The first attempts at firefighting can be traced back to the second century. Image Credit: Unsplash/Jay Heike

If there’s a fire in the city, with thick black smoke rising on the horizon, and people rushing away from its source, you are guaranteed to see one group of brave individuals heading right towards it, sirens ablaze: firefighters.

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The extraordinary work firefighters do for a living, has a long and interesting history:

1. First firefighters

The first attempts at firefighting can be traced back to the second century. An Egyptian from Alexandria, named Ctesibus, built a basic hand pump that squired out a jet of water. Unfortunately, his idea was lost until the fire pump was invented in 1500AD. In ancient Rome, when fires around the city nearly caused widespread destruction, the authorities developed a fire department with approximately 7,000 paid firefighters. They didn’t just put out fires – they even had the authority to patrol the streets and impose corporal punishment on those who violated fire prevention codes.

2. The Japanese style of firefighting

From 1603 to 1867, Japanese firefighters had a unique way of putting out fires. They would hose themselves down so that they would be less flammable, even though their uniforms would resultantly weigh up to 38kg. They would also attach hooks on poles and try to pull buildings down to smother the fire, believing that it was far more important to prevent the fire from spreading than saving the burning structure. According to US-based provider of portable emergency evacuation kits, Sky Saver, only five per cent of all recorded fires that happened in Japan for centuries resulted in death – which means their technique seemed to have worked!

3. Man’s best friend in a fire

The dalmatian is the most common dog of choice for firefighters. The reason for this is that these dogs used to get along well with horses, in an era where firefighters used horse-drawn carriages as fire brigades. While firefighters performed their duties, dalmatians would protect the carriage and equipment. The fact that they could easily run alongside the carriages for long periods of time also helped!

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