- Apr 1, 2007
Specifically, it was cannel coal, an easily ignitable, hot burning coal. Steamers had a fuel box as the rear step, in front of the firebox. If you have ever seen a fire engine steamer pumping or a steam railroad engine pulling up hill, you will see the fireman shoveling coal like crazy.
Note that the original crew of steam engines was Engineer and Fireman. The Engineer operated the boiler and the Fireman fed the fire. Only in the fire department did the title Fireman have two opposite job functions - keeping the fire burning in the boiler or extinguishing fires outside of the boiler.
In the firehouse, the boiler was prepped with cannel coal and kindling, ready to be lit before leaving to respond. The boiler water was kept warm by a quick connect to the firehouse boiler. There was enough fuel in the fuel box to start operations.
Fuel wagons responded to all fires. In some photos, you may see a pile of coal behind the steamer, that was dropped off by the fuel wagon. In Manhattan alone, there were as many as 28 Fuel Depots, alone or with fire companies. There were up to 35 Fuel Wagon companies that responded from the depots.
The Hostler (Driver, ECC today) would unhitch the horses and lead them away from the noise and excitement of the fireground and bring them to to a nearby firehouse or tie them off, covering them with blankets while they waited.
So the rest of the engine company's crew would ride the hose wagon, right Iggy?