The Firefighting Experience

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a burning building? Roy Gelbhouse a retired firefighter put that image in our heads today at the Denver Firefighting Museum.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a burning building? Roy Gelbhouse a retired firefighter put that image in our heads today at the Denver Firefighting Museum. He taught us that firefighting has changed in a huge way over the years.

 

Back in the 1800’s, fires were not very easy to put out. Every person in the town would have a bucket in their home. If a fire were to start, a bell would ring and everyone would throw their buckets outside. A select few would help the firemen carry the buckets back and forth from the river to the fire. This would put out the fire, but very slowly.

 

Then, someone had a stroke of genius; they thought to hollow out logs and feed water through them. When there was a fire, someone would break a hole into one log and gather water from there with buckets, instead of running back and forth between the river to a burning house. Then to plug the log back up, they used a fireplug. Now, the fireplug has been upgraded into the fire hydrant. Actually, the word fire hydrant comes from the word fire plug. It was one of many ideas that changed the way to fight fires forever.

 

 

Roy Gelbhouse also told us that the first fire truck was very hard to operate. Someone invented a tube, or hose, to spray  water and put the fire out faster. When they did need to put a fire out, about 14 firemen would pull up and down on two handles to start pumping the water into the fire. But this was very tiring, and one fireman could only last about a minute pumping. Then, another fireman would have to take over. This was also upgraded, like the fire plug. There are now fully automatic pumps that spray hundreds of gallons out of the hose.

 

Another flaw in the firefighter’s arsenal was their ventilation system. When the gas mask was invented in 1915, the air filter would only hold about 15 minutes of air. Then it was upgraded to a 30 minute air filter. Now, it will hold about 45 minutes of clean air. If that air is depleted smoke will fill the mask and you can get sick from the smoke. It may even cause lung cancer. The newest upgrade to the mask and its air is that the tank is held by a fire resistant material and a metal that is strong enough to hold together a jet.

 

Even though in past years, the equipment that a firefighter uses has been flawed, it has greatly improved and will continue to get better.