San Francisco Fire Department

Written by Will Baum
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The San Francisco Fire Department recently marked its 125th anniversary as a professional, paid force. Like all great American cities in their early days, fire was a constant fear and danger. Houses and businesses were built of wood and most homes had open flames within them for cooking and for heat. When one structure caught fire, all others were threatened.

For years and years, volunteer brigades were all that stood between a small fire and a catastrophe. Firefighting technology at the time was primitive. It wasn't just that they lacked oxygen tanks. This is the time of the bucket brigade. Later, with the advent of the steam engine, horse-drawn fire trucks became the norm, improving chances for flammable cities.

The San Francisco Fire Department traces its roots to 1949, on Christmas Eve. A fire of undetermined origin--a candle on a tree, perhaps--set a huge portion of the city ablaze. Six massive fires followed in 1850 and 1851, taking as many as three thousand buildings at a time. It wasn't till 1866 that the San Francisco Fire Department was finally created.

San Francisco Fire Department Merchandise

A great way to pay tribute to the SFFD is by donning a hat or T-shirt bearing the force's logo. Firefighters risk everything to keep us safe. They deserve a public show of respect and admiration. The Internet is a great place to find all types of SFFD merchandise. Just keep on clicking.


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