Engine 28 was organized as a temporary company on the grounds of the World Exposition in Fairmount Park during the centennial celebration of July 1876. With only two engine companies west of the Schuylkill River, Engines 5 and 16, the department wanted to provide additional resources to protect the buildings and large crowds expected to attend the event. When the exposition ended, Engine 28 was discontinued.
On April 1, 1878 Engine 28 was reorganized at 3068 Belgrade in the Port Richmond section of the city. The original company roster was as follows:
Foreman William Knight
Engineer Charles Giberson
Driver William Hasson
Fireman William Hewit
Hoseman Thomas Hanna
Hoseman Adam Carnwell
Hoseman Nicholas Painter
Hoseman Henry Gross
Hoseman Lawrence Hoover
Hoseman Frank Bryant
Hoseman Patrick Kilday
Hoseman John Lukens
Mrs. Van Sciver was the company’s matron.
During 1909 the firehouse was renovated. Engine 28 would remain on Belgrade Street for nearly one hundred years. On February 21, 1978 the company moved into a new firehouse, their current location, at 2520 E Ontario Street.
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Engine 28 - 3068 Belgrade Street
Engine 28 - Interior of Belgrade Street firehouse showing the steamer and hose wagon at the ready.
1892 Silsby 2nd size steamer - rebuilt 1909. The driver is William Creighton. He was appointed to the Bureau of Fire in 1916 and retired in 1940.
2520 E. Ontario Street with their current apparatus, a 2007 American LaFrance.
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Jack Wright (April 11, 1963-April 6, 2021) was a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, PA. As a child he was fascinated with fire engines in general and those of the Philadelphia Fire Department in particular. He chased them his entire life. From his early days of grammar school, he watched Engine 53 and Ladder 27 responding to alarms in his South Philadelphia neighborhood. Those scenes made an indelible impression on him. It was at that time that he began collecting photographs relating to the Philadelphia Fire Department.
With his interest in the Philadelphia Fire Department and its history, it was only natural that he found himself at the Fireman’s Hall Museum. In May of 1988 he began working as a museum volunteer. While working there he became involved in researching the department’s history, as well as documenting it. Some of his research has been used by the Philadelphia Fire Department to evaluate their operations and procedures and make changes where necessary. On October 14, 2007 Jack was named the official Philadelphia Fire Department Historian by Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
Jack served on the Board of Directors of Fireman’s Hall. He also was a contributing editor for Fire Apparatus Journal. Jack co-authored Hike Out, the only written history of the Philadelphia Fire department ever published. In addition, he published Philadelphia Fire Apparatus Volume 4. He wrote a number of articles relating to the department’s history that have been published in various magazines and newsletters and posts a history blog on the internet. Jack provided presentations to various historical societies in the Philadelphia area regarding the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Additional information can be found on our post for Engine 15, see comments at the bottom of the page.
On January 23, 1960 around 5pm, my father, brother, and I were driving north on Richmond St. thru Port Richmond when over my Hallicrafters tuneable high-band radio, we heard Box 83, Richmond & Allegheny, being dispatched. Being only a few blocks away, when we reached the intersection, we turned onto Allegheny Ave., and seeing heavy fire and smoke about a block towards the Delaware River, we immediately parked. Not quite a minute later, Engine 28’s, 1947 Ford AFE Hose Wagon coming down Allegheny took a wrap on the corner high-pressure hydrant and quickly laid its 3.5 inch hose on the fly to the front of the fire building. It was the Friedman Basket Co., at 2864 E. Allegheny Ave., a one story frame building fully involved and spreading to nearby buildings. So, a second alarm was struck. But Engine 28 and other 1st alarm companies made a fast knock down and it was a relatively short time period before the fire was placed under control However, I was much chagrined with my brother who had no interest in fires or firefighting, and evidently oblivious to an unusual event unfolding around him, because he stayed in the car the whole time listening to the most popular rock radio station at the time, WIBG. Additional information can be found on our post for Engine 6, see comments at the bottom of the page.