Firefighting has never been an easy job. It still isn't. The men attracted to the profession, whether volunteer or professional, are an independent lot as a rule, and have been known to shade the rules a smidgen here and there. In my research I found a few examples of some of their actions.
Arkansas Gazette, April 10, 1858: "We were at the fire on Saturday night, and though pleased with the zeal exhibited by the fire department we regretted their want of discipline; ... Such persons as have no authority to order or direct things should keep their counsel to themselves; or at any rate not interfere with those whose duty and province it is to give orders, and take a superintending charge on such occasion."
Corpus Christie, Texas, 1874: "The Pioneer Fire company and the lone Star Hook and Ladder joined forces to become the Corpus Christie Fire Department. When the volunteer firemen were called out on a fire, the nearest saloon commonly passed out a few rounds to the men who fought the fire. This was instrumental in ensuring an adequate turnout of volunteer firemen."
Charleston, West Virginia, 1875: "Bylaws of the Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 expressly forbid firemen throwing water on each other."
Little Rock, Arkansas, October 1884: "Minutes of the Defiance Hook & Ladder Co.: No meeting because of superior attractions of a circus."
Little Rock, Arkansas, February 16, 1886: "Minutes of the Defiance Hook & Ladder Co.: Upon motion of Mr. Zeisler, Mr. Curtain was excused from payment of the fines charged against him for non-attendance at meeting on account of his inability to be out at night."
Montclair, New jersey, 1894: "The fire department published a list of revised rules for their members, one of which prohibited the intentional collisions of fire apparatus while responding to an alarm."
Things are no doubt a little more organized and orderly today, but they are still good people who do a wonderful job looking out for all of us. Both my husband and my son have been employed as firemen and I respect all those who provide this service.
And I love to see the stories of the evolution of their profession.