“rich in tradition & history”
1838 – 1859 New York land developers Augusta and John Kirby Allen were traveling up Buffalo Bayou in 1836 searching for land to develop into a city. The last stop of the steamboat was Harrisburg where they tried to purchase some land, but the deal fell through. So the brothers continued upstream to Frosttown. They noticed the land across the Bayou was a perfect spot for their city, so they purchased 6,000 acres, divided the land into lots and began selling the land. Some 1,000 people occupied the new town by 1838. Log cabins were going up as fast as trees could be felled and hauled. Huge fires were set to rid the land of underbrush and the trimmings from the logs. Occasionally, sparks from the fires ignited a cabin or temporary tent. Everyone would quickly pitch in to help the stricken neighbor. Their efforts were usually not too successful. Augustus Allen noticed the chaos during a fire and decided to organize a bucket brigade. His native New York had many successful bucket brigades. A bucket brigade in Houston would not only improve the firefighting but could enhance the value of his remaining plots of land. Protection Fire Company No. 1 Augustus gathered together several businessmen at the Hedenberg & Vetteran Auction Mart on August 14, 1838 to discuss better fire protection for the town. He convinced the businessmen of a need for a bucket brigade, and they formed Protection Fire Company No. 1. Its motto was Semper Paratus (always prepared). The fire company bought a hand pumper in 1839, according to one reference; however another reference said Protection No. 1 did not get a pumper until December, 1859. (A force pump on a wagon frame showed up in 1847 and was used as an auxiliary to the bucket brigade.) The city fathers were convinced to construct a fire house for Protection No.1, which was built at the corner of Fannin and Preston. In 1848, the State of Texas granted a charter to Protection Fire Company No. 1, the first fire company chartered by Texas. Liberty Fire Company No. 2 In 1852, a group of prominent businessmen organized Liberty Fire Company No. 2. The businessmen purchased a Hunneman hand pumper, which they housed on Franklin between Travis and Milam. The pumper cost $2,000. One of the organizers of the fire company was William M. Rice, benefactor of Rice University. [The firefighting force after the organization of Liberty No. 2, according to a reference, consisted of Liberty's pumper, the force pump mentioned above, and several bucket brigades until 1858.] Hook and Ladder Truck Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 was organized in April, 1858, by a group of the very wealthiest businessmen. The truck company had rigid bylaws. Applicants had to be recommended by three of the members, and the morals of the applicant had to be approved. The company began with a homemade ladder truck housed in a fire station on Congress in Market Square.
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The Houston Fire Museum
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