History: Fire Departments

Fire Engine Branford.jpg

Photograph of a drawn fire engine galloping down a dirt road, Branford. Sourced from: ctdigitalarchive.org

Early Fire Departments

  Early forms of fire departments varied throughout the United States. Some departments were privately owned while others were volunteer-based. The first iteration of volunteer fire departments in the United States were called Bucket Brigades. Everyone in town was required to store and maintain a bucket used for fighting fires throughout the community.  If an area was deemed at risk, local governments required people to have multiple buckets. One of the first organized volunteer departments was formed in Philadelphia in 1752 after a young Benjamin Franklin lobbied the city and Philadelphians formed 6 volunteer companies.

Early Fire Fighting 

  Before automobiles, fire departments implemented horse drawn carriages and fire fighters were required to pull the equipment required to fight fires. In some cases, this resulted in fires becoming more damaging than if the carriages were pulled using other methods.