THE EARLIEST fire-fighting methods in the colonies were primitive. Leather buckets, made by local cobblers, were used to transport water from a well, cistern, or nearby brook to the scene of the fire. This was long before reservoirs, underground pipes, and hydrants or wooden fireplugs existed in the streets of larger cities.
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Leather fire buckets, made by shoemakers, were gaily decorated and identified with company names
Leather fire bucket from Moorestown, Pa. fire station
WHEN CHURCH bells rang out the alarm, the call to "throw out your buckets" was heeded quickly by all within reach of the disaster area. The buckets, which held about three gallon of water, were passed quickly down the line by able-bodied men, and returned by another line of women and boys.
Water keg with eagle design
Wooden fire hydrant, c. 1842.
Before cast iron came into use,
water was piped underground
through wooden conduits