The Paid Department Era: 1865 – Present

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Firefighters run a hose line up the fire escape of a burning building. Photo by Paul Thayer.


Firefighters became full-time public employees in 1865. While the volunteer department was overseen by the City, the paid department was organized under the supervision of New York State. Within five years, Boss William Tweed orchestrated the return of the paid department to city regulation, where it remains.

laying the groundwork

Laying the Groundwork Article + Timeline

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During this period, the Department underwent many transitions. Volunteers left the Department and hand-drawn apparatus were replaced by horse-drawn. A few years after the city consolidated, and grew from one borough to five, the high-pressure system and motorized apparatus helped firefighters deal with the rising number of fires.

During the first half of the 1900s, after many preventable fires in sweatshops and tenements, firefighting also became proactive and fire codes more strict. More


Post WWII Era Article + Timeline

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Besides serving the citizens of New York, firefighters also joined the ranks of the military to serve their country. There were no major changes to firefighting during the war years; however, a result of WWII was that innovations in wartime technology were adapted for use in the Department. The second half of the 20th century brought technological and social changes to the FDNY that made firefighting more efficient and inclusive. More


Marine Operations Article + Timeline

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In order to fully protect New York City from destruction by fire, the MFD commissioners, in 1866, retained the services of a steam salvage boat, John Fuller, to help fight fires along the waterfront. Soon after, the Department acquired its own fireboat. Fireboat companies were designated Engine Companies until 1959, when the Marine Division was established. Marine companies have been critical to fighting major New York fires, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, and have also provided mutual assistance to other city waterfront fires, such as the Jersey City Pier fire in 1964. More


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History & Heritage

New York has had organized firefighting since the Dutch colonial days. More

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Volunteer Era

Organized firefighting has a long history in the City, beginning in the 1600s. More

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Fire Insurance

Discover the relationship between fire insurance and firefighting in New York. More

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Tap into fire history and genealogy resources. More

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