Engine 4 was organized on March 15, 1871, at 116 S. 17th Street in the firehouse of the Philadelphia Fire Company of the volunteer department.
The original roster was as follows:
Hugh H. Cochran-driver
Andrew J. Kilpatrick-fireman
James P. Love-hoseman
Jabez W. Artman-hoseman
Interestingly, there were twelve men assigned and there were twelve spittoons listed in the company inventory – one per man.
Engine 4 would operate from these quarters until 1898 when they moved to a new firehouse at 1528 Sansom Street.
Beginning in 1874 and ending in 1897 Engine 4 was considered a jinxed company due to the high number of members killed and injured in the line of duty. Here’s a list of some of the incidents were members were killed and/or injured.
January 29, 1874 – 2 alarms 12th & Market Streets – Hosemen George Devitt, of Engine 3, and Charles O’Neill, of Engine 4, killed and the Foreman and three hoseman from Engine 4 injured by falling walls.
October 31, 1875 – 3 alarms – 23rd & Hamilton Streets – one member injured, Hoseman Thomas Evans of Engine 4 was badly burned.
April 4, 1876 – while responding to Box 14, Engine 4’s hose cart overturned injuring Hosemen Andrew Kilpatrick and William J. Black.
July 23, 1877 – while operating at a box alarm at 37th Street and Darby Road, Hosemen John E. Murphy and George Hostler of Engine 4 were badly burned by an explosion of coal oil.
November 1, 1879 – while operating at a box alarm at 1729-1733 Market Street, Assistant Engineer William Stagairt and Hoseman Harry Hogg, of Engine 4, were injured by a falling wall. Engine 17’s steamer was also destroyed in the collapse.
June 21, 1884 – 3 alarms at 251 Levant Street – Hoseman James McCuen, Engine 4, was injured.
December 27, 1886 – 2 alarms at 717-721 Chestnut Street, Hoseman John Gibson, of Engine 4, and Ladderman John Johnson, of Truck B, were killed and two Hosemen from Engine 4 and one Ladderman from Truck D were injured.
May 31, 1888 – 2 alarms 36th Street and Woodland Avenue,
Hoseman Andrew Hamilton, Engine 4, injured.
February 10, 1889 – Hoseman George Showers of Engine 4 killed, and the Assistant Foreman and two hosemen from Engine 4 were injured, along with a hoseman from Engine 18 while operating at an extra alarm fire at 1412-16 Walnut Street.
November 22, 1889 – 2 alarms at 119-123 Market Street, Assistant Foreman James McCuen, Engine 4, was killed and seventeen other members were injured, including one from Engine 4, by falling walls.
December 15, 1897 – 2 alarms at 1025 Market Street, five firemen were injured, including George Gore of Engine 4.
Also, the first foreman of Engine 4, Hugh McClintock, would be promoted to Assistant Engineer. He was critically injured March 4, 1876 while battling a three alarm fire at 309-311 Market Street when he fell from the roof. He would die from his injuries on June 21, 1876.
From June 25, 1971 to July 15, 1971 the station was closed for rebuilding due to an arson fire started while Engine 4 was out on a fire. For more information on this see Comment on the bottom of this page.
Engine 4 was disbanded on July 15, 1984.
The jinx of Engine 4 sort of continued into the 20th Century. Around 2am on June 25, 1971 while Engine 4 was putting out a rubbish fire in their local at 13th & Chancellor Sts., an arsonist set on fire the rear of Engine 4’s station. Police on patrol noticed the fire and called it in. The fire caused $50,000 in damages and took 45 minutes to control. Shortly thereafter, police arrested and charged Joseph Neary, an Upper Darby volunteer fireman with arson. Quite possibly, Neary had set the rubbish fire to draw Engine 4 out of its station. Word had it that sometime previous to the fires, visiting fireman Neary had been thrown out of Engine 4’s firehouse. However, neither the fire nor the jinx caused the closure of the station in 1984. Probably, the two main reasons were: one, the station was only about 6 blocks away from 2 other engine cos., Engine 1 to the south and Engine 43 to the west; two, with the development of larger fire apparatus and illegal parking on narrow Sansom St., Engine 4 was having difficulty getting out of its station. Today, the building still stands as a bar/restaurant called Ladder 15 (which still exists up in the Frankford section). Why the bar owner didn’t go with Old Engine 4 is a mystery. But my guess is that he’s a fan of the John Travolta movie, “Ladder 49”, and wanted to relate that he’s in the 15 00 Block of Sansom St..
In the above paragraph that said Eng, 4 couldn’t get out of their station is Not true, there was never a time when Eng.4 couldn’t respond to an Alarm!! Eng.4 was closed due to Buget cut by the City !
I never said “it couldn’t get out of their station”. I said “Engine 4 was having difficulty getting out of its station”. For example, in order not to hit illegally parked cars, it had to back up one or two times on its apron. I don’t think it ever “scratched” responding to an alarm, but 16th st. was often in gridlock during rush hours slowing its response. You’re right that budget cuts to the dept. caused station closures. My point was that Engine 4 was closed rather than another engine company in the city because of the closeness of neighboring engine companies, and the factors cited above.
On the night of March 10, 1970, I was in my apartment listening to my Heathkit fire radio when at 9:33pm, I heard Box 397 at 12th & Walnut Sts. being dispatched. A few minutes later, I heard first-in Engine 4 reporting heavy smoke from a building in the 1200 Block of Walnut St. and requesting that all companies lead-off with 2.5 inch water lines. Living only a few blocks away, I walked on over to observe the action. Heavy smoke was coming from the 4 story, Phila. Costume Co. at 1229 Walnut St.. Shortly after arriving, I saw Deputy Chief 1 standing across Walnut St.. I knew Chief Joe Doyle from his visits to the Fire Alarm Room where I was a dispatcher, and walked over to say hello. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked me if he should request the 2nd alarm. Well, the smoke was pretty heavy, and companies had not yet found the seat of the fire, and with the congested buildings on the block there was potential for spread, I said, “yeah”. He then radioed his aide to request the 2nd alarm which was struck out at 9:46pm. I was amazed that he would be asking a lowly fire dispatcher whether he should ask for the 2nd alarm. However, in the last 16 years, Joe had been in the Fire Marshal’s Office attaining the rank of “The” Fire Marshal. In a previous conversation, he said that he really resented being transferred out and back to the field. Shortly, after the 2nd alarm was transmitted, the companies finally had found the seat of the fire and put water on it. Soon, Commissioner Joe Rizzo(Car 1), who had been returning from another extra alarm in South Philadelphia, arrived and placed the fire under control at 9:56 pm.
In telling this story to a fellow dispatcher, he said that Chief Doyle had probably already made up his mind to request the 2nd alarm, and his question to me was just rhetorical.