On August 17, 1968, Lieutenant George Kelly of the Highland Chemical Engine Company lost his life fighting a fire at the Cobbins’ Jewelry Store located at 39 South Broadway, Pitman, New Jersey. Lt. Kelly responded as part of the fire suppression crew from the Highland Chemical Engine Company to a reported basement fire. During fire suppression efforts, Lt. Kelly and three other firefighters were trapped in the basement following a collapse of the floor under them. Despite a valiant rescue effort, George succumbed to his injuries after being removed from the burning building. Mr. Kelly unselfishly gave his life to protect the life and property of his fellow residents. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Kelly (nee Johnson) and 3 children, John, Barbara and Colleen.
This firefighter line of duty fatality occurred before the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial was built in Emmitsburg, Maryland. While this firefighter has not been officially honored at the Memorial site, there are plans to do so when resources are available.