

As Engine Company 10 started water in the line, Ladder 2 ascended the stairs to the second floor· with Captain William Young and Fighters Daniel Galasso and George Jackson. The search team comprised of just two members was joined by Jackson on information of neighbors, that there was an expensive dialysis machine located somewhere on the second floor. A search for both the occupants and the vital appliance would be the mission of the crew. At the top the stairs, the members found a master bedroom on the left, a small bathroom directly ahead, and two rear bedrooms off to the right. Visibility was poor as heavy smoke filled the upper level.

Engine Company 7 responding second due on the Box was a couple of minutes out. Battalion Chief Walter Szatkowski had no reason to expect that their services would be essential to the successful outcome of the incident. One inch and three-quarter line was already operating to contain the fire to the small, one room kitchen. As Engine 10 had a nearby hydrant just 150 feet from the building, the Chief anticipated using Engine 7 to check the adjoining properties. Within moments, a rapidly occurring chain of events would transform a routine, one room blaze, into a catastrophe.

Following more than four minutes of constant flow, Engine 10's hose stream had darkened little more than half the body of heavy fire in the kitchen. The presence of a serious gas leak was still undetected by operating the members operating the hoseline. Suddenly, there was an immediate loss of pressure and volume at the nozzle, just as the Captain's portable radio blared with the excited voice of the Pump Operator shouting that "we lost water- there's a problem with the hydrant!" As the nozzle stream faded and the hoseline went limp, Engine 10's Officer shouted into his handie-talkie microphone, "Two Truck, get out! We lost water!" It was too late. Almost immediately, the fire resurged in strength and flashed across the kitchen ceiling, fully involving the room. Lapping out of the doorway and into the living room, the flames entered the open stairway. Without water, nothing stood between the fire and the exposed ladder company on the floor above, except a short span of stairs.

As Ladder Company 2 started their search of the second floor, Jackson went left to search the main bedroom, Galasso turned right and took the rear rooms, and the Captain entered the small bathroom directly ahead. In the usual manner, the members checked all along the perimeter of the rooms and then the center areas, finding neither any occupant or the dialysis machine. Visibility was now less than twelve inches from the floor as heavy smoke banked downward. The heat conditions were only moderate as the three men converged near the head of the stairs. Satisfied that the primary search uncovered nothing, Captain Young directed the company to withdraw.

Just as the three members were preparing to descend the staircase, they heard the frantic radio message from Engine 10 to get out quick. In descending order on the stairs was Fire Fighter Jackson first, with Galasso immediately behind him, followed last by the Captain. As they began to move downward Jackson immediately sensed that something was very wrong. An initial blast of superheated air was followed by a rapid increase in temperature on the stairs. As their ears and necks began to burn with searing pain, Fire Fighter Jackson turned on the stairs to face Galasso and shouted through his mask to back up, we can't get down.

In a fraction of a second, the stairway was filled with fire as the members retreated upward, burning and stumbling as they went. In the reverse order from which they descended, Young, Galasso and Jackson ascended the stairs and began moving toward the front of the building where two windows had appeared. In moments, the second floor ceiling was engulfed in flames as fire roared over the heads of the men. The window on the left was more than fifty percent obstructed by an air conditioner. The one in the right was a small, double-hung window.

With flames roaring overhead, Captain Young was the first man to reach the front, diving head first above the air conditioner and through the glass to the outside. The space between the top of the window frame and the air conditioner was so small that the Captain's egress was nothing less than remarkable. Moments behind the Captain, Fire Fighter Galasso crashed through the adjacent window, landing head first, mid way down a portable ladder while burning from head to foot. Fire Fighter Jackson was now alone on the second floor to face the onslaught. Jackson, a physically powerful man, took the full brunt of the tremendous heat and smoke. While running toward the window, he stumbled and fell among strewn furniture, dislodging his mask and inhaling hot, toxic gases. As he lay on his back, only semi conscious, the flames flowed downward from the ceiling to within four feet of the floor.

Engine Company 7 roared up Fairview Street and turned into the block just as they heard an urgent mayday message over the fire ground radio frequency. They pushed their hoseline through the heavily charged living room and hit the fire hard in the stairway, darkening the flames in an instant. Rescue 1 responding on the Box, arrived just moments behind Engine 7Rescue 1 stretched another line up an outside portable ladder at the front of the building and darkened the fire on the second floor.

Rescue Company 1 then made their way to the second floor and quickly located Jackson, unconscious and slumped among furniture, badly burned. Fire Fighter Ronald Boyle removed his own mask in the heavily charged atmosphere, and placed it over Jackson's face to buddy breathe with the injured member. The Chief of the 3rd Battalion had special called an additional engine company to the fire as soon as he learned that Engine 10 had lost water. By the time Engine Company 3 arrived on the scene, the fire was knocked down and the rescue company was preparing to remove Fire Fighter Jackson to the street. The entire ordeal had taken place in less than ten minutes. A routine fire, turned tragic, had ruined two careers and forever altered the lives of others. Captain Young was admitted to the hospital for smoke inhalation and observation, treated for several days and returned to duty. Fire Fighter Galasso would undergo many painful months of skin reconstruction surgery from second and third degree bums. He would be pensioned out of the job, never to perform fire duty again. Following many months of treatment for severe bums and serious complications resulting from his injuries, Fire Fighter Jackson would spend the rest of his life as a bedridden invalid - a sad and tragic contrast to a once exceptional and fearless fire fighter.


Camden-Courier-Post - March 13, 2006


Camden-Courier-Post - March 11, 2006

JACKSON, GEORGE MALCOLM
of Moorestown, NJ on March 7, 2006, age 67.
A retired 23 year firefighter with the city of Camden, also one of the original founding members of Camden's 'Buff Hall'. He is survived by his wife, Priscilla Cooper Jackson; 4 children, Ellen Peterson (Rickey), Anita Green (Kenneth), George Jackson (LaRonda) and Glen Jackson, Sr. (Yolanda); 12 grandchildren; 3 sisters, Ellen Benson (Rev. James), Lillian Jackson, and Carolyn Gaines (Walter); a brother-in-law and 3 sisters-in-law, William Cooper (Clara), Evelyn Williams, Shirley Williams and Clarice Cooper, a host of other relatives and friends.
Services: Tuesday-12Noon at the Antioch Baptist Church - 7th and Ferry Ave. Camden, NJ - where friends may call after 9AM. Interment: Harleigh Cemetery - Camden, NJ. Arrangements by CARL MILLER FUNERAL HOME - Camden and Lawnside.

Publication date: 3/11/06


Camden-Courier-Post - March 13, 2006

JACKSON, GEORGE MALCOLM
of Moorestown, NJ on March 7, 2006, age 67.
A retired 23 year firefighter with the city of Camden, also one of the original founding members of Camden's 'Buff Hall'. He is survived by his wife, Priscilla Cooper Jackson; 4 children, Ellen Peterson (Rickey), Anita Green (Kenneth), George Jackson (LaRonda) and Glen Jackson, Sr. (Yolanda); 12 grandchildren; 3 sisters, Ellen Benson (Rev. James), Lillian Jackson, and Carolyn Gaines (Walter); a brother-in-law and 3 sisters-in-law, William Cooper (Clara), Evelyn Williams, Shirley Williams and Clarice Cooper, a host of other relatives and friends.
Services: Tuesday-12Noon at the Antioch Baptist Church - 7th and Ferry Ave. Camden, NJ - where friends may call after 9AM. Interment: Harleigh Cemetery - Camden, NJ. Arrangements by CARL MILLER FUNERAL HOME - Camden and Lawnside.

Publication date: 3/13/06


March 15, 2006

Hundreds Mourn the Death of Camden, New Jersey Firefighter
by BOB BARTOSZ

Firefighters from Camden and around the County paid their Farewell to 23 year veteran firefighter, George M. Jackson.

Jackson was severely injured and burned during a fire on October 21, 1990 while searching for occupants in a dwelling fire in South Camden. Jackson was trapped on the second floor bedroom during a flash over and was severely burnt. He went through many months of painful operations and skin grafting from his severe burns. He spent the rest of his life being a bed ridden invalid until his death on March 7, 2006.

Services were held for him at the Antioch Baptist Church in South Camden, New Jersey.

Interment was at the Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey.

Captain David Dilks of Camden Rescue 1, who is also a bag piper with the Emerald Society, led the procession with two deputy chiefs and six captains as pall bearers.

Camden's two tower ladders were raised to form an arch at the entrance of the Cemetery.

Firefighter Jackson's love for his family apparently kept him going for all those years and now he is at peace.

Rest In Peace George.

 

Camden Fire Fighters Fallen in the Line of Duty

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