Building of the Day: 1472 Bergen Street

Photo: Rescue 2 website

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: FDNY Rescue 2, formerly Engine Company 234, formerly Fire Salvage 1
Address: 1472 Bergen Street
Cross Streets: Schenectady and Troy Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: Building on site since 1893, this one perhaps built in 1921.
Architectural Style: Classic late 19th century–style stable building
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: This simple building now houses one of the most famous and highly decorated units of the FDNY. There has been a fire department building here since 1893, but the official website of Rescue 2 says this particular building was built in 1921, one of 14 similar buildings built for the FDNY at the time, originally built to hold horses.

In 1893, Brooklyn Fire Department Engine 34 began here, becoming Engine 234 when Brooklyn became part of New York City. They remained at this house until 1979, when they relocated to nearby St. Johns Place. The next to move in was the now defunct Fire Salvage 1, which was a volunteer Federal Model Cities Program for disadvantaged youth. Their mission was to respond to residential calls of fire, water leaks, etc., and they were charged with the protection of property. The unit had older vans and trucks, chauffeured and commanded by FDNY officers. The program lasted until 1985 at this location, and 1991 in other parts of the city.

In 1985, Rescue 2 took over the building. Their history is a long and proud one, having been organized in 1925. The city originally only had one rescue unit in Manhattan, but when a fire in a submarine in the Brooklyn Navy Yard proved too far away for that unit to respond in time, the city chartered Rescue 2 in Brooklyn. Over the years, they have been headquartered at 160 Carlton and then at the fire headquarters building at 365 Jay Street before moving here.

The rescue units are the most elite companies in the FDNY, and are responsible for search and rescue, all kinds of special situation rescues, SCUBA rescues and HazMat situations. Rescue 2 is one of the most famous fire companies in the world. Since their inception over 80 years ago, 80 members have been awarded individual medals for valor, and the company has received 52 unit citations for acts of valor.

They participated in rescues in some of New York’s most famous and horrific fires, including the crash of the airplane in Park Slope in 1960 and both World Trade Center bombings. Ten members have died in the line of duty, including seven killed on 9/11. The building sits on the edge of St. John’s Park, a huge Robert Moses-created recreation center with three large ball fields, built in the 1950s. The lack of buildings near Rescue 2 makes it seem desolate and isolated, but the presence of this decorated group of firefighters is an honor and great boon to the community. GMAP

(Originally posted 2/18/11)

Photo: Rescue 2 website

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