How Old Equipment from the Past Differs from Present Day Equipment
Learning how burning fires start, better fireproof clothing, and technology equipment changing over the years proves that progress save lives and helps in the safety aspect of fighting structure fires. There are differences between past helmets and modern ones, changes in turnout gear and other equipment used to fight fires, plus researching the history of firefighting.
In the 1600’s firefighting started with the Romans and grappled with heat, fire, and toxic smoke. Most structure fires burn to the ground because the equipment was not equipped to fight fires as departments are today. Helmets came on the scene around 1930; however Henry T. Gratacap in 1836 designed a fire helmet closer to the style firefighters wear now. “The design was a reinforced dome-shape leather helmet with a front shield and brim rolling to a long back tail” (Hasenmier), which made if safe for protecting heads of the firefighters. In the past, firefighters used a long fire coat that was made of wool and long boots like hip waders with a fire helmet. John Roberts, a miner, made a mask to help filter smoke inside a smoke filled environment in 1825. (Hasenmeier).
Jackets are not the same as firefighters wear presently because firefighters never enter the structures as done today so normal clothes were worn since the fighter never came in contact with fire. The “Three-quarters” boots were used back then to protect the legs while the trench coat was long enough to protect the upper part of the body. The trench coat lined with wool or cotton was for dryness and warmth, however made from rubber, leather, or canvas. Firemen referred to these as “Three-quarters” because the boots only went to the person’s mid-thigh. These boots were made of rubber, while even today the boots are still rubber, the requirement mandated boots fits below the knee. The jacket the firefighter wore in the past has no way of letting someone distinguish when firefighters went down. Today, should a firefighter fall down within twenty five to twenty eight seconds the Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) will activate and transmit a distress signal letting other firefighters know someone needs help (Hasenmeier). The PASS alarm is also made into all scuba gear so when the air is on it activates the alarm system automatically.
SCBA, known as the first self-contain breathing apparatus was invented in by James Braidwood in 1863. The SCBA worn on a firefighter’s back was made of. two canvas bags lined with rubber. The reason the canvas bags was used to help the firefighter breathe nontoxic air, the firefighter wears a nose clamp, goggles, a whistle, and leather hood to make this work (Wallace). The SCBA is not removed until the atmosphere is monitored to insure that nontoxic air is present for safety.
The first fire truck was a horse drawn buggy with different fire equipment added, such as a fire hose,...