KFD Remembers Assistant Chief James Fayette Lawrence
By Ex Chief Dean W. Pappas
October 2, 2019

The following is from the Katonah Fire Department Centennial Committee, which dedicated the Katonah Fire Department 100th Anniversary Yearbook to Chief James Fayette Lawrence:

"60 years ago, on October 6, 1959, at 3:50 p.m., Katonah Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a grass fire on Mount Holly Road. Assistant Chief James Fayette Lawrence, along with 12 other members of the department, responded to the scene to contain the fire. At the scene of the blaze, Chief Lawrence discovered a high tension power line had broken and caused the fire. Realizing the danger to his men, the chief ordered them back from the area and, via radio, instructed headquarters to have the utility company shut off power on the downed line. He then returned to further investigate the situation, not knowing that the broken power line had charged a quantity of discarded wire hidden in the grass. What followed constitutes a tragic chapter in the history of the Katonah Fire Department. Risking their own lives, firemen Ernest Genett and John Dorsett, Jr., extricated Chief Lawrence's body from the death trap. For this selfless devotion to a fellow fireman, they later received the Jacob Ruppert Award for Heroism. Chief Lawrence will always be remembered for his devotion to the Katonah Fire Department and for his dedication to the cause of safeguarding life and property in the community he loved--a dedication so great that he gave his life in the line of duty to that cause."

Ernest Genett and John D. Dorsett were also able to rescue a 2nd person at this scene who was also trapped with Chief Lawrence. The Jacob Ruppert Award for Heroism was awarded by the Southern New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association. Chief Lawrence is the only Katonah Fire Department member to have died in the Line of Duty. 1st Assistant Chief James F Lawrence Sr. was posthumously promoted to Chief of Department. On December 10, 1959, Lawrence Circle, at the intersection of Bedford Road and Parkway, was dedicated to him. 60 years later, Katonah Fire Department honors Chief Lawrence's memory and legacy.