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Chapter 1 . Overview of the History, Tradition, and Development of the American Fire Service. Introduction. This chapter covers: Importance of the mission of the fire service Purpose of a mission statement Major events that alter the history of the fire service

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chapter 1

Chapter 1

Overview of the History, Tradition, and Development of the American Fire Service

  • This chapter covers:
    • Importance of the mission of the fire service
    • Purpose of a mission statement
    • Major events that alter the history of the fire service
    • History of firefighting and emergency response
the mission of the fire service
The Mission of theFire Service
  • Firefighter tasks are the same all over the world
    • Save lives and property from fire and other emergencies
    • Different fire departments have different approaches
  • Mission synonymous with purpose for existence
    • Legal authority to act in a certain manner
  • Mission statement
    • Written declaration describing things it intends to do to protect citizenry or customers
  • Every individual responsible for mission
roots in the past
Roots in the Past
  • Factors common to all agencies
    • Organizational structure
    • Inventory of facilities, apparatus, equipment, methods
    • Programs to protect life and property
  • Categories of programs
    • Fire and emergency operations and fire prevention
    • Arson investigation
    • Training
    • Emergency medical services
    • Communications and maintenance
ancient beliefs
Ancient Beliefs
  • Turning point in human history: recognition of value of fire
    • Initial challenge: manage fire, prevent it from destroying its user
  • Ancient Greeks believed fire was a gift from Prometheus
  • Phoenix myth: fire powerful destroyer and giver of life
  • Ancient cultures used fire; fire destroyed their homes and consumed their property
recorded history
Recorded History
  • Vesta: Roman goddess, protector of hearth fire
  • Hero of Alexandria: created first fire pump
  • 22 B.C.: magistrates reported fire outbreaks at night
    • “Familia publica” organized along military lines
  • A.D. 6: “Cohortes Vigilum” permanent fire brigade
    • Housed in barracks; toured the city at night looking for fires
recorded history cont d
Recorded History (cont’d.)
  • Emperor Augustus created seven cohorts
    • Seven military units under command of a tribune
    • Groups under a prefect (officer of equestrian rank)
    • Each prefect had 500 men, later expanded to 1000
    • Vigiles were a variety of specialists
  • Roman leaders attempted to regulate building
  • After fall of Rome, no organized fire brigades for 1000 years
  • Legacy of organized firefighting left by Rome
early history and symbols of the fire service
Early History and Symbols of the Fire Service
  • Crusades: Order of Saint John of Hospitaliers
    • Dedicated to treatment of battlefield wounds
  • Knights of Malta
    • Dedicated to saving lives by serving as stretcher-bearers
  • Symbol on uniform and shield determined friend or foe
    • Red cross worn by Order of Saint John
    • Maltese cross worn by Knights of Malta



Figure 1-4 Symbols taken from history: (A) red cross and (B) Maltese cross.

the middle ages
The Middle Ages
  • Fire continued to destroy European cities
  • Technological advances around the globe not widely available in Europe
    • Fire brigade created in China, not copied in Europe
  • A.D. 1100 – 1600: English devised fire regulations
    • Laws requiring home owners to have ladders, buckets, and barrels of water handy
    • Arson a serious crime
      • Punishment: to be burned alive
the middle ages cont d
The Middle Ages (cont’d.)
  • 1666: Great Fire of London
  • Community leaders placed emphasis on elimination of conflagration
  • Next 200 years: creation of almost all basic fire protection institutions of the modern age
    • Organization of fire departments
    • Creation of fire insurance industry
    • Rise of technology to prevent and combat fires
early american history
Early American History
  • Early regulations on prohibition of wooden chimneys, limitations on candle-making
    • Early settlements built of wood; emphasis on prevention
  • 1637: firemarks used by insurance companies
  • Fires fought by bucket brigades
  • Early 1700s Boston designated fire wardens
    • 1718: fire societies, era of volunteer firefighter
  • 1752: Benjamin Franklin started Philadelphia Contributorship
early american history cont d
Early American History (cont’d.)
  • Fire companies extinguished only the fires of insured buildings
    • Volunteer firefighters extinguished any fire
  • Fire used as a weapon of war
  • 1800 – 1850: better protection, more powerful hand pumpers, development of fire helmet
  • Arson became common in mid-1800s
  • 1853: first full-time, paid firefighting service
    • Steam-powered fire engine replaced hand-pumps
the civil war
The Civil War
  • Establishment of paramilitary organizational practices
  • Firefighters became soldiers in the Civil War
    • Most of the country’s experienced firefighters were lost to the war
  • Military veterans replaced lost firefighters
    • Introduced military rank structure
    • Command and control similar to infantry tactics
    • Coloration and design of uniforms
  • 1873: National Association of Fire Engineers
the industrial revolution
The Industrial Revolution
  • 1870s through 1900: U.S. moved from farming to industry
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
    • Designed and installed automatic sprinklers
    • Standard number 1
  • Basic research in fire engineering started in:
    • Alarm systems
    • Fire hydraulics
    • Aerial apparatus
    • Steam-powered fire pump
the beginning of the twentieth century
The Beginning of the Twentieth Century
  • International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
  • National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU)
    • Evaluated level of fire defense in different cities
  • Emphasis on fire prevention
  • 1920s: firefighter education reform
    • Fire Chief Ralph Scott
    • Firefighting Bulleting Number 155, series 44, Federal Board of Vocational Education, 1931
technology transition and times of change
Technology, Transition, and Times of Change
  • Different technology in service simultaneously
  • Pre-World War I stations had both horse-drawn and motorized fire apparatus
    • Several pieces of equipment had to be assembled to fight a fire
  • Internal combustion combined three apparatus into one
  • Advances in ability to reach fire, but not in capacity to fight fire once on the scene

Figure 1-16 Triple combination engine companies can carry water and hoses and other equipment as well as pump the water. (Owned and photographed by William Killen)

the effects of world war ii
The Effects of World War II
  • War accelerated need to deal with fire
    • Fire still a weapon of war
  • Research resulted in:
    • Indirect attack method
    • Improved foams for use in fire service
    • Improved personal protective clothing
    • Improved fire nozzle technology
  • Fire service became more paramilitary
  • Other innovations: improved communications (radio), diesel engines
modernization of the fire service
Modernization of the Fire Service
  • Modernization is a process
  • Information half-life: how long it takes for 50% of information to become obsolete
    • 1700s about 100 years
    • Half-life has decreased with every generation over last 100 years
  • Technological obsolescence: any given technology is only useful for a period of time
    • Steamers replaced hand-pumpers
    • Diesel replaced gasoline
the fire service of today
The Fire Service of Today
  • Acceleration of change related to duties of firefighter and agency staffing
    • Hazardous materials response
    • Search and rescue
    • Terrorism incidents
  • 1947: National Conference on America’s fire problem (Harry Truman)
  • Texas City Disaster: first catastrophic hazardous materials event in America
the fire service of today cont d
The Fire Service of Today (cont’d.)
  • 1960s Johnson Foundation “Wingspread Conference”
  • 1970s National Commission on Fire Protection and Control “America Burning”
    • United States Fire Administration created
    • Incident command system (ICS) created
the fire service of today cont d1
The Fire Service of Today (cont’d.)
  • Twenty-first century:
    • 30,635 fire departments and 1,140,900 firefighters
    • Fire department in the U.S. responds to one fire every 20 seconds
    • U.S. has fourth highest death rate among industrial nations: one person dies every two hours in a fire

Figure 1-17 The fire service has expanded into many areas, including hazardous materials response.

the fire service of today cont d2
The Fire Service of Today (cont’d.)
  • The fire service also plays a large role in EMS

Figure 22-2 Firefighters are often called on to assist EMS crews with patient care.

lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Firefighter’s career is like climbing a ladder
  • We must give due credit to the past
  • Future contains difficult challenges and opportunities
  • Firefighters must develop skills that did not exist previously
  • Motto of the Roman fire brigade “Semper Vigilans”
    • “Always Vigilant”