Miller North Broad Storage Company-June 21, 1939
The Philadelphia Bureau of Fire battled one of the toughest fires in its history on June 21, 1939. Engine 50 found heavy smoke coming from the six-story building occupied by the Miller North Broad Storage Company at 2709-13 N. Broad Street in response to Box 5215 at 5:45 AM. Five alarms were needed to bring the fire under control.
The building featured concrete floors and a concrete roof. There were few windows on the upper floors. To effect ventilation, members had to use drills and sledge hammers to breach the cement. A total of one hundred and fifty members were injured, including all eight members of Engine 27, all seven members of Engine 5, and six of seven members of Engine 45.
Captain John Brady of Engine 45 was overcome with smoke four times. Three times he returned to the fire ground after being treated. After the fourth time, he was admitted to Temple Hospital.
Miller North Broad Storage, advertised their building as being fireproof. Unfortunately, the contents weren’t.
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Jack Wright (April 11, 1963-April 6, 2021) was a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, PA. As a child he was fascinated with fire engines in general and those of the Philadelphia Fire Department in particular. He chased them his entire life. From his early days of grammar school, he watched Engine 53 and Ladder 27 responding to alarms in his South Philadelphia neighborhood. Those scenes made an indelible impression on him. It was at that time that he began collecting photographs relating to the Philadelphia Fire Department.
With his interest in the Philadelphia Fire Department and its history, it was only natural that he found himself at the Fireman’s Hall Museum. In May of 1988 he began working as a museum volunteer. While working there he became involved in researching the department’s history, as well as documenting it. Some of his research has been used by the Philadelphia Fire Department to evaluate their operations and procedures and make changes where necessary. On October 14, 2007 Jack was named the official Philadelphia Fire Department Historian by Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
Jack served on the Board of Directors of Fireman’s Hall. He also was a contributing editor for Fire Apparatus Journal. Jack co-authored Hike Out, the only written history of the Philadelphia Fire department ever published. In addition, he published Philadelphia Fire Apparatus Volume 4. He wrote a number of articles relating to the department’s history that have been published in various magazines and newsletters and posts a history blog on the internet. Jack provided presentations to various historical societies in the Philadelphia area regarding the Philadelphia Fire Department.
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