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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

History of Firefighting Vehicles





Ctesibius of Alexandria is credited with inventing the first fire pump around the second century B.C. but the idea was lost, ironically, in the burning of Alexandria. The fire pump was reinvented in Europe during the 1500s, reportedly used in Augsburg in 1518 and Nuremberg in 1657. A book of 1655 inventions mentions a steam engine (called fire engine) pump used to "raise a column of water 12 m," but there was no mention of whether it was portable.

When the Jamestown settlement was established in Virginia in 1607, it did not take long for America’s first colonists to recognize the problem of fire.  In January of the following year, raging flames destroyed a good part of the settlement.   This forced colonists to come up with a plan for dealing with fires.  They started using “bucket brigades” to help quash flames.  When a fire was reported, all available people would form two lines near the flames.  Buckets of water would be passed down one line, tossed onto the fire, and then return the other way to get refilled.   As for fire warnings, early colonists used their voices in addition to rattles, gongs, and other easily crafted noisemakers to spread word of the flames.

Despite early efforts from colonists, it was not until 1648 that an organized fire corps was developed.  In this year, the government of New Amsterdam, now known as New York, created four fire warden positions.   A law was also created banning wooden chimneys and thatched roofs.  These building components were two of the major fire hazards in early American cities.  It was the duty of the fire wardens to enforce these laws and inspect buildings for other hazards.  Those who did not comply with regulations were fined by the city.  Within a few years, other settlements follow suit.   These were the first steps towards creating an organized firefighting industry in America. 
Among the earliest fire brigades were those in Boston and Philadelphia.  These cities were the first to purchase actual fire engines to facilitate movement to and from fires.  Boston acquired its vehicle in 1653 and Philadelphia followed in 1719.  Of course, in this early period the engines were actually horse or man powered vehicles with hand-pumps for helping stream water at the flames.  Most early hand-pumps were constructed in England and shipped to the American colonies.  This made it difficult to acquire many of the pumps.  Additionally, it took a lot of effort to work these devices, and the tubs needed to be frequently refilled.  However, they were ultimately far more effective than standard bucket brigades.

 

The United States’ founding fathers were also very interested in fire prevention and control.  In fact, George Washington himself served as a volunteer firefighter in Virginia.  He even bought his town its first fire engine.  Fellow American politician Thomas Jefferson was also on a volunteer brigade.  Additionally, Benjamin Franklin worked to improve firefighting by founding the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia in 1736.  Franklin was inspired by a visit to Boston, where he admired the city’s level of firefighting preparedness.   He wanted to bring this same quality to Philadelphia.  Franklin even wrote a newspaper article on the dangers of fires in order to raise awareness.  Ultimately, his efforts were successful and the Union Fire Company became the model for other firefighter bands in other cities. 
Although the first firefighting systems in America were run by volunteers, many of these eventually gave way to professional leagues.  This was especially true in major urban centers where volunteers were simply not organized enough and lacked sufficient funding to deal with fire problems.  After several major fires in cities like New York, it was clear that paying professionals to fight fires would result in a higher quality system.  Additionally, improved organization would diminish rivalries and encourage the use of better technology.  Although many volunteer firefighters resented the change, professional groups eventually won over most of America’s cities.
One of the most important developments in firefighting technology took place around the same time as the switch from urban volunteers to professional forces.  In the early 1800s, inventors in England designed a steam-powered water pump.  Coal was used to power the steam pump, which could then stream water into hoses.  The additional force made all the difference when fighting difficult fires.  Plus, these new devices required less manpower to use.  Subsequently, many volunteer firefighters did not want to implement the new technology.  However, as their position became less and less influential, steam pumps made their way into the American firefighting system.
The first paid firefighting company in the United States was located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was founded in 1853 and soon followed by counterparts in New York and Philadelphia.  By using paid departments cities were guaranteed a consistent group of individuals available to fight fires.  Additionally, career firefighters were held to higher standards of training and efficiency.   This meant they were better-equipped to perform their duties and less likely to be injured on the job.
During the twentieth century, firefighters were able to improve their efforts even more thanks to new technologies.  The first major invention was the internal combustion engine.  This naturally led to the development of automobiles and, subsequently, fire trucks.  Firefighters also learned to utilize radio communication and a special breathing device called the “self-contained breathing apparatus” (SCBA).  This made firefighting safer and allowed firefighters to rescue more individuals from a flaming building. 

Today, American firefighting involves a number of individuals with specialized jobs.  Aside from traditional firefighters, there are also those who deal with hazardous materials, skyscrapers, and fires on the seas.  Additionally, many fire companies have separate ambulatory units to assist injured victims.  Both volunteers and paid servicemen participate in all these duties.  Naturally, modern firefighting also requires greater training and a higher budget for equipment and personnel. Firefighters must be available at all hours of the day, every day of the year.  Fires can occur at any time without warning.  Thus, for the United States to remain safe from damage, it needs to retain firefighting forces across the country.  Firefighters must also receive proper training and equipment in order to do their jobs effectively. 

Colonial laws in America required each house to have a bucket of water on the front stoop (especially at night) in case of fire, for the initial "bucket brigade" that would throw the water at fires. Philadelphia obtained a hand-pumped fire engine in 1719, years after Boston's 1654 model appeared there, made by Joseph Jencks, but before New York's two engines arrived from London.

1725 - Newham
1725. Hand drawn 5th size manual fire engine. Used in England. Bedpost style pumper.
1740 - Newham
1740. Hand drawn 3rd size manual fire engine. Used in England.
1760 - Newham
1760. Hand drawn and carried manual fire engine. Used in England.

By 1730, Newham, in London, had made successful fire engines; the first used in New York City (in 1731) were of his make (six years before formation of the NYC volunteer fire department). The amount of manpower and skill necessary for firefighting prompted the institution of an organized fire company by Benjamin Franklin in 1737. Thomas Lote built the first fire engine made in America in 1743.

Steamfire Engine 1829

The first fire engine in which steam was used was that of John Braithwaite in 1829.

Ericsson made a similar one in New York in 1840. John Ericsson is credited with building the first American steam-powered fire engine.

John Ericsson
John Ericsson
1820 - Simpson
1820. Hand drawn manual fire engine. Built by Simpson of Pimlico, London. Used in England.
1850 - Shand Mason
1850. Hand drawn manual estate fire engine. Used in England.

Until the mid-19th Century most fire engines were maneuvered by men, but the introduction of horse-drawn fire engines considerably improved the response time to incidents. The first self-propelled steam engine was built in New York in 1841. It was the target of sabotage by firefighters and its use was discontinued, and motorized fire engines did not become commonplace until the early 20th Century.

1866 - Hunneman
1866. Hand drawn manual fire engine w/ jumper. Squirrel tail mounted suction hose.
1872 - Silsby
1872. Horse drawn chemical engine. Two 40 gallon tanks plus an 80 gallon reservoir and pump.
1878 - Silsby
1878. Horse drawn 2d size steam fire engine. Rotary engine and rotary pump.
1890 - Negaunee
1890. Horse drawn hose and ladder sled. Built on Studebaker wagon chassis.

For many years firefighters sat on the sides of the fire engines, or even stood on the rear of the vehicles, exposed to the elements. While this arrangement enhanced response time, it proved to be both uncomfortable and dangerous (some firefighters were thrown to their deaths when their fire engines made sharp turns on the road), and today nearly all fire engines have fully enclosed seatings for their crews.

1913 - Merryweather
1913. Braidwood body style fire engine. Lima, Peru.
1918 - Mamaroneck
1918. Triple comb. Type 10 fire engine. Champion chemical tank.

Early pumpers

Early pumpers used cisterns as a source of water. Water was later put into wooden pipes under the streets and a "fire plug" was pulled out of the top of the pipe when a suction hose was to be inserted.
Later systems incorporated pressurized fire hydrants, where the pressure was increased when a fire alarm was sounded. This was found to be harmful to the system, and unreliable, and today's valved hydrant systems are typically kept under pressure at all times, although additional pressure may be added when needed.
Pressurized hydrants eliminate much of the work in obtaining water for pumping through the engine and into the attack hoses. Many rural fire engines still rely upon cisterns or other sources for drafting water into the pumps.

1920 - Kissell Ladder Wagon

1920 Kissell Ladder Wagon. The Kissell Motor Car Company of Hartford, Wisconsin, was famous for its sporty cars, especially the Gold Bug. Kissell also made trucks. They built this long base chassis for their home town in 1920. The Hartford FD then placed the body from a horse drawn Seagrave ladder wagon atop the chassis and voila! they had a city service ladder truck. They kept this truck in service until about 1965.

1935 - American La France Model 400

1935 American La France Model 400 fire engine from Norfolk, Nebraska. It has a 1,250 gpm rotary pump and the famous American La France V-12 engine.

1919 - Type 31-4 aerial
1919. Type 31-4 aerial truck.
1928 - Standard ladder truck
1928. Standard city service ladder truck.
1951 - Mack Model A fire engine
1951. Model A fire engine. 505 Thermodyne engine, 500 gpm Waterous single stage pump, 150 gallon tank.
1961 - TLF-8 fire engine
1961. TLF-8 fire engine w/ foam trailer. 500 lpm single stage pump, 500 liter tank. Germany.
1968 - Mack Model CF600 Engine
1968. Model CF600 Engine. 1,250 gpm single stage Waterous pump, 500 gallon tank.

Early aerials

As buildings grew in height since the late 19th Century, various means of reaching burning tall structures have been devised. At first, manually-extendable ladders were used; as these grew in length (and weight) these were put onto two large, old-fashioned wheels. When carried by fire engines these ladders had the wheels suspended behind the rear of the vehicle, making it a very distinctive sight which disappeared from some Commonwealth countries only in recent years.
Before long, the turntable ladder - which was even longer, mechanically-extendable, and installed directly onto a fire truck - made its appearance. Since the late 1930s, the longest turntable ladders have reached a height of 150 feet (45 metres), requiring the aforementioned "tiller trucks" to carry such ladders.
After the Second World War turntable ladders were supplemented by the aerial platform (or the "Cherry Picker") attached onto a mechanically-bending arm (or "snorkel") installed onto a fire truck; while these could not reach the height of the turntable ladder, these platforms could extend into previously unreachable "dead corners" of a burning building.

Dodge Argentina
Argentinian Dodge truck in El Chalt�n.
Helsinki fire engine
A fire engine in Helsinki, Finland.
Mercedes fire truck
A Mercedes-Benz truck serving as Turntable ladder in Kronach/Germany.
FDNY Engine 6
FDNY Engine 6 in New York City.
Spanish Pegaso 7217 truck
Spanish Pegaso 7217 truck in Santiago de Compostela.
Polish Zuk van
Polish Zuk van serving as a fire engine.
An organized firefighting corporation is vital to the survival of any civilization. Without dedicated professionals to quash flames, fires can spread quickly and bring down entire city blocks. This ultimately results in lost lives and extensive financial damages. Thus, it is easy to see why the United States has made a commitment to maintaining trained firefighters since the very first years of its history. 

When the Jamestown settlement was established in Virginia in 1607, it did not take long for America's first colonists to recognize the problem of fire. In January of the following year, raging flames destroyed a good part of the settlement. This forced colonists to come up with a plan for dealing with fires. They started using "bucket brigades" to help quash flames. When a fire was reported, all available people would form two lines near the flames. Buckets of water would be passed down one line, tossed onto the fire, and then return the other way to get refilled. As for fire warnings, early colonists used their voices in addition to rattles, gongs, and other easily crafted noisemakers to spread word of the flames.

Despite early efforts from colonists, it was not until 1648 that an organized fire corps was developed. In this year, the government of New Amsterdam, now known as New York, created four fire warden positions. A law was also created banning wooden chimneys and thatched roofs. These building components were two of the major fire hazards in early American cities. It was the duty of the fire wardens to enforce these laws and inspect buildings for other hazards. Those who did not comply with regulations were fined by the city. Within a few years, other settlements follow suit. These were the first steps towards creating an organized firefighting industry in America. 

Among the earliest fire brigades were those in Boston and Philadelphia. These cities were the first to purchase actual fire engines to facilitate movement to and from fires. Boston acquired its vehicle in 1653 and Philadelphia followed in 1719. Of course, in this early period the engines were actually horse or man powered vehicles with hand-pumps for helping stream water at the flames. Most early hand-pumps were constructed in England and shipped to the American colonies. This made it difficult to acquire many of the pumps. Additionally, it took a lot of effort to work these devices, and the tubs needed to be frequently refilled. However, they were ultimately far more effective than standard bucket brigades. 

The United States' founding fathers were also very interested in fire prevention and control. In fact, George Washington himself served as a volunteer firefighter in Virginia. He even bought his town its first fire engine. Fellow American politician Thomas Jefferson was also on a volunteer brigade. Additionally, Benjamin Franklin worked to improve firefighting by founding the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia in 1736. Franklin was inspired by a visit to Boston, where he admired the city's level of firefighting preparedness. He wanted to bring this same quality to Philadelphia. Franklin even wrote a newspaper article on the dangers of fires in order to raise awareness. Ultimately, his efforts were successful and the Union Fire Company became the model for other firefighter bands in other cities. 

Although the first firefighting systems in America were run by volunteers, many of these eventually gave way to professional leagues. This was especially true in major urban centers where volunteers were simply not organized enough and lacked sufficient funding to deal with fire problems. After several major fires in cities like New York, it was clear that paying professionals to fight fires would result in a higher quality system. Additionally, improved organization would diminish rivalries and encourage the use of better technology. Although many volunteer firefighters resented the change, professional groups eventually won over most of America's cities. 

One of the most important developments in firefighting technology took place around the same time as the switch from urban volunteers to professional forces. In the early 1800s, inventors in England designed a steam-powered water pump. Coal was used to power the steam pump, which could then stream water into hoses. The additional force made all the difference when fighting difficult fires. Plus, these new devices required less manpower to use. Subsequently, many volunteer firefighters did not want to implement the new technology. However, as their position became less and less influential, steam pumps made their way into the American firefighting system. 

The first paid firefighting company in the United States was located in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was founded in 1853 and soon followed by counterparts in New York and Philadelphia. By using paid departments cities were guaranteed a consistent group of individuals available to fight fires. Additionally, career firefighters were held to higher standards of training and efficiency. This meant they were better-equipped to perform their duties and less likely to be injured on the job. 

During the twentieth century, firefighters were able to improve their efforts even more thanks to new technologies. The first major invention was the internal combustion engine. This naturally led to the development of automobiles and, subsequently, fire trucks. Firefighters also learned to utilize radio communication and a special breathing device called the "self-contained breathing apparatus" (SCBA). This made firefighting safer and allowed firefighters to rescue more individuals from a flaming building. 

Today, American firefighting involves a number of individuals with specialized jobs. Aside from traditional firefighters, there are also those who deal with hazardous materials, skyscrapers, and fires on the seas. Additionally, many fire companies have separate ambulatory units to assist injured victims. Both volunteers and paid servicemen participate in all these duties. Naturally, modern firefighting also requires greater training and a higher budget for equipment and personnel. 

Firefighters must be available at all hours of the day, every day of the year. Fires can occur at any time without warning. Thus, for the United States to remain safe from damage, it needs to retain firefighting forces across the country. Firefighters must also receive proper training and equipment in order to do their jobs effectively. Thankfully, the United States has met the challenges of developing a corps of firefighters and remains one of the most fire-ready nations in the world.

Read more: http://www.infobarrel.com/The_History_of_American_Fire_Fighting#ixzz1t2jYR6Ar


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