Engine 29 was organized December 5, 1883 at 1048 N. Lawrence Street. The original company roster was as follows:
John Humphreys – Foreman
William Hewitt – Engineer
George Eisele – Driver
John Elliot – Fireman
William Herring Jr. – Hoseman
Philip Trude – Hoseman
James A Mack – Hoseman
Stephen Rowan – Hoseman
Edward Conard – Hoseman
John Lamb – Hoseman
Peter Rittenhouse – Hoseman
Joseph Clark – Hoseman
Mrs. Banes was the company matron.
The building was rented from the Redemptorist Fathers of Pennsylvania, the religious order staffing Saint Peter the Apostle Church at 5th Street and Girard Avenue. Not only were the good fathers helping the poor and saving souls, they were acting as landlords. Rent for the building was $100.00 per month.
Engine 29’s first run was on December 25, 1883 to Box 431 at 0420 hours. The address of fire was 478 St. John Street. During the first month, the company was in service they had a total of three runs, all boxes.
Truck G was organized at Engine 29’s station in 1893. On July 11, 1900 numbers replaced letters for the truck companies. Truck G became Truck 7.
On February 27, 1895 Engine 29 and Truck 7 moved to a new station located at 1225-29 N. 4th Street. This firehouse was, and still is, hailed as the finest example of Richardson Romanesque architecture in the city. It is listed on the register of historic places. Rescue 15 was placed in service at this station on April 23, 1970.
Engine 29, Ladder 7, and Rescue 15 moved to a new station located at 400-08 W. Girard Avenue on February 28, 1972.
Ladder 7 was disbanded on July 1, 1988. “Heavy Duty” Rescue 1 was reorganized in Engine 29’s station on March 25, 1991
Have an interesting story about Engine 29 that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you. Use the comment form below.
Looking for interesting Philadelphia Fire Department Merchandise? Visit our store for great patches and much more.
The photo in the upper left corner, with the men standing in front of a three-bay station, was listed as Engine 49’s station (on phillyhistory.org?) and as Camden’s headquarters (on dvrbs.com?). Thank you.
Thanks for your comment. After further research we’ve decided to remove the photo in question.
I believe it was the summer of 1970 or 71. It was a warm summer night and in the wee hours of the morning with all members asleep except, hopefully, the man on watch, Ladder 7 rolled out of the station thru its open bay door and into the living room of the row house across N. 4th St.. No one in the row house was hurt. It definitely didn’t make the TV news and I don’t think the papers picked it up. As a dispatcher, there didn’t seem to be much repercussions in the department. Since then, a retired PFD member said that probably the driver returning from a run forgot to put the parking brake on. At the time, not knowing the construction of the apparatus floor, I had liked to muse that it was the ghosts of laddermen from Ladder 7 killed in the Friedlander Leather Clippings fire(described elsewhere in this blog) who had something to do with it.
I believe this incident happened prior to that, since my father, FF John Weres, was assigned to Ladder 7, Platoon “B” in the 1960s. He was killed on October 25, 1965 while responding to a fire at 17th and Ridge as the apparatus turned onto 17th street from Girard.
I remember him telling the story of Ladder 7 rolling across 4th St into the house directly across from the bay door.
At the time, it was thought that the parking brake wasn’t applied and the vibrations from the trolley running down 4th St caused the apparatus to roll out of the station.
So my guess is that this happened before October 1965
John, I’m sorry to hear of the untimely death of your father. However hard to believe, Ladder 7 must have rolled out of the station and into the house across the street twice! As a dispatcher beginning my day shift shortly after 8am one summer morning I acknowledged on fire radio Car 2(Dep. Comm. Eckles) going off radio at Engine 29. At around the same time I acknowledged other chiefs going off radio at 29s. How strange that all these mahoffs were down at Engine 29 so early in the morning. So, I asked my supervisor what the heck was going on down there, and was told the story of Ladder 7 rolling out of the station and into the house across 4th St. a few hours earlier that morning. I was a PFD dispatcher from 1968 to 1973.
Hello! My grandfather, James Barry Donovan, was the man on watch when Ladder 7 rolled that summer night in 1970-1971. He told this story to me, my mom, and my sister several times. He recently passed on July 29th, 2021. But he would share dozens of stories with us about his time on the fire department. He told us that Ladder 7 needed the parking brake repaired. So him and 2 other guys were on watch while the repairman came to fix it. Thinking that it was fixed, the repairman left. An hour or so later, my grandfather heard a creaking sound and out of the corner of his eye, saw the Ladder truck rolling out of the open bay door and into the living room of the rowhome across the street. He immediately ran over into the house and went to the basement to shut off the power. He and the other guys he was with were told that they could not leave until the chiefs came and investigated. He truly thought he was going to get fired. The repairman came back and “fixed” it while all of the chiefs were present. Once he was finished, they waited another hour to make sure it wouldn’t roll again. But sure enough- it did. Thankfully, it did not get as far as it did the first time. But now everyone was present to witness it roll. My grandpop and the other guys were told they could finally go home by then. He shared so many stories with us but this one in particular always stood out. Glad to see that other people also remember this happening!
Alyssa- Thanks for sharing the true story of what happened that summer night!
As a kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s my dad had a printing business next door to engine 29, ladder 7. I spent a lot of time with the different crews, eating meals with them and helping out around the firehouse. I fell in love with the fire service and when I became of age I joined a volunteer fire department. At 76 years old, I’m sill very active in the fire service.