C.F. Kuprian, C.M. Bampton, Charles Ulleman, John Dreeke,
Peter J. Riles, Francis T. Bowers, Henry Gottlock, James
W. McGehan and William Collier. Engine 52 was initially
supplied with an 1897 P.J. Barrett Hose Wagon and a LaFrance
3rd size reciprocating steam engine, No. 362. A 3rd size
steam engine was capable of pumping 600 gallons per minute.
The steamers carried enough coal in the tenders to produce
20-25 minutes of continuous pumping.
FIRE DEPARTMENT 1897
The Dutch settled the town of Bushwick in 1660. The original
Dutch name for the area was Boswijck meaning "heavy
woods". The town of Bushwick was annexed by the
City of Brooklyn in 1854. The German influx to the north
added eleven operating breweries between 1850 to 1880.
Southern Bushwick remained a farming community until
the mid 1880's. In 1889, the construction of an elevated
railway from Manhattan fostered tremendous population
growth to Bushwick. As the southern area developed, the
need for additional fire companies became evident. Brooklyn
organized eighteen new fire companies in 1896 including
December 20, 1895, the BFD purchased a 25x100 foot plot
for Engine 52's firehouse from Mary L. Mintonge and William
Van Voorhees for $2,400. The Parfitt Brothers, a leading
Brooklyn architectural firm, was commissioned to design
the new firehouse in early 1896. On May 20, 1896, the
Brooklyn Eagle newspaper reported fierce competition
among contractors bidding the job due to the architectural
design. The new firehouse would be three stories, designed
in a Flemish Revival style that would feature a prominently
scrolled front gable and a roof top garden. The front
would consist of brick and red sandstone from Lake Superior,
detailed with a carved terra-cotta lintel and fluted iron
pilasters. The ground floor contained sufficient room for
the apparatus - consisting of a steam engine and hose carriage
or "tender". Stalls for four horses were located
behind the tender. The second floor contained officer's
quarters to the front and the firemen's dormitory to the
rear. One of the newer designs incorporated into Engine
52's house was a hose tower that facilitated drying fire
hoses. Leonard Brothers was the winning contractor who
built the firehouse for $16,947. Today the firehouse remains
much the same as it was over 100 years ago.
FDNY ENGINE 152
Almost thirty years after the Brooklyn Fire Department
became a paid uniformed service in 1869, the Cities of
New York (including the Bronx), Brooklyn, Long Island City,
parts of western Queens and Staten Island merged into the
five Boroughs of New York City on January 1, 1898. Engine
52 became part of the Fire Department City of New York
on January 28. To avoid confusion with pre-existing FDNY
units, Brooklyn engine companies were given a numerical
prefix of "1" and Engine 52 became Engine 152
on October 1, 1899.
A fireman's life was difficult for
a family man due to the demanding schedule of 24 hours,
six days on and one day off. As most firemen resided locally,
they were permitted three hours leave for meals at home.
A year's salary for a fireman was $1,000 or about thirteen
cents an hour.
FDNY ENGINE 252
The second decade of the 20th Century saw the transition
of many Queens volunteer companies into paid units. As
the Fire Department expanded, engine companies in Brooklyn
and Queens were redesignated with a numerical prefix "2".
As of January 1, 1913, Engine Co. 152 officially became
Engine 252. Twenty-six new companies were added to Brooklyn
and Queens, including Engine 277 in Bushwick on March 20,
1913. The FDNY's conversion to motorized apparatus began
in 1907. Engine 252 switched from a horse-drawn to motorized
apparatus on May 26, 1919 with the addition of a 700 GPM
American LaFrance Pumper.
By the late 1920s, the growth of
Queens and rise in fire activity prompted the transfer of
the 13th Division to the quarters of Engine 236. To fill
the void on January 1, 1930, the 15th Division would organize
at Engine 252. On February 14, 1933, both Engine 252 and
Division 15, relocated to Engine 233 on Hull Street while
the Central Avenue firehouse underwent a $10,000 remodeling.
In 1936, Probationary Fireman Charles Bach began what was
the longest tenure of service at Engine 252, retiring in
During the 1940s and 1950s
the FDNY consolidated many outdated firehouses. Although
Engine 252 was considered many times to be disbanded,
it remained active on Central Avenue. In 1958, Captain
John Mikulasovich, a former Lieutenant from Ladder 132,
took a post at Engine 252. He led the company through
the turbulence of the 1960s and into the 1970s. "Capt. Mike",
as the men affectionately or perhaps reverently referred
to him retired in 1973 after serving 37 years in the
FDNY. His tenure as company commander was the longest
in the first 100 years on Central Avenue.
Arson plagued several areas of the
city during the 1970s and Bushwick was no exception. Many
of these fires were set in vacant buildings and would spread
to occupied structures. One such fire occurred on July 18,
1977 at Knickerbocker Avenue and Menahan Street, Box 767.
Engine 252 would be the third due to a fire throughout a
five story vacant building. The fire produced such radiant
heat as to leap across the street involving other structures.
A 5th alarm assignment and a Borough Call (a third alarm
assignment) from Manhattan finally brought this fire under
control. In its aftermath, over 32 buildings were destroyed
or damaged. Two days later a third alarm was sounded for
Box 793 for a five-story vacant factory building at Lexington
and Reid. These fires all occurred in the aftermath of the
blackout of July 13, 1977. The trend of high incidence of
arson continued into the mid 1980's.
In March of 1995, FDNY took over the EMS Division of the
Health and Hospital Corporation. All firemen were trained
as CFR-D technicians. On October 19, 1995, the Landmarks
Preservation Commission of the City of New York designated
Engine Company 252 a Landmark and the firehouse at 617 Central
Avenue as its Landmark Site. The following excerpt was extracted
from the official record:
"On the basis of careful consideration
of the history, the architecture, and other features of
this building, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finds
that Engine Company 252 has a special character and a special
historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of
the development, heritage, and cultural characteristics
of New York City."
Commission further finds that, among its important qualities,
Engine Company 252 is significant as one of the most
distinguished firehouses in New York City; that it
is an important building reflecting the expansion
of civic architecture in the independent City of
Brooklyn in the late nineteenth century; that as
a major work by Parfitt Brothers, one of Brooklyn's
finest architectural firms, it is an important architectural
monument in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn; that
as an example of Flemish Revival style architecture,
it illustrates the popularity of this mode of colonial
design in the New York City area with its heritage
as a Dutch colonial settlement; and that it is a
well-maintained civic building that continues to
be used for its original purpose."
Engine 252 is the only landmark firehouse in continuous
use since its inception 100 years earlier.
FDNY SQUAD COMPANY 252
On July 1, 1998, Engine 252 was reorganized as Squad 252
and assigned to the Special Operations Command of the FDNY.
Squad 252 was formed with four additional squads bringing
the total number of Squads to seven covering NYC for all
fires, emergencies and hazardous materials incidents. The
Special Operations Command of the FDNY consists of seven
Squad Companies, five Rescue Companies, Hazardous Materials
1 and three Marine Companies.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
Squad 252 responded at 9:00 am on September 11, 2001 to
the 5th alarm call to the World Trade Centers in lower Manhattan.
Two commercial airlines were hijacked and intentionally
crashed into the twin towers. Thousands were murdered in
the worst terrorist attack in American history. 343 of the
FDNY's bravest firemen made the ultimate sacrifice that
morning while evacuating over 25,000 civilians from the
towers. Six of Squad 252's finest members on duty that morning
never returned, Lieutenant Timothy Higgins, Firefighter
Tarel Coleman, Firefighter Pete Langone, Firefighter Pat
Lyons, Firefighter Tommy Kuveikis and Firefighter Kevin