THE CURIOUS CASE OF ENGINE 38

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Earlier this month Philadelphia Fire Department’s Engine 38 (Squrt 38) station was demolished to make way for a new on ramp for I-95. This PennDot project has been on the books for a couple of years. This month the wrecking ball finally arrived.

Philadelphia Engine 38(2) Engine 38’s old station. Photo used by permission of East Coast 911

The picture above is what the station used to look like. Engine 38’s apparatus is one of the department’s six Squrt trucks. A Squrt is an engine truck with an 85′ articulating boom used to fight very large structure fires. Right now half of the departments Squrts are out of action for one reason or another. Here is their current status to the best of my knowledge:

  • Squrt 8 was closed by the Nutter administration.
  • Squrt 9 is in service in Germantown.
  • Squrt 38 has been relocated to Engine 33 in Port Richmond awaiting reconstruction of their station.
  • Squrt 43 was totaled in an accident.
  • Squrt 55 was put in service using Squrt 8’s old truck. They took it over when 8’s was put out of service.
  • Squrt 57 has been down with mechanical problems for an extended period of time.
  • Squrt 72 is now in reserve.

Philadelphia, PA Engine 38SQURT 38 Courtesy of East Coast 911

Since Squrt 38’s station was demolished the department moved them to Engine 33’s station. Engine 33 covers the south end of Tacony and parts of Port Richmond. Their area is heavily industrialized and because of the Rohm & Haas chemical plant a few blocks away their truck is a specialized foam truck. They have an additional foam tank for use in fighting chemical fires. Now two engines are crammed into one station.

This is a curious arrangement. Since the Nutter administration closed seven fire companies there are whole neighborhoods like Engine 14’s local that have been left with no engine company protection. Since Engine 14’s local would be familiar for the guys from 38’s most everyone thought it would be a good move to put 38’s in 14’s old station. It will be quite a while before 38’s new station is built. Unfortunately and inexplicably that didn’t happen. I suspect politics but would our elected officials actually play politics with people’s lives and fire protection???

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THE CURRENT VIEW OF WHERE ENGINE 38 ONCE STOOD. THE ON RAMP WILL BE WHERE THE DIRT MOUND AND PICK UP TRUCK ARE.

This leads to another issue: where is Engine 38’s station going to be rebuilt? I have been told that no site has been confirmed. Shouldn’t our leaders have that issue resolved already? Also where is the money for construction going to come from and where is it currently? Another up front issue. Also why wasn’t Engine 38 used to cover Engine 14’s local? Engine 14 had much more activity than either 38’s or the now doubled up 33’s. The people of Tacony need to start calling their elected representatives and demand some answers. Their fire protection is not something that anyone should be playing politics with.

Special thanks to Nate, Luie and Traffic Cop Joe from East Coast 911 for the photo assistance on this post. They have a great fire service site and have never hesitated to help me out when I needed something. Check out their site for up to the minute fire news.

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*Correction- Squrt 55 is now using Squrt 8’s old truck since Squrt 8 was closed down. For a time Squrt 55 was using 72’s old truck and I suspect this changed while I was off injured. Squrt 72’s old truck is now housed in reserve at L-2’s station.

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7 Responses to THE CURIOUS CASE OF ENGINE 38

  1. I was driving down 95 the other week and saw the big, vacant lot where 38’s used to be and wondered “WTF?” That clarifies things. As with all things Philadelphianic, why try to rationalize anything Mayor Squidward does. I agree completely that Sqt 38 ought to be in the old 14/15 house, but who am I, just a taxpayer?

  2. Ingineer66 says:

    If they tore down the old station without the construction already started on a new station for them, I would bet they are screwed and will be where they are or maybe at 14/15 station if enough noise is made. Sounds like total mismanagement and bs to me.

  3. Old NFO says:

    I’m wondering if there will be NO replacement… Kinda what it sounds like. If they delay long enough, they’re hoping people will forget about it.

  4. hi says:

    engine 33 is in BRIDESBURG no PORT RICHMOND and the sonoco plant is the major reason for the foam unit due to the fact that rohm & haas now only has a few workers on shift at any given time before posting such a long artical please do your homework

    • Dear Tool: I clearly stated in the article that that Engine 33 COVERS parts of Port Richmond. That means they RESPOND into that area.

      Engine 33 covers the south end of Tacony and parts of Port Richmond. Their area is heavily industrialized and because of the Rohm & Haas chemical plant a few blocks away their truck is a specialized foam truck. They have an additional foam tank for use in fighting chemical fires. Now two engines are crammed into one station.

      I am well aware of where Engine 33 is located as I have worked there in the past. The overall industrial area is the reason for the foam unit INCLUDING the Sunoco plant. Would you like to split hairs even further? Please learn to read and spell before offering further incorrect criticism in the future.

      It’s hard to believe you read this entire post yet completely missed the main points of the post. In a nutshell the fire protection is being reduced and instead of redeploying it in a manner that would slightly make up for it the department refuses to do so. You’re welcome.

  5. Tom says:

    Hello. I was attending the Philadelphia Fire Dept. Fire Preventio muster last weekend, and a firefighter there informed me that a new firehouse for 38’s and a (future) planned truck (perhaps Ladder 15 is to be relocated there) company is SUPPOSEDLY going to be constructed on Tyson Avenue near Torresdale Avenue in the Tacony area of the city. Funding is the primary problem in starting construction. Philadelphia is bankrupt!

  6. […] The reason I decided to blog this story is because it’s a sad a predictable example of what happens when politicians take short cuts with emergency services. You may remember this story I did a while back: https://firstin.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/the-curious-case-of-engine-38/ […]

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