National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
1st Floor, Artifact Walls
Firefighting has always been a duty that depends upon the participation of the community. However, the role of citizens in fighting fire changed dramatically over the 19th century. Populations grew and buildings rose in size, posing new challenges as the threat from fire increased. This display includes objects that represent the technological innovations that helped meet these challenges and, in turn, changed the forms of firefighting. The display also includes objects that speak to the evolution of these forms, as citizen bucket brigades gave way to organized volunteer companies, which were eventually supplanted by paid municipal departments.