PHILADELPHIA – February 19, 2011 (WPVI) — A neighbor heard an explosion. Two men jumped to save their lives in Fairmount. Firefighters responded to the 600 block of North 21st Street early Saturday morning. When they arrived, they encountered flames shooting from the third floor of a rowhome. The porch of the home was also on fire. Two men broke bones when they jumped out of the burning home. A woman in the home escaped unhurt. The fire spread to two adjoining homes before firefighters could contain it. Ten people were left homeless by the fire, no word yet on what sparked it.

I read this story when it first broke but due to a lack of details given by our intrepid local reporters I didn’t give it any more thought. Sometimes even I get tired of fire stories. But today at work I found out the real story behind this job. And it’s ugly. This job happened near where I used to work. In fact my old company was first in at this fire. Unfortunately they were never meant to be first in so far from their station. This is Ladder 01’s former local. Ladder 23 had to respond from their station in Chinatown. Since the Nutter administration CLOSED Ladder 01, Ladder 23 now has to make this run, and it’s a difficult one. It get’s worse. Ladder 09 the second in ladder company was BROWNED OUT this night because of further cutbacks.

Until the Nutter administration’s devastating fire department cuts, Ladder 23 didn’t even go to 21st & Fairmount. Ladder 01 & Ladder 09 did. Now BOTH of those companies were out of the picture when they were most needed. Whats even more horrific is the SECOND IN ladder, the ladder specifically tasked for putting up ladders and making rescues in the REAR of a dwelling fire was Ladder 06. Ladder 06 is at 43rd & Market in WEST PHILLY! The two men who had to jump for their lives are extremely lucky to be alive. They were forced to jump from the rear. They couldn’t wait the TWELVE MINUTES for Ladder 6 to arrive from west Philly.

People jumping from building fires used to be a pretty rare occurrence in Philly. As a fire Department we prided ourselves in getting to an incident scene long before things ever got that bad. Unfortunately jumpers are becoming more and more common. The response times for this job speak volumes about the state of fire protection in Philadelphia today. Also our guys are acutely aware that there are times when peoples lives are in real danger (like this job) and they have the added pressure of driving an emergency vehicle over longer and longer distances without getting into any accidents. If our guys have an accident, no matter how small, they are literally crucified by the department, even though they are trying to save someone from burning to death.

Here are the dispatch times for this fire:

Ladder 23 (10th & Cherry) First In: Dispatched at 03:04:38 On Scene 03:10:54
Ladder 6 (45th & Market) Second In: Responsible for laddering the rearDispatched 03:04:38 On Scene 03:12:09
Engine 13 was first in with Engine 43 second in. Both stations where Ladder 1 (E.13) and ladder 9 (E.43) would have been in service. Their response times were as follows:
Engine 13 Dispatched 03:04:38 On Scene 03:08:20
Engine 43 Dispatched 03:04:38 On Scene 03:11:58
So before Mayor Nutter closed 10 fire companies BOTH ladder companies would have been on scene in under FOUR minutes or very close to it. Remember this fire happened at 3 AM with no traffic on the streets. If this was 3 PM rush hour gridlock would have delayed the companies even further. As it is the first in engine company had to wait nearly three minutes just for Ladder 23 to ARRIVE on location. That’s a long time to be fighting a fire without a ladder company to assist in ventilating the property. It’s also a long time to be hanging out a window waiting for someone with a ladder to rescue you. But hey Mayor Nutter has all the time in the world, after all he’s not the guy at the window.


  1. Ferrell Gummitt says:

    I read along with some other posts of yours Cap and I am disgusted. The Namby-Pamby teachers in WI are being asked to kick in for some of their benefits while the Philadelphia Fire Dept is being stretched to the limit and now answering calls in Camden, NJ.

    Conclusion: Make the teachers pay up and have the Firemen and Police have more benefits, staff and their Union to fight for them.

    • Rick says:

      Yea!!!!!..Let’s pay the teachers in Wisc. minimum wage and send the the savings to Philly to pay the fireman!!!!….Yea!!…Genius!!!…Wow…Can you say “Idiot”….

      • Wyatt Earp says:

        Can you say “asshole troll?” The next fact you post will be the first, but since you don’t respond to reasoned arguments, there’s not point in even acknowledging your douchebaggery. Thanks for playing.

  2. Old NFO says:

    Good post and good points CA, response time IS critical, and they are lucky they ONLY had to jump and didn’t burn to death waiting for a ladder…


  4. Spock says:

    Cap, a footnote to E43’s response time. Lost power steering in the ancient truck a few blocks from the fire; every turn then became very intensive, basically being a five-point turn to make a simple left or right.

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