Ridings 1Brianna RidingsMs. TilleryBritish Literature14 October 2011 Firefighting “You go we go” is a famous phrase used by firefighters showing the brother hoodand the similarities of how firefighters are local heroes like soldiers (Howard). Having acareer as a firefighter to the public is about always being there in a crisis, and having theability to save someone’s life. Even though firefighters do save peoples lives’ daily that isnot the only thing they do day in and day out. Firefighting is physically demandingjob(Ballard). However; to get where the fire company is today has taken a lot. Being able totrace firefighting back to the Roman days, all the way to understanding the beginning ofcolonial firefighting, and how African American males were able to join the department.Along with the struggles of the men in the field then woman faced trying to become afirefighterwhich added a whole new dimension to the job. Then you add the tools that wereused,and how technology has advanced and changed the way thing are done within the firedepartment is only the beginning of the journey. The path that firefighting has taken to beable to have the local men and women to help save lives today is a long and ever changingone. First of all, in 24 BC the idea of firefighting was made (Naemd). There were menthat were assigned to watch over the town and watch and see if a fire was spotted (Naemd).
Ridings 2If a fire was located the men would sound an alarm; whichsounded like a loud bellalertingthat the town of the fire (Naemd). Because fire was such a common aspect of life due to theliving conditions the idea of having watchmen caught on and spread all over the areas(Naemd). Following this further in history; finally, the first official establishment of a firedepartment was made in 1830 in Edinburg, Scotland (Naemd). However, at this point intime, not everyone in Europe had caught on to the idea of making it an occupation. It was noteven looked at as a necessity. Although soonafter the great fire of London in 1866, it wassaid that something needed to be done to protect the city, and it’s occupants from the deathand destruction of fire (Naemd). London and much of Europe realized how important it wasto have a fire department, but it took time for the government to agree and buy in to theprospect of an organized entity. Finally in 1865, London’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade wasformed and it had a great effect on the people and the town it watched over (Naemd). Two ofthe major cities having fire departments inspired more cities to follow suit and instituteofficial establishments. Of course the issue of fire was never going away, but how they learned to deal with itbecame an obsession (History). People had to learn to get out smart the fire and handle itsdestructive path. In 1607 when colonist came to America, there were many concerns withfire, due to the high populations insuch small vicinities. Buildings were built close to oneother and fire spread easily from place to place (History). Colonist’s used fire for everydayuse as well: Including cooking over an open flame, to using live fire in their homes toprovide warmth. Candles were routinely used by the young and the old alike; at night to seein the dark (Firehouse). It was inevitable that fire was going to happen. After fires causedmuch devastation in the capital of Jamestown, Virginia the government finally stepped in and
Ridings 3made the decision that something had to happen to help protect the capital, its citizens, andit’s property (History). In the beginning the colonistsonly had water which was carried bybuckets to prevent the spread of flames. Ladders were used to improve efforts to protect thecity, and they purchased the first fire engine in America in 1658 from London, England.Although having a fire engine did help protect Jamestown, it was not as effective as it hadbeen in cities due to the expansion of the new Colony (History). New York, Boston, andPhiladelphia became big important cities, due to the nearby water sources it was convenientto have boats come in and out. The easy access of these cities from the water, is why theybecame so heavily populated (History). This caused even more problems and greaterconcerns. The dense population of many people in such a small amount of space caused ashortage of housing, and a decrease in the water supply. This led to sanitation issues and anincrease in the outbreak of fire throughout the city.In efforts to help prevention of fires, thegovernor of New York hired wardens that wandered around the city to inspect fireplaces andstoves in the businesses and residents. Along with prevention of fire the warden’s mencommitted to volunteer their time, walking around the streets with big wooden rattleswhichthey would bang together to make noise warning the residents of fire in their territory(History). These men would spin them around sounding a loud noise at night to call for helpfrom people that were sleeping, and to warn them of the present danger and allow them totake cover elsewhere (History). The colonist went through many struggles to overcome theissues faced by live fire. As advances were made in technology, also brought advances infirefighting, the major cities changed how everything was done (Firehouse). Clearly fighting is something that has grown to be a part of our society today and isknown all throughout the world. It continues to be a struggle in Roman and Colonial
Ridings 4inhabitants eventhrough modern times. Equality was a different struggle within the firedepartment and until the 1800’s when African American slaves were used to aid inmanpower of a large fire in New Orleans, Louisiana. Slaves did not question where theystood in social class for years in society, however,when the government became desperate tocontrol this fire that was overtaking the city they allowed the blacks enslaved by Caucasiansto help. In desperation the government had no choice but to call upon these slaved blackmen along with the recruited white males to help protect the city (Iabpff). This was the firstdetailed record in history that documented African Americans help in the fire service and itsoperations. Although being African American in the fire service was very difficult during thistime, being a woman in the fire service also had its challenges. The fire department was thenand is sometimes now still considered to be a male profession and is dominated by men inthe field (Iabpff). Ironically the first woman to be recorded as part of a fire department wasan African American woman named Molly Williams in (Floren). Molly worked for OceanusVolunteer Fire Company No. 1 in New York City (Floren). She was the start of what becameknown as the female firefighter. “Firefighting has become more equal however, it is stillcauses a unique set of challenges for woman and even other races to be respected in the job”said a female firefighter of seven years (Smith). Furthermore, it has been a long fightand a learningprocess of how best to fight fire.Basic elements of fire which to consider are:fuel, heat, and oxygen.It has been an evolvingprocess from the beginning, and technology used to aid personnel in this dangerous jobcontinues to expand (web.Ebscohost). I previously stated that buckets of water, and a lot ofman power were used when trying to extinguish a fire (History). As history continued it was
Ridings 5still documented that buckets, water, and multiple people were needed to protect propertyand save lives but the invention and addition of ladders, axes, fire apparatus, and eventuallyhigh tech alarm systemsproved to change the way firefighters completed tasks more thananything else up to this point (History). Today’s reality is that a lot of the same tools usedthen are still in place in the fire service and do a great job at handling the duties performedby the fire department personnel. Continued advancement in these tools and many more, hashelped to make the skills completed easier and the firefighters safer. Advancement in thetype of helmets that are used while in a fire, the material that the turn out gear is made of,and the progression of self-contained breathing apparatus used by firefighters have all aidedin the decline of in the line of duty deaths of these men and women (Boingboing). Todayother tools used to aid the firefighters are flashlights, rescue rope, flammable clothing,computers, and even thermal imaging cameras to search for victims, to name only a few(web.ebscohost). But through all the advancements one thing has stayed the same over theyears and it is that you must have man power to put in place to handle these dangeroussituations and that you must have the desire to help others at any cost. In conclusion, firefighting is a difficult job that has only gotten more difficult andhazardous as time has gone on. Techniques have grown over the years, and tools andequipment are far superior than they used to be but with all that in mind firefighter still risktheir lives every day they are on duty. The fire department was an amazing insight to thewardens’ men and the government of that time. Without this action plan many cities wouldhave been destroyed, people killed, and possibly even the extinction of civilizations. Thiswas a job that was taken an evolved into an occupation that is known and respectedworldwide. Firefighters over the years have shown their bravery by running into a burning
Ridings 6building while everyone else is running out (Howard). Some firefighters say that it is theirjob and it is what they’re supposed to do (Ridings) but not everyone is courageous enough toaccept and take on such responsibility. Some say that they were born to give there life toothers, either way firefighters work day and night to protect people in the communities fromfire and the destruction and havoc it can cause. Firefighting is something that will alwaysbeevolving and the tools and equipment will be ever changing with advancements intechnology. The use of different materials in building our homes, making them more energyefficient, and the ingredients used to make furniture all cause increased hazards tofirefighters on a daily basis. It has been a treacherous profession from the beginning andcontinues to be one of the most dangerous occupations you can choose, as made evident on9-11 with the attack of the world trade center where 343 firefighters lost their lives. It is apassion that only a few chosen people partake in, and we should all be thankful for those whoare willing to die to save us.
Ridings 7 Works Cited “African American Firefighter History.”African American Firefighting History.N.p.,n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://www.iabpff.org/.htm>. Backdraft.Dir. Ron Howard.Universal, 1991.Film. Boing Boing. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2011.<http://boingboing.net////firefighter.html>. Clark, Dr. Burton A, and David M. Ballard. “Firefighting: Still A DangerousOccupation!” Laurelv FD. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.<http://www.laurelvfd.org/_paper.htm>. “Fire and Firefighting in Colonial America.” Colonial Williamburg.N.p., n.d. Web.14 Sept. 2011. <http://www.history.org//////.cfm#top>. “Firefighting History Timeline.”Firehouse.vBulletin, July 2005. Web. 16 Sept. 2011.<http://www.firehouse.com//.php?t=78751>. Floren, Terese M. “History of Women in Firefighting .”International Association ofWomen in Fire & Emergency Services.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011. <http://www.i-women.org/_women_firefighting.php>. “History of Firefighting.” naemd.org. National Academies of Emergency Dispatch,28 Oct. 2008. Web. 13 Sept. 2011. <http://www.naemd.org//hting.html>. Ridings, James Bradley.Personal interview. 4 Oct. 2011. S, Cheung S., Petersen S. R, and McLellan T. M. “Physiological Strain andCountermeasures with firefighting.”Academic Search Complete.Blackwell Publishing, Oct.2010.Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com//?sid=9a02a2a2-e8cf-43db-8649-
Ridings 86a3ad3cb13c7%40sessionmgr112&vid=9&hid=125&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=64719583 Smith, Krystal Jean. Personal interview. 1 Oct. 2011.