Basil Smith: Hotchkiss Fire Engine 1914
Artist: Basil Smith
Organized fire fighting can be traced back to its origins in imperial Rome. There, in about 32 B.C., Caesar Augustus formed what is believed to have been the very first municipal fire department. However, there are few recorded historical accounts of organized fire prevention after the fall of the Roman Empire. In fact, it wasn't until the eleventh century that the next major innovation of fire fighting was recorded. It was then that William the Conqueror enforced a fire prevention law in England. According to his law, a bell was rung each evening at seven o'clock. At the sounding of the bell, all fires had to be extinguished or screened to prevent sparks from escaping into the night and starting infernos. Since these early times, many newer, more effective methods of fighting fires have evolved. Perhaps the most significant contribution to the science of extinguishing fiery blazes was the advent of the portable water pumper ... the predecessor of such advanced equipment as the Hotchkiss Fire Engine featured in this artwork. At first, large portable water pumpers were pulled -- either by humans or animals -- to the site of a fire. However, with the arrival of the gasoline engine and motor-driven equipment, vehicles like this Fire Engine made fire fighting both fast and effective.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® Trains & Boats & Planes & More Collection Description Card for the Hotchikiss Fire Engine.
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