How Steam Blew The Rowdies Out Of The Fire Departments

The old volunteer system was colorful, but it could do more harm than good—and the efficiency of machinery finally replaced it

Progress usually has more enemies than friends at first, and such was the case with the steam engine. But long after this engine had been accepted (or tolerated) for factory use and for railroad or ship propulsion, there was resistance to steam fire engines. Here the objection was not merely on religious, safety, or esthetic grounds. The volunteer firemen and their numerous admirers could, perhaps subconsciously, see a threat to their way of life. Longer than almost anyone else, firemen resisted the Industrial Revolution.Read more »

Firefighters

The people who stand ready to trade their lives for ours are part of a tradition that goes back 400 years

In the days immediately following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, a 77-year-old man from Teaneck, New Jersey, tried repeatedly to cross the George Washington Bridge. He was turned away. But he tried again, and again, until finally police and military personnel waved him through, and soon enough, he was among those thousands who were putting their lives at risk in what proved to be a vain attempt to find and rescue survivors in the smoldering ruins of the Twin Towers.

 

Confronting the unimaginable: New York firefighters on the morning of September 11, 2001.
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