Union Fire Company, sometimes called Benjamin Franklin's Bucket Brigade, was a volunteer fire department formed in Philadelphia in 1736 with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin. The first fire fighting organization in Philadelphia, though followed within the year by the Fellowship Fire Company. The fire company was formed on 7 December, 1736 after a series of publications in the Pennsylvania Gazette by Franklin and others pointing out the need for more effective handling of fires in Philadelphia and remained active until approximately 1820.
Benjamin Franklin, the Fireman, ca 1850. Charles Washington Wright. Franklin is depicted in the fire helmet worn by the Union Fire Company.
In the 1884 book History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, John Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott described the organization of the company:
The Union Fire Company was an association for mutual assistance. Each member agreed to furnish, at his own expense, six leather buckets and two stout linen bags, each marked with his name and the name of the company, which he was to bring to every fire. The buckets were for carrying water to extinguish the flames, and the bags were to receive and hold property which was in danger, to save it from risk of theft. The members pledged themselves to repair to any place in danger upon an alarm of fire with their apparatus. Some were to superintend the use of the water, others were to stand at the doors of houses in danger, and to protect the property from theft. On an alarm of fire at night it was agreed that lights should be placed in the windows of houses of members near the fire "in order to prevent confusion, and to enable their friends to give them more speedy and effectual assistance.'
According to Scharf and Westcott, the company was limited to 30 members who met eight times a year and were fined if they were late to or missed a meeting. The company had no president, but a treasurer and a clerk, take in turns from the gene...