A History of Firefighters: 2000 Years in the Making
As part of our celebration to firefighters, this blog will bring to light the very beginning of their existence. Where did they come from? How did they begin? Who brought them together? Groups have been fighting fires a great deal longer than you think. Although people have fought fires since there have been colonized groups of people living together and therefore valuable things to burn, the first instance of organized professionals combating structural fires occurred in Ancient Egypt, more specifically Alexandria and they were called fire brigades. How about that? In fact this first display of organized strategy against fires inspired Emperor Augustus of Rome to create a privately organized and funded group, revolutionizing the already existing group that operated more like a business than a public service. Augustus’s firefighters were known as the Vigiles – or Vigiles Urbani, “Watchmen of the City.” This group was a multi-taskforce; firefighter, night watch and city police force all in one package. They were trained, paid and equipped by the state; ready for anything. The Vigiles were also known by their clever and common nickname Spartoli, “little bucket fellows.” This name was due to the buckets they carried water in which were made of rope and sealed with pitch. Today, the act of fighting fires is left to the professionals, a mixture of paid and volunteered communities that known someone has to do the job. Isn’t it funny that the heroes of today were also heroes over 2,000 years ago?