11/09/07 162 W - + 14 - 13 Pulled By Hand

The classic image of the steam fire engine always includes horses. Two or four ahead of the engine, galloping on cobblestone as a boiler belches smoke. Yet steamers were also hand-pulled in their day, a fact quite curious to this researcher. Were the circumstances of Raleigh's Rescue Company steamer-- primarily hand-pulled for several years starting in 1870-- an anomaly? No, as he's learned over years of subsequent research. Hand-pulled steamers were present in Charleston, for example. On January 1, 1882, a paid city fire department was placed in service with eight steamers (two as reserve), eight or more hose carriages and reels, two ladder trucks, 29 horses, and 101 men. All apparatus was horse-drawn. The year before, the volunteer force was largely "man powered." The 1881 city directory lists 14 steamer companies, only three of which had horses. The three hook and ladder companies were also hand-drawn. The personnel required for these feats totaled 1,094, a number reduced by 90 percent when converted to paid and horse-pulled.

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