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Changing with the Times, Always First to Respond

By Amy Lau

Posted on April 30, 2020

Engine 202 Ladder Company 101 fire fighters on truck
Engine 202 Ladder Company 101 fire fighters on truck Engine 202 Ladder Company 101 fire fighters on truck, 1925 ca., gelatin silver prints, v1973.5.593; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This week we honor the first responders in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) — the paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and the Fire Department of the City of New York — who provide all kinds of vital pre-hospital care. Thank you!

This gelatin silver print of firefighters from the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), Engine 202, Ladder Company 101 was taken around 1925. At the time of the photograph, the fire station for FDNY, Engine 202 was located at 199 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In the print, firefighters wear formal dark uniforms with hats and appear on a fire truck whose steering wheel is located on the right side of the vehicle.

Engine Company 202 was originally founded as Engine 2 of the Brooklyn Fire Department on September 15, 1869. Engine 2 was one the original thirteen Engines, and six Ladders, that were created with the formation of the Brooklyn Fire Department. Over the next 90 years, the company’s name would change multiple times. With the formation of the Greater City of New York on January 1, 1898, Brooklyn became a borough within NYC. Twenty-eight days later on January 28, 1898, the Brooklyn Fire Department became part of the FDNY, and the name of the company was changed to FDNY, Engine 2. The unit would undergo another name change to FDNY, Engine 102 on October 1, 1899 when the FDNY renumbered companies in Brooklyn and Queens to avoid confusion with Manhattan and Bronx companies that shared the same numbers. The FDNY underwent a second major reorganization in 1913. With the reorganization came the company’s name change to FDNY, Engine 202 on January 1, 1913.

Engine Company 202 moved to its current fire station at 31 Richards Street on March 10, 1960. Due to the company’s proximity to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Engine 202 was one of the first units to arrive at Ground Zero during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On that day, Engine 202 and Ladder 101’s trucks were destroyed, and all seven members of Ladder 101 were killed. During the weeks and months that followed, many members of the unit volunteered to shift through the rubble of the site looking for survivors and helping with the cleanup process.

Engine Company 202, Ladder Company 101 continues to be at the forefront of responding to any disaster that strikes New York City. With the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, members of the company are some of the first people to respond to New Yorkers’ emergency calls. This week we honor their, and all EMS workers’, commitment and sacrifice to help New Yorkers during this global healthcare crisis.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. We look forward inviting you back to BHS in the future to research in our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, you can use our Remote Research Guide to get started. Our reference staff are still available to help with your research! You can reach us at [email protected]

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