Innovation of the Era!
Mid to Late 1900s

Dressed to Impress or Burn?

This is an example of what a typical colonist during the early 1700's would have worn. As you can see, this outfit gave the colonists little protection when they were trying to fight a fire and the outfit's billowy sleeves could easily catch on fire themselves. The tricorne hat did little to protect the colonists' heads from falling debris or from their hair catching on fire. Jacobus Turk, caretaker for New York City's first fire engines, is credited with developing the first leather fireman's helmet, circa 1740. This helmet protected the firemen's head from injury and also shed water from the back of his neck better than other hats of the day. Fire helmets were also handy in an emergency situation for smashing glass.
Pictured are reproduction colonial garments. Since all of the colonists assisted in fighting fires, this would have been their firefighting "uniform." It provided little protection from water or heat.
This helmet, circa 1799, was one of the first styles of leather fire helmets available to firemen. Fire Chiefs traditionally wore white helmets and the rank-and-file firefighters wore black helmets: a tradition that is carried on in many fire departments to this day.