In modern times people take technology for granted. In pretty much every profession, from the medical field to architects and from teachers to lawyers, vast technological advancements are constant. Technologically speaking, these fields are constantly changing throughout the decades. The same goes for firefighting. There have been recent advancements in firefighting like the addition of jet packs, thermal imaging, and exoskeletons. It makes you wonder what the early days were like. It makes you wonder how difficult it must have been to fight fires centuries ago.

  • The first Roman fire brigade was created under Marcus Licinius Crassus. He preyed upon Rome having no fire department. His fire brigade would arrive at the scene of a fire and Crassus would negotiate the price of their services. If he did not receive a satisfactory offer, he would let the building burn to the ground. Afterwards, he would offer to buy what was left for a highly discounted price. This shows how lacking firefighting technology was back then, and how far we have advanced technologically to this day.
  • In around the 2nd century BCE, a water pump was invented in Alexandria, Egypt. The technology was lost and reinvented in the 16th century. Eventually, mobile pumps made their way onto the scene.
  • In 1658, people began using wooden rattles to warn the public of a fire.
  • The first fire hose was developed in 1672. It was invented by Dutch painter, Jan van der Heyden. It was made of leather with copper fittings.
  • The first fire engines arrived in the 17th century.
  • In 1721 a British inventor by the name of Richard Newsham patented the first fire-engine pump. It was on a wheeled cart and required a few men to work the cross handles. It shot at fire up to 135 feet.
  • The first protective capes used for firefighting were made in 1794 in Philadelphia.
  • The first fireboat was in New York City in 1800.
  • In 1801, the chief engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works, Frederick Graff, patented a fire hydrant that resembles what is used in modern times.
  • George Manby invented the Extincteur, the fire extinguisher of that time, in 1813. He later invented device made to catch people jumping from burning buildings.
  • The first practical steam fire engine was invented in 1853 by Miles Greenwood in Cincinnati.
  • The fire extinguisher we know today was patented in 1863.

This is but a small part of the illustrious history of firefighting technology throughout the years. There is so much more, but that information is for another time. We take today’s technology for granted, not knowing how good we have it. Can you imagine if firefighters showed up at your doorstep as your house was burning to the ground and started negotiating a price for their services? It’s unthinkable today. Technological advancement for regular citizens is improving as well, with sprinkler systems, SkySavers, high tech smoke detectors, and much more. What firefighting technology today do you think we take most for granted?