Philadelphia: The Great Experiment
The Volunteers: Firefighters in Philadelphia

Our thanks to Sam Katz, Executive Producer
History Making Productions.

August 14, 1839

Event: Mechanic Fire Company No. 37 was instituted.

The Mechanic Fire Engine Company No. 26 was founded on August 14, 1839 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and operated as a hand engine company until it acquired a steam fire engine in 1859. It operated as a steam fire engine company until March 15, 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.

Object: Photo of George Scott, member of the Mechanic Fire Company No. 37.
From the collection of Lee Ryan

July 4, 1791

Event: The Diligent Fire Engine Company No. 10 was instituted.

The Diligent Fire Engine Company No. 10 of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded on July 4, 1791 and was located on the south side of Market Street near Eighth Street. Originally organized as a hand engine company, it acquired a steam fire engine in 1861 and operated as a steam fire engine company until March 15, 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.

July 12, 1851

Event: Spring Garden Fire Engine Company No. 41 was instituted.

The Spring Garden Fire Engine Company No. 41 was founded on July 12, 1851 in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia. Originally organized as a hand engine company, whose motto was “Ever ready to assist the needy,” it acquired a steam fire engine in 1864. The Spring Garden operated as a steam fire engine company until March 15, 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established. Engine 18 of the newly organized Philadelphia Fire Department occupied the former company’s building.

July 15, 1869

Event: The Fire Insurance Patrol (FIP) is placed in service. The patrol was created to service buildings that suffered water damage after a fire. Our Historian’s Blog has a full history. Read more and see the photos.

July 22, 1837
Event: Moyamensing Hose Company No. 27 was instituted.

The Moyamensing Hose Company No. 27 was founded on July 22, 1837 in the Moyamensing section of Philadelphia. With the adoption of steam fire engines by the hand engine companies the hose companies were required to acquire new hose lines because of the increased pressure. Around 1863, with an acknowledgement to the new firefighting technology, the “Moyas,” as they were known, adopted the name “Moyamensing Steam Forcing Hose Company” No. 27.

In an effort to deflect the consequences of a notorious riot caused by the Moyamensing with the Hibernia Fire Company in early 1870, the Moyamensing purchased and used the name of the “Philadelphia Hose Company No. 1” and operated out of their own firehouse. They served until March 15, 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.

Date: August 6, 1805

Event: Neptune Hose Company No. 6 was instituted.

The Neptune Hose Company was founded on August 6th, 1805 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  With its motto “To save our fellow citizens, we hazard ourselves” the company operated until March 15, 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.

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Archival information is also available through the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries.