Humane Fire Department Pumper TruckPosted: June 26, 2012
During Colonial times, fire was a huge public safety issue. Each household in America was required by law to have a leather fire bucket sitting on the stoop outside at night to use in case of an emergency. Fighting fires in this way was extremely dangerous, exhausting and even futile in many cases.
In 1793, the Borough Council of Easton met and discussed, among other topics, the need for a pumper truck. Three years later, in 1796, a pumper was ordered from Philip Mason. Easton organized its first fire department in February 1797; the first company of volunteers was known as the Humane Company.
When an alarm for a fire was sounded, the fire company members raced to the firehouse. From there this pumper was hand-drawn by firefighters, not pulled by horses. A team of up to 10 men, five per side, would power the pump by pulling down the pump handle on their side to the engine.
On the pump handle at the front end, you will see a brass plate wrapped around the handle. That was the foreman’s station. The foreman called the cadence of the men pumping to provide the needed flow of water. Pumping teams would frequently need to be rotated, reportedly every 10 to 20 minutes depending on the cadence.
A good team would produce a steady water stream similar to what a modern-day garden hose delivers.