The Fire Factory

In New York, sidewalks and roads are constantly being torn up for subsurface repairs. The eventual patches are notoriously uneven in quality, and some (especially if wet concrete) are susceptible to the lure of graffiti and the chance for a name, drawing, or slogan to be there, on the ground, possibly for decades.

While walking along a stretch of 5th Avenue sidewalk the other day, I noticed a concrete repair that had been scratched into (while wet) that said “The Fire Factory”.

This term is the nickname of Engine 58 and Ladder 26, both of which are FDNY units based in East Harlem, on 5th Avenue at 114th Street. This FDNY stationhouse has been immortalized in a couple of novels/memoirs (sometimes lightly fictionalized) by Harry J. Ahearn:

Ghetto Firefighter — published 1977
The Fire Factory â€” published 1988
Harlem Memories — published 1993
The Collapse: An FDNY Saga – published 2011

Ahearn was bootstrapped out of poverty by a job with the FDNY. His love of the job, the men he worked with, and the everpresent adrenalin, is palatable in every book.

For a view of this stationhouse, the men who occupied it, and glimpses of the community that they served yet remained apart from, take a look at this 30 year-old video, below:

Scaffold Exhibit at the Calabar Gallery

Make sure to check out the Calabar Gallery on FDB:

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