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Sirens blare as a fire truck pulls around the corner. Firefighters quickly hop out of the vehicle and work to attach the truck’s hose to the nearest fire hydrant. This is the image that comes to the mind of just about everyone when it comes to how fires are handled. We may take this routine for granted when we see a fire, but the history of the fire engine is much deeper than what meets the eye.

The story of the modern fire engine, also known as a fire apparatus, originates in colonial times. Before the advent of steam powered engines, citizens were all required to leave buckets of water on their doorstep in what was known as the “bucket brigade”. The bucket brigade was the accepted method of fire fighting until 1721, when Richard Newsham filed a patent for the first fire engine pump. These became wildly successful in Europe over the next ten years and were first used in the United States in New York City in 1731.

It was almost 100 years after Newsham’s invention of the fire pump that society saw the next advancement in fire fighting technology. A suction engine was invented in 1822, allowing firefighters to pump water out of a concentrated source. These new suction engines made “bucket brigades” obsolete.

Advancements in fire fighting over the next 100 years focused on ways to transport these new engines. The suction engines would primarily be mounted onto a carriage and pulled by firefighters, but as the engines became larger and larger, horses were needed to pull the carriages.  The fire engine finally took on a more modern form in the early 20th century with the advent of the automobile. The fire engines would be mounted onto automobiles and accompanied by crews of about 4 firefighters.

Today’s fire apparatus can be seen on anything from trucks to trains to planes. Specialized vehicles have even been created to accommodate difficult conditions in which fires may be found, such as mountainside forests. The fire apparatus has been constantly evolving and Southern Fire Service looks to continue its role as the nation’s #1 builder of today’s—and tomorrow’s—fire apparatus.

Headquartered just outside of Atlanta in Jasper, GA, Southern Fire Service & Sales, Inc. is the Nation’s #1 Builder of Custom Fire Apparatus. We continue to provide every customer with the best products, service, and support in the industry.