Fireman

For this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt, we were given a nurse presumably heading out to make rounds at patient homes. Since I featured my nurse photos earlier this year, I was wondering if I would be able to find something to go along with the theme. Then I remembered this photograph of a fireman that I have been holding onto for just the right post, and realized this is it!

This photograph is taken from an album I have been meaning to work through, but it is the only one that really grabbed my attention enough to be scanned. The man’s cap features the Maltese Cross, which is the traditional symbol of the fireman. The story goes that during the Crusades, the Knights of St. John were doused with naptha (highly flammable liquid) then set on fire. While some knights were injured severely and some killed, others sacrificed their own safety to fight the fires that were consuming their compatriots. Since the Knights of St. John resided on Malta, their symbol was called the Maltese Cross, and they were considered the first firemen.

I have deep respect for firemen. When everyone else is running away from a fire, they are the ones running toward it. It is a calling and not a job that a person should perform halfheartedly. When I was in school there was a classmate of mine who while walking to school one day saw smoke billowing from a house. He ran inside, found the residents and helped them get out – at the age of 16 or 17 years old, this is more courage than most people have as mature adults.

This particular fireman’s name is lost to the ages. He strikes a fine figure in his uniform and I like to think of him performing his job admirably. During a little research for this post, I learned that the town of Exeter NH had the first fire alarm installed in 1891, and shortly thereafter it was pulled for a house fire. The town fireman were able to extinguish the fire, proving the success of the fire alarm, and several more were subsequently installed around town. I do not know if this fellow is from Exeter or even Haverhill, MA where the photographer Fuller Studio had another location. Haverhill is not all that far from Exeter, maybe 17 miles or so.

If you have enjoyed this sepia image, please click through to Sepia Saturday for more!

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