What is the Fire Fighting in Nineteenth Century America Program?

This one-hour program is designed to introduce students to the history of firefighting and the role of the fire fighter. Students will see 18th and 19th century fire vehicles. This is an interactive program that allows students to experience manning a bucket brigade and pumping the gooseneck pumper, methods of extinguishing fires in the 19th century.

How does Firefighting in Nineteenth Century America fit into my curriculum?

Fire fighting in the 19th Century will enable students to understand the historical development of today’s fire departments. This program also introduces concepts of community helpers and the importance of cooperation.

Prepare your class for your visit.

  1. Each student should wear a nametag with his or her first name.
  2. Ask your students, “What is a Museum?”
  3. Explain that they will be visiting the part of the carriage museum that has old fire engines. How do they think they will be different then fire engines of today?
  4. Review vocabulary words listed below.
  5. Students will be sitting on the floor when not engaged in activities; please ask them to dress appropriately.
  6. Remind students that there is no food, drink or flash photography in the museum.


Firefighter The person who puts out fires.
Bucket Brigade A method of putting out fires. Two lines are formed between a water source (lake, river, well) One line passes water to the fire and the other line passes empty buckets back to the water source.
Gooseneck Pumper A 19th century fire fighting vehicle. Fire fighters would raise and lower levers to pump the water through the hose and finally the nozzle.
Steam Pumper A 19th Century vehicle that used steam instead of manpower to pump the water onto the fire.
Hose Carriage A wheeled vehicle used to carry long, heavy hoses to the fire.
Speaking Trumpet A metal instrument similar to a megaphone, through which a chief would shout directions to his crew.


Related Reading

  • Firefighters A to Z Demarest, Chris L.
  • Hercules Gramatky, Hardie (grades 1 and 2)
  • New York’s Bravest Osbourne, Mary Pope (grades 2 and up)
  • Revised September 2009