Larry Metzger, who served as Plainsboro’s fire chief from 1992 to 1994, died in a fire at his home in Burlington County on Monday, June 11.
At 5:17 p.m., Springfield Township (Burlington) firefighters responded to reports of a house fire on Columbus-Jobstown Road. They would learn that one of their own was a victim in the deadly blaze. Years after his leading role in Plainsboro, Metzger was an active volunteer fireman with the Springfield Township department.
Initially, rescuers had no reports of deaths or injuries. Metzger’s wife and son were at a local store when the fire broke out. However, a body was found the next morning, and was positively identified later in the day as Metzger. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Tom Healey of the Plainsboro Fire Company said Metzger was an active member of the fire company from 1980 to 2002. Metzger moved to Springfield Township 11 years ago.
Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu remembers Metzger as “a really good guy and a long-term contributor to the community.” The mayor, who was president of the Plainsboro Fire Company in the early 1980s, knew Metzger from his early days as a volunteer. He kept in touch with Metzger throughout the 1990s, but lost touch with him once he moved out of Plainsboro.
“I was really sorry to hear about his passing. Larry not only served the community through his position with the fire company, but in addition he helped with service for the township’s communications equipment on a contractual basis for a number of years,” Cantu said.
Metzger had a business based in Trenton called Fire Service Communications. Metzger’s company provided, installed, and serviced equipment in Plainsboro and several other municipalities. He set up all the radio systems used by Plainsboro’s police, fire, and emergency services.
Metzger also worked as a project manager for Sprint, where he was involved with the company’s emergency communications division.
Healey said Metzger was raised in the Hamilton-Trenton area. He says Metzger led by example in a number of ways.
“He was a very serious chief and firefighter — he set a very high standard for firefighting and for professionalism. But he was also a guy who enjoyed a good laugh. He was part of a group of couples that played cards in the firehouse every Friday night for about six years. Larry would tell jokes, and we would laugh forever,” Healey said.
On Tuesday, June 12, the Plainsboro Fire Company released a statement on Metzer’s passing:
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our former chief, Larry Metzger. Larry was a very active and deeply committed member of the Plainsboro Fire Company. He was a good friend to many of us. He was serious about his responsibilities but also enjoyed a good laugh in the firehouse. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife and children, his family, friends and all who knew him.”
After the fire started neighbors ran to Metzger’s house to see if they could help. Witnesses told police and firefighters that they were not able to locate Metzger. According to local television reports, Metzger’s neighbors pushed four cars — Metzger’s vintage Pontiac GTO’s — out of the garage before they could catch fire, as gasoline might have sparked an explosion.
Springfield firefighters struggled to extinguish the blaze quickly because there are no hydrants in the rural area where Metzger lived. Water used to fight the fire had to be trucked in.