A three-alarm fire in the pre-dawn hours October 15 damaged several units of an apartment building in Hoboken near campus on Washington Street, but there were no injuries from the blaze thanks to the rapid coordinated responses between Stevens Campus Police and the Hoboken Fire and Police departments.
Campus Police Officer Tim Legowski was on patrol when he noticed glowing flames shooting out from the top of the building. After notifying the Hoboken Fire Department and Police Department, Legowski and two fellow Campus Police – Sergeant George Martinez and Captain Thomas Maggi – rushed to the smoke-filled building, raced up the stairs to the top floor, which was fully engulfed by fire, and began evacuating the apartments.
Many residents were asleep in their units. When they arrived, Campus Police discovered that smoke detectors had failed to activate and waken sleeping residents, including at least one Stevens graduate student.
Captain Maggi credited Sergeant Martinez for making the critical discovery and activating the fire alarm system at pull station.
Campus Police ushered residents out of the burning building. Hoboken police arrived and helped complete the evacuation process. Meanwhile, the Hoboken Fire Department also responded quickly and kept the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings.
Hoboken Volunteer EMS, along with McCabe Ambulance Service, were stationed near the scene to attend to any of the affected tenants. All the tenants were then taken to nearby St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church where they were temporarily housed, according to Stevens Campus Police Chief Timothy Griffin.
“The alertness of our officers at that early hour of the morning and their courageous actions by entering a smoke-filled, burning building and activating the pull station to awake residents and safely evacuate them likely saved lives,” said Griffin. “I am very proud of them all and we are fortunate to have them serving our community and Hoboken residents. Both the Stevens community and the residents of Hoboken are very fortunate to have such highly skilled and dedicated first-responders.”
Captain Maggi commended the joint effort by Campus Police and the Hoboken Police and Fire departments to keep the damage to a minimum and the incident injury-free.
“We work closely with the Hoboken Police Department and we monitor each other's radio transmissions,” he said. “As for the Fire Department, they are a top notch unit. They are on our campus frequently during fire alarm responses and are always helpful with their advice and knowledge.”
Ken Ferrante, chief of the Hoboken Police Department, affirmed the seamless coordination that exists between his department and Campus Police.
“It’s a great hand-to-hand relationship that goes on 365 days out of the year. Several Campus Police officers are retired officers from the Hoboken PD, and Tim Griffin, whom I’ve known for almost 20 years, was a great advisor to me when I was a new chief," Ferrante said. "We’re always there for Stevens, whether it be investigating an incident involving a student or providing security for the many city events held throughout the year that affect the Stevens community, and vice versa. The outstanding communication between the two departments provides a great service to students and residents alike."