Fire engine of the city of Alsfeld from 1765.
(Photo: Andreas Ruhl)

1765Modern fire protection in Alsfeld

Fire protection was of vital importance in a town like Alsfeld, which consisted mainly of wooden buildings. In 1350, presumably after a major fire, the Liederbach was diverted and routed through the town. This meant that extinguishing water could be brought to the scene of the fire more quickly. Leather fire buckets were used for this purpose. Long fire hooks were also important: they were used to tear down walls and stop the spread of fires.

In 1764, Amtmann Hallwachs ordered two fire engines from the “fire engine maker” Johann Philipp Bach from Solms-Hungen to fight fires. The town council, together with all 16 guilds, refused to bear the costs. Nevertheless, the bailiff enforced payment – with the help of country hussars. In 1765, he also issued a fire protection order with 25 paragraphs, which also regulated the operation of the fire engine. The 42 youngest citizens were obliged to operate the pump as pushers. As a reward after extinguishing the fire, they received a “treat of bread, eggs and brandy”. The two fire pumps were stored in the wedding house, while fire ladders and fire hooks were kept in the town hall and the leather buckets in the wine house.

After the construction of the water pipes in 1896, hydrants were available everywhere in the town. The fire engine from 1765 could therefore be moved to the museum. (JP)