A Brief Fire Department History of Red Hook

Ladder 2 was relocated to Red Hook in 1872 to fight the growing risk of fire at its busy piers and warehouses.

In 1797 the closest fire company to Red Hook was Neptune Engine 2, located a fair distance away at Hicks Street and Atlantic Avenue.  It was not until 1861, well after the opening of Atlantic Docks, that the neighborhood got its own company, Hope Hose 9 at Van Brunt Street and Hamilton Avenue.  Finally Red Hook got a full complement of firefighting equipment in 1868, when Water Witch Engine 8 and Sprague Ladder 6 were established on the same street. 

A year later everything changes as the here-to-fore volunteer fire department was replaced by a paid service with new companies and new numbers.  Engine 2 moved into Water Witch Engine 8's house on Van Brunt.  The first crew of nine men included of Forman James Doyle, Engineer Curran, Driver John Greary, Stoker Daniel Fitzpatrick and Privates John G. Noonan, A. Leonard, Robert O’Donnell, Henry Ryan and James Farrell.  Engine 2’s first apparatus was an 1869 Amoskeag 2nd size steamer capable of pumping 700 to 800 gallons a minute.

Red Hook was without its own ladder company until 1872.  The Fire Department, realizing that there was a need for a company close to the docks, relocated Ladder 2 from its original location at 19th St and 4th Avenue to a corner lot on Van Brunt and Seabring Streets.  Although it was one building on the outside, it was two separate houses on the inside. A wall split the house in two for the engine and truck. The Brooklyn Fire Department only built one fire house like this, all others were shared space. 

 After the City of Brooklyn merged with New York City in 1898, Brooklyn companies were renumbered Engine 2 became Engine 202 and Ladder 1 became Ladder 101.

 After 85 years of hard use a new building was  constructed for Engine 202/ Ladder 101 one block away on Richards Street and Seabring Street, in 1960.

The old building at 199 Van Brunt Street is now home to a non-profit, Friends of Firefighters.

History from Mike Boucher, FDNY Dispatcher 350 essay:  Red Hook and its Fire Department 130 Years of Service 1869-1995

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