Even the ancient Romans in the 3rd century BC knew a fire brigade, which, however, was forgotten later on. Until the 17th century, people lived in permanent fear of blazes, because the danger of a fire was much larger than today. If at that time a fire broke out and burnt a house, the fire spread to the other houses and often burnt down the whole place
This was because the houses were built together very closely – the houses were very often made
of wood – the houses were covered with straw or planks – people used naked lights or naked flames. In larger towns, there was a night watchman. Every hour he had to remind people that they should take care of their lights.
He carried a fire horn with him to call for help quickly. Each family had to have a bucket made of leather which was filled with water and it was passed from hand to hand when there was a fire. But the longer this bucket chain was, the more water was spilt on its way from the well to the fire. And the last in the row had to go to the fire very closely, which was very dangerous. The invention of a fire engine in 1655 was a big step forward. From now on it was easier to fight against fire. More and more special equipment was developed and voluntary or professional fire brigades fought against fire…