Hello, and thank you very much for visiting my blog. My name is Tom, and I’ve always loved fire departments. I love how they stand duty to help in the event of crisis, and are trained, competent, and brave enough to battle fires without much thought to how it started. As I get older, I seem to love history more, and since I’m trying to get into blogging, I thought a trip back in time would be a fun adventure. So let’s explore the old Bucket Brigades and the evolution of Fire Departments.
Waltham, Massachusetts may be our best quick example of how fire departments evolved out of “bucket brigades.” In Waltham, MA, the town’s earliest fire in 1770 was put out by a resident who had been milking a cow. As simple as tossing the bucket of milk onto the fire was in putting it out, made for a new rule in Waltham.
There, every resident was to have a bucket on hand with water available to pitch in to put out fellow neighbors’s fires. From there, a fire department was established to reach fires by horse-drawn steamers. The department had hand-pumps on hand to support high-pressure water output to direct water onto the fire more judiciously. The horses allowed us all to see a faster response to fire fighting efforts. The governor of Massachusetts created the department in 1844 with the appointment of Josiah Beard as its first Fire Chief.
I was surprised to learn that telegraph was introduced in large part to aid in the communication of fire events as early as September 3, 1881. By 1911 the first motorized truck was put into use, and the hose system was incorporated fully by 1920, to make an impressive statement on all of us.
While we don’t always think about fire departments in a historical sense, they are a treasure trove of historical information, and provide an amazing look into the past. One of the first public services in the USA was the fire department, and Massachusetts was one of the first places to have a fully functioning unit ready to reply to urgent calls for help.
Back near the founding of the region, fire was common, with bad fuels and wooden houses being mostly to blame. Sometimes fire would take out entire villages or cause widespread destruction of crops. This led many people in the area to realize that a response was needed, one that would ensure the continued survival of everyone in the area.
In Massachusetts, this first took the form of a volunteer force, quick to respond to fires with men on watch every single day and night. Over time this evolved into the modern fire stations we know today, where paid men and women are willing to risk their lives. While building materials have changed, and we no longer fight fires with buckets of water, the spirit of the force still remains. Each firefighter is willing to lay down their life to save another, showing that they are truly historical heroes.