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Firefighters - The First Responders › Articles

Vintage photos of the honorable men and women throughout history who educate us about and protect us from the hazards of fire.

Where there are people, there are structures - and where there are structures, there are fires. Professional and volunteer firefighters are among the most important people in a society. Even ancient Rome had an organized firefighting force and ancient Egypt had firefighting equipment - as far back as the 3rd century BC!

There are currently over a million firefighters serving in about 27,000 fire departments in the United States. Around 69% of those firemen and women are volunteers. While 100 or fewer firefighters die in the US each year, there are other hazards to these brave men and women. The long term effects of exposure to dangerous chemicals released in fires are still being examined and the stress from the exertion required during firefighting may contribute to long term heart problems. And yet, every year brave people volunteer - paid and unpaid - to save our homes, businesses, and forests.

Perhaps the attitude - and intent - of every fire department can be summed up in the mission statement of the New York Fire Department: "As first responders to fires, public safety and medical emergencies, disasters and terrorist acts, FDNY protects the lives and property of New York City residents and visitors. The Department advances public safety through its fire prevention, investigation, and education programs. The timely delivery of these services enables the FDNY to make significant contributions to the safety of New York City and homeland security efforts."

These photos of actual firefighters exemplify and honor those noble purposes.