Firefighters - 1st Responders

Honorable men and women throughout history who educate and protect us from the hazards of fire.
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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.
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A photo of Firemen posed on fire engine, New York City
Fireman with firefighting equipment in front of firehouse, in the Washington, D.C. area (?)
This horse-drawn fire truck photo was taken in Washington D.C. sometime between 1909 and 1932. Note that three horses were utilized to pull the weight of the fire hose, ladder, and driver. You can't really tell from this photo, but I believe that this design supported a small team of fire fighters towards the back of the carriage. The first fire engines were water pumps on wheels which men would manually push/pull to the emergency. Obviously, while inventive, this had major downfalls - including having very tired firemen! Once the firemen arrived at the fire, they would have to rest to catch their breath and prepare to fight the fire. Fire fighting was initially a fully volunteer organization. During the mid 1800's, paid firefighters were introduced and were given budgets where they could afford advancements in technology. Obviously, horses were heavily utilized and were initially used to transport ONLY the fire pumps. While this got the fire pump to the fire earlier, it did not solve the issues with transporting the firemen to the emergency. Over the years different solutions were tested, including steam powered fire engines that were introduced in the United Sates in New York 1841. However, steam powered fire trucks were not not quickly adapted given the unreliability and dangerous of steam. Therefore, most fire departments continued to utilize horses, including adding more horse power to allow firemen to also be carried on the fire truck. By the 1920s and 1930s the introduction of motorized fire trucks quickly began to replace all horse drawn fire trucks.
A photo of a firefighter from the Vigilant Fire Company, Baltimore. He is wearing a parade hat and holding speaker trumpet.
Washington, D.C. Firemen taking a nap in engine house number four
Firehouse station number four. Washington, D.C. Fireman examining a couch that caught on fire from a cigar dropped by a resident of the house
A photo of Firehouse Station No. 4. Washington, D.C. Captain J.B. Keye
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of Edward W Pack
People in this photo:
Aug 10, 1921 - Nov 15, 1995
Added Dec 16, 2019 by: Billy Pack
Billy Pack
3 favorites
A photo of George J Canessa the year he retired from the San Rafael Fire Department
People in this photo:
around 1897 - Unknown
Added May 28, 2019 by: Ben Browne
Ben Browne
4 favorites
A photo of Edward Ellingson Enger, Fire Chief
People in this photo:
Mar 12, 1873 - Apr 11, 1935
Added May 24, 2019 by: Dianne Snell
Dianne Snell
14 favorites
A photo of my Great Grandfather Henry Priebe. Minneapolis Fire Department still has records including his job appliction and assignments over the years
People in this photo:
1867 - Sep 7, 1937
Added Jun 8, 2018 by: James Wallace
James Wallace
8 favorites
A photo of Charles Henry Chaffee. A son of Capt. Ezra Chaffee, Charles lived in Lynn, Mass. He is shown here in his fireman's uniform. He was an "engineer" with the fire department in Lynn for many years. At that time engineers kept the fire wagons repaired between fighting fires. His father was a sea captain in the silk trade and died near Canton, China. His mother died when he was only about 18 months old and while the father was on his last voyage. He married 3 times, the last to Finette Seaman Cowen.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of Edward Pack - This was taken in the late 60s to mid 70s.
People in this photo:
Aug 10, 1921 - Nov 15, 1995
Added Feb 9, 2017 by: William Pack
William Pack
6 favorites
A photo of Edward W Pack in the 1970s at Ghent vol fire dept in front of granny the old fire truck.
People in this photo:
Aug 10, 1921 - Nov 15, 1995
Added Feb 9, 2017 by: William Pack
William Pack
6 favorites
A photo of Tom Sawyer, San Francisco firefighter, in the 1860's. In 1863, Tom Sawyer was a customs inspector, volunteer firefighter, and special policeman in San Francisco. One night, he was playing poker with a young writer at a steam bath in the city. As they played and talked, Tom told the writer the following story: In 1853, Tom was a fire engineer on a steamboat, The Independence. While the steamboat was heading towards San Francisco (from Mexico), it hit a reef off of Baja. As a result, the engines caught fire and the ship started to founder. There were 359 passengers on board . . . and only one usable lifeboat. At this point, 2 of the crewmen jumped overboard and started to sink. Tom jumped into the sea, recovered the men, and swam with them on his back. He swam 100 yards to shore, left the men, and returned to the ship, returning to the shore several times with passengers on his back. Finally, the one usable lifeboat and two lifeboats that were patched up were lowered in the water. They were loaded with passengers and when the lifeboats made shore, Tom took one and headed back to the ship. He tossed life preservers to the remaining passengers, lined them up in the water (holding each other) and towed them back to shore. He now had burned forearms but he kept towing passengers to the shore for the next hour until the ship was a sheet of flame. By the end, he was credited with saving 90 passengers. The writer was riveted by the story and they became fast friends. Tom said of the writer: "“He could drink more and talk more than any feller I ever seen. He’d set down and take a drink and then he’d begin to tell us some joke or another. And then when somebody’d buy him another drink, he’d keep her up all day. Once he got started he’d set there till morning telling yarns.” He also said that the writer always seemed to be broke. One day the writer came up to Tom. "Tom,’ he says, ‘I’m going to write a book about a boy and the kind I have in mind was just about the toughest boy in the world. Tom, he was just such a boy as you must have been....How many copies will you take, Tom, half cash?" In 1866, the writer left San Francisco and Tom never saw him again. But in 1876, the writer published a book - yes, the writer was Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) and his book was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
People in this photo:
1831 - Unknown
Added Nov 3, 2016 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
23.0k+ favorites
A photo of Alfred Long (on left) and Callie Porter. Fire department 1920's/30's This fire truck is an Ahrens Fox
People in this photo:
1902 - 1975
Added Jul 12, 2016 by: Cynthia Long
Cynthia Long
275 favorites
A photo of Thomas Henry Orgill
People in this photo:
Aug 26, 1865 - Dec 10, 1926
Added Apr 24, 2016 by: Kerryn Benbow
Kerryn Benbow
56 favorites
This is a photo of the fire dept. that was at Oak Ridge, TN during WWII when Oak Ridge was part of the Manhattan Project. My grandfather Harold McClain is the 2nd from the right in the back row.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Dec 12, 2015 by: Angela May
Angela May
11 favorites
A photo of William J. Joyce, Battalion Firefighter. I study my family, and today I'm posting a picture of my 3rd Great Grandpa, William J. Joyce. There's a pattern in my family that the first born boy would be named Thomas or William. If you were a Thomas, your son would be named William and vise versa. During the Cleveland Clinic fire of 1902, his brother Patrick was killed by a collapsed boiler room. When William heard he came as quickly as possible and found his Brother. Since then he banned anyone in the family from becoming a firefighter.
Added Jun 14, 2015 by: Sean Joyce
Sean Joyce
20 favorites
A photo of Napoleon E. Laravie (in the drivers seat) Chief Engineer of the Plattsburgh Fire Department from 1897-1901 and organizer of the First Paid Fire Department at the Fourth of July Parade
People in this photo:
Jan 19, 1865 - Feb 15, 1933
Added May 27, 2015 by: Susan Pombrio
Susan Pombrio
85 favorites
A photo of Edward E. Williams, Volunteer Fire Department of Kirkland, Washington. My Grandfather was the man in the white coat.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Apr 12, 2015 by: Michelle Green
Michelle Green
52 favorites
Photo from pamphlet showing Suffolk, VA fire department. Frank Oxley was the Captain.
People in this photo:
Jul 21, 1894 - May 1981
Added Oct 5, 2013 by: Becky Kane
Becky Kane
5 favorites
A photo of Haskell B Wells
People in this photo:
Jan 18, 1913 - Sep 13, 2003
Graduating Class, Fire Department School of Instruction, April 1939, Rappaport 485-5 New York City. Edward Laukaitis, bottom row, 3rd from right.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Aug 28, 2013 by: Joseph Healy
Joseph Healy
5 favorites
Howard Alexander, Fourth Of July Parade, in the 1960's, Union Fire Association, taken in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
People in this photo:
Feb 23, 1921 - Unknown
Robert Reinhold Klawitter (photo taken in 1908 in Illinois) was a woodworker at the Steger Piano Factory (Inset) and a volunteer fireman with the Steger Fire Dept. (main photo)
People in this photo:
Feb 10, 1803 - Oct 10, 1938
Added Sep 3, 2012 by: John Klawitter
John Klawitter
85 favorites
Firemen Freddie Nofziger in Toledo Ohio at the Toledo Firefighters Museum. The date was not offered by the submitter.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Jul 7, 2012 by: Ken Nofziger
Ken Nofziger
4 favorites
My grandpa Dean Joseph Fenrich of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a firefighter. Date not offered by submitter.
People in this photo:
1913 - Unknown
William Smeck, Sr - Volunteer Fireman Franklin Fire Company, Chester, PA: Bill worked for Sun Ship Building Company during WWII. Was a volunteer fireman for over 40 years for the Franklin Fire Company, Chester, Pennsylvania where during that lenghthy time he rose to the level of Assistant Chief. He was noted for his dedication to the fire service and at times risked his life to save others. From the mid-50's until 1983 he worked for the City of Chester, Pennsylvania rising to the level of City Safety Director until his passing in 1985. Bill was well known throughout Chester City and Delaware County as a well liked and very respected individual.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Charles Yarnall and Firemen of Goodwill #1 Citizens Fire Company, West Fairview, PA My dad, Charles W "Bill" Yarnall, back row, center
People in this photo:
around Jul 2, 1914 - around Apr 27, 2003
Added Jan 15, 2012 by: Mary Reed
Mary Reed
44 favorites
A photo taken in firemen's training.
A photo of firefighters fighting a fire in 1921.
Fireboat 44 in action, Boston, Mass.
This is a photo of Fire boat James Battle, The added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Launch of fire boat James Battle added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
A photo of Watson & Sullivan at Police vs Fireman's ball game
This is a photo of Fireboat, Engine No. 44, Boston, Mass. added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
A poster asking for volunteers: Urgent - volunteers needed at once! Join up at any police station, any firehouse, or Room 201 City Hall, 16 South 15th Street.
This is a photo of [Du]Page County centennial--Police, firemen...exhibition... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Philadelphia Association for the Relief of Disabled Firemen added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
A photo of men posed before backdrop, pumping water with machine.
This is a photo of Constantinople--Fire-engine and firemen added by Ancient Faces on January 10, 2012.
This is a photo of Fire station and firemen in New York, New York added by Ancient Faces on January 10, 2012.
This is a photo of Mother and child at the Chicago firefighter mural,... added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of New York casino fireboat in Las Vegas, Nevada added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
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