Ever since cities have existed, fires have been a problem. People have been concerned about an organized response to firefighting since ancient Egyptians used handpumps to extinguish fires.
In North America, the governor of Boston, John Winthrop, banned wooden fireplaces and thatched roofs in 1631. In 1648, the governor of New Amsterdam (now New York), Peter Stuyvesant, appointed four healthy men to They will act as fire guards. These fire guards were able to inspect all the chimneys and fine people who violated the rules. The burghers of the city later created the Rattle Watch. This group consisted of eight prominent citizens. These citizens patrolled the streets at night carrying large wooden rattles. If they saw a fire, the bells would spin. This alerted citizens that there was a fire. The Rattle Watch then ordered the citizens who responded to form cube brigades.
In January 1678 the first fire truck company entered service. The captain (foreman) of the company was Thomas Atkins. In 1736, Benjamin Franklin established the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia.
Other founding fathers have also played a role in fighting fires. George Washington was a volunteer firefighter for Alexandria, Virginia. He was part of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Company, and in 1774 he purchased a new fire truck and donated it to the city. The fire truck was the city’s first engine.
The United States did not employ professional firefighters in the sense of government-organized departments until the time of the Civil War. Before that, amateur fire departments competed with each other to be the first to respond to a fire. While it would be nice to think that they responded quickly out of the goodness of their hearts, the fire departments responded quickly and wanted to be the first to get paid from the insurance companies.
Insurers across the country also employed their own salvage corps in some cities. The first female firefighter we meet was Molly Williams. She took her place in the curtains during a blizzard in 1818. She was responsible for pulling the fire pump through deep snow.
While firehouses are now a place for professionals to gather, they used to be a kind of social gathering place. Money given to a firefighting brigade went to the firehouse fund rather than individual members.
The first fire brigades in the modern sense were established in France during the early years of the 18th century. For more information on the fires and their aftermath, visit http://www.burnvictiminjurylawyers.com.