Engine Company No. 21

also known as Humboldt Fire Station

A wonderful Beaux-Arts fire station on the east side of Providence that has been vacant since 2017

About this Property

#Last Tenant & Current Events

This fire station was closed in 2017, the same time as the one on Rochambeau Avenue, also on the East Side.


From the RIHPHC’s Historic and Architectural Resources of the East Side, Providence, 1989

Engine Company #21 Fire Station (1906) E. T. Banning, architect: A 2-story, flat-roofed, brick and stone public building in the Beaux-Arts Classic style, with a first story treated as a rusticated basement, projecting end pavilion with Ionic corner pilasters on the second story, molded hoods on consoles over a pair of garage doors in the center section, second-story windows with stepped radiating voussoirs and keystones of stone, an entablature and modillion cornice, and acroteria and volute cresting on the pavilions. Built to house Engine Company #21, the building now contains a police substation in addition to a fire station.

#In the News

2 fire stations could be closed — Union head says shutting stations possible under pact

by John Hill
Providence Journal | October 22, 2016 (abridged)

Fire Department finances will be taking center stage over the next few weeks as the City Council reviews a tentative firefighter contract the administration says would save the city $14.7 million over five years and a consultant’s report that says the city could save even more by closing fire stations.

The consultant, MMA Consulting Group of Plymouth, Massachusetts, said the city should look to consolidating operation at four specific stations. Three were on the East Side, at Rochambeau Avenue, Humboldt Avenue and Brook Street. It also suggested considering merging two in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, one on Mount Pleasant Avenue and the other on Atwells Avenue.

Paul Doughty, the Firefighters Union president, said in an interview Friday that the union agreed that closing two lesser-used East Side stations, on Rochambeau and Humboldt avenues, could work.

Doughty said that part of the city has the lowest call volume but a high ratio of fire trucks to calls for assistance. The Rochambeau and Humboldt territories could be covered adequately by stations at Brook Street in College Hill and the two stations on North Main Street, he said.

Statistics showed that vehicles from Rochambeau and Humboldt were the ones most often the third truck at a call, Doughty said.

“You don’t care when the third one gets there,” he said. “You care when the first one does.”

Emily W. Crowell, Mayor Jorge Elorza’s director of communications, said no decisions on whether to close any stations had been made.

For the City Council, closing fire stations has been a difficult sell in the past. But the council’s president, Luis A. Aponte, said that if the city were serious about reducing the minimum staffing levels, it had to look at closing stations.

“You cannot divorce reducing minimum manning from closing stations,” he said.

“If the hue and cry is to reduce manning, you have to consider it.”

Normally, municipal union contracts are limited to three years, but state law allows municipalities with pension plans in “critical status,” which Providence’s plan is, to sign five-year agreements.

In a fiscal note to the City Council’s Finance Committee, the administration said the agreement would save $2.4 million over five years through increased firefighter health insurance copays, $1.7 million via pay cuts for certain positions and $1.6 million in a compensation-time-instead-of-overtime system.

The agreement includes $10 million in pay increases over the life of the five-year deal; when the savings and the losses were combined, the administration said the deal would save the city $14.7 million over five years.

The council’s other piece of fire department reading, the 28-page MMA study, wasn’t limited to station closings.

It posited shutting down two ladder companies and compared and contrasted the effects of three- and four-platoon schedules. It recommended that the department reorganize how it runs its rescue units, suggested changes in the department command structure and said the department should use civilians in its dispatch, carpentry and supply positions instead of firefighters.

Emily W. Crowell, communications director for Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, said the mayor had not received a copy of the final report yet and couldn’t comment on it.

But she noted that the tentative agreement the city has negotiated with the firefighters showed similar thinking, in that it reduced minimum staffing from 94 to 88, resulting in the five-year savings of $16 million.

Hill, John. “PROVIDENCE 2 fire stations could be closed — Union head says shutting stations possible under pact.” Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI News, 22 Oct. 2016, p. 1. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1602E4D019E03CB0. Accessed 27 Mar. 2022.