Fire Engines with Water Hoses and the Method of Fighting Fires now used in Amsterdam
1735

Jan van der Heyden

1996, xxi+102pp, Illus., ISBN 0-88135-170-9 L/C 96-32093, $55

Fire Engines with Water Hoses and the Method of Fighting Fires now used in Amsterdam

“The list of sources for the history of fire fighting in the seventeenth century is frustratingly short. What information there is largely comes from doleful accounts of the conflagrations of the day. Their authors pay only fleeting attention to the tactics, organizations, or types of fire equipment used, concentrating isntread on the number of buildings burned and lives lost. There are few broadsides and pamphlets by the inventors of fire apparatus and extinguishing devices. A few of these, like Richard Newsham’s advertisement for his line of engines, are of great value. Most, however, are little more than exaggerated claims for the fire fighting worth of the gadget, such as the gunpowder water bombs of Thomas Godfrey, the “fire annihilators” of the nineteenth century. Few illustrations of fire fighting apparatus appear in the encyclopedias of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and those that do appear seem to have been selected more for their unusual designs than for their wide use as fire fighting tools. Given this backgroundk, I was pleasureably impressed to read Lettie Multhauf’s translation from its original Dutch of a book written in 1690 by Jan van der Heyden and his son Jan, who were the Fire Masters General of Amsterdam. A Description of Fire Engins with Water Hoses and the Method of Fighting Fires now used in Amsterdam is the most important source of information about the history of fire fighting until the nineteenth century treatises of James Braidwood, Charles Young, and Eyre Shaw.”

–From the Foreword

Reviews

“…this is a very valuable document that throws light on an important and neglected aspect of European history.”–Isis

“…a most welcome publication: it illustrates well the relationship between inventions and the context of their implementation and should interest historians of technology, urban historians, and anyone seeking an unusual glimpse of life in 17th-century Amsterdam.” –Technology and Culture

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