Over the last three years of writing these articles I have come across many interesting stories as it pertains to the fire service.
Over the last three years of writing these articles I have come across many interesting stories as it pertains to the fire service. There is a long list of these stories while interesting, simply do not contain enough to write a full article on. In an effort to bring some of these stories to you, this week we will do a pot luck style article. Have times really changed that much? Jamestown was the first permanent settlement in the early 1600’s.
Captain James Smith was the commander of this settlement and after witnessing a fire that destroyed much of the settlement and supplies he wrote the following, “I begin to think it is safer for me to dwell in the wild Indian country than in this stockade, where fools accidentally discharge their muskets and others burn down their homes at night.” How many of our headlines today still reference fire and guns?
After a large arson fire in Boston in 1676 the city placed an order for a State of the Art Fire Engine to replace the one they had constructed locally. The new engine that was constructed in England was an 18” box with direct force pump that fed a small hose. This new engine also had four handles so that it could be carried to the scene where bucket brigades would keep it full. The delivery of this engine along with the devastating fires led the city in 1678 to hire twelve firefighters. The foreman of this crew was Thomas Atkins thus making him the first Company Officer in the Country.
What lesson can be learned from this event? On November 14th, 1927 in Pittsburgh PA a crew went to repair what was reported to be the largest cylindrical gasometer in the world holding 5 million cubic feet of natural gas.
Shortly later there was an explosion in which three of these gasometers went up in a ball of flames. The blast rattled the city like an earthquake killing 28 and injuring over 800, the blast was felt in 4 States. So what happened to trigger such a violent explosion? The crew began to repair the leaking tank with and acetylene torch. Lesson learned for future repair work, leave the torch at home.
Before Ben Franklin started the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire in 1752 Charleston South Carolina formed the first company in the new world to insure against fire losses.
The formation of the Friendly Society of Charleston was formed in 1736; four years later a large fire that destroyed over three hundred homes in addition to warehouses and wharf’s forced the Friendly Society into bankruptcy.
The first all paid career fire department in the United States may take people by surprise. Most people would think New York, Pennsylvania, or possibly Boston. None of these would be correct; the first full-time Department was Cincinnati Ohio on April 1st of 1853.
Until next week, remember don’t fix your gas tank with a torch.