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Q: How can I become a Firefighter?

A: Click on this Firefighter icon and you will go to our information sheet.

Q: Why are Dalmatians considered firehouse dogs?             

 DalmatianA: Dalmatians have shared the barns and the hunt courses with horses for centuries, so when fire-apparatus was horse-drawn, nearly every firehouse had its resident Dalmatian to help direct the horses, keep the horses company, and guard the firehouse.

The horses are gone from fire stations today, but the Dalmatians aren’t!

Firehouse dogs nearly always were called “Sparky,” so Sparky was the obvious name for NFPA’s fire prevention symbol.

Q: Why did you chop that big hole in my roof!?! The fire was in the kitchen, not the attic!

A: Good question, and the answer lies in the next thing our people did, right after the roof-venting hole was made. Other firefighters immediately entered the building and applied their water stream directly to the seat (heart) of the fire. This extinguishing strategy, called a “Direct Interior Attack,” is the key to stopping a structure fire in its tracks, and preventing any further damage. To facilitate such an attack, the interior atmosphere must be lowered from the typical 1500°F of a structure fire, to a temperature which will permit firefighters to enter and to operate. The heat goes out through the hole in the roof.

Another, less common purpose for roof venting is to eliminate a “Backdraft” condition. Backdraft conditions result when a free-burning fire consumes all the available oxygen in a closed structure. Super-heated combustible gases remain, requiring only the introduction of oxygen (air) to explode. Simply opening the front door to effect entry can trigger a backdraft explosion, and has killed many firefighters.

Q: What is the Fire Triangle?

A: In order to have a fire, there must be three elements:

  • Fuel—something which will burn
  • Heat—enough to make the fuel burn
  • Air—more specifically, oxygen

Usually these three elements are expressed as a triangle, called The Fire Triangle.

All three elements must be present at the same time to have a fire. Fire will burn until one or more of the elements is removed.

Frequently Asked Firsts

First Volunteer Fire Company in America  In 1736 in Philadelphia, PA, Benjamin Franklin formed the first volunteer fire company, called the Union Fire Company. Franklin served on it as America’s first volunteer fire chief.

First Paid Fire Department in America  A large fire in Boston in 1679, led to the organization of the first paid fire department in North America, if not the world. Boston selectman imported a fire engine from England and employed a fire chief, Thomas Atkins, and 12 fire fighters to operate it.

First Firehouse Pole  David B. Kenyon, Captain of Engine Company No. 21 of the Chicago Fire Department, was the inventor of the sliding pole in 1878. Information from: A Synoptical History of the Chicago Fire Department published by the Benevolent Association of the Paid Fire Department of Chicago, Chicago, 1908. The recently built Fire Station No. 1 is also equipped with a pole. It is the fastest and safest way from the sleeping area to the fire engine, taking 26 seconds to go down the stairs to the fire engine vs. only 10 seconds by using the fire pole!

First Automatic Sprinkler  The idea of automatic sprinkler protection dates back to about 1860. The first automatic sprinkler system parented in the United States was developed by Philip W. Pratt in 1872 in Abington, MA. From 1852 to 1885, perforated pipe systems were used extensively in textile mills throughout New England, and from 1874 to 1878 Henry S. Parmalee of New Haven, Connecticut, continued design improvements on his invention: the first practical automatic sprinkler head.

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