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Fire Department

[Record group 74]
Alternative/Former Names
Bureau of Fire

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Agency Function
The Philadelphia Fire Department's mission is to protect the public safety by quick and professional response to emergencies and through the promotion of sound emergency prevention measures. This mandate encompasses all traditional firefighting functions, including fire suppression, with 60 engine and 30 ladder companies deployed throughout the City; specialized firefighting units for the City's two airports and the Port of Philadelphia; investigations conducted by the Fire Marshall's Office to determine the origins of fires and to develop preventative strategies; prevention programs to educate the public in order to increase overall fire safety; and support services such as research and planning, management of the Fire Communications Center within the City's 911 system, and operation of the Fire Academy.

The delivery of emergency medical services (EMS) now generates more than seventy percent of the Department's total calls for services. Furthermore, the Department's EMS Office is responsible for regulating all public and private ambulance services within the city. Lastly, the Department enforces all state and federal hazardous materials (HAZMAT) regulations within the city, and coordinates the response to such incidents.

Agency History
Ordinances of 1840, 1855, and 1856 established a City Fire Department which was a voluntary association of independent fire companies which, in return for subsidies, accepted the direction of City Councils. An ordinance of 29 December 1870, established Philadelphia's first fully paid and municipally-controlled Fire Department, administered by seven Commissioners chosen by Councils. The Commissioners were abolished and the department placed under the control of the Department of Public Safety as the Bureau of Fire in 1887 in compliance with the 1885 Bullitt Bill and enabling ordinance of 1886. The Fire Marshal, first appointed on 1864, was a member of the Bureau of Police until 1937 when his office was removed from it and placed directly under the Director of the Department of Public Safety. In 1950 it was transferred to the Bureau of Fire. The City Charter of 1951 abolished the Department of Public Safety and established the present Fire Department. At that time its inspectorial duties were transferred to the Department of Licenses and Inspections. On 14 February 1972, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, which had been organized in January 1952 as the Philadelphia Civil Defense Council, with the Mayor as Director, merged with the Fire Department and the Office was placed under the direct jurisdiction of the Fire Commissioner.

Archival Records
74.1 Annual Reports (1871, 1876, 1877, 1881, 1882, 1884, 1886-1898, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1906-1923, 1948-1950, 1952-1991)

74.2 Rules and Regulations (1915, 1949, 1954)

74.3 Reports and Publications (1940-1967)

74.4 Code of Fire Alarms (1898, 1901, 1911, 1918, 1918 (revised to 1929), 1918 (revised to 1931))

74.5 Fire Signal Stations (ca. 1900, 1915, 1942, 1962)

74.6 Appropriation Ledger (1919-1951)

74.7 P.F.D. News (1952-1972, 1975-)

74.8 Civil Defense Orders (1951)

74.9 Orders (1917-1923, 1930-1966)

74.10 Command Program for Lieutenants (ca. 1960)

74.11 Commissioner's Reports (1957)

74.12 Correspondence and Papers (1921-1967)

74.13 Fire Code Regulations (1959, 1961)

74.14 Emergency Operating Plan, Transit Workers' Strike (January 1953)

74.15 Reports Received (1949, 1957)

74.16 Plan of Civil Defense Operations (February 1951)

74.17 Specifications for Furnishing Self-Propelled Pumping Engines for the Bureau of Fire (ca. 1920)

74.18 Report of the Subcommittee on Company Relocation and Battalion Boundary Realignment (January 16, 1959)

74.19 City Freman's Protective Association and City Fire Fighters Association. Publications (1947-1972)

74.20 Officers' Call (February 1956-May 1967)

74.21 Description of Buildings and Total Number of Fires (1926-1936)

74.23 Day Books (1895-1919)

74.24 Chief Engineer's Record of Texts of Fire Apparatus (8 November 1922 - 16 January 1923)

74.25 Report Guide (1949)

74.26 Time Book (1881-1883)

74.27 Weccacoe Fire Company # 19, Charter & By-Laws (1870)

74.28 Laws and Ordinance Relating to the Office of the Fire Marshall (1906)

74.29 Fire Marshall's Office. Manual (1952)

74.30 Philadelphia Training School for Fire Service. Instruction Log (1922-1925)

74.31 Philadelphia Training School for Fire Services, "Exercises." (ca. 1913)

74.32 Philadelphia Training School. Dates of Instruction and Company Attendance (1922-1939)

74.33 Philadelphia Fire Training School. Fire Training Manuals (1957, 1965)

74.34 Philadelphia Fire Training School, Course Notebook (ca. 1940)

74.35 Philadelphia Fire Training School, Course for Officers (January - February 1931)

74.36 Philadelphia Fire Training School. Lectures for Officers (ca. 1930)

74.37 Firemen's Pension Fund, Constitution and By-Laws (1894)

74.38 Firemen's Pension Fund, Payments (1890-1898)

74.39 Firemen's Pension Fund. Statement of Account (1897-1903, 1912)

74.40 Firemen's Pension Fund. Audit Report (1947-1948, 1950, 1952-1958)

74.41 Philadelphia Fire Department Relief Association. Dues & Fine Book (1879-1884)

74.42 Good Will Hose Company. Roll Book (1855-1859)

74.43 Northern Liberties Hose Company. Roll Books (1859-1871)

74.43 Northern Liberties Hose Company. Roll Books (1859-1871)

74.44 Northern Liberties Hose and Steam Company. Minutes (August 1869-January 1877)

74.45 Pennsylvania Fire Company # 1, Fox Chase and Rockledge. Roll Book and Captain's Reports (1895-1900)

74.46 Spring Garden Hose Company. Laws, By-Laws, Membership Rolls (1850)

74.47 Office of Emergency Preparedness. Matching Fund Applications (1973-1977)

Current Records

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Last updated on November 8, 2000