City officials, project partners and community members celebrated the completion of a three-year, $10 million renovation and expansion of Engine 37, the oldest continuously operated firehouse in Philadelphia.
The historic 19th-century building in Chestnut Hill now has 21st-century amenities and safety upgrades, as well as a new garage with doors wide enough for today’s fire engines.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to honor tradition while celebrating progress,” Mayor Jim Kenney said at the Oct. 27 ribbon-cutting ceremony.
When the city held the groundbreaking for this project in 2019, firefighters were still squeezing the fire engine through extremely narrow doors originally designed for horse-drawn firefighting equipment. The firehouse opened in 1894 and became a local registered historic landmark in 2015.
- New garage with doors wide enough for modern fire engines
- First PFD firehouse to feature single-occupancy, gender-neutral bathrooms with showers
- New kitchen, locker area, and dedicated exercise and training rooms
- Design elements aimed at minimizing the migration of carcinogens and other airborne pathogens from the garage to the “house” portions of the station, including gear extractors and dryer
- Time capsule embedded in one wall to commemorate the PFD’s 150th anniversary in 2021
- “Firefighter’s Arc” — sculptural seating out front as part of the City’s Percent for Art program
“We are thankful to Mayor Kenney and City Council for reinvesting about $300 million in the Fire Department over the past several years,” said Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel. “That includes this project in addition to new apparatus, more personnel, and improvements at other firehouses across the city.”
Engine 37 remained open and continued responding to emergencies during the entire construction period. Firefighters lived in temporary space carved out of the new garage while the original firehouse was gutted and remade.
Members are glad to be settling in to their new living quarters.
“It’s a joy to come to work,” said Fire Lt. William Polzin. “Before the renovations, the building was a nice piece of history — but it was not up to the standards of a modern firehouse.”