Engine 6 was organized on March 15, 1871 at 134 Allen Street. The company was placed in service in the station formerly occupied by the Good Intent Fire Company. The building was rented from the former volunteers. For 1871 the rent payments totaled $416.66.
The original company roster was as follows:
Foreman G.H Kochersperger
Engineer John W. Hodges
Driver Jacob S. Allen
Fireman David Vandeventer
Hoseman John Letherbury
Hoseman George Metzcher
Hoseman Edward Judd
Hoseman Alexander Glass
Hoseman David Supplee
Hoseman William Colcher
Hoseman Frederick Cole
Hoseman John Clark
Mrs. Worth was the company matron.
Engine 6 was assigned an 1865 S.W. Landell second size steamer (900 gpm) and a hand-drawn hose carriage. The steamer was purchased from Good Intent for $2750.00. Eight hundred feet of gum rubber hose with Jones Snap couplings was carried on the hose carriage. During 1872 the hose carriage was replaced with a Gardner & Fleming hose cart. The steamer was not replaced until 1884.
The company moved to a new station at 1118 E. Montgomery Avenue during 1875. They would be housed at this location until October 22, 1952 when they moved in with Truck 16 at Belgrade and Huntingdon Streets. The Montgomery Avenue building still stands, but has been renovated and is now a private residence.
Among the items listed on the company’s equipment inventory were two horse boots. These were used in the event one of the horses threw a shoe. The boot would be placed on the horse until the shoe could be fixed (or a 200 series horse was placed in service). I imagine it must have been pretty interesting trying to put one of these on a horse!
Over the course of Engine 6’s years of service, the company played an integral role in the evolution of the department’s water supply strategy. In 1952 the department was operating five pipeline companies. Looking to streamline the department, Engine 6 was chosen for a pilot program to test the feasibility of operating high-pressure engine companies. The company was outfitted with fifteen lengths of 3 ½ inch hose and high-pressure fittings. For ten months Engine 6 was special called to fires throughout the city. The experiment proved to be a success resulting in twenty companies being outfitted as high-pressure engines. The five pipeline companies were disbanded. In 1967 a program was initiated to make all engine companies high pressure. It would take eight years for the conversion to be completed.
On September 8, 1981 an experiment was begun to test the feasibility of using five-inch large diameter hose (LDH). Engine 6 was again chosen to be the test company. In the beginning, the company responded to extra alarm fires as a two-piece company, with the LDH on Engine 106, a 1976 Mack pumper. Eventually, the LDH was placed on Engine 6’s apparatus. Once again the test proved successful. The number of companies equipped with LDH was eventually expanded to thirteen. The Pipeline designation was brought back for these companies. Ironically, Engine 6, which brought about the disbanding of the pipelines in 1952, was now a pipeline. Beginning in June 2016 a program was initiated to equip all non-specialized engine companies with LDH. This was reminiscent of the program that was begun in 1967. The upgrades were completed in June 2017. On June 23, 2017 the “Pipeline” designation was once again relegated to the history books.
Sadly, Engine 6 was disbanded on January 5, 2009.
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In the late 60s & early 70s, when Fire Communications Center in City Hall(a.k.a. The Fire Alarm Room) received a report of a house fire, 24/7, over telephone lines, the procedure was to send an engine, ladder, & chief on the initial dispatch. In ’68 or ’69, in order to try to reduce the number of fire deaths, Commissioner James McCarey ordered that between 12am and 8am, a box alarm with 4 engines, 2 ladders, and 2 battalion chiefs responding was to be transmitted on all telephone calls reporting a structure fire(presently, this is PFD procedure 24/7 although now each co. to respond is announced). I was working a midnite to 8am shift in the Fire Alarm Room one summer nite in ’69 when around 1am we received a report of a house fire at 2515 E. Norris St. in Fishtown over a phone line. So, we transmitted Box 4193 at Almond & Norris Sts. After 5 minutes, the first unit responding to the fire to come up on the radio was Battalion Chief 6 stationed at 7th & Norris Sts. in North Philly. He reported that the report of fire was false and said to recall(return) all companies. He also asked who were the first-in companies; to which we replied Engine 6 & Ladder 16. A few minutes later Engine 6’s phone extension lights up on our interdepartmental fire phone switchboard. It was Battalion 6 reporting that he found the man on watch asleep, the companies still in station. He asked for a test count over the voice alarm system which he received. I thought that the sleeper was really a heavy one since Engine 28 at Belgrade & Clearfield Sts who was 4th-in on Box 4193 would have come south on Belgrade passing Engine 6’s sta. with siren wailing, and relayed this to my shift supervisor. He called Engine 28 on the fire phone, the man on watch answering “what Box”. Evidently, he had also fallen asleep as the engine had never left the station.