Sunday, August 14, 2011

Men Who Run Toward Fires

I always love when I stumble upon something amazing and today's blog is a perfect example. During my visit to the World of Nations Celebration I happened to see a sign that mentioned the Fire Museum. I made a mental note and with some free time one day, it offered the opportunity to visit the museum. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

Have you ever wondered what makes a person run toward a fire? Fire is one of those things that automatically generates a fear response in most humans. Take a good look at the picture to the left of an oil tanker fire that was started in 1984 by a lightening strike. We are talking tremendous smoke, fire, and heat; and yet you can see the fireman in the picture up close and personal as they attempt to extinguish the fire.

As I walked through the museum I realized it is a testament to the brave men and now women who resist the most basic of human urges and run toward fire!

The next picture illustrates the march of firefighters through time. To the left is the age old concept of the firefighter saving a child. On the right is the new technology that is sometimes employed.

I found it particularly exciting to view the turn of the century fire engines that cover the main floor. This shiny model makes you almost hear the clanging of the fire bell as you imagine it rolling through some town ages ago.

And, another treat is a couple of antique fire alarm systems on display. The Gamewell Repeater alarm system was created in the 1880's and was a show piece of technological marvel for the age. The automatic repeater was an essential and central part of the fire alarm systems installed in many cities during the era. The repeater was connected to a number of telegraph station boxes scattered throughout the city. Activation of the switches in these boxes would broadcast a signal to the repeater and through a complex series of relays would be re-broadcast across all the boxes in the system. The relay contained a unique signal from which the location of the fire could be determined. Fire alarms have truly come a long way since that time.

This picture of Jacksonville Fire Station Number 2 completes the mental picture of what was considered "at the ready" for the time, complete with horse drawn fire engine.

With that in mind you can imagine why little boy's imaginations ran wild when the internal combustion engine arrived on the scene. This shiny red number could not help but generate excitement as it rolled through city streets ready to do battle with the frequent fires that occurred due to oil lamps and stoves.

So the next time you hear the sound of a fire alarm and see a fire engine go racing by, realize how far firefighting has come; and say a little prayer for the men who run toward fires.

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