Engine 21 was organized March 15, 1871 at 714 N. New Market Street in the firehouse formerly occupied by the Northern Liberty Hose Company. A total of $250.00 in rent was paid to the former volunteer company during 1871.
The original company roster was as follows:
Foreman James C. Baxter
Engineer Octavius N. Knight
Driver William McCarty
Fireman Charles Giberson
Hoseman Henry C. Hollsworth
Hoseman Patrick Carr
Hoseman George Nickert
Hoseman Henry C. Laird
Hoseman William H. Hill
Hoseman William J. Kerbaugh
Hoseman George A. Meade
Hoseman Henry S. Huey
Mrs. Twaddel was the company matron.
Foreman James C. Baxter was a 27 year old upholster when he was appointed to the newly organized department. He was promoted to Assistant Engineer on February 9, 1872. On October 13, 1892 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Bureau of Fire. He would serve in this position until January 3, 1911 when he retired.
During 1874, the company moved to a new station located at 826-24 N. New Market Street. A new firehouse was built for Engine 21 at 609-19 N. 2nd Street. The company moved in during 1952. Sometime in the late 1960’s Engine 21’s former station at 826-24 N. New Market Street was damaged by fire.
Engine 21 became legendary in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It was during this time the buildings in Engine 21’s local were being torn down to make way for the construction of I-95. It wasn’t uncommon for Engine 21, Ladder 7, and Battalion 4 to be dispatched on a local alarm followed by the box and extra alarms. Old timers have said that during this period, you would eat your dinner by 6:30 PM because you may be out all night at extra alarm fires. During 1969, the department battled 121 extra alarm fires.
On February 13, 1973 Engine 21 was disbanded to organize Engine 76 at Northeast Airport.
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Engine 21 using a hose jumper to allow the number 5 trolley to get through on Third Street below Walnut. The fire was located 221-27 Locust Street, Garrett & Gregor Printers, plus extensions to seven other buildings. Box 131, 3rd & Evalina @ 0433 hours. The second and third alarms were struck simultaneously at 0445 hours.
One of the extra alarms mentioned above occurred on November 11, 1969 when Box 455 at New Market & Pegg Sts. was struck out at 12:09am on which Engine 21 was first-in. Companies arrived to very heavy smoke coming from a 3 story vacant building at 415 N. New Market St. As companies were opening up a backdraft occurred on the first floor hurling Battalion 4’s aide who had been standing by his car across New Market St. over the hood of his car. Being only shook-up and not hurt, he remained on the fireground. At 12:16 am, Battalion 4 requested the 2nd Alarm. The fire spread to 2 other vacant 3 story buildings at 413 & 411 New Market St. before it was placed under control by Car 4 a little over a half hour later.
Correction: the above extra was on November 22, 1969