Engine 23 was organized April 13, 1872 at 1936 Germantown Avenue. The original company roster was as follows:
John T. Garman – Foreman
William E. Knight – Engineman
Amos Closson – Driver
John Morris – Fireman
James Clarency – Hoseman
Peter Koocker – Hoseman
Joseph Parker – Hoseman
John W. Firth – Hoseman
Henry C. Young – Hoseman
William Jackaway – Hoseman
Job Archer – Hoseman
Mrs. Routes was the company’s matron.
The total company payroll for 1873 was $5480.24
Rent for the station for 1873 was $814.50
During 1900 the company moved to a new station at 2031 N. 7th Street. They resided here until June 30, 1937 when the company was disbanded to organize Engine 72. Engine 23 was reorganized July 28, 1950 in Pipeline 2’s station at 2736 N. 6th Street. The company was disbanded again on July 28, 1952 to reorganize Engine 18.
From June 8, 1901 until April 8, 1904 William L. Huntley served as the Assistant Foreman of Engine 23. He was transferred back to Engine 23 on January 5, 1910 as the Foreman. On March 17, 1914 he transferred to Engine 50, until January 9, 1917 when he transferred back to Engine 23. Captain Huntley would retire from the Bureau of Fire on June 1, 1918 after slightly more than twenty-four years of service.
Captain Huntley was known as “The Fireman with the Charmed Life”. On numerous occasions, Huntley was in the shadow of death but escaped, although often seriously injured. His first encounter occurred less than a month after his appointment to the Bureau of Fire. While operating at a third alarm at the William Smith and Son Hair Pin Factory at 4572-31 Royal Street, a plank fell from the third floor of the building, landing on his head. Hoseman Huntley’s helmet was crushed and he received a concussion.
While assigned as Assistant Foreman of Engine 45, Huntley was critically injured while operating at a four alarm fire at the Thomas Potter Oil Cloth Factory, located at 2nd and Venango Streets. Huntley along with Hosemen James Magee and John Kurtz were operating on the fourth floor of the building when it collapsed. Hoseman Magee was killed. Hoseman Kurtz walked away from the rubble without a scratch. Assistant Foreman Huntley spent three months recuperating from his injuries before returning to duty.
On May 24, 1903, while Assistant Foreman of Engine 23, Huntley’s eyes were badly burned while battling a four alarm fire at the Front Street Warehousing Company at 919-25 N. Front Street. While operating at D. Friedlander Leather Clippings fire at 1116-20 N. Bodine Street on December 21, 1910, Huntley, now a Foreman assigned to Engine 23, was buried in the collapse along with two of his men, Assistant Foreman John F. Kalberer and Hoseman William McConnell. Both Kalberer and McConnell were killed along with eleven other members of the Bureau and one policeman. Huntley would have another close call on April 17, 1913 while assigned to Engine 23. While operating at a three alarm fire at the W.T. Westcott Candy Company at 701-09 Spring Garden Street, Huntley was buried under a falling wall along with three of his men – Hosemen Walter Costello, Frank L. King, and Charles Moritz. Foreman Huntley was pulled from the rubble seriously injured but Costello, King, and Moritz were killed.
These are just a few of the injuries William Huntley sustained during his career. He truly was a man with a charmed life.
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