In a move designed to increase safety, communication and oversight, the Philadelphia Fire Department is putting more chiefs in the field through the restorations of Battalions 5 & 6 and Division 3.
“This is a huge milestone in our continuing efforts to reinvest in the PFD,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Restoring these positions will improve safety for the public and for members of the department.”
In the same way police operate in districts, the Fire Department divides the city into battalions. Each one is led by a Battalion Chief, who responds on emergency calls to supervise firefighters. A group of battalions is called a division, which is overseen by a Deputy Chief who responds on major incidents.
Decades ago, the PFD had 13 battalions among three divisions. Budget cuts forced the elimination of Division 3 and Battalion 6 in 1983, and Battalion 5 was deactivated in 1993, according to Fireman’s Hall Museum, which keeps the history of the PFD.
Now, thanks to additional resources from Mayor Kenney and City Council, Battalions 5 & 6 and Division 3 are back in service in new locations – adding three more chiefs to the field on every shift.
- Battalion 5 is based at Engine 58 in Somerton (812 Hendrix St.) and oversees fire stations in the Far Northeast.
- Battalion 6 is based at Engine 69 in Southwest Philadelphia (8201 Tinicum St.) and oversees stations in neighborhoods including Eastwick, Elmwood and around the Sports Complex.
- Division 3 is based at Engine 19 in Germantown (302 E. Chelten Ave.) and oversees an area that includes Chestnut Hill, Manayunk, Roxborough, Germantown, Olney and North Philly.
“This pivotal moment in the history of the PFD restores vital services that will positively affect every neighborhood in our great city through enhanced safety, communication, and coordination of our dedicated workforce as they respond to almost 1,000 emergency incidents per day, 24x7x365,” Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel said.
The additional supervision provided by Battalions 5 & 6 and Division 3 will prove especially important when the PFD is able to reopen the seven companies decommissioned in the Recession of 2008-09.
Firefighters being hired this year through a $16.6 million FEMA grant are expected to bolster the PFD’s field personnel enough to – over time – allow the reopening of five engine and two ladder companies that were taken out of service.