The Evolution Of The Earliest Fire Trucks

September 27, 2021

No room for anyone but the driver and pump on the earliest horse drawn carriages. (hotcars)

Way back in the day cooking, heating, and even light all came from fires. While that sounds romantic, it also led to quite a few hazards, like burning your house down. For many years if a person’s house caught fire, little could be done other than gather around and watch the blaze burn itself out. Sure, they did occasionally try the old bucket brigade but once the flames really got going, it was like putting out a forest fire by urinating on it. Eventually, in 1721, an English inventor named Richard Newsham created what amounts to a wagon with a water pump attached. From there fire trucks steadily improved to the impressive water spraying behemoths we enjoy today. This is the history of fire trucks.

Firefighter got a break when horses were brought in to pull the earliest fire engines.

The Acme Fire Truck

If someone witnessed the earliest fire trucks in action today, they’d assume it came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The earliest versions weren’t even pulled by horses but by the actual firefighters themselves! Weighed down by the heavy pump, the first firefighters spent more time lugging their wagons than actually fighting fires. Oddly enough, most firehouses were privately owned, so insurance companies would pay out to whichever group arrived and put out the flames first.