The photo attached to this article shows long time Fire Dispatcher LEO KENDIZERSKI at the desk for the 8-4 shift. Fire dispatchers were employed full time in the present firehouse in 1967 on a round-the-clock basis. They were a valuable asset to the overall operations of the Fire Department. If you look at the photo you will notice some of the items that were part of our operations that have since been replaced by modern technology. Take a look at the “RED PHONE” to the left of Dispatcher Kendizerski. At the time, this was the method of dispatching the Fire Department to all of our alarms. The phone was tied into a central phone office in the city of Plainfield. All of the members phones were connected into the system as well as a few specifically chosen commercial locations frequented by the membership. The on-duty dispatcher picked up the RED PHONE, recording the message of where the fire was, and then hit the send button to ring all of the phones on the system at the same time. The system had the ability to notify you even if you were on the phone thus allowing you notification even if your phone was in use.
Just above the phone to the left, you will notice a series of buttons. These were fire alarms connected directly into Fire Headquarters. Subscribers, mostly commercial or industrial customers, connected their fire alarms directly into the fire desk.
Take a look at the top right of the photo and you will see just a glimpse of the telephone reel-to-reel recorder. This device was connected to the “FIRE PHONE“, (908-756-4700 for those of you trying to remember!) located just over Leo’s right shoulder and recorded all emergency calls to the fire dispatcher. To the very top of the photo you will notice the boards that have the codes associated with the fire whistle as well as the location of all of the Gamewell street fire boxes. The fire whistle was operational for many years and originally sat atop the Spicer Complex located at 333 Hamilton Boulevard. It was a gift to the town upon the closing of the plant and was originally installed at the first firehouse located on Hamilton Boulevard. It made its way to our present location in 1967 and was decommissioned some time around 1987 (yes we still have the whistle tucked away). The whistle was utilized to notify members as to the general location of the alarm.
A time long gone by but not forgotten and much appreciated by those in the fire service. Many thanks to all those who served the citizens of South Plainfield and the members of South Plainfield Fire.