History of the Fire Service

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The History of the Fire Service

Did you know that the earliest form of firefighting took place in Rome in 24 B.C? After almost being destroyed by unruly conflagrations, Rome created a fire department consisting of about 7,000 paid firefighters. Their fire crews responded to and fought fires, and also patrolled the streets with the authority to fine anyone who disobeyed the fire prevention codes (Hashgan). The major piece of firefighting equipment the Roman's used was the bucket, which was passed from hand to hand to deliver water to the fire. Additionally, they used an ax, which was utilized to remove the fuel and prevent the spread of fire, as well as to make openings that would allow heat and smoke to escape a burning building. Furthermore, in major conflagrations long hooks with ropes were used to pull down buildings in the path of an approaching fire to create firebreaks.

And finally, when explosives were available, the Roman's would use them to also form firebreaks (Hashgan). Now that we know the very beginnings of the fire service, let's explore its creation in America.

Firefighting history in America can be dated all the way back to Jamestown, Virginia, where the first English settlement took place. Founded in 1607 by colonists from the London Company, Jamestown was under the command of Captain James Smith (Britannica). Just as things seemed to be going great, a destructive fire demolished most of Jamestown, including

the colonists' provisions and lodgings. It was clear that Smith had to do something in order to control these devastating fires, but he was not sure what that was.

Fire prevention in the United States is said to be created in 1630 in Boston. At this time, Boston's Governor John Winthrop outlawed wooden chimneys and thatched roofs. Later, in 1648, Governor...