Fire Protection in Early Hudson NY
"It was enjoined upon all the citizens, in case of a fire in the night, to place lighted candles in their windows, in order that the inhabitants might pass through the streets in safety, and to throw their buckets into the street, that there might not be delay in obtaining them."
In July, 1785, "Chimney Viewers" were appointed, and many regulations were established for the protection of the city, and for the prevention of fires.
It was required by an ordinance, that the owner of every house with three fire-places should provide two leather buckets, and every house with more than three fire-places, three leather buckets, sufficient to contain at least two gallons of water. Brewers, bakers and tavern keepers were required to furnish them to hold three gallons. They were to be marked with the owner's initials and kept hanging up in some conspicuous place in the entry, near the frontdoor, ready to be used for extinguishing fires. They were to be furnished by the owner of the dwelling, or if by the tenant, the price was deducted from his rent, and for every month after notice he failed to provide, he was to forfeit six shillings for each bucket.
In 1794, the Overseers of the engines were required after a fire to cause all the buckets to be collected and carried to the Market House, that the citizens might know where to find them, and if injured to cause them to be repaired at the expense of the city: and if any were lost, they were replaced, upon proper proof of the fact, by the city. Any person detaining them from the owner above twenty-four hours after any fire, forfeited for every one so detained twenty shillings.
Fire Wardens were appointed, whose duty it was, immediately upon a cry of fire, to repair to the place, to direct the inhabitants in forming themselves into ranks, for handing the buckets to supply the engines with water. The citizens were enjoined to comply with the directions of such wardens, and it was expected that all other persons would refrain from giving orders or directions, and cheerfully obey such as were given by authorized persons. It was customary for the women to aid in the lines for passing the buckets, they usually passing up the empty line, while the men returned them filled.
The Mayor, Recorder and Aldermen, upon such occasions, were to carry a wand five feet, at least, in length, painted white, with a gilded flame at the top. The Fire Warden was to carry a speaking trumpet in his hand, painted white, and each Fireman was required to provide himself with a leather cap, with the crown painted white, or forfeit the sum of six shillings for every month he neglected to do so.
It was enjoined upon all the citizens, in case of a fire in the night, to place lighted candles in their windows, in order that the inhabitants might pass through the streets in safety, and to throw their buckets into the street, that there might not be delay in obtaining them.
Historical Sketches of Hudson, Stephen R. Miller, 1862, pg44
clipped September 2, 2006
Collection: American History