Fire Service History on Display at Parade

A firefighter wearing a flaming chief's helmet.

By Glenn Corbett

The extravagance of 19th century volunteer firemans’ parades is unparalleled to this day. Some fire companies featured live animal mascots, including New York’s Americus 6 Engine Company, which tied a growling tiger to its hand pumper. During night parades, many fire companies carried hand held torches over their shoulders to light the way.

Perhaps one of the most unique helmets ever made was like the one shown in this photo above, which has a lighted kerosene torch placed on the very top of the helmet’s crown. This retired firefighter in full parade regalia is a member of the Larchmont (NY) Historical Fire Company.

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Glenn CorbettGlenn P. Corbett, PE, is an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, is a technical editor for Fire Engineering, and wasan assistant chief of the Waldwick (NJ) Fire Department. He previously held the position of administrator of engineering services with the San Antonio (TX) Fire Department. Corbett has a master of engineering degree in fire protection engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and is pursuing a Ph.D. in public administration from Rutgers University. He authored two chapters on fire prevention/protection in The Fire Chief`s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995) and is the coauthor of the late Francis L. Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service, 4th Edition. He is editor of Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II. Corbett is an FDIC Executive Advisory Board member. He has been in the fire service since 1978.

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