Truck “E” was organized on March 15, 1871 on the southwest corner of 20th & Hand Street (now called Waverly Street) in the quarters of the Fame Hose Company.
The original company roster was as follows:
- Archibald A. Young- Foreman
- William A. Napier- Driver
- John Raiden- Tillerman
- Edward J. Walker- Ladderman
- Thomas J. Allison, Jr.- Ladderman
- Isaac Thomas- Ladderman
- Dennis W. Vaughn- Ladderman
- William J. Donnelly- Ladderman
- James Steele- Ladderman
- William B. Reynolds- Ladderman
- George Jones- Ladderman
- Frederick Smith- Ladderman
- Samuel Dougherty- Ladderman
Mrs. Cox was the matron (janitress).
$541.66 was paid in rent that year to the Fame Fire Company. The truck’s carriage was built by Gardner & Fleming of Philadelphia. The weight of the apparatus with men was 7,500 pounds, and it carried seven ladders, 45, 40, 35, 28, 22, 16, and 12 feet in lengths.
In 1885, Truck “E” moved to a new station at 752 South 16th Street, just below Fitzwater Street.
Numbers replaced letters for designated truck companies on July 11, 1900. Truck E became Truck 5. In 1950, the term ladder companies replaced the term truck companies.
In 1952, part of a city capital improvement plan was the consolidation of engine companies and ladder companies into one firehouse to cut costs. Ladder 5 was the last single ladder company station in the city to be combined with an engine company when it moved in with Engine 1 and Battalion Chief 5 at a new station at 711 South Broad Street on December 15, 1964 where it remains today.
In 1966, it was the first ladder in the city to receive an 85-foot Hi-Ranger Snorkel. This apparatus, developed by the Chicago Fire Dept., had an articulating, water-piped, aerial device with a bucket on the end that could hold two men.
Throughout its existence, Ladder 5 has served areas of both Center City and South Philadelphia.