Do you know that the history of firefighting actually dates back like thousands years go? Well, I can say that from the moment man knew how to start a fire, they also learned how to put it out. There are many different history in different countries when it comes to organized firefighting, since accidents related to fire might occur over and over again. Therefore, there’s an urgent need to form groups of people who fight fire and help victims that are trapped inside the burning building.
Based on Wikipedia, the first ever fire fighting crews were born in Rome, created by a man, named Marcus Licinius Crassus for business. The fact that Rome didn’t have fire brigade at that moment, Crassus immediately filled this need by forming his own fire fighters that consisted of 500 strong men. However, when they arrived at the scene, they won’t do anything until the bargained price over their services was agreed upon. Based on this idea, Julius Cesar Augustus formed Vigiles (or watchmen of the city) to fight fire using simple firefighter tools and equipment such as bucket and pumps, poles, hooks and ancient missile weapon which also known as ballistae to aid with tearing down the buildings.
What about in United States? Let us provide brief information related to history of firefighting in America. John Winthrop was a Boston governor in 1631, to prevent accidental fire, he had forbidden wooden chimneys and thatched roofs which were extremely vulnerable to fire. Why? Because this city was hit by fire over and over again from the period of 1631 up to 1676. The fires were severe that the city took very serious though related to firefighting and fire prevention. In fact, those catastrophes were the reason they came up with the first written rules related to fire fighting and prevention. Peter Stuyvesant, the New Amsterdam (you call it New York now) governor in 1648 realized the importance to form special fire task force to protect his city, therefore, he appointed four men to act as fire guardians. These four men were responsible to inspect all chimneys and fine any violators of the rules. As recorded in history of firefighting, later on, the city decided to form “Rattle Watch” and appointed 8 good citizens to patrol the street during the night and carry large wooden rattles. In case a fire was seen, these guys would spin the rattles to alert other nearby citizens. The responding citizens would be directed to form bucket brigades.
Finally, history of firefighting has recorded that the first fire company was established in January 27, 1678 and Thomas Atkins was the captain. Later in 1736, Benjamin Franklin started the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia.
In 1774, George Washington was a member of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Company in Alexandria, Virginia. He wanted to contribute something to this town and bough a new fire engine as a gift to the town. The new fire engine was the first one that the town ever had. The history of firefighting has recorded that even at that moment, United States didn’t have any government-run fire departments, not until around the time of American Civil War. There were only private fire fighter companies that compete with each other since they were paid by insurance companies to save buildings. It would be nice to know if they responded quickly because the wanted to save the victims, unfortunately that’s not the case.
Not until in April 1, 1853 when Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) Fire Department was introduced as the first full-paid professional fire department in the United States.
Today, firefighting is not only about fighting and preventing fires. Firefighter job description consists of rescuing many lives in various emergency situations. As you can see from the history of firefighting, the role of firefighters have gradually changed and become more complex and important to save lives. Now, not all Firefighters are professionally paid, there are full-time paid, paid-on-call, or even volunteer citizens. Based on the history of firefighting, I consider firefighter job is one of honorable job titles, when people and other living creatures run out of a burning building, these heroes selflessly and bravely run in to rescue the victims.