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Ancient Times
Although you may be familiar with the beginnings of the volunteer fire service in New York State, you might not know that organized firefighting has been around since ancient times. The ancient Roman Empire had a firefighting force: in 22 B.C. the Roman Republic formed a standing firefighting force of 600 state slaves. This force was poorly trained, poorly equipped, unmotivated and not very effective, judging from the series of fires which troubled Rome during this time. A serious outbreak of fire in 6 A.D. caused the emperor of Rome, Augustus, to rethink how best to fight fires in Rome. Augustus thought manpower and training were the keys to successful firefighting. He created the Corps of the Vigiles to both fight fires and police the city. The Vigiles were incredibly advanced for firefighters of their time and eventually grew to a force of 7,000. Europe was not to know another such well-trained and well-equipped team of firefighters for a thousand years.

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