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FIRE FIGHTING A BRIEF HISTORY
In Europe, firefighting was quite rudimentary until the 17th century. In 1254, a royal decree of King Saint Louis of France created the so-called guet bourgeois ("burgess watch"), allowing the residents of Paris to establish their own firefighter night watches, separate from the king's night watches, to prevent and stop crimes and fires. After the Hundred Years' War, the population of Paris expanded again, and the city, much larger than any other city in Europe at the time, was the scene of several great fires in the 16th century. As a consequence, King Charles IX disbanded the residents' firefighting night watches and left the king's watches as the only one responsible for checking crimes and fires.
Another great city that experienced such a need for organized fire control was London, which suffered great fires in 798, 982, 989, and above all in 1666 (Great Fire of London). The Great Fire of 1666 started in a baker's shop on Pudding Lane, consumed about two square miles (5 km²) of the city, leaving tens of thousands homeless. Prior to this fire, London had no organized fire protection system. Afterwards, insurance companies formed private firefighters to protect their clients’ property. Insurance fire brigades would only fight fires at buildings the company insured. These buildings were identified by a badge or sign.
The key breakthrough in firefighting arrived in the 17th century with the first fire engines. Manual pumps, rediscovered in Europe after 1500 (allegedly used in Augsburg in 1518 and in Nuremberg in 1657), were only force pumps and had a very short range due to the lack of hoses. German inventor Hans Hautsh improved the manual pump by creating the first suction and force pump and adding some flexible hoses to the pump. In 1672, Dutch inventor Jan Van der Heyden invented the firehose. Constructed of flexible leather and coupled every 50 feet (15 m) with brss fittings, the length and connections remain the standard to this day. The fire engine was further developed by Richard Newsham of London in 1725. Pulled as a cart to the fire, these manual pumps were manned by teams of men and could deliver up to 160 gallons per minute (12 L/s) at up to 120 feet (40 m).
The first fire brigades in the modern sense were created in France in the early 18th century. In 1699, a man with bold commercial ideas, François du Mouriez du Périer (grandfather of French Revolution's general Charles François Dumouriez), solicited an audience with King Louis XIV. Greatly interested in Jan Van der Heiden's invention, he successfully demonstrated the new pumps and managed to convince the king to grant him the monopoly of making and selling "fire-preventing portable pumps" throughout the kingdom of France. François du Mouriez du Périer offered 12 pumps to the City of Paris, and the first Paris Fire Brigade, known as the Compagnie des gardes-pompes (literally the "Company of Pump Guards"), was created in 1716. François du Mouriez du Périer was appointed directeur des pompes de la Ville de Paris ("director of the City of Paris's pumps"), i.e. chief of the Paris Fire Brigade, and the position stayed in his family until 1760. In the following years, other fire brigades were created in the large French cities. It is around that time that appeared the current French word pompier ("firefighter"), whose literal meaning is "pumper". On March 11, 1733 the French government decided that the interventions of the fire brigades would be free of charge. This was decided because people always waited until the last moment to call the fire brigades to avoid paying the fee, and it was often too late to stop fires. From 1750 on, the French fire brigades became para-military units and received uniforms. In 1756 the use of a protective helmet for firefighters was recommended by King Louis XV, but it took many more years before the measure was actually enforced on the ground. Well trained and well equipped, the French fire brigades were in the process of professionalisation on the eve of the French Revolution.
In Northern America, Jamestown, Virginia was virtually destroyed in a fire in January, 1608. There were no full-time paid firefighters in America until 1850. Even after the formation of paid fire companies in the United States, there were disagreements and often fights over territory. New York City companies were famous for sending runners out to fires with a large barrel to cover the hydrant closest to the fire in advance of the engines. Often fights would break out between the runners and even the responding fire companies for the right to fight the fire and receive the insurance money that would be paid to the company that fought it. Interestingly, during the 1800s and early 1900s volunteer fire companies served not only as fire protection but as political machines. The most famous volunteer firefighter-cum-politician is Boss Tweed, head of the notorious Tammany Hall political machine, who got his start in politics as a member of the Americus Engine Company Number 6 ("The Big Six") in New York City.
Napoleon Bonaparte, drawing from the century-old experience of the gardes-pompes, is generally attributed as creating the first "professional" firefighters, known as Sapeurs-Pompiers ("Sappers-Firefighters"), from the French Army. Created under the Commandant of Engineers in 1810, the company was organized after a fire at the ballroom in the Austrian Embassy in Paris which injured several dignitaries
In the UK, the Great Fire of London in 1666 set in motion changes which laid the foundations for organised firefighting in the future. In the wake of the Great Fire, the City Council established the first fire insurance company , "The Fire Office", in 1667, which employed small teams of Thames watermen as firefighters and provided them with uniforms and arm badges showing the company to which they belonged.
However, the first organized municipal fire brigade in the world was established in Edinburgh, Scotland, when the Edinburgh Fire Engine Establishment was formed in 1824, led by James Braidwood. London followed in 1832 with the London Fire Engine Establishment.
On April 1, 1853, the Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) Fire Department became the first full-time paid professional fire department in the United States, and the first in the world to use steam fire engines.
The first horse-drawn steam engine for fighting fires was invented in 1829, but not accepted in structural firefighting until 1860, and ignored for another two years afterwards. Internal combustion engine fire engines arrived in 1907, built in the United States, leading to the decline and disappearance of steam engines by 1925.
Today, fire and rescue remains a mix of paid, call, and volunteer responders. While urban areas such as New York, NY and Boston, MA are typically served by large, well-coordinated paid responders, there is no requirement demanding either paid, call, or career firefighters and many departments are so-called "mixed" departments - full time responders handle the day-to-day needs of a department and work with either call or volunteer responders when more manpower is needed. Other departments are completely "call" or volunteer, depending on local tradition, needs, and, most importantly, financial ability.
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Sport & Leisure
ALL TELEPHONE NUMBERS ARE PREFIXED 01227.
Imperial Oyster Cinema~The Horsebridge, 770829
Whitstable Playhouse, High Street, 272042
Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery. So Oxford Street, 276998
Whitstable Harbour, 274086
Oyster Fishery Exhibition, East Quay, The Harbour, 280753
WhitstableYacht Club, 3 - 4 Sea Wall, 272343
Whitstable Windsurfing, Beach Walk 27566
Whitstable Waterfront Club, Beach Walk 265500
Whitstable Water Ski Club, Beach Walk, 277900
Whitstable Swimming Pool, 772442
Whitstable Sports Centre, Bellevue Road, 274394
Oyster Indoor Bowling Centre, Harbour Street, 277692
AMF Whitstable Bowl,Tower Parade, 274661
Savoy Snooker and Social Club, 5 Beach Walk, 277967
Whitstable Town Football Club, Belmont Road, 266012
Whitstable Rugby Football Club, Reeves Way, 794343
Chestfield Golf Club, 103 Chestfield Road. Chestfield, 794411
Druildstone Wildlife Park, HoneyhilL Blean, 765168
HALF DAY CLOSING is on WEDENSDAY: MARKET DAY THURSDAY
Citizens Advice Bureau, St Mary's Parish Hall, Oxford Street, 264363
Royal National Lifeboat Institution, I I Westmeads Road,262305
Whitstable Library, 31 - 33 Oxford Sheet 273309
British Red Cross Society, 56 Oxford Street, 272634
CTFM Radio, Lower Bridge Street, Canterbury, 789106
Kent Circus School, 2649907
***Anna Wilson Holiday Home for Families in Need,*** 47 Marine Parade, 272883
Visitor Information Centre
When you are on hoilday, receiving the very best of help and advice about the area, places to visit and local amenities is essential.That is why our Visitor Information Centre is staffed by local people - and those with a wealth of local knowledge. As well as a good selection of free leaflets on local attractions, there are postcards, guidebooks, maps and souvenirs available. General visitor information, accommodation booking, local event and theatre information and booking plus coach excursion bookings.
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
7 Oxford Street
Whitstable CTI 2TG
main telephone enquiry line:01227 275482
fax: 01227 275482
Monday to Saturday 1000-1600
(until 1700 in July and August)