Philadelphia Fire Department receives $22.4 million grant to reactivate three companies

October 6, 2023

Philadelphia’s closed fire companies get a second chance

Philadelphia, PA: The Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) has been awarded a $22.4 million federal grant.

This significant fund will aid in reopening three fire companies which have been out of operation for almost 15 years.

Revitalizing long-standing units

Engine 6, Ladder 1, and Ladder 11 are set to return and serve various neighborhoods.

These neighborhoods encompass Kensington, Fishtown, Port Richmond, Fairmount, Spring Garden, Francisville, East Passyunk, and South Philly.

Details on the precise timeline for bringing each unit back are still in the works.

Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel expressed his sentiments: “This critical funding will enable us to bolster emergency response in areas that have witnessed substantial growth recently.”

Additionally, he noted: “Reestablishing these units will enhance the PFD’s capacity to provide consistent service throughout Philadelphia.”

Where the funds come from

The grant originates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It was given in September via the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) program, known for its competitive nature.

With this backing, the PFD intends to employ, instruct, and compensate 72 firefighter/EMTs for a span of three years.

After this period, the City of Philadelphia will assume responsibility for the personnel expenses.

Mayor Jim Kenney highlighted the department’s crucial role, stating: “The Fire Department promptly reacts to a multitude of emergencies — ranging from domestic fires and gas outbursts to vehicular mishaps, medical emergencies, and structural collapses.”

He emphasized: “Reinstating these companies is a necessary move for our locals, tourists, and commercial entities.”

A glimpse into the past

Engine 6, Ladder 1, and Ladder 11 were three of seven units that ceased operations on January 5, 2009, amidst the economic downturn.

According to the Fireman’s Hall Museum, the guardian of PFD’s history, each unit had been active for over a century.

The remaining four companies, Engine 1, Engine 8, Engine 14, and Engine 39, resumed service in 2019, also courtesy of a SAFER grant.

In the 2023 Fiscal Year, PFD attended approximately 880 emergency situations daily. This translates to nearly 53,000 fire-related events and an excess of 268,000 EMS incidents annually.

FSJA Comment

The reactivation of these fire companies in Philadelphia is a testament to the ongoing efforts of city officials to enhance emergency response capabilities in growing communities.

The grant not only symbolizes federal recognition of the pivotal role the PFD plays, but it also reiterates the city’s commitment to safety.

By reintroducing these units, Philadelphia can anticipate a more resilient and efficient response to emergencies, benefiting both residents and visitors alike.

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