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Public Safety, Department of

[Record group 83]
Agency Function

Administrative Subunits
Medical Division
Bureau of Police
Bureau of Fire
Fire Marshal
Electrical Bureau
Bureau of Building Inspection
Bureau of Traffic Engineering
Bureau of Correction
Bureau of Health
Bureau of City Property

Philadelphia Highway Traffic Board

Agency History
Organized in 1887 in pursuance of the Bullitt Bill and composed of the Bureaus (formerly independent Departments) of Police, Fire, Health, Building Inspectors, Boiler Inspectors, Inspectors of Fire Escapes and the Electrical Bureau; in 1888 the Bureau of City Property was transferred to the Department from the Department of Public Works to which it was returned in 1912. In 1900 the first inspectors of elevators were appointed but were the next year placed within the Bureau of Building Inspectors and not organized into the Bureau of Elevator Inspection until 1908. In 1903 the Bureau of Health was transferred to the Department of Public Health and Charities and the Bureau of Correction was placed under Public Safety's control upon the abolishment of the Department of Charities and Correction in the same year. In 1920 the Bureau of Correction was removed to the Department of Public Welfare. In 1911 the duties of fire escape inspection were assigned wholly to the Fire Marshal, an officer of the Bureau of Police until 1937 when he was removed from it, placed directly under the Director of the Department, and in 1950 subordinated to the Bureau of Fire. In 1941 there was organized within the Department a Bureau of Traffic Engineering and in 1948 the Philadelphia Highway Traffic Board, an advisory body, was formed. Under the terms of the City Charter adopted in 1951 the Department of Public Safety was abolished. The present Departments of Police and Fire were organized; the new Department of Licenses and Inspections took on Public Safety's duties of construction inspection and regulation; the Department of Streets absorbed the Highway Traffic Board and the Electrical Bureau's functions in regard to street lighting; the Department of Public Property assumed the Electrical Bureau's services in connection with City buildings as well as their complete control from the Bureau of City Property of the abolished Department of Public Works.

Archival Records
83.1 Annual Reports (1904, 1913-1915, 1917, 1922)

83.2 Comparative Analysis and Recommendation, The Model Traffic Ordinance and the Traffic Ordinance of Pennsylvania (ca. 1951)

83.3 List of License Fees (ca. 1945)

83.4 Street Lighting Improvements (ca. 1932)

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Last updated on November 8, 2000