Fire fighters put their life in danger every single day to help and save the public. Fire fighters must be prepared for the dangers they encounter and be able to respond immediately to a fire or any other emergencies that arises. Because fighting fires is so complex, it requires organization and teamwork. Fire fighters have one of the most dangerous of all occupations. In the United States, a higher percentage of fire fighters are killed or injured on the job than are workers in any other occupation. Fire fighting is a dangerous job that should not be taken lightly; a volunteer or paid fire fighter has a time consuming job that requires proper training and maintenance of equipment.
One of the first fire fighting organizations was established in ancient Rome. Augustus, who became emperor in 27 BC, formed a group called the vigiles ("watchmen") (www.FireHouse.com). The vigiles patrolled the streets to watch for fires. Regulations for checking and preventing fires were developed. In the pre-industrial era most cities had watchmen who sounded an alarm at signs of fire. The principal piece of fire-fighting equipment in ancient Rome and into early modern times was the bucket, passed from hand to hand to deliver water to the fire. Another important fire fighting tool was the ax, used to remove the fuel and prevent the spread of fire as well as to make openings that would allow heat and smoke to escape a burning building. In major conflagrations long hooks with ropes were used to pull down buildings in the path of an approaching fire to create firebreaks. When explosives were available, they would be used for this same purpose. Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, insurance companies formed fire brigades. After the fire, insurance companies in the city formed private fire brigades to protect their clients' properties. Insurance company brigades would fight fires only at buildings the company insured.