Engine 1 was organized March 15, 1871 in the quarters formerly occupied by Delaware Engine Company 4 at 1839 South Street. Rent for the station was $625.00 for 1871.
The original company roster was as follows:
Foreman James Patterson
Engineer Samuel Pritchard
Driver William Carberry
Fireman Andrew Auld
Hoseman John Winring
Hoseman Henry Conrad
Hoseman Eugene Smith
Hoseman Jule F. Cure
Hoseman John E. Murphy
Hoseman George McFetridge
Hoseman John Budd
Hoseman John Laird
Mrs. Lawther was the company matron.
The company was assigned an 1859 Reaney & Neafie first size steamer. The steamer was purchased for the princely sum of $2500 from the Delaware Engine Company. It became a spare in 1873.
During 1888 the station was rebuilt and enlarged. On December 15, 1964 Engine 1 moved to a new station at 711 S. Broad Street. Ladder 5 moved into the new station the same day from their single ladder house at 752 S. 16th Street. Engine 1 was placed out of service on May 25, 1994 for asbestos removal from the station. They were placed back in service on June 18, 1994.
Engine 1 was one of seven companies disbanded on January 5, 2009 because “they were no longer needed”. Engine one was one of the four companies that was re-opened on November 23, 2019. They were assigned a 2004 American LaFrance pumper that had previously served with Engine 44 and more recently as a reservice as Engine 116. Welcome back Engine 1.
This post is actually about Battalion Chief 5 who was stationed with Engine 1 for decades. Around 1:50pm, on Sunday, November 30, 1958, Engine 1 & Battalion 5 were dispatched on a local alarm to a fire in the large church built by merchant, John Wanamaker, in 1858, located on the southeast corner of 22nd & Bainbridge Sts.. Almost immediately after, a churchgoer pulled the nearby fire alarm box at that corner, and it was transmitted by the Fire Alarm Room. A couple of minutes later, an unusual message was heard over the fire radio. After calling Battalion 5, the dispatcher said, “we are receiving 2-2-2 over the box circuit, are you requesting the 2nd alarm?”. Evidently, Battalion 5’s aide being of the era before fire radio was established in 1951, opened the door of the fire alarm box and used the inside telegraph key to tap out the signal requesting the 2nd alarm. It was probably easier for him to do that than go back to the car and get on the radio. The fire went for 7 alarms and destroyed the church. All churchgoers got out except for a 10-year old girl they later found in a restroom. A new church was built and today stands on the same site.
At the 1978 New Years Day Mummers Parade, I was in the crowd in front of the College of Art at Broad & Pine Sts. a little after 4pm as snow started to fall. As I looked south on Broad St. to see how far away the next string band was(about 6 blocks), I noticed heavy black smoke rolling over Broad St. Walking south coming closer to the smoke, I saw that it was coming from the 4 story Las Vegas Club and Hotel on the northeast corner of Broad & South Sts.. And I saw Engine 1 & Ladder 5 pulling out of their station about one and a half blocks further south on Broad St. As they pulled up about 10 seconds later flames burst thru the windows of the upper stories, but the Mummer’s kept coming although confining themselves to the southbound lanes of Broad. With orange flames raging, black smoke billowing, large white snowflakes falling, and guys dressed in multi-colored feathers marching past, it was the most surreal fireground scene I’ve ever seen. The second alarm was struck at 4:21pm. As the second alarm companies began to arrive, the parade was finally detoured east on Bainbridge, and then north on 13th St for a few blocks. Engine 1 & Ladder 5 and the rest of the responding PFD did a good job in saving the building. The fire was declared under control at 4:53pm.
My Grandfather was John M Abraham who was a FF at E1.
His sons and now myself follow in his footsteps.