Thursday, June 11, 2009

Alexandria Fire Department

This picture was taken in 1863. It shows the Alexandria, Virginia Fire Station. It is interesting to look at the equipment . . . it looks like things did not change much between the 1860's and the 1910's.


  1. Notice how polished the equipment is.

    The firemen must have spent all of their time in between fires sprucing up their equipment and taking care of the horses.

  2. You are right, not much changed. Technology was such that they had to carry around a big bucket of water to the fire and not much else was successful.

    I think one of the reasons the equipment was so well taken care of is that if it was allowed to fall into disrepair it would fail, and require an expensive replacement. Same reason we take good care of our fire fighting equipment today, just that the firemen did it back then and the mechanics do it now. :-)

  3. Remember, they are firefighters not firemen because that would exclude the women's role in this honorable profession. While they represent a small percentage of the numbers of firefighters, they are there every 24 hour shift working beside the men to protect your life and your property.

    The equipment has always been maintained in as near perfect condition for the reasions you cite Norikio, they also take such pride in their jobs that a dirty or corroded truck would be an afront to their department. Ever see a dirty fire engine?

    I know these things because my son-in law is a Captain in a medium city department who has worked his way up the hard way. We are all proud of him!

  4. All the fire fighters in this phot series are MEN. It is normal and in context to discuss this topic in masculine terms. We all know that women can be firefighters in modern times but it did not happen during the period of these photos.

  5. There's a Hall of Flame in Phoenix & it seems I learned that BACK THEN if you bought fire insurance you were guarenteed that firefighters would go to your house or business. If you didn't have the insurance, good luck. And different insurance companies had different logos that you displayed on your building. It's been years since I was in Phx. Maybe someone else knows?

  6. Judi, there is an insurance company here in the Baltimore area that still offers a logo of two clasped hands, which you put on the front of your house. From what I understand they inspect your home (brick construction, distance from other dwellings, etc.) and if they accept you, they charge a one-time fee, which is substantial. I don't know of any other fire insurance company that operates that way.

  7. Hi Al, today, yes, we have fire fighters, but at the time this photo was taken, we had firemen, and I would venture to guess that was an exclusive club until the 70s or so.

    Judi, I have also heard of the fire insurance logo thing. I recall something about this from a college course that looked into men's clubs and secret societies at the turn of the century. Some insurance companies sprung out of secret societies as I recall. Fireman's Fund Insurance is one of the insurance companies like you mentioned. They would come to YOUR house first and maybe take care of your neighbor if they had time.


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