Segments in this Video

Battle That Never Ends (02:40)


A fire occurs every 16 seconds somewhere in America. There are 2 million fires a year in the U.S. Firefighters face the unknown with every fire. An arsenal of high-tech equipment enables firefighters to better do their job.

The Fire Triangle (02:16)

Throughout history fire has helped and hurt humans. Antoine Lavoisier unlocked fire's three part chemical reaction the 17th century: heat, fuel and oxygen.

"Throw Out Your Buckets" (03:30)

The Romans organized the fire department in 23 B.C.. They invented a wooden syringe for sucking water from buckets. Early Americans were required to keep 3 buckets filled with water in their homes. Bucket brigades were common.

Piston and Steam Engines (03:15)

In 1700 the piston pumper engine revolutionized firefighting by allowing firefighters to maintain a safe distance while directing the water. Steam engines replaced the piston pumper and could save an entire town if they arrived in time. Dalmatians ran with the horses and guarded them at the scene.

Soda Acid Fire Extinguisher (02:08)

The soda acid fire extinguisher provided an instant source of pressurized water. It aided in extinguishing small fires and delayed the spread of bigger fires until the steam engine arrived.

False Confidence (01:58)

Specialized crews performed different tasks. Tall ladders meant firefighters could save more lives. The public became confident in firefighters' abilities, but firefighters knew the cities were too crowded and buildings too tall for fire safety.

The Great Chicago Fire (03:53)

In 1871, Chicago's fire chief was denied a request for more engines for his fleet. The overworked, undermanned fire department could not control the fire storm that would burn one third of the city.

"Water, Water Everywhere..." (04:34)

In 1906 an earthquake rocked San Francisco, severing its aging water mains. The city had not built the emergency system requested by the fire department. The military was called in to create a firebreak by blowing up buildings.

Horsepower (03:56)

Motorized trucks completely transformed firefighting in under 10 years. Ladders were also vastly improved and allowed firefighters to fight from every angle.

In Harm's Way (02:13)

Early art did not portray the brutality of the fireman's job. Safety equipment was crude and ineffective. Self contained breathing apparatus was developed in 1964.

Improved Safety Gear (03:37)

This demonstration shows how quickly a burning chair can fill a room with smoke. Heat resistant suits were developed in 1967. Firefighters need to learn the signs of danger since they can no longer feel it through protective equipment.

Automatic Sprinklers (02:10)

Scientist study how building materials react when they burn. Engineers use this information to help fight fires even before firemen arrive. Viewers watch a demonstration of how sprinkler heads work.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (02:12)

Fire sprinklers were not widely used until the Triangle fire. When fabric scraps caught fire on the eighth floor, fire ladders could not reach the people working there.

Coconut Grove Fire (03:46)

In 1942 a deadly Boston nightclub fire killed 492 people. The building was fireproof but the contents were not. One man tells the story of his survival.

Internal Vigilance (02:08)

America has some of the best firefighting equipment in the world. Scientist continue to invent better tools. Fires will always be with us.

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Firefighting! Containing the Demon (Modern Marvels)

3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



Both a blessing and a curse, fire has long intrigued and confounded mankind. This episode of Modern Marvels: Firefighting! examines historical attempts to control fire, from ancient Rome to today’s high-tech attempts. Profiling major fires in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, the show discusses efforts of city planning to reduce fire risk. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 46 minutes

Item#: FMK45404

Copyright date: ©1998

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.