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.
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.
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???
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.
*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.