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In forming the brigade in Edinburgh, where the firemen are only occasionally employed, the description of men, from which I made a selection, were slaters, house-carpenters, masons, plumbers, and smiths.

Slaters make good firemen, not so much from their superiority in climbing, going along roofs, &c., although these are great advantages, but from their being in general possessed of a handiness and readiness which I have not been able to discover in the same degree amongst other classes of workmen. It is, perhaps, not necessary that I should account for this, but it appears to me to arise from their being more dependent on their wits, and more frequently put to their shifts in the execution of their ordinary avocations. House-carpenters and masons being well acquainted with the construction of buildings, and understanding readily from whence danger is to be apprehended, can judge with tolerable accuracy, from the appearance of a house, where the stair is situated, and how the house is divided inside. Plumbers are also well accustomed to climbing and going along the roofs of houses; they are useful in working fire-cocks, covering the gratings of drains with lead, and generally in the management of water. Smiths and plumbers can also better endure heat and smoke than most other workmen.

Men selected from these five trades are also more robust in body, and better able to endure the extremes of heat, cold, wet, and fatigue, to which firemen are so frequently exposed, than men engaged in more sedentary employments.

I have generally made it a point to select for firemen, young men from seventeen or eighteen to twenty-five years of age. At that age they enter more readily into the spirit of the business, and are much more easily trained, than when farther advanced in life. Men are frequently found who, although they excel in the mechanical parts of their own professions, are yet so devoid of judgment and resources, that when anything occurs which they have not been taught, or have not been able to foresee, they are completely at a loss. Now it happens not unfrequently that the man who arrives first at a fire, notwithstanding any training or instructions he may have received, is still, from the circumstances of the case, left almost entirely to the direction of his own judgment. It is, therefore, of immense importance to procure men on whose coolness and judgment you can depend. If they are expert tradesmen, so much the better, as there is generally a degree of respect shown to first-rate tradesmen by their fellows, which inferior hands can seldom obtain; and this respect tends greatly to keep up the character of the corps to which they belong, which ought never to be lost sight of.

Amidst the noise and confusion which more or less attend all fires, I have found considerable difficulty in being able to convey the necessary orders to the firemen in such a manner as not to be liable to misapprehension. I tried a speaking-trumpet; but, finding it of no advantage, it was speedily abandoned. It appeared to me indeed, that while it increased the sound of the voice, by the deep tone which it gave, it brought it into greater accordance with the surrounding noise. I tried a boatswain’s call, which I have found to answer much better. Its shrill piercing note is so unlike any other sound usually heard at a fire, that it immediately attracts the attention of the firemen. By varying the calls, I have now established a mode of communication not easily misunderstood, and sufficiently precise for the circumstances to which it is adapted, and which I now find to be a very great convenience.

The calls are as follows:

1 for red, 2 for blue, 3 for yellow, 4 for grey.

5 to work the engine.

6 to stop working.

7 to attach one length of hose more than the engine has at
the time the call is given.

8 to coil up the hose attached to the engine.

9 to coil up the hose attached to the fire-cock.

10 to turn to the left.

11 to turn to the right.

12 the call to work the engine answers also to move forward
when the engine is prepared for travelling.

13 the call to stop working answers to stop the engine when
moving forward.

In all there are thirty-six calls when compounded with the first four.

In speaking of the drilling of firemen, I shall give a short account of the plan followed here, which has been tolerably successful.

The present number of firemen in Edinburgh is fifty, divided into four companies; three of which consist of twelve and one of fourteen men. The bounds of the city are divided into four districts; in each of which there is an engine-house, containing one or more engines, one of the companies being attached to each engine-house. In each company there is one captain, one sergeant, four pioneers, and six or eight firemen.

The whole are dressed in blue jackets, canvas trousers, and hardened leather helmets, having hollow leather crests over the crown to ward off falling materials. The form of this helmet was taken from the war-helmet of the New Zealanders, with the addition of the hind flap of leather to prevent burning matter, melted lead, water, or rubbish getting into the neck of the wearer. The captains’ helmets have three small ornaments, those of the sergeants one those of the pioneers and firemen being plain.

The jackets of the captains have two small cloth wings on the shoulder, similar to those worn by light infantry. Those of the sergeants have three stripes on the left arm, and, on the left arms of the pioneers and firemen, are their respective numbers in the company. Each company has a particular colour red, blue, yellow, and grey. Each engine is painted of one or other of these colours, and the accoutrements of the men belonging to it correspond. There is thus no difficulty in distinguishing the engines or men from each other by their colours and numbers. Each man also wears a broad leather waist-belt, with a brass buckle in front. To the waist-belts of the captains, sergeants, and pioneers is attached eighty feet of cord; the captains having also a small mason’s hammer, with a crow-head at the end of the handle: the sergeants have a clawed hammer, such as is used by house-carpenters, with an iron handle, and two openings at the end for unscrewing nuts from bolts; the pioneers a small hatchet, with a crow-head at the end of the handle; and the firemen each carry a canvas water-bucket folded up.

The captains assemble every Tuesday night, to give in a report of such fires as may have occurred in their respective districts, with a list of the men who have turned out, and a corresponding list from the sergeant of police of the respective districts. They then receive any orders which may be necessary; and any vacancies which have occurred in the establishment are filled up at these meetings.

For some months after this fire establishment was organized, the men were regularly drilled once a week, at four o’clock in the morning; but now only once a month at the same hour.

Among many other good reasons for preferring this early hour, I may mention, that it does not interfere with the daily occupation of the firemen. The chance of collecting a crowd is also avoided, as there are then comparatively few people on the streets; this is a matter of some importance, as a crowd of people not only impedes the movements of the firemen, but, from small quantities of water spilt on the by-standers, quarrels are generated, and a prejudice excited against the corps, to avoid which every exertion should be used to keep the firemen on good terms with the populace.

The mornings, too, at this early hour, are dark for more than half the year, and the firemen are thus accustomed to work by torch-light, and sometimes without any light whatever, except the few public lamps which are then burning. And, as most fires happen in the night, the advantage of drilling in the dark must be sufficiently obvious.

The inhabitants have sometimes complained of being disturbed with the noise of the engines at so early an hour; but when the object has been explained, they have generally submitted, with a good grace, to this slight evil. A different part of the city being always chosen for each successive drill, the annoyance occasioned to any one district is very trifling, and of very unfrequent occurrence.

On the Tuesday evening preceding the drill, the captains are informed when and where the men are to assemble. These orders they communicate to the individual firemen. A point of rendezvous being thus given to the whole body, every man, who is not on the spot at the hour appointed, fully equipped, with his clothes and accoutrements in good order, is subjected to a fine. Arrived on the ground, the men are divided into two parties, each party consisting of two companies, that being the number required to work each large engine without any assistance from the populace. The whole are then examined as to the condition of their clothing and equipments.

The captains, sergeants, and pioneers of each company alternately take the duty of directing the engine, attaching the hose, &c., while the whole of each party not engaged in these duties take the levers as firemen. The call is then given to move forward, the men setting off at a quick walking pace, and, on the same call being repeated, they get into a smart trot. When the call to stop is given, with orders to attach one or more lengths of hose to the engine and fire-cock, it is done in the following manner: N takes out the branch pipe, and runs out as far as he thinks the hose ordered to be attached will reach, and there remains; N takes a length of hose out of the engine, and uncoils it towards N; and N attaches the hose to the engine. If more than one length is required, N takes out another, couples it to the former length, and then uncoils it. If a third length is wanted, N comes up with it, after having attached the first length to the engine. If more lengths are still wanted, No: 2 goes back to the engine for another; Nos. 3 and 4 follow, and so on till the requisite length is obtained; N then screws on the branch-pipe at the farther extremity of the last length. While Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 are attaching the hose to the engine, N opens the fire-cock door, screws on the distributor, and attaches the length of hose, which N uncoils; Nos. 7 and 8 assist, if more than one length of hose be required. Immediately on the call being given to attach the hose, the sergeant locks the fore-carriage of the engine, and unlocks the levers. The fire-cock being opened by N (who remains by it as long as it is being used), the sergeant holds the end of the hose which supplies the engine, and at the same time superintends the men who work the levers. The call being given to work the engine, the whole of the men, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, the captain and sergeant excepted, work at the levers along with the men of the other company.

Although these operations may appear complicated, they are all completed, and the engine in full play, with three lengths, or 120 feet of hose, in one minute and ten seconds, including the time required for the water to fill the engine so far as to allow it to work.

In order to excite a spirit of emulation, as well as to teach the men dexterity in working the engines, I frequently cause a competition amongst them. They are ordered to attach one or more lengths of hose to each of two engines, and to work them as quickly as possible, the first engine which throws water being considered the winner. They are sometimes also placed at an equal distance from each of two separate fire-cocks; on the call being given to move forward, each party starts for the fire-cock to which it is ordered, and the first which gets into play is of course held to have beat the other. The call to stop is then given, and both parties return to their former station, with their hose coiled up, and everything in proper travelling order; the first which arrives being understood to have the advantage.

The men are also carefully and regularly practised in taking their hose up common-stairs, drawing them up by ropes on the outside, and generally in accustoming themselves to, and providing against, every circumstance which may be anticipated in the case of fire.

When a fire occurs in a common-stair, the advantages arising from this branch of training are incalculable. The occupants, in some cases amounting to twenty or thirty families, hurrying out with their children and furniture, regardless of everything except the preservation of their lives and property, and the rush of the crowd to the scene of alarm, form altogether, notwithstanding the exertions of an excellent police, such a scene of confusion as those only who have witnessed it can imagine; and here it is that discipline and unity of purpose are indispensable; for, unless each man has already been taught and accustomed to the particular duty expected from him, he only partakes of the general alarm, and adds to the confusion. But even when a hose has been carried up the interior of a common-stair, the risk of damage from the people carrying out their furniture is so great, that the hose is not unfrequently burst, almost as soon as the engine has begun to play. If the hose be carried up to the floor on fire by the outside, the risk of damage is comparatively small, the hose in that case being only exposed for a short distance in crossing the stair.

During a period of four years the only two firemen who lost their lives were run down by their own engines; and, in order to avoid danger from this cause, they are frequently accustomed suddenly to stop the engines when running down the steep streets with which this city abounds. It is a highly necessary exercise, and is done by wheeling the engine smartly round to the right or left, which has the effect of immediately stopping its course.

There is a branch of training which I introduced amongst the Edinburgh firemen some time ago, which has been attended with more important advantages than was at first anticipated. I mean the gymnastic exercises. The men are practised in these exercises (in a small gymnasium fitted up for them in the head engine-house) regularly once a-week, and in winter sometimes twice: attendance on their part is entirely voluntary; the best gymnasts (if otherwise equally qualified) are always promoted in cases of vacancy.

So sensible were the Insurance Companies doing business here, of the advantages likely to arise from the practice of these exercises, that on one occasion they subscribed upwards of 10l., which was distributed in medals and money among the most expert and attentive gymnasts of the corps, at a competition in presence of the magistrates, commissioners of police, and managers of insurance companies.

Amongst the many advantages arising from these exercises I shall notice only one or two. The firemen, when at their ordinary employments, as masons, house-carpenters, &c., being accustomed to a particular exercise of certain muscles only, there is very often a degree of stiffness in their general movements, which prevents them from performing their duty as firemen with that ease and celerity which are so necessary and desirable; but the gymnastic exercises, by bringing all the muscles of the body into action, and by aiding the more general development of the frame, tend greatly to remove or overcome this awkwardness. But its greatest advantage is the confidence it gives to the men when placed in certain situations of danger. A man, for example, in the third or fourth floor of a house on fire, who is uncertain as to his means of escape, in the event of his return by the stair being cut off, will not render any very efficient service in extinguishing the fire; his own safety will be the principal object of his attention, and till that is to a certain extent secured, his exertions are not much to be relied upon. An experienced gymnast, on the other hand, placed in these circumstances, finds himself in comparative security. With a hatchet and eighty feet of cord at his command, and a window near him, he knows there is not much difficulty in getting to the street; and this confidence not only enables him to go on with his duty with more spirit, but his attention not being abstracted by thoughts of personal danger, he is able to direct it wholly to the circumstances of the fire. He can raise himself on a window sill, or the top of a wall, if he can only reach it with his hands; and by his hands alone he may sustain himself in situations where other means of support are unattainable, till the arrival of assistance. These are great advantages; but, as I said before, the greatest of all is that feeling of safety with which it enables a fireman to proceed with his operations, uncertainty or distraction being the greatest of possible evils. The cord carried at the waist-belt of the captains, sergeants, and pioneers, being fully sufficient to sustain a man’s weight, and with the assistance of their small hatchets easily made fast, and the pioneers always being two together, there is thus no difficulty in descending even from a height of eighty feet: the cords should be doubled by way of security.


A list of the engine-houses, and the residences of the superintendent and head enginemen in each district shall be publicly advertised, that no one may be ignorant where to apply in cases of fire; and, in the event of fire breaking out in any house, the possessor shall be bound to give instant notice of it at the nearest station; and shall take particular care to keep all doors and windows shut in the premises where the fire happens to be.

“Fire-engine house” shall be painted in large characters on one or more prominent places of each engine-house; and the residences of the master of engines, head enginemen, inspectors of gas companies, and water-officers of the district, shall likewise be marked there.

The head enginemen and firemen shall reside as near the engine-house as possible.

As, in the case of a fire breaking out, it may be necessary to break open the doors of houses and shops in the neighbourhood, in order to prevent the fire from spreading, it is ordered, that no possessors of houses or shops in the neighbourhood shall go away, after the fire has broken out, without leaving the key of their house or shop, as otherwise the door will be broken open, if necessary; and it is recommended that all possessors of shops shall have the place of their residence painted upon their shop-doors, that notice may be sent them when necessary.


Upon any watchman discovering fire, he shall call the neighbouring watchmen to his assistance shall take the best means in his power to put all concerned upon their guard and shall immediately send off notice to the nearest office and engine-house. The watchman, who is despatched to give these intimations, shall run as far as he can, and shall then send forward any other watchman whom he may meet, he himself following at a walk to communicate his information, in case of any mistake on the part of the second messenger.

Upon intimation of a fire being received at the main office, or a district office, the head officer on duty shall instantly give notice thereof to the head engineman of the district, to the master of engines, to the water-officers of the district, and to the inspectors of the different gas-light companies, and shall have power, if his force at the office at the time be deficient, to employ the nearest watchmen for these purposes; and, on intimation being first received at a district-office, the officer on duty in the office shall immediately send notice to the main office.

Upon intimation being received at the main office, the officer on duty shall also instantly send notice to the superintendent of police, and the lieutenants not at the office at the time to the master of engines; to the head enginemen of the various districts; to the superintendent of the water company; to the lord provost or chief magistrate for the time; to the sheriff of the county; to the bailie residing nearest the place; to the dean of guild; to the members of fire-engine committee of commissioners of police; to the moderator of the high constables; and also to the managers of the different gaslight companies.

The officer on duty at the main office shall, with the least possible delay, send off to the fire a party of his men, under the command of a lieutenant or other officer.

This party, on arriving at the spot, shall clear off the crowd, and keep open space and passages for the firemen and others employed.

The officer commanding this party of the police shall attend to no instructions except such as he shall receive from the acting chief magistrate attending; or, in absence of a magistrate, from any member of the committee on fire-engines; and the men shall attend to the instructions of their own officer alone.

Three or more policemen shall be in attendance upon the acting chief magistrate and fire-engine committee; two policemen shall constantly attend the master of the engines, to be at his disposal entirely; and one policeman shall attend with the water-officer at each fire-cock that may be opened.

The superintendent of police shall always have a list of extra policemen hung up in the police-office, who, upon occasions of fire, may be called out, if necessary, and twenty of these extra men shall always be called out upon notice of fire being received at the main office, for the purpose of attending at the police-office, and rendering assistance where it may be required. The superintendent shall likewise have a supply of fire-buckets, flambeaux, and lanterns, at the office, to be ready when wanted.

There shall be no ringing of alarm-bells, beating of drums, or springing of rattles, except by written order from the chief magistrate for the time; but the alarm may be given by despatching messengers, with proper badges, through different parts of the town, when considered necessary.


On receiving notice of a fire, the superintendent shall instantly equip himself in his uniform, and repair to the spot where the fire is.

The necessary operations to be adopted shall be under his absolute control, and he will issue his instructions to the head enginemen and firemen.

The superintendent shall report from time to time to the chief magistrate in attendance (through such medium as may be at his command, but without his leaving the spot), the state of the fire, and whether a greater number of policemen, or a party of the military, be required, and anything else which may occur to him; and the master shall observe the directions of the chief magistrate attending, and those of no other person whatever.

The superintendent shall frequently inspect the engines, and all the apparatus connected therewith; he shall be responsible for the whole being at all times in good order and condition; and he shall have a general muster and inspection at least once every three months, when the engines and all the apparatus shall be tried. He shall also instruct the enginemen, firemen, and the watchmen, to unlock the plates, and screw on the distributors of the fire-cocks, or open the fire-plugs.

Whenever any repairs or new apparatus shall appear to be necessary, the superintendent shall give notice to the clerk of the police, whose duty it shall be instantly to convene the committee on fire-engines.

Upon a fire breaking out, the superintendent shall lose as little time as possible in stationing chimney-sweepers on the roofs of the adjoining houses, to keep them clear of flying embers; and also persons in each flat of the adjoining houses, to observe their state, and report if any appearances of danger should arise; such persons taking as much care as possible to keep all doors and windows of said flats shut, and the doors and windows of the premises where the fire happens to be shall, so far as practicable, be carefully kept shut.

The superintendent shall forthwith prepare regulations for the firemen, &c., under his charge, and report the same to the committee on fire-engines for their approval. Every fireman shall be furnished with a copy of such regulations, and shall be bound to make himself master of its contents; and it shall be the duty of the superintendent to see that the instructions are duly attended to in training and exercising the men.


Each head engineman shall attend to the engines placed in his district, and all the apparatus connected therewith, and report to the superintendent when any repairs or new apparatus seem requisite, and shall be responsible for the engines being in proper working condition at all times.

Upon receiving notice of a fire, the head enginemen shall call out the firemen in their respective districts; and they shall all repair, perfectly equipped, with the utmost expedition, to the spot where the fire happens to be, carrying along with them the engines and apparatus.

The head enginemen shall have the carts and barrels attached to their several districts always in readiness, in good order, and the barrels filled with water, which shall accompany the engines to the fire.

On arriving at the spot, the head enginemen shall take their instructions from the superintendent, or, in his absence, from the chief magistrate in attendance on the spot; or, in their absence, from a member of the fire-engine committee, and from no other person whatever.


The firemen shall attend at all times when required by the head enginemen or superintendent, as well as upon the days of general inspection. They shall keep their engines in good order and condition, and shall be equipped in their uniform at all times when called out.

They shall observe the instructions of no person whatever, except those of the superintendent or head enginemen.


Upon occasions of fire, the moderator of the high constables shall call out the high constables, and, if necessary, he shall also call out the extra constables, and give notice to call out the constables of their districts; and it shall be the duty of the constables to preserve order and to protect property, to keep the crowd away from the engines, and those employed about them; and, when authorized by the chief magistrate, superintendent of engines, or, in the absence of a magistrate, by a member of the committee on fire-engines, to provide men for working the engines.

Neither the constables nor the commissioners of police shall assume any management, or give any directions whatsoever, except in absence of a magistrate and the superintendent of engines, in which case any member of the committee on fire-engines may give orders to the head enginemen.

In cases of protracted fire, when extra men may be required to relieve the regular establishment, it shall be the duty of the high constables to collect those wanted, from amongst the persons on the street who may be willing to lend their assistance, mustering them in such parties as may be required, taking a note of their names, and furnishing each individual with a certificate or ticket, with which the moderator of the high constables, or chief constable at the time, will be supplied; and no person shall receive any remuneration for alleged assistance given at a fire who may not produce such certificate or ticket.

The party or parties so mustered shall be placed and continue under the care of two high constables, until required for service, when they shall be moved forward to the engine.

The men relieved by the party so moved forward, shall be taken charge of by two high constables, who shall see them properly refreshed and brought back within a reasonable time, so that the men employed may thus occasionally relieve each other without confusion, and without being too much exhausted.


Upon occasion of fires, the magistrates, sheriff, moderator of the high constables, the superintendent of the water company, the managers of the different gas-light companies, and the fire-engine committee, will give their attendance. They will assemble in such house nearest to the place of the fire as can be procured, of which notice shall be immediately given to the officer commanding the police on the spot.

The orders of the chief magistrate in attendance shall be immediately obeyed; and no order, except those issued by such magistrate, and the particular directions given as to the fire and engine department by the master of engines, or, in their absence, by a member of the fire-engine committee on the spot, shall be at all attended to.

The magistrates and sheriff further declare, that all porters holding badges shall be bound to give their attendance at fires when called upon for that purpose.


The managers of the different gas-light companies, on receiving notice of a fire, shall instantly take measures for turning off the gas from all shops and houses in the immediate neighbourhood of the fire.


Captains. On the alarm of fire being given, an engine must be immediately despatched from the main office to whatever district the fire may be in; and the captain in whose district the fire happens shall bring his engine to the spot as quickly as possible, taking care that none of the apparatus is awanting. On arriving at the spot, he must take every means in his power to supply his engine with water, but especially by a service-pipe from a fire-cock, if that be found practicable. Great care must be taken to place the engine so that it may be in the direction of the water, with sufficient room on all sides to work it, but as little in the way of persons employed in carrying out furniture, &c., as possible. He must also examine the fire while the men are fixing the hose, &c., that the water may be directed with the best effect.

The captains shall be responsible for any misconduct of their men, when they fail to report such misconduct to the superintendent.

The engines must be at all times in good working order, and the captain shall report to the superintendent when any part of the apparatus is in need of repair.

When the fire is in another district, the captain of each engine shall get his men and engine ready to proceed at a moment’s notice, but must not move from his engine-house till a special order arrives from a lieutenant of police or the superintendent of brigade.

Sergeants. The sergeant of each engine will take the command in absence of the captain. When the captain is present, the sergeant will give him all possible assistance in conducting the engine to the fire; and it will there be more particularly the sergeant’s duty to see that the engine is supplied with water, and that every man is at his proper station, and to remain with his engine while on duty, whether it is working or not, unless he receives special orders to the contrary.

Pioneers. Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 of each engine will be considered pioneers. Nos. 1 and 2 will proceed to the fire immediately, without going to their engine-house, in order to prepare for the arrival of the first engine, by ascertaining and clearing a proper station for it, and by making ready the most available supplies of water, as also to examine the state of the premises on fire and the neighbouring ones, so as to be able to give such information to the captain on his arrival as may enable him to apply his force with the greatest effect. The pioneers will attend particularly to the excluding of air from the parts on fire by every means in their power, and they will ascertain whether there are any communications with the adjoining house by the roof, gable, or otherwise. When the several engines arrive, the pioneers will fall in with their own company, and take their farther orders from the captain or sergeant.

Firemen. On the alarm of fire being given, the whole company belonging to each engine (Nos. 1 and 2 excepted) shall assemble as speedily as possible at their engine-house, and act with spirit under the orders of their officers in getting everything ready for service. Each man will get a ticket with his own number and the colour of his engine marked upon it; and on all occasions when he comes on duty he will give this ticket into the hands of a policeman, who will be appointed by the officer of police on duty to collect them at each engine-house, and who will accompany the engine if it is ordered to the fire.

If the ticket be not given in, as before provided, within half an hour after the alarm is given at their engine-house, or at all events, within half an hour after the arrival of the engine at the fire, the defaulter will forfeit the allowance for turning out, and also the first hour’s pay.

If not given in within the first hour, he will forfeit all claim to pay.

The superintendent, however, may do away the forfeiture in any of these cases, on cause being shown to his satisfaction.

On quarter-days and days of exercise, every man must be ready equipped at the appointed hour, otherwise he will forfeit that day’s pay, or such part of it as the superintendent may determine.

Any man destroying his equipments, or wearing them when off duty, will be punished by fine or dismissal from the service, as the superintendent may determine.

Careless conduct, irregular attendance at exercise, or disobedience of superior officers, to be punished as above-mentioned.

The man who arrives first at the engine-house to which he belongs, properly equipped, will receive three shillings over and above the pay for turning out.

The first of the Nos. 1 and 2 who arrives at the fire, properly equipped, in whatever district it may be, will receive three shillings over and above the pay for turning out.

No pay will be allowed for a false alarm, unless the same is given by a policeman.

As nothing is so hurtful to the efficiency of an establishment for extinguishing fires as unnecessary noise, irregularity, or insubordination, it is enjoined on all to observe quietness and regularity, to execute readily whatever orders they may receive from their officers, and to do nothing without orders.

The first engine and company which arrive at the fire are not to be interfered with, nor their supplies of water diverted from them by those coming afterwards, unless by a distinct order from the superintendent, or, in his absence, from the chief magistrate on the spot. The same rule will apply to each succeeding engine which takes up a station.

The men must be careful not to allow their attention to be distracted from their duty by listening to directions from any persons except their own officers; and they will refer every one who applies to them for aid to the superintendent, or to the chief magistrate present at the time.

All the firemen must be particularly careful to let the policemen on their respective stations know where they live, and take notice when the policeman is changed, that they may give the new one the requisite information.

The men are particularly cautioned not to take spirituous liquors from any individual without the special permission of the captain of their engine, who will see that every proper and necessary refreshment be afforded to them; and as intoxication upon such alarming occasions is not merely disreputable to the corps, but in the highest degree dangerous, by rendering the men unfit for their duty, every appearance of it will be most rigidly marked; and any man who may be discovered in that state shall not only forfeit his whole allowances for the turn-out and duty performed, but will be forthwith dismissed from the corps.

All concerned are strictly enjoined to preserve their presence of mind, not to lose temper, and upon no occasion whatsoever to give offence to the inhabitants by making use of uncivil language or behaving rudely.

Every one belonging to the establishment will be furnished with a printed copy of these Regulations, which they are enjoined carefully to preserve and read over at least once every week.


When the lower floors of a house are on fire, and the stairs or other ordinary means of retreat destroyed, the simplest and easiest mode of removing the inhabitants from the upper floors, is by a ladder placed against the wall. In order to be able at all times to carry this plan into effect, the person having charge of the engines should (as far as possible) inform himself where long ladders are to be had, and how they can most easily be removed.

But if a ladder of sufficient length is not to be procured, or is at too great a distance to render it safe to wait for it, recourse must immediately be had to other means.

If it happens that the windows above are all inaccessible, on account of the flames bursting through those below, the firemen should immediately get on the roof (by means of the adjoining houses,) and descend by the hatch. The hatch, however, being sometimes directly above the stair, is in that case very soon affected by the fire and smoke. If, on approaching, it is found to be so much so as to render an entrance in that way impracticable, the firemen should instantly break through the roof, and, descending into the upper floors, extricate those within. If it should happen, however, that the persons in danger are not in the upper floor, and cannot reach it in consequence of the stair being on fire, the firemen should continue breaking through floor after floor till they reach them. In so desperate a case as this the shorter process may probably be to break through the party-wall between the house on fire and that adjoining, when there is one; and when there is no house immediately contiguous, through the gable, taking care in either case to break through at the back of a closet, press, chimney, or other recess, where the wall is thinnest. If an opening has been made from the adjoining house, it should immediately (after having served the purpose for which it was made) be built up with brick or stone, to prevent the fire spreading. All these operations should be performed by slaters, masons, or house-carpenters, who, being better acquainted with such work, are likely to execute it in a shorter time than others time, in such a case, being everything, as a few minutes lost may cost the lives of the whole party. It is not impossible, however, that circumstances may occur to render all or either of these plans impracticable; in that case, one or two of the lower windows must be darkened, and by this means access gained to the upper ones. The plan recommended by the Parisian firemen is, for a man to wrap himself up in a wet blanket, and thus pass swiftly through the flames. But this effort is only to be attempted when the flames from a single door are to be passed; in any other case the stair will most likely be in flames, and impassable.

A simple means of escape from fire is to have an iron ring fastened to the window sill, and inside of the room a cradle, with a coil of rope attached to it. The rope is put through the ring, and the person wishing to escape gets into the cradle, and lowers himself down by passing the rope through his hands. The great objection to this plan, which is certainly very simple, is the difficulty, or rather impossibility, of persuading people to provide themselves with the necessary materials. Many men, too, are incapable of the exertion upon which the whole plan depends; and if men in a state of terror are unfit for such a task, what is to become of women and children?

Any fire-escape, to be generally useful, must, in the first place, be capable of being carried about without encumbering the fire-engine; and, in the next place, must be of instant and simple application. The means which appear to me to possess these qualifications in the highest degree, is a combination of the cradle plan, with Captain Manby’s admirable invention for saving shipwrecked seamen.

The apparatus necessary for this fire-escape is a chain-ladder eighty feet long, a single chain or rope of the same length as the ladder, a canvas bag, a strong steel cross-bow, and a fine cord of the very best workmanship and materials, 130 feet long, with a lead bullet of three-ounce weight attached to one end, and carefully wound upon a wooden cone seven inches high and seven inches broad at the base, turned with a spiral groove, to prevent the cord slipping when wound upon it, also a small pulley with a claw attached to it, and a cord reeved through it of sufficient strength to bear the weight of the ladder.

In order to prevent the sides of the ladder from collapsing, the steps are made of copper or iron tube, fastened by a piece of cord passed through the tube and into the links of the chain, till the tube is filled. The steps thus fastened are tied to the chain with copper-wire, so that, in the event of the cord being destroyed, the steps will be retained in their places by the wire. The ladder is provided with two large hooks at one end, for the purpose of fixing it to a roof, window-sill, &c. The bag is of canvas, three feet wide and four feet deep, with cords sewed round the bottom, and meeting at the top, where they are turned over an iron thimble at each side of the mouth of the bag. The steel cross-bow is of the ordinary description, of sufficient strength to throw the lead bullet with the cord attached, 120 feet high.

When the house from which the persons in danger are to be extricated is so situated that the firemen can get to the roof by passing along the tops of the adjoining houses, they will carry up the chain-ladder with them, and drop it over the window where the inmates show themselves, fastening the hooks at the same time securely in the roof. The firemen will descend by the ladder into the window, and putting the persons to be removed into the bag, lower them down into the street by the single chain. If the flames are issuing from the windows below, the bag, when filled, is easily drawn aside into the window of the adjoining house, by means of a guy or guide-rope.

If the house on fire stands by itself, or if access cannot be had to the roof by means of the adjoining houses, the lead bullet, with the cord attached, is thrown over the house by means of the cross-bow; to this cord a stronger one is attached, and drawn over the house by means of the former; a single chain is then attached, and drawn over in like manner; and to this last is attached the chain-ladder, which, on being raised to the roof, the firemen ascend, and proceed as before directed.

If the house be so high that the cord cannot be thrown over far enough to be taken hold of by those on the opposite side, then the persons to be extricated must take hold of the cord, as it hangs past the window at which they may have placed themselves. By means of it they draw up the small pulley, and hook it on the window-sill. The chain-ladder is then made fast to the end of the cord, and drawn up by those below. When the end of the chain-ladder comes in front of the window, the persons inside fasten the hooks of the ladder on its sill, or to the post of a bed, the bars of a grate, or anything likely to afford a sufficient hold. After having ascertained that the ladder is properly fixed, the firemen will ascend and proceed as in the former cases.

I must here remark, that before this plan can be properly put in execution, the firemen must be regularly trained to the exercise. When the firemen here are practised with the fire-escape, the man ascending or descending has a strong belt round his middle, to which another chain is fastened, and held by a man stationed at the window for that purpose; if any accident, therefore, were to occur with the chain-ladder, the man cannot fall to the ground, but would be swung by the chain attached to the belt round his body. The men are also frequently practised in ascending and descending by single chains. The firemen here are very fond of the above exercise; the bagging each other seems to amuse them exceedingly.

The last resort, in desperate cases, is to leap from the window. When this is to be attempted, mattresses, beds, straw, or other soft substances, should be collected under the window; a piece of carpet or other strong cloth should be held up by ten or twelve stout men. The person in the window may then leap, as nearly as possible, into the centre of the cloth, and if he has sufficient resolution to take a fair leap, he may escape with comparatively little injury.