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Brooklyn, New York

Van Brunt St Fire House (H & L Engine Co 101, Engine 202)

Where there’s manufacturing, there’s fire! 

As the industries that clustered around the docks in Red Hook boomed, this 1872 firehouse became the first all-paid fire unit in Red Hook.

The double-bay firehouse had space for a Ladder Company, an Engine Company, and a total of 25 firemen who worked 24-hour shifts for weeks at a time.

Some of the notable incidences that the companies responded to include: an exploding schooner loaded down with ammunitions and salt parked in the Erie Basin in 1916; a collapsing tenement building on Smith Street on an unusually stormy night in 1920; cotton bale fires on the New York Dock Company piers in 1932; the Barber Steamship Company pier fire of 1934 which completely destroyed pier 38 in Red Hook; a Brooklyn warehouse fire that spread into the 7th Ave IRT subway line (now the 1,2,3 trains) in 1935, requiring over 500 firemen to control.

Engine Company 202 and Ladder Company 101 operated out of this building until 1960, when they relocated around the corner at Richards St and Seabring St. Both companies responded to the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. All 7 members of Ladder 101 were killed. Both the Engine and Ladder trucks were destroyed.

The old firehouse is now home to the non-profit Friends of Firefighters, formed in the aftermath of the terrorist attack. The organization offers free and low-cost health services to current and retired FDNY members.

Unopened for decades, what looks like a small brownstone randomly placed on the station’s roof is in fact the hose building, where firefighters would store their hoses when not in use.