History of the New York Fire Department

History of the New York Fire Department


A SURVEY of the town was begun in 1654 and completed in 1656. The city was then laid down on a map and confirmed by law, “to remain, from that time forward, with alteration.” Streets were also laid out. some of which were crooked enough. The city then contained by enumeration, “one hundred and twenty houses, with extensive garden lots,” and one thousand inhabitants. One of the first acts of the city authorities, after the incorporation of New Amsterdam, was the framing and passage of an order similar to one promulgated in 1648. From this it is inferred that but little attention was paid to the previous proclamation, and as a consequence several fires had occurred, “and further dangers are apprehended.” Then the ordinance decrees that it is incumbent on the fire officials “to perform their duties as fire wardens according to the custom of our Fatherland,” and names the following as such fire wardens: Elendrick Elendrickson Kip, and Christian Barents, “who are hereby authorized to visit all the houses and chimnies within the city jurisdiction.”

In 1657 the progress of the city became so marked that it was thought appropriate to give to its thoroughfares the names of streets, which was accordingly done, and they are enumerated as follows:

T’ Marckvelt (the Marketfield), De Bleere Straat (the principal street), De Hoogh Straat (the High Street), De Waal (the Wall), T’ Water (the Water), De Perel (the Pearl Street), aghter de Perel Straat (behind the Pearl Street), De Heere Graft (the principal canal), De Prince Graft (the Beaver Canal), T’ Marckvelt Steegre (the Marketfield Path), De Smiths Valley (the Smith’s Valley).

The Dutch burghers did not stop here. They had put their hands to the plow and were not going to turn back. In addition to the foregoing measures for the common safety in case of fire, a rattle-watch of eight men was established. The duties appertaining to this watch were imposed upon each of the citizens by turn. Streets were for the first time paved with stone. There were no sewers, and the pavement extended to the width of only ten feet from the front of the houses, the center of the street being left bare for the more easy absorption of the water.

The inauguration of these reforms must have transformed the budding city, from a condition which Governor Stuyvesant on his arrival had designated as “low,” into one of comparative order and shapeliness. The hog-pens, and other offensive structures, must have also disappeared from the public thoroughfares, while, no doubt, a more substantial order of buildings had taken the place of the houses which were “built of wood and covered with reeds and had wooden chimneys,” for we find the Director-General in a proclamation enlarging upon “the beauties of a well-regulated city, with good dwelling houses and spacious gardens and also glowingly dwelling upon “the blessed augmentation of the population and trade of the city.”

Towards the latter part of the year 1657 the need of regular leather fire buckets was much felt. None existed in the colony, and the thought of manufacturing them themselves was too visionary and impracticable to be entertained just then. As the Fatherland was depended upon to furnish nearly all the artificial necessaries of life, it was decided to send to Holland for the buckets, as specified in the following resolution:

Whereas, in all well-regulated cities it is customary that fire buckets, ladders, and hooks are in readiness at the corners of the streets and in public houses, for time of need; which is the more necessary in this city on account of the small number of stone houses and the many wooden houses here; therefore, the DirectorGeneral and Councillors do authorize the Burgomasters and Schepens.of this city, either personally or through their treasurer, to demand immediately for every house, whether small or great, one beaver or eight guilders in sewant; and to procure from fatherland, out of the sum collected in this manner, two hundred and fifty leathern fire buckets, and also to have made some fire ladders and fire hooks; and to maintain this establishment, they may yearly demand for every chimney one guilder.

Called in the Shoemakers

This tax was promptly collected by the city authorities, but the much coveted fire buckets were still beyond the reach of the city fathers. The resolution, quoted above, looking to the mother country for their procurement, was reconsidered, as it would take a long time before they could have reached this country. So, after waiting some months, it was decided to invoke the aid of the city shoemakers. But the shoemakers of those primitive days lacked confidence in their ability to perform the task assigned to them. Four out of the seven Knights of St. Crispin responded to the call to meet the city fathers in solemn and serious conclave. The date of the meeting was the first of August, 1658. The views of each shoemaker was solicited. The first declined “the arduous undertaking;” the second declared he had no material; the third, more enterprising, proposed to contract to make one hundred buckets for the consideration of six guilders and two stuyvers each (about two dollars and fifty cents), and the fourth, after much persuasion, consented to make the remaining fifty upon the same terms. These are the terms agreed upon:

Remout Remoutzen agrees to make the said buckets all out of tanned leather, and to do all that is necessary to finish them in the completest manner for the price of six guilders two stuyvers each (about two dollars and fifty cents each), half sewant, half leavers, a fourth part of the half beavers to be “passable,” threefourths whole leavers: on these conditions he is to make one hundred buckets, which he promises to do between this and All Saints Day. Adrian Van Lair, on the same terms, to make fifty buckets.

But Rome was not built in a day, and at the end of six months from the date of the above agreement, that is to say, on the twentieth of January, following, the one hundred and fifty leather fire buckets were delivered at the Stadt House, where fifty of the number were deposited. The remainder were divided in lots and placed at the residence of nine of the principal inhabitants, namely:

Numbers 1 to 50, in the City Hall; 51 to 62, in Daniel Litschoe’s tavern (present Pearl Street, near Wall); 63 to 74, in the House of Abraham Verplanck, in the Smith’s Valley, (Pearl Street, near Fulton) : 75 to 86, in the house of Joannes Pietersen Vandruggh (Hanover Square) ; 87 to 98, in the house of Rurgomaster Paulus Leendenen Vandiegrist, (Broadway, opposite Exchange Place); 99 to 110, at the house of the Sheriff (or Schout) Nicasius de Se’le, (southeast corner Broad Street and Exchange Place); 111 to 122, at the house of Pieter Wolrersen Van Couwenhoven, (Northwest corner Whitehall and Pearl Streets); at the house of Jan Jansen, Jr., ten ; at the house of Hendrick Hendrickson Kip, Sen., ten, (Bridge, between Whitehall and Broad Streets) ; at the house of Jacobus Backer, ten, (Broad, between Stone and South William Streets).

The First Fire Company

The burning of a small loghouse on a bluff overlooking the bay, where Castle Garden now stands, led to the establishment of the first fire company in 1658. This organization, disrespectfully dubbed the “Prowlers,” consisted of eight men, furnished with two hundred and fifty buckets, hooks, and small ladders, and each of its members was expected to walk the street from nine o’clock at night until morning drum-beat, watching for fire while the town slumbered.

This company was organized by ambitious young men, and was known also as the “rattle-watch.” It was soon increased to fifty members, and did duty from nine P. M. until sunrise, all the citizens who could be roused from their beds assisting in case of fire. One of the best fire buckets is still preserved by James Van Amburgh, of Westchester County, whose ancestor was one of these early firemen. The first serious fire had occurred the year before, in 1657, when Sam Baxter’s house caught fire—from a blazing log which rolled out of the fire place during the night—and was completely consumed. It was regarded as the handsomest dwelling in the settlement of the early Dutch, and its destruction gave the needed impetus for the organization of a fire company. Even the veteran firemen who still survive would laugh if they would read the manner in which those early fire laddies undertook to provide against conflagrations. One of the rules was that each citizen of New Amsterdam was required to fill three buckets with water after sunset, and place them on his doorstep for the use of the fire patrol in case of need. Another Dutch ordinance directed that ten buckets should be filled with water at the town pump, “when ye sun do go down,” and these were to be left in a rack provided for that purpose, so that the members of the “rattle-watch could readily “if ye fyer does go further yan ye efforts of ye men and call for water.”

When the fire was extinguished, the buckets of the citizens that had been used were thrown in a great heap on the common, and the town crier, mounting a barrel, shouted lustily for each bucket proprietor to come and claim his own. As the stirring nasal cry:

“Hear Ye! O! I pray ye, Lord masters claim your buckets,” penetrated to the suburbs of the town, boys ran from all directions, and fought savagely on the grass at the crier’s feet, to see who should carry home the buckets belonging to rich men, knowing that the reward would be a cake or a glass of wine, or a small coin


The prevention of fire was a subject which cause much anxiety and unremitting attention. To see that the ordinances were carried out, frequent examinatios were made of the chimneys and houses. These precautions caused much annoyance to the order-loving Dutch matrons, who, doubtless, regarded such visits as an in trusion. The worthy fire functionaries found their zeal but ill-requited. They were often insulted and abused, but they bore it all with true Dutch fortitude, until their female persecutors called them “chimney sweeps.” This was the crowning indignity, and not to be borne. Retaliatory measures were adopted. The goede vrouws were summoned before the magistrates and fined for their discourteous conduct. This, it seems, did not mend matters, for the office of fire warden fell into disuse, and the ordinance became a dead letter.

Public Wells

Public wells at this time were found to be no less than a private necessity, equally indispensable in time of peril by fire as in the preservation of the public health. The first public well was dug in front of the fort in 1658. This well afforded an abundant supply of spring water, and “it became the great resort of the inhabitants during the remaining period of the Dutch occupation” The public wells were situated in the middle of the streets, and the water was passed from them in buckets through long rows of citizens to the scene of fire. Water was raised from these wells by the old Egyptian methods of a balance pole and bucket, a mode still familiar in country parts. So far as drinking purposes were concerned, the water so obtained was very bad.

Dwellings of a more costly character than had previously been known were soon to be erected. In 1657, Peter Cornelisen Vanderveen built a fine house on the present Pearl Street. The year following, Governor Stuyvesant erected a large house in the vicinity of the present Whitehall Street, the name of which street it is alleged has been derived from the white hall of the Dutch governor. Others followed, and the demand thus occasioned induced the establishment of a brickyard in the year 1659, by De Graff and Hogeboom, and brick buildings after this period became the fashion with all who could afford the additional expense. Compared with more recent times, those dwellings must be considered as extremely inexpensive. A house and lot of the value of one thousand dollars of our persent currency would then have been of the first class; they rarely exceeded eight hundred dollars. Rents varied from twenty-five dollars to one hundred dollars.

About the year 1656 several merchants had erected stone edifices and schools had been established. The houses put up in the earliest period were usually one story high, with roofs of straw and chimneys of wood. These were succeeded by houses of brick and tile—the gable end usually to the street; apparently by a succession of steps from the line where the roofs commenced, the wall on the street, from each side tapering to the top at the center, in a point where often was a weathercock. And frequently on the street front, in iron figures, was designated the year in which the house was built. The street door was divided crosswide in the middle, the upper half having a large brass or iron knocker on it. A port or “stoop” was at the front, on which the street door opened; and on each side was a bench, on which, in pleasant weather, some of the family were wont to sit and pass their leisure hours, often in company with a friend or neighbor. An alley on one side made a passageway to the rear part of the building, where was the family kitchen with its huge fireplace. The plan of the town at that period was substantially the same as is now found in the same locality The water line, however, has been carried out far beyond its original place. The fort was located just below the present Bowling Green. From the fort a broad, straight roadway, led back towards the cultivated boweries farther up the island. This was from the beginning of the principal street of the town, though not a favorite one for residences on account of its distance from the water. The Dutch called it “De Heere Straat.” or Main Street. The English changed its name to Broadway.

The Dutch, in imitation of what was done in Holland, built dykes in Broad Street, as far up as the City Hall. The city was enclosed with a wall or palisades from Trinity Church across Wall Street to the east River.

Had Windmills

Like most other Dutch villages of former times, the town of New Amsterdam was not wanting in its supply of windmills. These machines played an important part in those days, when there was no water power convenient. The windmill adjoining the fort, and standing upon the present State Street, was the first of its kind erected by the Dutch. Another windmill occupied the eminence on Broadway, between the present Liberty and Cortlandt Streets. Farther eastward on the heights along the East River shore was another mill, opposite the ferry landing from Long Island. Another stood upon the south part of the present City Hall Park. Yet another was erected on the North River shore, below the present St. Paul’s Church. “These, and several others,” says Valentine, “erected from time to time, on prominent points of the landscape, were distinguishing features of the Dutch city of New Amsterdam.” The first windmill in Broadway, near Cortlandt Street having decayed, it was ordered in 1662 that there be another erected on the same ground, “outside of the city land-port (gate) on the Company’s farm.”

The vicinity of Chatham Street, south of Pearl Street, was, in its natural condition, very high ground, and was called Catimut’s Hill. It had also at times the names of Windmill Hill and Fresh Water Hill. In 1662 a windmill was erected in this vicinity—west of the present Chatham Street and a little north of Duane Street. This mill was in existence for over half a century. An old windmill, erected, it is supposed, at a very early date on the Bayard estate, stood on the easterly side of Elizabeth Street, midway between the present Canal and Hester Streets. It was still standing for some years after the revolutionary war, the last relic, it is supposed, of that kind of structure in the city.

The British seized the Dutch possessions of New Netherland in 1664. This marked a transformation in the municipal affairs of the city government. But those Batavian pioneers have bequeathed to the city many of their noble characteristics, which have descended to the present day.

When the Governor Nicolls wrested the province from the Dutch, he in a letter written in 1665, to the Duke of York, said: “Such is the mean condition of this town (New York) that not one soldier to this day has lain in sheets, or upon any other bed than straw.” This, however, did not prejudice him to the extent that he could not appreciate the natural advantages of the place. “The best of all his majesty’s towns in America,” is what he says upon entering it. This is what he predicts of the city: “Within five years the staple of American will be drawn hither, of which the brethren of Boston are very sensible.”

During the military rule of Governor Colve, who held the city for one year, everything partook of a military character. The Dutch mayor, at the head of the city militia, held his daily parades before the City Hall (Stadt Huys); and every evening, at sunset, he received from the principal guard of the fort, called the “hoofd wagt,” the keys of the city, and thereupon proceeded with a guard of six to lock the city gates; then to place a “burger wagt,” a citizen guard, as night watches at assigned places. They also went the rounds at sunrise to open the gates, and to restore the keys to the officer of the fort.

On the thirtieth of January, 1674, there was a meeting of civic officials in regard to fire matters. There were present Captain Knyff, on behalf of the Honorable Governor; Anthony De Mill, scout; Johannes Van Brough, and Aegidius Luyck, burgomasters; William Beekman, Jeronimus Ebbingh, Jacob Kipp, Lourens Van der Speigill, and Guilame Ver Planck, Schepens. At this meeting the fire wardens presented a written report of the number of fire buckets and other implements “found by them to be provided.” They made a demand for an additional supply of the implements, “requesting that this court will be pleased to order that such fire hook and ladders as are necessary may be made.”

When the city came permanently under British dominion by the peace of 1674, its former exclusive Knickerbocker character began gradually to wear off. At that time almost all the houses presented their gabled ends to the street, and all the important public buildings, such as “Stuyvesant Huys” on the water edge, at present Moore and Front Streets, and the Stadt Huys or City Hall, on Pearl Street, at the head of Coenties Slip, were then set on the foreground, to be more readily seen from the river. The chief part of the town lay along the East River (called “Salt River” in early days), and descending from the high ridge of ground along the line of Broadway. A great artificial dock for vessels existed between “Stuyvesant Huys” and the bridge over “the canal,” where it debouched on the present Broad Street.

City of Hills

As already intimated, New York was in primitive days the “city of hills.” Thus, at the extreme south end of Broadway, where the ancient fort formerly stood, was a mound, quite as elevated as the present general level of the street in front of Trinity Church, and thence regularly declining from along that street to “the beach” on the North River. The hills were sometimes precipitous, as from Beckman’s and Peck’s Hills, in the neighborhood of Pearl Street and Beekman and Ferry Streets, and from the Middle Dutch Church on Nassau Street down to Maiden Lane. Between many of the hills flowed in several invasions of water, such as “the canal,” so called to gratify Dutch recollections, which was an inroad of water up Broad Street. Up Maiden Lane flowed another inroad through Smith’s Marsh or valley. A little beyond Peck’s Slip existed a low water course, which in high tide ran quite up to the Collect, and thence, joining with Lispenard’s swamp on the North River side, produced a union of waters quite across the city, converting it occasionally into an island. This accounts for the lowness of Pearl Street, where it traverses Chatham Street. There they had to use boats occasionally to cross foot passengers over from either side of the high rising ground.


The importance of taking precautions against the happening of conflagrations was recognized in many ways, as is evidenced by the ordinances framed and the measures adopted from time to time. On the sixteenth of February, 1676, all persons having any of the city’s ladders, buckets or hooks, in their custody, were called upon to immediately deliver them to the mayor. It was also ordered that wells be dug, as follows: “One in the street over against the house of Fowliff Johnson’s the butcher; another in the broadway against Mr. Vandicke’s; another in the street over against Derrick Smith’s; another in the street over against the house of John Cavildore; another in the yard or rear of the Cytie Hall: another in the street over against Cornelius Van Borsum’s.” On the twenty-eighth of February there was published a list of persons that had “noe chimneys, or not fitt to keepe fire in,” and an order was issued by the mayor and alderman calling upon these delinquents to cause suitable chimneys to be built without delay. In January of the following year, John Dooly and John Vorrickson Meyer were appointed to inspect all the chimneys and fire hearths in the city, and on the fifteenth of March. 1683, a law was enacted empowering the appointment of viewers and searchers (fire wardens) of chimneys and fire hearths, to report to the mayor and aldermen, who could impose a fine not exceeding twenty shillings for each default; prohibiting the laying of straw, hay or other combustible matter in their dwelling houses and the street; and providing for hooks, ladders, and buckets, “to be kept in the convenient places;” and, further, that “if any person should suffer his chimney to be on fire he should pay the sum of fifteen shillings.”

On the ninth of September following, the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the city, petitioned the governor to confirm unto them the several ancient customs, privileges, and immunities granted by the former governor of the province, Col. Richard Nicolls, 1665, who incorporated the inhabitants of the city, New Harlem, and all others inhabiting the island of Manhattan, as a body politic and corporate under the government of a Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriff, etc.

In responding to the petition of the coqx>ration of the ninth of September, Governor Dongan and his council, at a meeting held on December 6, stipuated that the city should “appoint one, or more if necessary, to look after the chimneys for the preventing of fire, and that all houses keep one or more leather buckets.”

A public chimney-sweep was appointed for the city (1685), who was to cry his approach through the public streets, and who probably originated the whoop peculiar to his vocation. His rates were fixed by law at a shilling and eighteen pence per chimney, according to the height of the house.

Great Fire Damage in Jan. 1686

Great damage seems to have been done by fire in January, 1686. The Common Council, at a meeting held on February 28 of that year, referred to the absence of means for the extinguishment of fires, and it was ordered that every inhabitant whose dwelling house had two chimneys should provide one bucket, and for more than two chimneys, two buckets; that all brewers possess five buckets apiece, and all bakers three, said buckets to be provided before September 25th ensuing, under a penalty for neglect of five shillings for each bucket. Five years later, on the twentyfifth of November, 1691, this order was re-enacted. But there were added the stipulations that the buckets should be provided by the occupants, and the cost thereof allowed them by the landlord out of the rent, and “every man to marke the bucketts with the letters of his landlord’s name, upon forfeiture of six shillings, for the use of the citty, to be paid by the tenant on default,” etc. The mayor was empowered to acquit “poore people” of the penalty.

The same time Derrick Vandenburgh, John Rose, Snert Olphite, and Garrett Rose were appointed to “goe round the towne and view each fireplace and chimney, that they be sufficient and clean swept,” with the penalty of three shillings and six pence to each inhabitant for each defect.

Chief among the substantial indications of progress was the completion in 1693 of the Garden Street Church. It was built in the midst of a beautiful garden, “a great distance up town,” fronting a narrow lane called Garden Alley, which afterwards became Garden Street, and is now Exchange Place. This year Wall Street was first paved to the width of ten feet, in front of the houses facing the wall.

Five Fire Wardens Appointed

A fire occurred in that part of the town called the “Fly” in February, 1692, at which several buckets were lost. Complaints reached the mayor that people of thievish propensities had appropriated them, whereupon His Honor issued an order directing the crier to give notice round the city that the stolen buckets be taken to the Mayor immediately so that they might be restored to their owners. Other appliances besides buckets had been thought of. Two years before the fire in the “Fly,” five “brant piasters” (Fire Wardens) had been appointed on January 4, 1690. These fire wardens were: Peter Adolf, Derek van dcr Rrineke, Derek ten Eyk, Jacob Borlen, and Tobeyas Stoutcnburgh, and it had been ordered that five, ladders be made and provided for service at fires, with sufficient hooks therefor.

In 1693, it was ordered “that every inhabitant in the streets hereinafter mentioned, shall, before the first of August next, cause to be paved, with pebble stones, so much of said street as shall front their respective premises.” Thence follows the designation of the streets to be paved, eight in number. The crude condition of the city in respect to its streets may also be inferred from an order made in this year, that “the poisonous and stinking weeds before everyone’s door be forthwith plucked up.” The above system of paving continued for many years, and it is believed that, up to the time of the Revolution, the “kennel” ran through the centers of the streets, and if sidewalks existed, they were the voluntary work of the adjacent owners. No regulations arc to be found in the public ordinances concerning either their construction or repair.

After the revolutionary war, the subject of city improvements was under a commissioner, instead of a committee of Common Council. Gerard Bancker was the first street commissioner.

Additional precautions were now taken against occurrences of fires. In 1697, the aldermen and assistant-aldermen were authorized to appoint two persons as fire wardens in every ward. The penalty of three shillings was imposed for the neglect to remedy defective flues and hearths—one-half to the city and onehalf to the wardens—and if a chimney should take fire after notice had been given to clean it, the occupant was mulcted in the sum of forty shillings. This is the first record of a paid Fire Department in the city of New York. The system had advanced beyond the limits of “viewers” and “overseers,” and had reached a point where something like an organization was effected, and arrangements completed for paying, fining, and discharging the men, who were obliged to view the chimneys and hearths once a week. In short, a more prompt and systematic performance of duty was required.

The practice of having every house supplied with fire buckets now became general, and was continued long after the introduction of fire engines. The manner in which an alarm of fire was given in the night time is graphically told by the Hon. Charles P. Daly: “If a fire broke out at night,” he says, “the watchman gave the alarm with his rattle, and knocked at the doors of the houses, with the cry, “Throw out your buckets!” the alarm being further spread by the ringing of the bell at the fort and by the bells in the steeples of the different churches. When the inmates of a house were aroused, the first act was to throw out the buckets in the street, which were of sole leather, holding about three gallons, and were also hung in the passage close to the street door. They were picked up by those who were hastening to the fire, it being the general custom for nearly every householder to hurry to the fire— whether by day or by night—and render his assistance. As soon as possible two lines were formed from the fire to the nearest well or pump, and when they gave out, the line was carried to the next one or to the river. The one line passed up the full buckets, and the empty ones were passed down the other line. No one was permitted to break through those lines, and if any one attempted to do so, and would not fall in and lend a helping hand, a bucket of water was thrown instantly over him. Each bucket was marked with the name or number of the owner, and, when the fire was over, they were all collected together and taken in a cart, belonging to the city, to the City Hall. A bellman then went round to announce that the buckets were ready for delivery, when each householder sent for his bucket, and, when recovered, hung it up in the allotted place, ready for the next emergency.”


The first attempt to light the streets was made in November, 1697. “The Board, taking into consideration the great inconveniency that attends this city, being a trading place, for want of having lights in the dark time of the moon in the winter season, it is therefore ordered that all and every of the housekeepers within this city shall put out lights in the windows fronting the respective streets of their city, between this and the twenty-fifth of March next, in the following manner: Every seventh house, in all the streets, shall, in the dark time of the moon, cause a lantern and candle to be hung out on a pole, the charge to be defrayed equally by the inhabitants of said seven houses.”

During this period (1697) a night watch was established, composed of “four good and honest inhabitants of the city, whose duty it shall be to watch in the night time, from the hour of nine in the evening till break of day, until the twenty-fifth of March next; and to go round the city, each hour of the night, with a bell, and there to proclaim the season of the weather and the hour of the night.”

The erection of the City Hall in Wall Street, at the head of Broad (in 1700), was the great event which established Wall Street as the central point of interest for leading business and professional men. The City Hall was supported upon brick arches over the sidewalk, under which pedestrians could pass from street to street in all directions. One of the rooms on the first floor was at a later day appropriated for the reception of the first two fire engines in New York, imported from London.

Four able-bodied men were appointed watch and bellmen for the city in 1702, from November 1 to April 1 following. They were to go, every’ hour in the night, through the several streets, publishing the time of the night: to apprehend disturbers of the peace, etc., and to see that no damage be done by fires. A lantern, bell, and hour-glass were provided for them by the city.

Made An Inspection

The Common Council, on the sixth of November, 1703, ordered that the aldermen of each ward should command the respective constables therein to make a house to house inspection, to ascertain whether the number of fire buckets required by the law were kept on hand, and to present the delinquents for prosecution.

New and more stringent regulations were now passed in respect to fires; the fire wardens were directed to keep strict watch of all hearths and chimneys within the city, and to see that the fire buckets were hung up in their right places throughout the wards, and two hooks and eight ladders were purchased at the public expense for the use of the fire department.

This system prevailed, with slight modifications, until the introduction of the hand engines from London.

A law for the better prevention of fire was published at the City Hall on November 18, 1731. After the customary ringing of three bells, and a proclamation had been made for silence, it provided for the appointing of “viewers of chimneys and hearths,” to make monthly inspections; the fine of three shillings for neglecting the directions of the fire wardens, re-enacting the fine of forty shillings for chimneys on fire, and establishing a like fine for “viewers” who should refuse to serve, and a fine of six shillings for neglect of duty; providing for the obtainment of hooks, ladders and buckets, and fire engines, to be kept in convenient places; for leather buckets to be kept in every house; a penalty for not possessing the required number of buckets, and a fine for detaining other men’s buckets.

(To be continued)

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