In 1631, Boston’s governor John Winthrop outlawed wooden chimneys and thatched roofs. In 1648, the New Amsterdam governor Peter Stuyvesant appointed four men to act as fire wardens. They were empowered to inspect all chimneys and to fine any violators of the rules. The city burghers later appointed eight prominent citizens to the “Rattle Watch” – these men volunteered to patrol the streets at night carrying large wooden rattles. If a fire was seen, the men spun the rattles, then directed the responding citizens to form bucket brigades. On January 27, 1678 the first fire engine company went into service with its captain (foreman) Thomas Atkins. In 1736 Benjamin Franklin established the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia.
George Washington was a volunteer firefighter in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1774, as a member of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Company, he bought a new fire engine and gave it to the town, which was its very first. However the United States did not have government-run fire departments until around the time of the American Civil War. Prior to this time, private fire brigades compete with one another to be the first to respond to a fire because insurance companies paid brigades to save buildings. Underwriters also employed their own Salvage Corpsin some cities. The first known female firefighter Molly Williams took her place with the men on the dragropes during the blizzard of 1818 and pulled the pumper to the fire through the deep snow.
On April 1 of 1853, Cincinnati OH became the first professional fire department by being made up of 100% full-time, paid employees.
In 2010, 70 percent of firefighters in the United States were volunteer. Only 5% of calls were actual fires. 65% were medical aid. 8% were false alarms