Our brave firefighters

Moscow, early 1900s

Fire in Pervopristolnoye. Owing to the extraordinary heat, the number of house fires in Moscow has increased to that extent that often two or more fall on the same day while in the previous years there were only one or two throughout all summer. However, thanks to the unremitting attention and self-sacrificing zeal of our brave firefighters, in each case the fire was extinguished and it only caused little damage. In the last days there were some fires also in the neighboring villages.”
Московскiя ведомости (The Moscow Reporter), June 14, 1880, Saturday



Fire-squad number 7 in Moscow, 1930s. Photo by E. Evzerikhin

The biggest heroes of the last weeks in Russia were undoubtedly the firemen and the large number of volunteers supporting them, who have been working ceaselessly on the extinction of the wildfires, not sparing even their own lives – already four of them have fallen victim to the fires. In their honor we publish these photos of the Moscow firemen of the previous end of century, taken mostly from the rich post by dedushkin on the history of fires and firefighting in Moscow.

Late 1920s. The Arbat’s fire-squad on the corner of Stolovaya street and Rzhevsky pereulok

Late 1920s. Demonstration of firefighting on the Red Square.

Late 1900s. Parade of firefighters on the Red Square.

In Moscow, whose two-three storied houses were traditionally built of wood, fire was a frequent guest since the Middle Ages, sometimes destroying the whole city: the last time in 1812, at the entrance of Napoleon’s army when only 250 of the 6591 wooden buildings survived.

Vedute of the Moscow fire of 1812. Further representations here.

Watching and fighting fires in Moscow was traditionally the task of the army. The first fire-squad was only founded in 1823. 354 of the city’s 1500 firemen also worked as street lamp-lighters. Fire-guarding and alarming was provided by Cossack horsemen. The first horse-drawn fire-wagons were established in 1837, and a decree of the same year permitted to the Moscow prisoners “of orderly behavior” to redeem their punishment with at least three years of firefighting service. The first power fire-engines appeared in 1908 on the streets of Moscow.

The first Daimler-List fire engine in Moscow, 1908

Demonstration of the regular firefighting equipment, 1903

Firemen training on the field…

…and on the streets of Moscow, early 1900s.

The newspapers in Moscow and other cities had a separate “Fires” column reporting on each case, and in contrast to the above quotation of Московскiя ведомости, in the summer months it was no rarity to read about two-three or even up to ten fires daily. These spectacles always attracted a large crowd. Academician M. M. Bogoslovsky writes in his memoires: “In Moscow always there were enthusiastic fans of fires who would have never omitted to watch any larger fire.” The show was remarkably increased in the 1880s when the Moscow chief of police Vlasov reorganized the fire-squads. He imported new fire-wagons, ladders and equipment from abroad, had new uniforms planned, and specified the color of the horses of each squad. The firemen of Prechistenskaya turned out with black horses, those of Arbat with bay ones, and so on.

Burning of the Myur and Meriliz (Muir & Mirrielees) trade house, November 1900

Burning of Hotel Metropol, December 14, 1901

Burning of the house at Bolshaya Dimitrovka 6, on the place of today’s Operetta Theater, 1871.
Below, on the enlarged detail of the central part of the photo the fire-chief
and his adjutant controlling the action

The fire-squad of Kropotkin at work; on the way to the fire; training in the town. Source: Строительство Москвы, 1924

4 comentarios:

Te amo, espíritu mío dijo...

Su blog me fascina. Es extraordinario.

Por ese motivo lo he agregado entre mis blogs predilectos.

Studiolum dijo...

Muchísimas gracias. Es un honor, de verdad.

Canehan dijo...

I love the firefighters with the tubes up to their ears. Are they speaking tubes connected to the helmets they are carrying? I can see no other reason.

Matthias Rascher dijo...

"Owing to the extraordinary heat, the number of house fires in Moscow has increased" (The Moscow Reporter, 1880)
History seems to repeat itself once more.