From Buckets to Fire Hydrants

fire hydrant

Modern day advances provide many tools that have contributed to the success in fighting fires for many years. For example, the fire hydrant allows firefighters access to a water source in close proximity to the fire. It is easy to take such tools for granted.

Prior to the creation of the fire hydrant, firefighters used a bucket brigade and/or hand pumping system. This process called for buckets of water to be moved from a nearby water source to the location of the fire by volunteers. In order to gain access to a great amount of water, firefighters had to dig a hole into the water main. Once they no longer needed water, “fire plugs” were created in order to close the hole. These slow and inefficient systems did not suffice for extinguishing fires of great size.

Credit for the first fire hydrant in 1801 goes to Frederick Graff Sr., a fire engineer from Philadelphia. Although, the patent for his creation of the fire hydrant is not verified due to a fire that occurred in the patent office where all destroyed records. As a result, according to some sources, George Smith, a fireman, is given credit for creating the first fire hydrant in 1817.

For more historical facts on modern advances in firefighting checkout our timeline of the motorized fire apparatus.

fire hydrant

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