History and Heritage of the F.D.N.Y.

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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.

Resources: Learn More About
Firefighting History

Resources Page

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

Volunteer Era with Colonial Days and Post Revolution Articles

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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

Paid Dept. Era with Laying Groundwork and Post WWII Articles

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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

Fire Insurance

Fire Insurance with Fire Marks and Fire Patrol Articles

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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