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Fire Engine, New York City, c. 1900

New York City. Fire Engine at Work.
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_NZ252
 
Document Description
A fire engine at work in New York City, circa 1900.
 
Questions
What are the people doing in the photograph? 
How does this fire engine move? 
Was the life of a firefighter who had a family an easy or hard one?  Explain.
 
Historical Challenges
Research the famous Triangle Shirt Factory fire. What were some positive effects of this tragedy?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a newspaper article as if it were the year 1900 that describes safety precautions one must take to prevent fires.
Art: Create a poster for fire safety week.
 
Resources
Anderson, Catherine. Fire Truck Factory. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2005. ISBN: 1403461627
Marston, Hope Irvin. Fire Truck. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1996. ISBN: 0525652310
Molzahn, Arlene Bourgeois. Fire Engines. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2001. ISBN: 0766016439
Osborne, Mary Pope. New York's Bravest. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. ISBN: 0375821961
Fortney, Mary T. Fire Station Number 4: The Daily Life of Firefighters. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1998. ISBN: 1575050897
Winkleman, Katherine K. Firehouse. New York: Walker, 1994. ISBN: 0802783163.
Fisher, Leonard Everett. Pumpers, Boilers, Hooks and Ladders: A Book of Fire Engines. New York: Dial Press, 1961.
Tamarin, Alfred H. Fire Fighting in America. New York: Macmillan, 1971.
Greene, Jacqueline Dembar. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. New York: Bearport, 2007. ISBN: 1597163597
Schaefer, A. R. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Milwaukee, WI: World Almanac Library, 2004. ISBN: 0836853830
 

Historical Context
A firefighter in the early 1900s worked on a continuous-duty system.  He worked six days a week, had one day off, and spent twenty-four hours a day at the firehouse.  He was able to go home for meals twice a day for two hours.  His pay was thirteen cents an hour, or about $1,000 dollars annually.

The first steam fire engine in the United States was designed and built in New York City by Paul Rapsey Hodge in 1841.  The steam in the photo is coming from the fire engine’s boiler.  The boiler made steam to power the engine’s water pump, which could pump 6,000 gallons of water up to 120 feet in the air onto a fire.  This was a much bigger volume of water than previous engines could pump. 

 
Essential Question
How do human settlement patterns impact public safety?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain why this equipment was necessary.