History of the Volunteer Fire Service
Fact: Over 70% of Fire departments are Volunteer!
George Washington was a volunteer firefighter in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1774, as a member of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Company, he bought a new fire engine and gave it to the town, which was its very first. However the United States did not have government-run fire departments until around the time of the American Civil War. Prior to this time, private fire brigades compete with one another to be the first to respond to a fire because insurance companies paid brigades to save buildings
On a visit to Boston, Benjamin Franklin noted that the inhabitants of his native city were far better prepared to fight fires than the natives of his adopted city, Philadelphia. Upon returning home, he consulted the Junto, a benevolent group dedicated to civic and self-improvement, and asked for their suggestions on better ways to combat fires.
Franklin also sought to raise public awareness about the city's dire need to improve fire-fighting techniques. In a Pennsylvania Gazette article of 1733 Franklin noted how fires were being fought in Philadelphia. "Soon after it [a fire] is seen and cry'd out, the Place is crowded by active Men of different Ages, Professions and Titles who, as of one Mind and Rank, apply themselves with all Vigilance and Resolution, according to their Abilities, to the hard Work of conquering the increasing fire."
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