This was made by James Pollard and engraved by R Reeve, c.1800. The picture shows several insurance brigades hurrying to a fire.
Equipment was still very basic but in 1721, Richard Newsham patented a ‘new water engine for the quenching and extinguishing of fires’. This pump could provide a continuous jet of water with some force, something that had not been possible before.
The firemen, of the time, had little training and wore brightly coloured uniforms to distinguish themselves between the different brigades. During large fires they would become very tired through continual pumping of the appliances, and would offer bystanders ‘beer tokens’ in return for their help.