History and Heritage of the F.D.N.Y.
The volunteers from Zephyr Hose 4 in Staten Island.
The Fire Department of the City of New York has a long history, extending back to the days of Dutch colonization. The New York City Fire Museum tells this story through our vast collection of objects and photographs. Explore this section before or after your visit to the Museum to find out more about the history and heritage of firefighting in New York City.
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Explore other fire museums, online, and print resources that can help you uncover more about America’s firefighting history. More
the volunteer era: 1648–1865
New York’s firefighters began as volunteers when Manhattan was a Dutch colony. Fire alarms were given using wooden rattles and volunteers fought fire using buckets and hand pumpers. The city, however, grew beyond the limits of hand drawn apparatus and, in 1865, a professional force was organized to provide better protection. More
the paid department era
Paying firefighters was only the first step in providing New Yorkers with more effective protection from fire. Horse drawn steamers, motorized ladder and engine trucks, specialized companies, and medical services all became part of the professional force as it expanded to fit the growing needs of a growing city. More
A lesser known and crucial aspect of New York’s fire history involves the protection of property by insurance companies. Firefighters are first responsible for lives, but worked alongside the members of the New York Fire Patrol to ensure the safety of residential and commercial property. More