Horse-drawn wagons and steam cars: Moscow Fire-Fighting Service development

June 11
Safety and security

Moscow Fire-Fighting Service has celebrated its 215th anniversary. Things have changed a lot since 1804. At the early 20th century, firefighters could reach the fire location only by horses. At the time being, up-to-date rescue and emergency equipment helps to fight the fire.

In 1908, Moscow had its vehicles in the Fire-Fighting Service first appeared at the Myasnitskaya fire station. Four years later, in 1912, Moscow firefighters had three fire vehicles, 11 steam cars, 14 horse-drawn ladders, 28 horse-drawn carriages, 25 horse-drawn pumps and 342 horses. At that time, Moscow team of firefighters consisted of 865 firefighters. In 1916, they already had 13 cars, with some of them equipped with pumps.

The electric alarm station was among other technical innovations of the beginning of the century.  The money for its installation was  donated to thehead of the fire brigade by merchants and other urban entrepreneurs. In 1907, fire alarm systems were installed in the State Bank, Polytechnic Museum and Petrovsky Passage.

Before World War I, fires in Moscow had the following designations: No. 1 was a small fire that required one fire unit, No. 2 was a fire requiring three fire units, No. 3 was the fire involving six fire units, with the signals raised at the towers.

In each Moscow district

After the October Revolution, on 17 April 1918, Vladimir Lenin signed a decree 'On the organisation of state measures to fight fire'.  Under the document, the Fire-Fighting Service joined the Commissariat for Insurance and Fire Fighting.

On 16 April 1923, Moscow Fire-Fighting Service was awarded the 'Order of the Red Banner of Labour', the highest distinction established for labour achievements.

By 1926, horse-drawn carts had been replaced by trucks, and fire towers outlived their usefulness due to the spread of high-rise buildings.

Ten years later, Moscow firefighters started to use special machinery with automatic water supply. Fire supervision services were established in every Moscow district.

01 — Moscow emergency phone number

In 1928, serial production of Russian fire trucks started in Moscow. Vehicles had AMO and Avtokar chassis. Free phone call number 01 of the Fire-Fighting Service started to operate in 1932.

In 1934, the newly formed People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs established the Main Fire-Fighting Department. Department employees were engaged in the construction of new depots, conducted exercises and training sessions to train firefighters.

Moscow defended

From the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, about 13,000 fire-fighting teams had been created in Moscow. They numbered about 200,000 people. In October 1941, the Fire-Fighting Service became a military brigade with nearly 4,500 fighters who held defensive battles on the immediate approaches to Moscow and performed the job in the rear.

Between July 1941 and April 1942, German aircraft made 141 raids on Moscow with about 8,600 aircrafts engaged. During air raids, fire stations took up their duty on the roofs, attics and upper building floors, with up to 10,000 firefighters engaged. They neutralised more than 40,000 incendiary bombs and extinguished about 2,000 fires.

Moscow firefighters defended 203 industrial enterprises, 384 large residential buildings, 179 cultural and health institutions from the fire, including the Lenin State Library, (the Russian State Library now), the Moscow State University buildings, Pravda and Izvestia publishing houses, the Dynamo plant and hundreds of other significant facilities.

During the war, 52 firefighters died game with more than 200 wounded. For its wartime heroism and courage, the Moscow Fire-Fighting Service was awarded the Order of Lenin with many employees  awarded military orders and medals.

After the Great Patriotic War, Moscow firefighters participated in the restoration of the destroyed city. Instead of outdated machinery, Moscow firefighters gradually acquired modern fire-fighting equipment.

Today, the Fire-Fighting and Rescue Centre, which employs about 3,000 workers, is in charge for Moscow's safety. Day after day, about 500 people take up their duties, with 160-180 special vehicles at their disposal.


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