Misc.-Fire Department Symbols TB02
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Texas, United States
This is not collectible.
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About This Item
The traditional colors of fire brigades are red and yellow in part because they are conspicuous and partly because they are the colors most used to represent fire.
The Maltese cross was adopted by fire services in the 1600's as fire brigades were formed. This symbol has its origins in the Crusades. At Jerusalem the Saracens used fire bombs to repel the Knights of St. John. Hundreds of knights were burned alive while others risked their lives to save their kinsmen from fiery deaths. Those resuers were awarded a stylized cross. Since the Knights of St. John lived nearly four centuries on the island of Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.
Metal helmets were among the first safety gear worn. They were initially designed just for impact resistance, but over time the brims were widened to keep wáter from draining into the collar. Modern helmets have full face shields attached to a pressurized air supply.
Ben Franklin often wrote about the dangers of fire and the need for organized fire protection. He was dissatisfied with Boston’s Mutual Fire Societies because they existed solely for the protection of its members, not the community at large. Many of the fire societies were started by insurance companies. Franklin wanted organizations that would battle all fires, regardless of whose property was burning. After an extensive fire in Philadelphia in 1736, Franklin established the first all-volunteer fire brigade comprised of 30 volunteers. As the idea of volunteer fire brigades gained popularity, additional companies were formed in Philadelphia. Each of the companies paid for their own equipment and located it throughout town at strategic places. Horns were blown as a call to duty before the time of electricity and alarms, thus the horn symbol.
The axe, hook, and ladder are tools of the rescue mission of firemen. Fires starting on lower floors often stranded occupants above. One of the early philosophical objections to the building of skyscrapers was the risk of a greater loss of life in fires. In recent years the rescue mission has been extended to medical emergencies. Thus the star of life in also incorporated on badges and patches.
Until the Early 1900's the only way to bring water to the fire was hand carried pails "bucket brigades" and horse drawn water carriages. Water availability play's a significant part in a fire companies ability to effectively fight a fire. Larger more progressive municipalities with water systems began putting the fire "plug" to use. Now fireplugs are a standard feature of the urban landscape. And, sometimes the firehose and nozzle are displayed on fire department insignias.
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