A Short History Of Firefighters

By | July 15, 2022

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Firemen fighting blaze with hose. (Ted Horowitz/Getty Images)

Humanity's control of fire may date as far back as 400,000 years and is often cited as the first step toward civilization, but as important as it is for mankind to make fire, it's just as important to put it out. The first evidence of firefighting can be seen in Ancient Egyptian artifacts, and we know that organized teams of firefighters sprang up under the rule of Augustus way back in 300 B.C.E. in Rome, but who are the firefighters we know today, and how did they come to be the way they are?

Red Trucks

When you think of a firetruck, you probably think of the color red. Why is this such a common color for firetrucks around the world? According to science, red is the most attention-grabbing color because it has the longest wavelength and thus can be seen from farther distances than any other color. It also helped that the first cars on the road in the U.S. were typically black because black paint was inexpensive, so in the early 20th century, fire departments painted their trucks bright red to stand out in a sea of dark vehicles.

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Dalmatian in a fire service parade. (tinyfroglet/Wikimedia Commons)


Before they had trucks, firefighters used a variety of strategies for getting ahead of a crowd, including ringing bells and employing dogs to guide them through streets full of horses and carriages. Dalmatians in particular did a good job of keeping up with the horses' gallop and have an uncanny ability to keep horses calm next to a blazing inferno. They also stood guard at the carriages while the firefighters did their work, protecting their belongings from thieves.