In 1730, a fire started on a ship docked at Fishbourn’s Wharf on the Delaware River in the City of Philadelphia. The fire spread quickly destroying the warehouses on the wharf and houses across the street. Luckily, it was a calm night and the fire did not spread. The local editor of the Philadelphia Gazette was critical of the manner in which the fire was contained. On February 4, 1735 the paper published the following:
“ In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise ‘em to take Care how they suffer living Brands-ends, or Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up or down Stairs, unless in a Warmingpan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks, and make no Appearance till Midnight; when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being over-roasted.”
After a few more articles were published on the inadequate firefighting capacity of Philadelphia a volunteer group of five men founded the Union Fire Company on December 7, 1736. These founding members recruited 26 members for the first fire brigade. Each member agreed to bring six leather buckets to carry water, and two “stout” linen bags to rescue endangered property. This group proved so popular that many more men signed up and before long, many brigades were established around the city. Incidentally, by 1752 there were eight fire companies and the founder of the volunteer fire brigade program also started the first fire insurance company that offered seven-year policies to cover the cost of damages to buildings only. The concept of fire brigades expanded to every city and county across America.
The man who had the vision to develop the fire brigade and the first insurance company was also a politician, author, printer, inventor, scientist, statesman and diplomat. He continued his research into the causes of fire and fire behavior. He was the man who made the following statements:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Genius without education is like silver in the mine.”
“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
That man was Benjamin Franklin!