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Firehouse

 

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Engine Company No. 52 in front of Wissinoming Hall, Jackson and Vankirk Sts., in the early 1900s.  Before Lawton School was built, the neighborhood school was on the second floor of this building.

 

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Engine No. 52 in the early 1900s.  

                                Both photos courtesy of Robert Springer and Robert Smith.

Mickey McHeran gave an interesting account of Engine 52 in her book Wissinoming, my hometown.  The section on the firehouse is reproduced below.

THE FIREHOUSE 

Engine Company 52 was initially housed in a. huge red brick structure complete with brass poles for sliding down from the second floor, and was located at Jackson and Vankirk Streets. The cornerstone read 1888. This building once housed Wissinoming's two-room schoolhouse prior to the building of Lawton School. The fireman stationed there throughout the years became an integral part of the community. Whenever there was an alarm sounded, the doors were flung open and every child around at that time ran or rode their bicycles to the firehouse to learn where the fire was burning. The location was posted and if it was within the limits for the children, off they went. We watched the firemen polish and clean the fire trucks and scrub the hoses. There was a tall tower like structure at the rear of the building wherein the fire hoses could be hung to drain and dry. The current firehouse has a similar tower. 

While the new firehouse was being built the men were detailed to neighboring firehouses. On the day they returned to their new quarters, the ladies of the area baked cakes to welcome them back.  It was completed in 1951 when Mayor Bernard Samuel was in office. 

There was a stable adjacent to the back of the first firehouse that at one time housed the horses used to pull the firefighting apparatus of yesteryear. 

One of the most memorable fires fought by Engine Company 52 was the one in Bridesburg when Barrett's, now Allied Chemical Corp., burned for so long a time. The sky was ablaze in all colors and could be seen in Wissinoming long into the night. 

The town dump was once located at Torresdale Avenue and Devereaux St. now the site of the American Legion Recreation Center. Trash of all description found its way to that location. We called it "Treasure Island," and if anything "good" arrived you could be sure some enterprising child would lay claim to it. 

Whenever fires would erupt amid the rubbish the firemen would train the hoses on the smoking and blazing debris. At times the water- would rise up to great heights from the tremendous water pressure and we'd have our own, "Old Faithful." The men of Engine Company 52 always had an appreciative audience. It would take some time after a fire till worthwhile "goodies" could be salvaged from the rubble. 

It's a consolation to the community to know a firehouse remains at the same location as its 1888 predecessor, and the firemen are ever ready to respond to any alarms as were the former firefighters of the "Fifty-Twos."

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