ENGINE 252, Bushwick

by Kevin Walsh

While meandering through eastern Bushwick, dazed by the unbearable 80-degree heat in the late summer of 2011, I was pleased to find something I hadn’t previously known about: the almost-garishly turned out Engine 252 on Central Avenue at Covert Street, which is also covered in red paint, something also guaranteed to attract. When Bushwick was burning down in the post-blackout years of 1977-1985, this firehouse was called on innumerable times to douse neighborhood fires. The squad also lost six members on 9/11/01.

 

The Brooklyn Fire Department commissioned a new firehouse for Engine 52 here in 1895, and the famed Parfitt Brothers architects designed the firehouse, featuring a Flemish Revival stepped roof and front gable. Engine 52 opened for business in 1897. For 22 years the firehouse employed horse-drawn wagons for calls; mechanized equipment was adopted in 1919. The firehouse joined the FDNY in January 1898, after Brooklyn consolidated into Greater New York.

 

A close look at the shields on either side of the “Engine 252” entablature will reveal the number 52. The firehouse was established as BFD Engine 52, became Engine 152 on 12/1/1899 to avoid confusion with another FDNY Engine 52, and became Engine 252 on 1/1/1913 when Brooklyn and Queens fire companies adopted the numeral “2” as a prefix.

 

Finally, on 6/28/1998 Engine 252 joined the FDNY’s Special Operations Command and became Squad 252.

 

252 has been stalwart against fires for over a century. Its eye popping design is just an ancillary feature. I hope it’s never altered.

2/7/13

13 comments

Steph February 7, 2013 - 10:59 pm

I wonder if this firehouse tends to my area although its queens. Living in the nook of Glendale right on the borderline makes things quite confusing. ESP when this is just a few blocks away with a Diff zip code.

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NY2AZ February 8, 2013 - 12:00 pm

“Unbearable 80 degree heat”?! I guess you won’t be visiting Arizona in your lifetime.

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Kevin Walsh February 8, 2013 - 3:04 pm

I am exaggerating, though my preference for bearable daily high temperatures of between 55 and 70 is well-known. Arizona? ugh.

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Old Skool February 8, 2013 - 6:58 pm

So I guess you won’t be visiting me in Florida during the summer. We hit the 90’s regularly in July and August.

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Kevin Walsh February 9, 2013 - 11:20 am

Not a hot weather man. I haven’t been shirtless on a beach since 1976 when I got a blistering sunburn. Put me in Hawaii or any tropical location and I wouldn’t know what to do.

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Old Skool February 9, 2013 - 5:52 pm

Scootch under a palm tree with a pina colada and you will be set.

NY2AZ February 9, 2013 - 10:32 am

Ugh?! This week AZ has been in your preference range. As soon as JFK resumes operations come & visit us

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Kevin Walsh February 9, 2013 - 11:17 am

It’s a lovely state I’m sure but with Phoenix etc. over 100 degrees most of the summer …

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Von February 8, 2013 - 2:59 pm

As a squad company, 252 covers quit a large area and does respond in to Glendale and quite a few other areas of Queens as well.

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Edward Findlay February 8, 2013 - 4:14 pm

They must have replaced “Engine” as well- you can see “N” and part of an “E” between the “E” and “252”

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James February 12, 2013 - 8:28 am

Wonder of wonders!!!!! this most unique, fascinating, always delightfull ‘bagdad on the subway’ adventure never fails to enchant. one of the best things on the entire worlds wide web.
NYC owes a debt of gratitude to ForgottenNY!!!!

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Robert December 2, 2014 - 9:34 am

I have the original drawings. Check Pintrest “vintage nyfd firehouses”

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Greg January 22, 2020 - 8:08 pm

How do you feel seeing a 252 shield in the opening of the new CBS show 911 Lone Star?

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